5 ideas for fun photo gifts

It’s the most wonderful time of the year … to turn your photos into gifts.

My email inbox is flooded with offers from photo retailers right now. We’re quickly ticking down to the day it is too late to order a customized photo gift and actually receive it in time for Christmas. But we’re not there yet! There’s still time to make treasured gifts for your loved ones with photos. Here are a few ways I’m turning pixels into presents:

  1. 2018 events into Christmas cards: I think of my Christmas cards as little gifts to my friends. I try to make them lovely to hold with nice paper and interesting to read with the KISS principle (keep it simple, sister, no need to write two pages in the age of social media–if they really care that much, they already know). I did my Christmas cards this year with pictures of weddings and graduations at Minted, which promotes itself as offering “fresh designs from independent designers.” Their interface is fairly simple to use, and I also was able to order pre-addressed envelopes, saving me lots of hand cramps.
  2. Snapshots into calendars: In the past, I’ve created custom calendars for my mother-in-law (maybe this year, too, if I get my act together). It’s a great way to show off pictures of the grandkids (and now great-granddaughter) in a printed format. With quality cell phone images, I can print them nice and big so she can actually see the detail she misses on a tiny phone screen. I can even snag images from text conversations, meaning I don’t always have to depend on my own photography. Anyone who prints photos nowadays does calendars, too. Come prepared to your project with a list of relevant birthdays and anniversaries because many vendors can print those, too, in a calendar.
  3. cute dogsFacebook image into luggage tag: Did you know you can download images from your friends’ Facebook timelines? Well, you can. And I did. My friend posted the world’s cutest image of her dogs, and I turned it into a luggage tag for her at Shutterfly. I added the phrase, “There’s no place like home,” which is perfect for a world traveler, I think. I didn’t even have to wrap it. Shutterfly shipped it right to her door for me.
  4. Family photos into fishing lures: My 15-year-old nephew is an angler extraordinaire, so I’m having the local copy shop turn pictures of his brothers into fishing lures. What teen wouldn’t want to turn his brothers into bait?
  5. Picture into puzzle: I’m having the same local copy shop turn an image of my stepson and his girlfriend into a heart-shaped puzzle. How adorable is that?

If you’re not so great at technology, consider visiting your local photo or print shop for help. No need to know the difference between jpegs and pngs or uploading and downloading. The store that usually prints boring paperwork for me (saving me hours of frustration with my inkjet printer and dozens of print cartridges) also does all kinds of photo gifts including Nos. 4 and 5. I emailed my images to them, but I am sure I could have walked in there with my phone and they could have secured the image for me and turned it into a gift.

Good luck and get going! Time’s a-wasting!

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Say cheese

Christmas is coming, and you know what that means: Camera-wielding family members are as thick as soul-stealing thieves.

If you dread being in pictures, now’s not the time to be shy.

The Chicago Tribune printed a story last month filled with tips for looking good in holiday photos. Click here for the whole thing or check out these Top 5 tips:

  1. Change your attitude. You’ll look like a sour Scrooge if you act like one. Says Wisconsin photographer J.D. Wacker, if you’re not enjoying yourself, it shows. So lighten up; if you’re going to be captured on camera anyway, smile.
  2. Get down. Encourage the photographer to take photos from a higher angle, slightly above eye level so people are looking up at the camera.
  3. Make like a giraffe. Stretch your head and neck forward and title your chin down a notch, Wacker says. This helps eliminate double chins. Chin-up just gives the camera a better view of your nostrils.
  4. Turn. Tip your shoulders and tip your head to the higher shoulder. And never stand full-on in front of the camera unless you want to look bigger; turn your body for a three-quarters view and then square your shoulders (less of your hips to show).
  5. Plan your attire. White is not flattering, and bright colors (and those horrible holiday sweaters with Santas or Christmas bells) distract from people’s faces. Fashion photography Melissa Rodwell recommends soft colors. Get your hair cut and colored and do your nails, which will feed your confidence.

Enjoy the holidays!

Savor the season in pictures

Which is better? Shovel the food into your mouth and swallow it as fast as you can? Or savor a bunch of tiny bites to make a delicious treat last?

If you’re the shovel-it-in type, I can give you the plastic bracelet I wore last week that entitled me to the all-you-can-eat buffet at a beautiful resort in Puerto Vallarta. “Unlimited” didn’t have very much appeal by Day 7.

But if you’re a savor-it soul, click here to check out Paper Coterie’s Picture the Holidays program. When you register by Wednesday (Nov. 30, 2011), PaperCoterie will send you an email every day designed to “inspire your inner photographer” and encourage you to “get creatively centered.”

Of course, you can upload a photo a day as part of the program and create a book through PaperCoterie, too, but even if the book doesn’t interest you, you might enjoy the program.

I have scrapbook photo albums of people opening gifts at Christmas year after year. Can you see their faces? Not so much? Can you see the gift? Not usually. It’s just a whirl of cheap wrapping paper and hands in motion, images of “Christmas” (Christmas means gifts, right?) gulped down in haste.

What a waste of film and scrapbook pages.

But to get inspiring ideas to take photos every day of December? Now that’s a way to savor the holiday.

Hurry! You need to register by Wednesday to participate. Let me know how it turns out for you.