First, let me just preface with the fact that I have been outsourcing my album design for the past four or five years now. While I took the time to learn and use this product myself, I do still believe in outsourcing your non-photography work. But, regardless of whether you outsource your album design or do it yourself, you want to have the best and fastest designer.
After hearing so much about Fundy's latest album designer update, I knew I had to give it a try myself. The first two times I used Fundy Designer 7, I was doing it to see if I could add one more thing onto my crazy same-day-edit routine. I knew with the Auto Design feature I could practically make the album in seconds, but could I make it and tweak it the night of a wedding?
On my first attempt, it was literally the first time I ever opened the program. I had seen a demo once and that was all I needed to give it a try myself. Everything in Designer 7 is so intuitive that there was hardly a learning curve at all. I was able to design an 80-page Couture Book wedding album and then finish off the last 14 pages after processing the second photographer's photos a week later. It only took about 20 minutes total time. Here's the final result:
The second attempt I made sure I grabbed my second shooter's photo and edited a handful of them so I could be completely done with the wedding album pre-design before we left the reception. It took just 18 minutes to design a 66-page wedding album on the spot. The best part about using the auto-design is that changing and tweaking what the program created is just as fast. It's one click or one drag to re-order images within the layout, and one click to toggle through different layout options. It makes customizing the auto-design, or making client requested changes later, an absolute breeze. You can see the final design below.
I made sure the second time I grabbed a screen flow of me using the program on second wedding. The first video is a time-lapse of the entire same day edit process. The second has just the Designer workflow sped up double speed. I do recommend giving it a quick pause right as I set up the auto-design. The program asks for your input on components like image ratios, page count, and how many images to use before pulling together a design for you in just a few seconds.
What I Liked
- Auto Design - Being able to literally click one button and have your album laid out for you in seconds is unbeatable. It's not immediately perfect but in one click it took about an hour away from the design process.
- Storyboard View Editing - One of the things that makes this program so easy to use is the storyboard view. While looking at a contact sheet style view of all the album pages, you can click and drag images from one page to another. In the view you can also toggle between possible layouts and rearrange images within the layout.
- Non-Template Templates - Fundy claims that this is the "world’s only template-free album design software" because of it's patented Drop Zone® technology that lets you drag and drop images anywhere to change the layout. No longer to we have to conform to standardized and limited templates, we can make them completely custom based on what we'd like creatively and what our clients are looking for.
What I'd Like Improved
- Native Editing - I'd love to see a few more image editing features native to the program. I don't like having to go into Photoshop for simple things like brightening midtones or adjusting contrast if two pictures when put side by side don't match up exactly the way I want them to.
- Traditional Layouts - It'd also be nice to have a way to easily design more traditional spreads with backgrounds, layers, and changing opacity for clients that have that taste. Not my personal taste, but I know there are a lot of photographers with clients that like a layered style album.
The program overall is simple, fast, clean and easy to use. There are so many features like in-program basic image black and white conversion, and in-app album ordering with popular labs like Millers Professional Imaging, plus collaging and image branding.
Version 7 is definitely a huge upgrade from previous versions and it's now a staple in my business for my graphic designer to use, either on the wedding or in the studio. And, with a price point at $299, or $119 if you're upgrading your current Fundy Designer, it should become one of yours too.