I responded to an ad by SAAL Digital offering a promotional coupon in exchange for writing a review of their photo album. I have produced many photo albums for clients and had a set of images from a personal project I wanted to print for personal use.
About my images:
In 2016 I walked parts of the Camino Norte and the Camino Frances with photo historian and author Brett Payne, whose beautiful coffee table book Finding My Way is one of the best photo essays on the Camino de Santiago available. I had a collection of images that had been wanting to print, and life kept getting in the way of sitting down to do a meaningful edit. The promotion coupon arriving between big projects and just before my birthday gave me the needed motivation to revisit these images and put together an album.
About the process
If you are a professional photographer who has created client albums with other photo labs, the process, and the software will seem very familiar. I used SAAL’s distributed software available on their website (I used the OSX version). The software allows you to save and update your layouts and then upload directly to SAAL as many of the other photo labs provide. You may also design in another software and then upload a finished PDF.
I found the software easy to use with typical controls and options. There are page templates for special occasions as well as multiple layouts. There is an auto-layout feature that distributes your photos across a set number of pages as well as manual control. I found a couple of minor quirks: if I wanted to use a layout of images but mirror it, the only way to see the option to mirror is if the auto layout was activated. The other quirk is the page scrolling on the bottom of the program window didn’t scroll by the direction moving the page images (like Lightroom) but the direction of the slider bar. Neither of these quirks is significant and as always your design habits may be different than mine.
The software does everything necessary to create a great-looking layout. It is not page layout, design software and chances are if you want the software to do more — you are already using design software to build your work.
About my project:
I ended up selecting 101 images and displayed them over 60 pages. SAAL uses “pages” vs. “spreads” so the book is 30 spreads or 60 pages. All of the images in the printed book look as good as they did in the monitor and the paper quality is excellent.
I chose the acrylic cover — it’s unique and adds a bit of depth as you look at the cover images. It is very reflective, and may not be the right look for every client, but I like the way it works in this project.
About SAAL Digital
Saal Digital Fotoservice GmbH is located in Germany and their United States office is in Virginia. My book order was uploaded on August 2 with a projected delivery date of August 11. The book spent a few extra days in US Customs and was delivered on August 18.