So I had my exhibition on 22 July 2016 (a proper post on the exhibition will follow shortly) which featured a number of canvases but I had wanted a way to show a few more photos than just these canvases. I had originally thought of having a number of smaller prints floating around on tables etc but wasn’t convinced.
Whilst thinking of alternatives for once a suggestion made by Facebook actually stood out as a good idea. Saal Digital were looking for people to review their photobooks in return for a £40 voucher to spend towards said photobook. This seemed too good an opportunity to miss so applied for it and was duly sent the voucher.
Though it took me a while to get round to it I got started creating the photobook.
The process was all very straightforward – install the software on to the laptop and then create the photobook locally on the laptop before uploading once completed.
I have used two other companies (who shall remain unnamed) for photobooks previously, one of which worked entirely online (uploading to the photos to then add to an online project), and the other working locally to upload everything at the end.
In all honesty I don’t remember much about the other locally created photobook software but remember thinking I did not like it as much as I did the online one, so was not sure what I was going to think of the Saal process.
So first off you open the software, there is no need to log in you just make your choices and get started.
Going through the photobook options you get the pricing as you go along, but everything can be changed at any point – apart from possibly the book size (as in paper size, not the number of pages), but I didn’t particularly look at this so should not be taken as fact. It should be noted that you can create a number of items from Saal with the software, not just their photobooks.
Once you have made your initial decisions and got your basic costing you can start adding items to the photobook. This is a fairly simple process, you can stat from a totally blank page or you start from some basic designs which you can alter to fit what you want. Guidelines are visible for where the print bleed starts as well as standard markers such as the centre of the page. Alterations are simply done by clicking and dragging, photos can either be selected from a panel on the left hand side of the software or dragged in from a Windows Explorer window – whatever is easiest for you.
Quite importantly from my point of view is that because you are working locally there is no need to wait for photos to upload – being in a area with limited fibre based broadband upload speeds are not quick, so working locally saved a considerable amount of time.
Text is easily added and formatted as well, and the layout of pages is very simple, with items automatically snapping as they get in line with each other – particularly important if you want the tops of photos/text boxes in line for a consistent look.
Once finished you check over the options, get the final costing and once happy simply upload the project and make the payment. The upload did not appear to take long even on a slow line, payment was as straight forward as you would expect and the P+P was very reasonable indeed.
As a quick comparison, for equivalent books Saal compared to the online provider I have used before comparing like for like book, Saal appears to be the cheaper option, particularly when you consider Saal do not put their logo on the photobook, where as the other provider does and you have to pay more to have it removed. Saal are also able to create much longer photobooks than this alternative I have used before – up to 120 pages rather than 70.
The speed of delivery was very impressive indeed. I ordered the photobook during my lunch break on Monday and the photobook arrived at my door on Friday having been shipped from Germany where it was printed – and that was without choosing any speedier options.
So did the speed cause any issues with the print quality? In a word, no. The photobook was immaculate, the printing was of good quality, the finish to each page was very good. As was made clear during creation of the photobook all the pages are ‘lay flat’ so you can have photos going across any double spread which I did on a few occasions with a certain amount of trepidation but it all came out very well indeed.
I had selected the padded cover option which is probably the one thing I didn’t like – but that was personal preference rather than a problem with what was produced. Others seemed to like it so my opinion seemed to be the minority.
Once the book is ordered you also get sent a link to share the photobook online with anyone who might be interested including giving the option for other people to buy the book from that link if you wish.
Here is the link for viewing my order online (this will open a new window):
Here are some (low res) photos of the finished product:
Customer service – this was also very good. Any queries were answered promptly and precisely with whatever information was needed.
In short I would highly recommend using Saal Digital for your photobook needs – the whole process appears to be very carefully thought out and well designed from start to finish, with the end product being very pleasing indeed.