Yesterday, we talked about how important it is to get your wedding photos out of the cloud and into a photo book (but really). Back when I was getting married, there were very few options for albums that didn’t cost a fortune (or feel really cheap). These days there is almost the opposite problem: So many album companies, where do you start? Beyond that, there is still pressure from wedding photographers to buy those fancy-shmancy albums, so… are the ones you can make yourself anywhere near good enough? We’re taking the best photo book companies for a test run over the next few months and removing the guesswork of figuring out which wedding album is right for you.
The first album company we’re starting with is MILK Books, with the goal of doing a comprehensive MILK Books Wedding Album Review. (Disclaimer: While this is not a sponsored post, we did receive a free album, mostly because we’re not made of money and can’t afford to buy a dozen $300 wedding albums.) MILK Books is a family-owned business whose founder comes from a family of bookmakers with half a decade of experience, and they tout handcrafted albums which are purported to last more than a hundred years. (Will they? We won’t actually find out in this review, because we did not have a hundred years.) They offer both photo books and photo albums, with premium photo albums starting at $199. While I didn’t know much else about them going into this process, I did know that they share my minimalist and modern vibe, and I wanted to start with a product I was drawn to, to see if it stood up to the hype.
I ordered their Premium Wedding Album, which at 34 (beautiful, flat lay) pages came in at $299. Here is how the album and the album making process stacks up:
MILK BOOK WEDDING ALBUM REVIEW
Price: MILK Books start at $199 for an 8″x8″ album with 24 pages, and their most premium products start at $299. The price increases based on the size of your album and number of pages, with the most expensive album topping out at just under $600.
Overall Book Quality: A+
When I unwrapped my album, I was genuinely shocked by how nice it is. It must weigh ten pounds (get this if you want a serious art book feel for your album). It’s the kind of wedding album that would have cost a few thousand dollars (no joke) a decade ago. The pages are lay flat, and they’re done so well that photo spreads across pages look flawless. In fact, after looking at a bunch of albums, I’d say that MILK Books has some of the most truly lay flat pages. It’s a book that we’ll treasure for decades (and I’m sure will look good for that long).
Overall ease of use of software: C-
I really struggled when it came to using MILK’s software. Maybe it’s that I only watched five minutes of video tutorials, not fifteen minutes of video tutorials… but also, I don’t want to have to watch fifteen minutes of video tutorials to make a wedding album. I mean, at this point I’ve made enough wedding albums I shouldn’t have to watch any video tutorials, so there you have it. I could not get the layouts to work in any sort of intuitive fashion, and it took me about ten minutes to figure out a somewhat improvised system to get things to (generally, kind of) work the way I wanted. I struggled to add photos to a layout, something that should be super easy. Those ten minutes involved a lot of curse words, if we’re being honest.
Photo Upload: A
MILK Books let me upload photos from Dropbox, which I really appreciated. I keep all my photos organized and backed up on Dropbox these days (see above sad story about corrupt files). And it’s really nice not to have to re-download them, and then re-upload them.
Quality of design: A+
That said? Once I got the layouts to work, they were beautiful. They are among the best layouts I’ve encountered, and multiple other times in my subsequent album making journey, I wondered why I couldn’t just have those MILK Book layouts on everything. MILK’s are minimal, they’re well designed, and they had just enough variation to keep me happy, without having so much variation I was overwhelmed. Even among the minimal album companies (because if you like bells and whistles, there are plenty of companies that provide those), their layouts were the most beautiful. They also had well designed options for adding text to your spreads. It wasn’t something I wanted to do (photos are enough for me to handle), but if you want to create an album with some text, MILK Books provides gorgeous options.
Cover quality & Options: A
I would give MILK Books an A+ on cover quality if they offered foil printing on the cover (because I love foil printing). But with that small caveat, their cover is exceptional. I ordered a book on a heavyweight blush fabric, with a photo on the cover, and everyone who has seen it has audibly gasped.
MILK Books offered enough cover options to give you variety, but the selections are curated enough so you know that whatever you get is going to look excellent. (Please, give me ten designer approved styles, not a hundred that look like I could have made them myself in Photoshop.)
Quality of Photos Printed In Album: A+
When my album arrived, I was shocked by just how good the photos were. I’ve been making photo books for a decade (and have all the results stacked on my shelf for comparison). And I can say that overall, quality of photo printing in books has come light years in that time, but it remains really inconsistent from album company to album company. MILK books’ photos were amazingly good and printed on high quality paper designed for photos (don’t get me started on how many companies print photos on paper designed to look artsy, not to take photo color properly). I had zero complaints—and I always have complaints.
Overall color accuracy: A+
The color accuracy of the photo was spot on. The blacks were black, the whites were white, and the colors were accurately reproduced.
Cost per page: $8.80 (Pro-tip: If you sign up for their newsletter when you create your account, you can get 25% off your first order. So if you’ve never made a MILK book before, that’s a super easy way to save a bunch of money.)
Overall MILK BOOK WEDDING ALBUM SCORE: A
The one downside to MILK Books is the photo layout software was not super intuitive. Beyond that, however, this is one of my favorite album companies. Their layouts are the best in the business, the book is incredibly high quality, and the price is affordable—and in fact shockingly affordable, given just how good the book is.
I would, without hesitation recommend a MILK Book album. But I’d also warn you to spend fifteen minutes watching instructional videos before you dive in. A little bit of a pain, but well worth it, since once you get an album, you’ll likely use MILK Book again. (Their new moleskin photo books look legit, and perfect for documenting travel or art.)
MILK Books was not an album company I had a tremendous amount of brand awareness about prior to making an album, but it is hands down one of my now favorites.