Wait! What? Who has 40,000 problems and what kind of gift guide is this anyway?
No, I’m not gifting you 40,000 problems, but now that I’ve got your attention…
I love to take photos, but I don’t love to delete them, and until recently that wasn’t a problem, until it was. A big one! Sitting in my hotel room in the middle of the trip of a lifetime the storage was full on both my phone and my computer and I was suddenly unable to upload anymore photos.
What initially felt like memories too precious to delete now felt like 40,000 tedious problems that had to be sorted. Now! That was a few months ago, and I’ve now deleted thousands of photos, but I still have a long way to go.
My love of snapping pictures hasn’t gone anywhere, so even though I’ve learned my lesson about hitting the delete button, new photos are added daily, making this a two steps forward one step back kind of thing.
So, how is this a gift guide?
Well, with all these photos their must be some worth keeping and sharing, right?
One solution to all these “problems” has been to find new ways to display and store my photos off the computer. In my quest to do so I’ve sent, displayed, framed, published and gifted photos. With as many photo companies to choose from as there are photos on my hard drive it can be hard to know which one to use.
Are you considering giving photos gifts this year? If so, here is what I hope is a helpful guide to some of what I’ve learned:
Consider Frames Instead of Flowers
Consider sending an enlarged photo of you and your loved one, or of a mutual favorite place instead of flowers when friends or loved ones are under the weather or for a holiday gift this year. Ordering beautifully framed prints from companies like Shutterfly can be very affordable, especially if you take advantage of promotions, and they will last forever.
For an even more budget friendly option there’s IKEA. Their frames come in all sizes and colors, some priced as low as $1.49, which you can use to frame photos you print yourself or have printed at your local drugstore. I personally use these to frame my son’s art and its great!
Anyone whose ever tried knows teens are incredibly difficult to shop for, however, they love to take photos. Consider having some of their favorite snaps printed. Using an app called Mixtiles we chose some of my son’s favorite photos and had them enlarged and mounted on removable foam squares. The entire process is done on the phone, takes minutes and according to the FAQ the tiles can be rearranged as many as two dozen times each.
Postcards: Looking for something a little lower budget? Everyone loves to receive snail mail (so long as it’s not a bill)! I’ve been using the LaLaLab app to send postcards to friends and family directly from my phone using photos I took myself and its super fun! It’s a great way to say thank you, I miss you, or just hello. What a nice surprise to open your mailbox and find a personalized postcard with photos from a recent visit or fun moment.
Holiday cards: I love sending holiday cards every year and I love receiving them! Each one is like a little gift and I know many people feel the same. I never feel organized enough to hire someone and usually take my own photo. This year I tricked my boys and told them our photo shoot was just a practice session. I got the photos I needed in 15 minutes!! This year’s card is still under wraps, this one is from 2014.
Moving cards: Don’t forget to send moving cards. I know its better to give than to receive, but… There are many great websites and designs to choose from and I usually go with the one having the best sale! This year I used Minted to print my holiday cards and Tiny Prints for our moving announcement.
Creating an album of people or memories is the best way to get those files off your computer and they make wonderful gifts too. I’ve been trying out a number of different photo book companies in all different price ranges and skill levels. Here is some of what I’ve learned so far:
Mpix – Premium Panoramic Photo Book starting at $49.99
This was the most expensive of the books, but with a linen hardcover and lay flat pages it’s also the nicest. I created the book on my computer and once I learned their system was really able to make the book my own, creating custom layouts and adding text. The quality of the paper and prints is excellent.
LaLaLab. – Photo Book $30.00
Offering a range of photo products the LaLaLab. app couldn’t be easier to use. Choose your product, choose your photos, personalize, and purchase! That’s it! If you’re looking to edit, alter or add text this is not the app for you. While the book did come out nicely, I’m not sure it’s $30 quality.
Chatbooks – Custom Photo Book starting at $12
The cute compact size of these books is a definite plus, however I’m not sure it’s the right company for my needs. I ended up adding a lot of pages, which made it somewhat cost prohibitive. I found their app complicated and the end result less than what I was hoping for. Chatbooks offers a subscription service which would be the perfect gift for a teenager or grandparents who might not be so concerned with all the fine details.
Mosaic – Photo Book $20 plus shipping
Created from your phone and delivered in just 4 days, Mosaic couldn’t be simpler and makes a great gift, especially if you are short on time! Chose 20 photos, rearrange them if you’d like, choose the background color, review and press order. I used Mosaic to create a memento of a girls weekend to New Orleans.
With so many photos left to sort, I’ll be making more books in the future. I’m planning on trying out Apple’s new book formats, along with Blurb, Montage, Mixbook and the Mpix softcover version. Do you have too many photos on your computer? How do you manage them? Will you be giving photo gifts this holiday season? If so, which companies do you love?