Try 4EverBooks for quick, quality printing of digital images

Printing your digital photos in the form of a photo book counts as printing. Don’t be fooled into thinking a print only counts as a 4-by-6 on photo paper. A digital album is a great way to organize a bunch of photos and tell a story.

Hundreds of companies now print digital albums. I tried 4EverBooks recently with photos taken last Thanksgiving. My husband, stepson and I visited Puerto Vallarta for a week and enjoyed all kinds of food besides turkey plus a lot of beautiful weather.

Those digital images were languishing in my computer until I decided to try 4EverBooks.

The software to create a 4EverBook album is free. You download it to your computer (which I like because that way is generally faster than working over the internet). Versions for Windows, Mac and Linux exist; I used Windows and made an 8-by-8 softcover album which retails at $19.95. Options range from $12 to $80 and above.

4EverBooks’ software automatically chose a great image for the background to the cover of my album.

It was so easy to use! I loved the feature that added my photos to a book automatically. I moved a few things around, but generally, the photos appeared in logical order. The background designs were fairly simple (though I had the option to use my own photos as background, which was interesting and made me think I should take photos differently in the future. I didn’t add photo captions. In the space of about an hour, I created and ordered the album. It was so satisfying!

Once created, 4EverBooks gave me the option of sharing my album on Facebook.

My album arrived by mail in a couple of days — amazing. I also could have chosen to have my album delivered to a local photo store. On the softcover copy, the cover is the same paper as inside (which is the say, thin), but the binding is impressively stitched (which I prefer for longevity to glued bindings).

If you’re thinking about creating books as gifts for the holidays, 4EverBooks is a good option.

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Not your standard wall hanging

Another option for bringing your photos back into your life: Turn your photos into dimensional wall art.

Helix Camera & Video in Chicago offers this distinctive way to show off family photos or artistic photography.

This version is an 8-by-8-inch photo imposed on an 11-by-11-inch image. The background image in this example is sort of a sponge-painted image but it could be anything you can photograph — grass, brick, another photo.

Cost is $62.50. Simple bring your images on a USB drive to the kiosk at Helix or order online.

Helix Camera & Video is at 310 S. Racine Ave., Chicago.

Keep your purse — and a loved one — handy

Framed family photos aren’t the only way to make your office space more homey and inviting.

Try a picture purse hanger:

A look at the purse hanger from the desktop.

Hang your purse from your desktop with this little hook. Imagine the smiling face of your child or the pensive look of your dog as an escape from workday stress.

Besides being practical, a purse hanger may save you some money, too. In Mexico, it’s believed that if you leave your purse on the floor, you will have bad luck with money. When I was traveling frequently in Mexico a few years ago, I was reminded of this superstition may times while dining in restaurants. Why tempt fate? This hook is small enough to tuck inside a purse and use wherever you go.

These cute hangers are available at Elmhurst Photo Boutique, 535 Spring Road In Elmhurst (www.elmhurstcamera.com). It’s a great place to shop for all kinds of photo-related doo-dads and gifts (including the purse!).

Gravity keeps this hook in place.

Photos that pop

Photo sculpture transforms the two-dimensional into 3-D. Isn’t 3-D all the rage at the cineplex? Yet with photo sculptures, no goofy glasses are required.

Side view

My mother had this photo sculpture made for my stepson for Christmas one year, and what football player doesn’t like bulking up? Great candidates for this process are images of kids in extracurricular activities, pets, engagement or wedding photos — pretty much any treasured photo you might otherwise hang on the wall.

The process requires a digital image (or a scan of a photograph). The subject is outlined and mounted on a substance that’s about a quarter-inch thick so it’s rigid. This image of my stepson remains upright with a stand that came with the image.

Quality Photo Plus in Worth, Illinois, is among the photo shops that offer gifts like these, and Judi Weber at  Quality Plus estimates it costs about $25-$35, depending on the size of the photo.

I can imagine a permanent bouquet made of photo sculptures as a lovely gift at the holidays. Why give your mother a bunch of wilting flowers when you could give her a bouquet of the smiling faces of her grandchildren?