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Product Review – The Album Cafe Photoshop Templates

 

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Before discovering pre-made templates for Photoshop, I spent hours on end creating new blank layers and painstakingly lining up images to create collages. At some point, I fell across The Album Cafe, a company whose mission it is to provide photographers with beautiful, imaginative and easy-to-use PS templates so you don’t have to.

{A FEW BASIC DETAILS}

What – Fully customizable, layered Photoshop templates for creating contemporary albums, collages, holiday cards and blog-ready images in record time. This isn’t software. Each package comes with resizing actions which are made to format your photos for each slot’s requirements.

When – The Album Cafe is a baby company having only just launched this summer. Although they sure aren’t baby in terms of reliability and service. I have never had failed download attempts or technical difficulties and when I have emailed for help, I am always met with an extremely fast and friendly response. I actually couldn’t believe they’d only been in business for such a short time. Get it while it’s hot!

How – You open the desired template and the images you wish to drop in. There is a small series of steps required for full-version PS users including resizing actions and layer masks, although I still only use PSE and find the steps extremely simple. Fonts, colours and other elements are fully customizable so you can use them as a base for your own creativity. Below I will add a few of my own tips for how I use the templates.

Cost – I searched high and low on the internet for anything I considered to be comparable to The Album Cafe and, surprisingly, found nothing. There are a couple places to buy PS templates (mostly just for making wedding albums) but nothing to compare in cost. Other templates I have found to be so boring and bland – The Album Cafe’s stuff is chock full of warmth and texture which I haven’t found anywhere else. Prices range from $3 to $44 which is even better news for us in the UK because (at times) the exchange rate halves this cost. You can calculate exchange rates easily online.

Printing – The Album Cafe conveniently creates their templates to be easily printed by White House Custom Color and makes all of their book templates also available in WHCC’s 10×10 format. Being in the UK, I’ve been trying out other printers (even though WHCC ships internationally). I have had two of the ‘Dolce’ books printed by Blurb. But check my tips down below before you attempt to print these templates with Blurb.

{WHAT DO THEY OFFER?}

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Albums – There are thirteen albums in varying ‘feels’ and occasions. The one on the left (Dolce) is my absolute favourite – it prints beautifully and brides love it. There is even a baby version of Dolce in soft baby colours and textures. Forget the baby, I just want to cuddle these albums!

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The Reception Book – I love this idea! This book is in the albums section but it stands out on its own. In it, you can put your clients’ engagement shoot photos and the pages are layed out with clever questions for their friends to answer like “Anthony is perfect for Anna because…” I think these are great for engagement parties or wedding guest book. Perhaps give it as an incentive to book a wedding?

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Collages – Are you lacking inspiration for creating a collage (or at least lacking the time to assemble one?) Open up one of these babies and pop in your images and voila, you’ve got a lovely display which your family (or clients) will adore.

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Blog It – I LOVE these! Blog Its are templates designed to spruce up your photos for online display. There are many different options (one even wraps your photos in black lace with a bow). In my business, I sell disks of low resolution photos which can be shared online (I get loads of business from people who saw their friend’s photos on FaceBook). These templates automatically resize your photos, add great frames or borders and most of them even have your logo attached so when people see the photos online, you are sure that they are also seeing your name.

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Business Cards – There are eight drag-and-drop business card templates starting from only $3! Fully customizable and entirely adorable.

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Holiday Cards – How beautiful is this Christmas card? There are eight different designs in all shapes and sizes. Folded, flat, rectangle, square. Your family and clients will LOVE your holiday card this year. I’ve also found a couple other ways to use these templates so keep reading for those tips.

{My Tips and Tricks}

As promised, I have a few tips for using these templates so here they are:

  • In PSE, there aren’t the same clipping mask options as full versions but there is a little trick that makes it a breeze. In your layers pallette, drag the desired image over the space you desire it to be in and then type Ctrl+G and it will instanly pop in. You then drag the corners to resize it or drag it around until your heart’s content.
  • If you are using the Blurb book service, they have 7×7 and 12×12 book options. The Album Cafe books come in 12×12 which has been fine for me also printed at 7×7 with Blurb. When I have completed my page, I first save it as a Photoshop file incase I decide later to edit it. I then save it as a jpg for the heck of it and (most importantly) save it as a png. Blurb supports both jpg and png but I just believe that png is better to use if you can.
  • When using Blurb, I create a blank book and then drag the page in. The templates are two pages at a time spread open as if you had a book open on the table. You can do two things. You can either drag the two page spread over into a page on your Blurb blank book and then move the page around until you only see one half or (this is what I do) you can crop each square page in Photoshop before you save the png. Then, when you drag it over into the Blurb book, you don’t have to do any dragging around or centering on the page as the square page will just perfectly pop into the Blurb page.
  • Although the colours, fonts and aperture positions are customizable, I’ve had difficulty with changing the shape or size of the aperture slots without disfiguring them. Something I’ve done to solve this is drag the boxes I like from certain album pages onto the backgrounds I like from another page. Just make sure you use the grid to position them precisely otherwise the pages will lose their perfect alignment.

{Other Uses}

I’ve found a couple other uses for these templates which I’d like to share.

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The first is a gift voucher. In my studio this month, I am offering a gift voucher for a friend when someone spends a certain amount on prints. They will come pre-packaged in one of The Album Cafe’s beautiful holiday cards and I wanted the voucher to match. So I used one of the card templates to make one.

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For the Holidays, I’m using these templates to surprise my clients from the year with cards they can email their friends and family or post online. The cards can be quite expensive to have printed and if you’re on a budget, you can always use them to email everyone a lovely e-card.

 

Documents – Another use I found was to borrow elements from the album pages and drag them onto a new image to create flyers. Hopefully, it goes without saying that creating items you intend to sell or stealing the original designs to sell as part of a download package is illegal. Although on this point of finding different uses for the templates, I feel the need to throw that out there!

{Pros and Cons}

I have very few cons (honestly – I’m trying very hard to think of some so I don’t seem completely biased towards these awesome products!)

Pros

  • Easy to use, even for a beginner
  • Although digital, they print out so beautifully warm and textured that you would expect to be feeling them rather than the flat page.
  • Customer service I have experienced has been absolutely superior. Very fast response time, reliable help and no technical difficulty (even though the site has been newly launched).
  • When you purchase and pay via PayPal, the downloads are instant – no waiting around for an email.
  • Multiple uses other than those for which they were designed.

Cons

  • The fonts used on the samples don’t come with the templates, although most of them come from dafont.com and are very easily downloaded. The font names are in the layers within the templates so you know what to look for.

{A few Q&A’s With The Album Cafe’s Creator}

Since first beginning to use these products, I have been in email contact with Brandi Cameron, the mastermind behind The Album Cafe. She helped me figure out my problems (Ctrl+G solved them all!) and I gave her a few suggestions (They’re now on Flickr!). I asked her how the whole idea got started and she instantly came back with a great backstory. I will let her tell you in her own words:

I’m a graphic designer with an absolute LOVE of photography. (photography is only my hobby simply because I don’t have the “gift” for it – design seems to be my greater talent) Anyway…years ago I was contacted by Krista Lee Photography to custom design their wedding albums. I began making “templates” of some of the albums I created for her in order to make the process more efficient. When other photographers began asking where she got her albums done…we decided that we should try starting a website to sell the layouts – and The Album Cafe was born. I handle all design and Krista supplies sample photographs and keeps me up-to-date on current photography trends so that we can tailor products to fit photographer’s needs.

Of course, I had a million questions for her which she graciously entertained. I thought you might also be interested:

When did you open the store?
The Album Cafe officially launched in March 2009. We have been very fortunate to have continuous growth since day one. We pride ourselves on quality products at a fair price, and outstanding customer service. WE LOVE OUR CUSTOMERS and we want to see them have fun with our products while learning new techniques in Photoshop.
What are your plans for the future?
Anything is possible! Currently we are just having a great time doing what we love to do.
What is your personally favourite thing to design?
Anything and everything…really. I am one of those lucky people who absolutely LOVES what I do. There are no “days off” for me because an off day is when you relax and do the things you want to do – which for me is my work. I work every single day and I LOVE IT!
Are you available for custom designs?
Not at this time. The Album Cafe keeps me pretty busy. 🙂
What is the likelihood that if someone drops a suggestion in your online suggestion box it will become a reality?
Extremely likely! When The Album Cafe first started, we were going to stick (as the name implies) just to albums. The Blog It! templates, Business Cards, Holiday Cards and even the Customer Galleries are all a direct result of the suggestion box. We had several requests for Boudoir albums – so that is in the works and will be released very soon. We’ve also had requests for marketing materials and full blog templates, so those are on the “To Do” list as well. As long as it is something that we can create that will be easy for people to use that we can price affordably, we’ll do it! All ideas and input are taken very seriously around here.

{In Closing}

I guess you can tell by now that I’m pretty darn lovesick over The Album Cafe’s items. As a professional photographer, I feel so confident with handing over a product made with these templates and they NEVER disappoint. My customers are always blown away and feel that my work exceeds their expectations thanks to Brandi’s gorgeous and work and clearly painstaking attention to detail. As a special gift to the DPS readers, The Album Cafe has set up a discount code especially for you! On checkout, enter DPS15 for 15% off – this discount never expires.

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Elizabeth Halford

Elizabeth Halford is a photographer and advertising creative producer in Orlando, FL. She wrote her first article for dPS in 2010. Her most popular one racked up over 100k shares!

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