SmartAlbums Review – Album Builder for Photographers

A SmartAlbums 2 review showing how a wedding photographer who uses SmartAlbums2  is his wedding photography album design process. 

Honesty corner: I initially set off on this whole SmartAlbums adventure thinking I’d just check it out and let you all know how it is, and I’d be done with it.

Turns out I’m not done with it – I’ve only just begun.

I’d already been using an album designer software for as long as I can remember. So long, in fact, I just haven’t felt the need to branch out because it’s given me everything I thought I needed.


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But after, oh, five minutes poking around this amazingly intuitive album crafting tool sent from the photography gods themselves, I fully intend on making the switch to SmartAlbums myself.

(Especially after the latest 2022 update, which comes with some pretty incredible features photographers should be very, very excited about.)

If you’ve been following along on this photography software AI train lately (ImagenAI anyone? Narrative Select, anyone?!), you might find the new and improved SmartAlbums 2022 pretty intriguing.

Let’s take a closer look.

What is Pixellu SmartAlbums 2022?

  • AutoBuild feature makes lightning-fast first drafts
  • Familiar hotkeys makes life easy
  • Easy to pick up and start using right away
  • Good-looking templates and layouts
  • Can be used to create collages for your blog too
  • Navigating between panels/tools takes getting used to
  • Subscription-only (can’t be bought outright)

Pixellu SmartAlbums is a simple but powerful album design software for photographers. With the release of the 2022 version, Pixellu somehow managed to find a way to make the whole process even more simplified with their AutoBuild feature.

Within seconds of firing up the tool for the very first time, I flowed effortlessly through the panels to create a new album and within seconds (yes, seconds) I had a draft of a full album already put together. Truly unbelievable. All I had to do was move a few things around on each spread, and boom. I had successfully designed an album I would be proud to deliver to clients in under five minutes.

And in case you’ve come here wondering if you can also use SmartAlbums to design collages and diptychs for your blog, the answer is YES! Just use the “Custom” tab when creating a new project and adjust your dimensions.


  • AutoBuild

One of the highlight features is AutoBuild, which lets you design an album in 30 seconds by dragging and dropping a folder of images into the upload area and clicking “AutoBuild” – watch as your photos miraculously materialize into the form of a gorgeous album based on capture time, metadata and even light settings.

This feature is so intuitive that I would confidently recommend everyone use it as a way to produce a first draft at lightning speeds.

If you don’t like something about an AutoBuild spread, just move your cursor to the top of the spread and choose a different layout, or drag and drop photos to rearrange or remove them completely.

You can see in the screenshot above a selection of the many templates – clicking a new one will automatically rejig/resize your photos around in the preview spread, so you can choose whichever layout looks the best.

  • Fully customizable

Another sweet feature is that everything is fully customizable. You can add text, patterns and backgrounds to each spread right in the program.

The backgrounds are simple and clean, and there are all sorts of ways you can modify and arrange them to really make a creative spread.

There are also about half a million fonts you can choose from if you prefer to add text to a page. The only downside is the font list does not show a preview of what each option looks like. You better know what you’re looking for or have some serious patience if you plan on getting fancy with your typography!

I especially love this function because you can potentially get really creative with your album spread designs – see screenshot above for what a difference it can make.

  • Custom Cover Design

You can now also create photo wrap album covers right in SmartAlbums. Cover Design is best explained in the form of a video rather than a still screenshot, so I’m sharing their two-minute introduction to this new feature above.

All in all, I think that being able to customise an entire photo wrap is pretty cool, and something that wedding clients would no doubt appreciate to get their albums looking even more unique and personalised.

  • Search Function

When you’re working in a sea of photos and get lost, you can use the new search function by hitting Ctrl+F to look up a photo by filename.

Obviously, this works best if you’re more organized than I am and name your files something other than the name they were given at birth…!

Overall Performance

SmartAlbums is probably one of, if not the fastest album designing tools for photographers on the market right now.

I tested it on a brand new, maxed out iMac so I. might not be the best person to ask about how smoothly the software itself runs on lower spec computers, but from what I can tell, it’s a pretty simple program with little lag.

A folder of high-resolution images was pulled into the software in seconds.

Either way, I can almost guarantee that the ease of creating a new album from the ground up will more than make up for any delay you may experience if you’re using SmartAlbums on an older computer.

Alternatives to SmartAlbums

Fundy Designer is a similar photo album tool that doubles as a diptych and collage maker for your web blog. This is the tool I have been using for several years and have really enjoyed, but I’m not selling albums like hotcakes by any means.

If you’re not necessarily bringing in a lot of income annually from photo albums and still want a budget tool that can help you throw a blog together quickly, this is a good one to check out.

They also allow you to buy their tool outright for around $300 if you’re not concerned about updates or are interested in a subscription.

But if there’s anything SmartAlbums just taught us, it’s that album designer subscriptions come with some pretty life-altering feature updates.

AlbumStomp by StompSoftware is another alternative to SmartAlbums. I actually know very little about this one other than whenever someone on the wedding photographer forums asks, “What album designer should I use?” it’s usually either people saying “AlbumStomp!” or “SmartAlbums!”

It looks like it’s priced around $150 to buy it outright, and also has some pretty intuitive features.

Value for Money

With three different subscriptions options, SmartAlbums is going to be great value for your money if you’re getting even a little bit of income from album sales.

Monthly subscriptions start at around $16/month for the software alone, and you also have a couple of other subscription options to choose from that will give you some additional features, like their Cloud Proofing and SmartSlides – see our review of SmartSlides.

I will say that I like that that Fundy Designer lets you buy their software outright. However, if you’re putting together several albums annually, you’re not going to want to miss out on the AutoBuild feature SmartAlbums is now offering.

In fact, the AutoBuild feature alone makes it worth it in my opinion and is the primary reason I plan to switch over.

Pixellu SmartAlbums 2022 Review | Conclusion

If you pull in at least $500 each year from photo albums, you absolutely need an album designer tool of some sort.

This is for both your sanity and, most importantly, accuracy with designing spreads tailor-made for the specific album company you’ll be printing with.

SmartAlbums will not only simplify your album creation but will drastically speed the otherwise tedious process of album designing up tenfold.

As we all grow with our businesses, these time-saving tools are essential to ensuring we don’t burn out while still producing top-notch final products that our clients deserve.


Design professional albums in minutes using powerful & intuitive tools that integrate seamlessly with your workflow.

Use code SHOTKIT15 to save 15%

Check Current Price


  1. crack sz on October 19, 2020 at 2:19 am

    I have used Smart Albums for all of my wedding and boudoir clients albums for the last four or five years and honestly, love it! It’s so simple, easy to use, effective and makes a normally mundane job of designing books really fun! You just drag and drop and it’s easy as pie!
    jacky jocab

  2. Andreas on August 2, 2019 at 9:33 am

    Make sure you update this article. SmartAlbums2 did not receive an update for 2 years – and there is no mention that it will work on the next version of OSX.

    They moved on to an subscription service for $16 per months. I personally look at alternatives like Album Stomp for $99.

    • Mark Condon on August 3, 2019 at 6:46 am

      Funny you should mention that, Andreas – we’ve just finished looking at their beta for V3! Update coming soon ;-)

  3. Cara on April 18, 2018 at 6:22 am

    Ive just made my first smart album for a customer and sent it to myself so I can look at it . I cant open it because it said I have to be using Chrome!! Agree that it takes seconds to make but not much good if me or my client cant view it?!

    • Mark on April 18, 2018 at 7:24 am

      Yeah that doesn’t sound great! Maybe take it up with the developers, Cara. At least Chrome is free and popular…

  4. maca on January 5, 2018 at 12:13 pm

    I juste want to say, I spent lot of time trying to find a photo maker software wich allow you to export on PDF
    Smartalbum actually is for me the only one doing it (that convince my self to abandon fundy desfing )

    I agree with you, after smartalbum no other solution compares.

  5. Ines on September 25, 2017 at 9:39 am

    Hi Mark,

    I am amateur. Could you please explain to me how to make a final Album product… Where and how to print and make family album?

    • Mark on September 27, 2017 at 7:18 pm

      It’s a bit of a lot to explain here in one comment Ines and I’m not entirely clear of what you’re asking…

  6. Nigel Burn on December 2, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    I think it would be a good idea if you mentioned in your review that Smart Albums 2 is not available yet in the Windows format.
    That way, us non Mac users won’t go rushing to the ‘buy now’ option, only to find that the Windows option is not available and is still in beta testing.

    • Mark on December 2, 2015 at 4:46 pm

      That’s a good point Nigel, thanks for pointing it out and sorry for your disappointment.

  7. David Medina on June 5, 2015 at 8:28 am

    Great review except for the following statement “Let’s face it – no one likes selling albums to clients.” That is a gross generalization and it is false.

    Maybe photographers that do not see the value of a wedding album beyond how much they can make out of it think that way. But most photographers that see the real value of what they do, do not think that way. They can see the value to the client of offering a FINISHED products.

    Can you imagine what would be of photography if Ansel Adams or Henri Cartier Bresson hated doing and selling prints? That would be as absurd as claiming that wedding photographers hate selling wedding albums. As wedding photographers the wedding album is the finished product, it is the final expression of the art work that we do as photographers.

    Artists like Ansel Adams, Henri Cartier Bresson and Eugene W. Smith spent hours in the darkroom perfecting their PRINTS.

    It is a sad day for the craft and art of photography when photographers look for shortcuts and choose to follow the fast food mentality.

    • Mark on June 6, 2015 at 5:38 am

      Fair comment David and thanks for your thoughts. I think you have misinterpreted my statement though. I was suggesting that the majority of us don’t like ‘selling’, not the act of offering an album to clients. This may not be the case for you, but anything regarding money, particularly something that involves an upsell (dirty word I know!), makes the majority of photographers I have spoken to about this quite uncomfortable. Whilst there are many photographers out there who are great sales people as well as great artists, for the rest of us, ‘selling’ an album to a client who you’ve become close to (and may even consider a friend), may not come so naturally.

      I completely agree with you about offering a finished product, and all you said about the photography masters of our time. Whether they were great salesmen or not on the other hand, I can’t comment.

      Anyway, thanks again for the comment. I hope if nothing else you find the Smart Albums software useful :-)

  8. jeff on May 23, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    Have out output an album yet from SA 2? Does it allow you to build out the album using image in a lossless format (.tif)? How does it handle final output sharpening once album size and image crops are decided?

    • Mark on May 26, 2015 at 11:47 am

      – Yes, you can import TIFFs and use them to design the album
      – When set to “Medium”, the sharpening is comparable to InDesign’s default output. Sharpening settings can be adjusted in “Preferences”

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