Guest Signing Books – a win-win product to offer!

Posted by on Jan 10, 2009 | Comments Off on Guest Signing Books – a win-win product to offer!

Guest Signing Books – a win-win product to offer!

I LOVE designing guest signing books for my clients and have heard so many success stories with them that I’d thought I’d share some of my thoughts about these with you.

Here are some photos that my clients have sent to me to show the books ‘in action’:

Danny Weiss

Carden Photography

Carden Photography

Your Reflection My Style – Chanel Parrott

Your Reflection My Style – Chanel Parrott

My philosophy on guest books for photographers:


  • you must keep the price point lower and be affordable for selling – this means choosing an album product whose wholesale value isn’t toooo expensive from the start. Additionally, I offer a discounted ‘per image’ price when I design guest books specifically rather than my regular ‘per page side’ price in order to help keep the price point down for my clients. If you’re interested in having HappyFish Design work with you on a guest book just contact me!
  • is usually a last minute up-sell once your clients fall in love with their e-session shoot
  • the size of the guest signing book should be smaller than their main wedding album that they’re buying and perceived value should be proportionate
  • have a guest book sample on hand for client meetings and bridal fairs – I have heard that when showing the guest books that they have actually booked new clients on the guest book alone!! :) I love to hear that…… if they don’t see it – they won’t know that they want one!
  • album companies that seem to be the ‘most’ popular for guest books that I’ve seen are Vision Art, Asuka Book, and the WHCC press books. However, there are many different products for guest books that are on the market from the various album companies – some with ‘lined’ paper etc etc…. a lot to choose from.
  •  typically from what I’ve seen a horizontal format is nice, square would be nice too – vertical not as easy for writing on – especially with a book company that does not lie flat – like an Asuka book!
  • popular sizes seem to be in the 10×8 or 8×6 range
  • since the guest books are typically a quick turnaround situation for the couple to receive them in time for the wedding (!!) the album production will have to be FAST! If you choose a company that takes a month or so to produce, you’ll have to pre-plan accordingly and have your photo shoot plenty of time in advance of the wedding
  • be careful on recommending what ‘kind’ of pen your clients should use – depends on the type of paper. Inkjet vs laminated etc…. would behave differently.
  • Guest books are perfect not only for engagement sessions – but also for destination wedding ‘before or after’ shoots for bringing back to their hometown for the big local reception party
  • Money aside, these are an easy sell – your couples have a fantastic way to share their great engagement session with their friends & family besides just having a couple great shots framed on their shelf. The comments are fun to read too years later and a great record of who was there to share the special day with them. :) I sure wish I had one when I got married in 1999! (OMGoodness …. it’s our 10 yr anniversary this year WOW, now I’m feeling much older!!)
  • the reason why I say ‘win-win’ … is because not only does the couple have an incredible way to enjoy and share their engagement or destination wedding, but also possibly hundreds of guests will be seeing the album at the venue and many will indeed be curious how and where they got the great photos and book – and will result in potential new referrals for the photographer. I have heard stories of this happening already. (Make sure your logo and/or website is on the back of the cover in case they don’t get a chance to ask the bride & groom but don’t get too pushy and put your phone number on their too … 😉 LOL )
  • make sure you have a sample or samples to show at your bridal shows and for coordinator/venue meetings. Norris of Carden Photography just told me today that his consultants/coordinators in his market region are LOVING the books when they see them. I’ll never forget when he emailed me after a bridal show we were working towards: “My engagement session images and your guest book helped set me apart.” :) Hearing feedback like that makes my day without a doubt!


  •  I like to use lots of negative space to give ample room for writing – guest signing books like these allow for guests to express themselves more freely and tend to write longer notes … than the old fashioned ‘who they are, where they live, congrats!’
  • I like to keep the negative space and photo placement changing from spread to spread – keep the eye moving and keep the intrest up from beginning to end of the book.
  • Some spreads really big and open vs. a fuller larger panoramic can been dramatic
  • Is helpful to know how many guests the couple is having …. more more guests, the more writing room they’ll need and possibly more pages….
  • I design each spread so that it looks fantastic whether there ends up being comments from guests on the page … or not ! This is important – because sometimes people are like lemmings – and like to glom onto the same pages that other people have written on. (Just like how you can park at one end of a practically empty parking lot – and come out of the store and people have parked right next to you anyway !! hehehehe) Point being, IF there are ’empty’ pages near the end of the book – those pages should STILL be beautifully balanced in design and not be boring.
  • I don’t like to add a lot of design elements if it distracts from the photography – a bit here and there can add spice, but not too much – additionally, too many color blocks etc. ‘might’ impede someone from writing on it if too dark etc…..
  • Some people like to add ‘prompting’ text …. like ‘funny story about the bride or groom’ …. while this can be ‘fun’ and create some interesting reading for later – be careful what you say in case there is a chance that nobody will really want to put their answer etc. and leave you with a page with no commentary.


  • It’s fun to have ‘atmospheric’ or ‘scene setter’ or ‘detail’ shots as well in the layout … not just all ‘people pictures.’ This can add different points of view, add interest to the pages and provide the potential for different layout options or semi-translucent backgrounds that if done careful can add depth or new places for comments to be written on top of as well.
  • Keep the locations VARIED …. nothing is more boring to a guest book than spread after spread of the same beach rocks, or bench or path etc…. go to as many different backdrops as you possibly can!! ie. street scape to park to alleyway etc…. all create a totally different environment. If you can’t go to more than one location — vary up the background scene, don’t stick to the same light post or pier or whatever….
  • If you can … have them change their clothes – this can create more visual interest as well. Not critical… but many of the books I’ve done do feature the couple looking ‘different’ within one book. But have the ‘setting’ change with their clothes … otherwise that would look odd. 😉
  • for a guest book – typically I receive about 28-38 images roughly for a 30 page side/15 spread book
  • shooting action sequences is also fantastic for guest books
  • don’t always just shoot ‘faces’ … vary it up, go for different points of view …

For more information just contact Karen at HappyFish Design!

*2012 – update – check out Finao’s press printed products too – Ravebook etc.