I try to ask clients “Where are these pictures going to end up?” because I know the tendency is for our digital images to get archived on some hard drive somewhere, to be forgotten. We live in an age where we accumulate hundreds or thousands of pictures a year, and, overwhelmed by the volume, we just sock them away for the future without any real idea of what to do with them next.
As a mom, it brings me joy to watch my children pore over photo books containing images from their baby days, images of their extended family, images of loved ones no longer with us. I think there is real value to showing them where they came from, where they started in life, and the scale of their extended family. My children have cousins they don’t get to see often enough, and I love having photo books to help them remember what those cousins look like. I find it helps their relationships to remain strong, so that the next time we see the cousins, they are not strangers.
To help you “liberate” your archived photos from their hard drive or iCloud prison, here is a list of my favorite ways to use my photos. BONUS: scroll down to see a list of my LEAST favorite photo products, and save your $$. (And no, I do not earn a dime if you buy from the links given below, this review is my own honest, unsponsored opinion.)
- Homemade Photo Collage – Get a big cheap picture frame and a bunch of 4×6 or 5×7 prints, and some glue dots (best product ever!) and have some fun with it!
- Prints and gifts from Mpix – mpix is the photo lab I always recommend because they do fantastic work. Every print or photo product comes out with the correct color, sharpness, and contrast. They are a consumer lab, like Shutterfly, but they offer coupons much less frequently. Still, if you are going to order real prints, get them done right. Go with Mpix. I have also ordered Christmas tree ornaments from them and I LOVE the way they came out.
- My Social Book – if you are a facebook user, this company will turn your facebook posts and pictures into a real book. It functions like a journal for this busy mom who would lose a physical journal before ever completing it (or my kids would find it and doodle in it.) This way, all the memories I share on facebook and all the photos I add to albums or my timeline on facebook are archived in a fat, real book (not a photo book, just a regular printed book, so don’t expect fancy image quality.) I make one every December, chronicling the previous year of our lives. My children love flipping through it and seeing what life was like when they were littler. I even caught Annika sneaking it with her to school one day – she wanted to show her friends. =)
- Shutterfly Photo Book – Let’s face it, when Shutterfly offers a free hardcover 8×8 photo book, it’s pretty hard to pass that up. I am not a big fan of Shutterfly in general (their quality is not very good) but I definitely have several of these little books in my home, and they are awesome. Yeah you still have to shell out at least $10 or so for shipping (or more if you add extra pages to your book) but it is still an amazing price for a cute little photo book.
- Photo Magnets – These are a great (and less destructible) way to showcase photos of treasured family members right in your kitchen
- Fancy photo books from Zno – I don’t know how they do it, but Zno lets you create amazingly inexpensive but archival quality photo books. A flush mount album is a photo book with images printed on real photographic paper and carefully mounted onto a stiff material (fancy type of plastic) to create flat, heavy pages. These are serious, fancy photo books – the kind you fill with seriously treasured pictures. They have super affordable options starting at $10 (you can even link up to your facebook account and create a book directly!), and I love the way they come out. These books are fat, heavy, and they feel very high quality.
Here are my LEAST favorite photo products:
Least Fave #1: Linen textured prints or photo books. These come out fuzzy and ugly, in my opinion. If you order photo cards, for example, don’t be tempted by the option to have a linen surface. The same goes for photo book covers – just ugh. It just looks bad. I wish they would phase this option out.
Least Fave #2: Metal prints. Some metal prints look really cool, but many are SO GLOSSY that mounted on just about any wall, the glare will always ruin your view of the image. Too glossy is no good.
Least Fave #3: Glossy prints, especially for framing. Again, the ambient light will just ruin your ability to view the picture. This is one of my pet peeves – I hate craning my head all around to try and view the image that is presented. Too much effort. I stick with a pearl or lustre finish when possible.
Least Fave #4: Anything from Vistaprint. Sorry Vistaprint, I have no love for your cheap products, with their shoddy fuzzy resolution and faded colors.
Least Fave #5: Softcover books and prints from Shutterfly. I am not happy with the quality control at Shutterfly, and while I’ve had decent luck with their hardcover photo books, the softcover ones come out flimsy and with poor image quality, and I find their prints are hit or miss.