Celebrations and simchas have pivoted and re-engineered crowded houses of worship and hotel ballrooms pre-COVID to more intimate gatherings. Regardless of what that looks like, the moments need to be captured. Atlantan Michelle Katz Penn combined her emotions, creative and technical skills to formalize Cloud 9 Albums.
“The process of going through hundreds of pictures, choosing favorites, and actually creating the album is time-consuming and overwhelming, and some simply never get it done. I realized how many people put off getting an album from their child’s bar or bat mitzvah, or even their own wedding, and I had the ability to make professional grade albums.”
She created a Facebook page to share photos of her work. She now has clients whose child’s bar mitzvah was anywhere from a few months ago to 10 years ago. In addition to Zoom events, she has done b’nai mitzvah in Israel and Colorado and specialized versions for grandparents.
She continued that even if the ceremony is smaller. “That moment is extremely special. You feel so much love as you watch your child on the bimah. You get that surreal cloud nine feeling.”
Her own daughter’s bat mitzvah was in January. Her photographer captured the weekend well, but instead of paying for his album, she decided to do it herself.
“I have been making my family’s photo albums for years using the various online consumer resources. I researched professional design software and physical albums and dove in picking backgrounds and capturing feelings.”
Penn was pleased with the quality of the album, which she felt was comparable to her two previous b’nai mitzvah albums done by “professionals.”
“What makes Cloud 9 Albums so valuable is that I take the stress away from them by not requiring them to do anything except forwarding me the link to their photographer’s photos. The process is simple.”
Her clients send her their digital photos, often through the photographer’s link or Dropbox. She goes through hundreds of photos and identifies the pictures that best represent the event.
Typically, a 30-page album will have about 100 pictures. Michelle creates an initial digital album for proofing, available to the client online. The client then has the opportunity to make changes. They may go back and forth a few times to arrive at the “just so” finished product.
There are a variety of covers, from a photo cover with linen or leather, to crystal over the photo cover appropriate for weddings. Once the decisions have been made, she orders the professional grade album with lay-flat, 1½-millimeter-thick pages. For local clients, she hand delivers the albums and ships others. The typical cost for a 10-by-10-inch, 30-page professional grade album is about $450.
“Since starting in March, after working on dozens of albums, I couldn’t be happier that I found this new passion and am able to bring a little joy to people during a crazy time.”
Robyn Spizman Gerson, nationally known gift expert, shared, “I see so many gifts, and when I was introduced to Michelle’s photo books, I was instantly a fan. Her books are some of the most beautiful and a class act. The time and attention to details she invests transforms photographs and memories into magical moments and lasting keepsakes. Michelle’s photo books are picture-perfect gifts that keep on giving.”