When we began the brainstorming process for the Miller’s Signature Album back in 2011, we had one clear goal in mind. We wanted to engineer an album with innovative options and simplicity to serve the changing needs of the modern photographer. After nearly two years of research and development (with loads of new additions), we released an album that is a true representation of the heart and soul of Miller’s Lab.
The process begins as soon as the photographer submits their album files to the lab. From there, we print the images and use a creaser to create a fold for the album. Once that step is complete, the layout of the album goes through an extensive checking process where specialists carefully inspect that the border, text, and design elements will display correctly within the album. If we catch something that doesn’t quite look right, we contact the photographer or make a quick adjustment before the creation process moves to the next phase. From papers and printers to inks and chemical solutions, every single element of the process is hand-tested daily for consistency and accuracy. We take great pride in the quality of each album that comes into the lab and it is important that everything we do surpasses the expectations of the photographer and the end customer.
Once the layout has been approved and the interior paper type has been attached, we create what we call the “album block” by shaping the current object into a square block. After this stage has been completed, the album block is baked and then pressed with a special machine that applies loads of pressure so the album lays flat. The baking and pressing phase can take anywhere from 30-45 minutes. While this journey might sound like some type of assembly line operation, you would be amazed at the small team of artisans that are solely dedicated to this specialty product. Typically a single album is touched by no more than 3 or 4 sets of hands before the creation is completed.
After the album block has been baked and pressed, it goes through another vigorous inspection by our album team. If the block is up to our standards, it is hand-cut to the desired size and cleaned. For the final step in the process, the album moves to the Covers department where the photographer has their choice of stunning options including Leathers, Linens, Custom Covers, Metal, Acrylic or Wood.
The Miller’s Signature Album is truly a labor of love. Could we find processes to cut down production costs or speed up the process even more? Perhaps we could, but that simply isn’t the point. There is an intrinsic beauty in transforming a group of images into a timeless creation through a combination of teamwork and handcrafted precision. We fell in love with the process of making something great and that spirit has guided us since our humble beginnings in downtown Pittsburg, KS.
Take a peek at a few extra snaps from the Albums department in Columbia, MO.