The thing is…being a photographer, I often have different requirements for other photographers I hire along the lines of “Nah, don’t worry. Just send me the RAW unprocessed files.”
And so that’s exactly what I told my wedding photographer to do – deliver a DVD of RAW files. Yes, I would find the time to sort through and edit hundreds of photographs myself. Soon enough, those memories were sitting next to tens of thousands of travel photographs I’m still planning on sorting through for stock purposes.
Two years later with those wedding photos still gathering binary dust on my hard drive, I finally got the nudge I needed in the form of an email from VioVio, an online photo printing service, asking if I’d be interested in reviewing their product. They also provided a complimentary $50 discount certificate to use along with my review.
I was looking forward to logging in and playing around VioVio but I certainly wasn’t looking forward to going through hundreds of unprocessed wedding photos as well as navigating any help guides they might have to learn how to use their product.
So I planned on reviewing VioVio in a two-part series based on the following criteria:
- Overall look and feel
- Ease of use and functionality
- Processing time
- Quality of final product
This initial review covers the first three items above. Once I receive my wedding album in a couple weeks, I’ll round up my VioVio review.
Overall look and feel
I don’t consider myself superficial but when it comes to software, I’m definitely all about the look-and-feel (having spent years in my previous life as an application developer). VioVio’s interface happens to be in my favorite color – green. It is clean, easy to move around, and also emits a “personal” feel about it; a feel that appealed more to home and personal photography projects rather than a professional portfolio I’d send to National Geographic.
But this was only based on judging by first impressions. Once my album arrives, I’ll know for sure.
Ease of use and functionality
I hate using online help. Not because I’m a know-it-all (far from it) but rather, I want an application to be intuitive enough to use so that their online help guide is rendered useless (sorry technical writers!). Once I set up an account, the process of starting a new project was super straightforward. I called my project, “The Åkerströms”, and soon enough, I was whisked away to an online VioVio designer where I could upload photos and start laying out my photo book.
Since each of my images was pretty large (roughly 12MB and higher), I ran into issues right away (specifically an IO error) when trying to upload them using their built-in uploader so I opted for their FTP uploader which allowed me to pull the images – over 200 unedited photos – into the system in a simpler way.
While I knew uploading all those photos (unedited since I didn’t have time to sit and edit every single one) via FTP would take awhile, I hoped for VioVio’s sake that once those images were pulled in, everything else would be smooth-sailing.
And it was.
Especially once I discovered their super nifty Auto-fill tool which allowed me to pick the template layout of my pages and just by clicking the Auto-fill tool, auto-populate all the pages without much intervention.
A definite plus and time-saver!
There were other tools there to help me rotate, crop, zoom in/out, add captions, reorder, and work with my layout in general. I also had to glance through each page one more time to make sure heads and body parts weren’t awkwardly cropped out of frame while auto-filling.
Once my pages were laid out, it was on to picking my front and back covers.
Considering I live in Sweden, it usually takes weeks for packages to get to me. Sure, I could fork out $100-$200 bucks for faster shipping but when the product I order is usually a fraction of that cost, it makes no human sense to me.
So I was curious to see what options were available to me once my album was ready to be printed, what the shipping costs would be, and if the complimentary $50 discount certificate would even make a dent in my shopping cart.
Once I was done with my covers and ready to purchase the album, a couple available book sizes and bindings based on the layout I’d worked with were displayed. I opted for the 8.5 x8.5 in Imagewrap Hardcover for $48.99.
So I was left with $1.01 for shipping to Sweden.
Obviously, I knew I had to pitch in the difference and was stoked to find that they do offer a very reasonable International SuperSaver 4-8 Week Shipping for $9.99 alongside the other Express, Get-here-tomorrow, Bank-breaking type shipping options, so my final shipping cost was $8.98.
Quality of final product
Once the album arrives in 4-8 weeks, I’ll let you know in part 2 of this review along with some final thoughts.