How many photos did you take this past year? A few hundred? A few thousand ? If you’re anything like me, most of those photos are probably languishing on your hard drive, waiting to be rediscovered.
A print isn’t the only way to show off your photographic endeavors. Whereas photo-based gifts were once limited to mouse pads and mugs, now you can customize far more interesting objects with your favorite pictures. For instance, you can find businesses that will turn your images into works of art, stylish accessories, even edible delights. And with the holiday season in full swing, photo creations can make for great presents, too. Here’s a look at just some of the cool stuff you can do with your photos. Get more ideas, including stamps, coasters, and cookies.
Want people to ooh and aah at your next party? Find a favorite snapshot of the guest of honor and have Jones Soda personalize a case of pop by placing that person’s photo on the bottle labels.
Before submitting the picture, you’ll need to crop shots to a specific size and resolution using an image editor such as Adobe Photoshop CS3 ( ; $649) or Yellow Mug’s EasyBatchPhoto ($24). The new version of Preview in OSX 10.5 can also do the job. You have the option of adding a photo credit along the side of the image and up to seven lines of text on the back of the label.
You can select from several flavors, such as Berry Lemonade, shown here. A case of 12 personalized sodas costs $30, plus shipping, and can take up to four weeks for delivery.
Photos that rock
Becoming a parent doesn’t have to mean losing your cool factor. Show off your newest rock star by commissioning the husband-and-wife team at Rattle-n-Roll to create a customized concert poster with your little one’s photo and birth details.
Simply select one of five templates, and then e-mail your child’s picture along with important stats like name, date and time of birth, weight, and parents’ names. Rattle-n-Roll uses the photo as inspiration for a hand-drawn illustration of your child. The resulting prints on white card stock are beautiful and richly saturated. Of course, the service isn’t limited to babies. Feel free to submit photos of teenagers, pets, or yourself.
As you’d expect with custom artwork, the posters will cost a pretty penny. For $200, you get two 11-by-17-inch posters (additional prints are $10 each). For $250, you receive two posters and a pack of 50 8.5-by-5.5-inch postcards that you can send out as birth announcements or party invitations. The company can also create a unique design and customize the order to suit your whims, though you’ll have to pay an additional fee.
A light in the dark
Brighten up a room with your child’s smile—literally. After you submit your image file to Light Affection, the company carves the image into a piece of hard, translucent resin; frames it in black wood; and mounts it on a night-light. When turned on, the light shines through the carving’s various layers to create the illusion of a backlit sepia-toned photo.
Because the resulting image is fairly small (about 2.75 inches square), you’ll get the best results from close-up shots featuring just one or two people and a relatively uncluttered background. The night-light costs $40, plus shipping.
Sharing your photos should be just as fun—and easy—as taking them. Moo, a printing company based in London, understands that philosophy. The site lets you effortlessly pass along your favorite photos as note cards, stickers, or miniature cards. But unlike some similar services, Moo allows you to place a different photo on every sticker or card—letting you make the most of your collection.
With the company’s newest offering, StickerBooks, you can submit as many as 90 different photos to create a pocket-size booklet of small glossy stickers—great for decking out packages, sealing envelopes, or just jazzing up boring surfaces. MiniCards are another favorite of mine. These thin 1-by-2.75-inch cards feature an image on one side and text on the other, making them ideal for use as gift tags. Plus, you can choose up to 100 different images to keep things varied. StickerBooks cost $10, while a pack of 100 MiniCards is $20.
Transferring your photos to Moo is a breeze. You can upload the images directly from your computer, or if you are part of a Web community such as Flickr, Facebook, or Vox, you can access your online photo albums right from the Moo interface. You’re not limited to using your own snapshots, either. If you prefer, you can choose professional artwork from several graphic designers, including Marc Johns and Blanca Gomez, or you can select from various photo themes, such as cats, skies, and flowers.
[ Kelly Turner is a senior editor at Macworld.]
Secrets of iPhoto’s calendars, cards, and books
If you use Apple’s iPhoto, you can create personalized calendars, books, and cards without leaving the comfort of your photo library. Now the latest version, iPhoto ’08, ups the ante with larger calendars and more options for designing books. Use these tips to get the best results from your next iPhoto project.
Use Vivid Photos Because of the printing process Apple uses for iPhoto print projects, you’ll usually get the best results from photos that have vivid colors and plenty of contrast. If you use a photo with soft, muted tones (for example, a foggy lake at dawn), you may see subtle vertical stripes, or striations, in the printed result—particularly in calendars or full-page photos.
Edit Locally iPhoto ’08 lets you optimize a photo for a particular project without having to change the original version in your photo library. That means you can bump up the sharpness and adjust exposure settings—often a good idea when printing—without affecting how the image looks in Web galleries or slide shows.
While designing a photo project, select an image and click on the Adjust button to access localized editing controls—including options for creating black-and-white or sepia-toned images. I recommend increasing the sharpness to improve the photo’s clarity when printed, and perhaps bumping up the Exposure setting to give the photo a bit more punch (take care not to go too far, lest bright areas of the photo wash out to pure white). To crop a photo that you’ve added to a print project, click on it once and then use the controls that appear above the photo to zoom in and reposition it within the frame.
Think Smart Typographers and designers know the difference between those heinous typewriter quotes (
") and true opening and closing quotes (“ and ”), also known as smart quotes. Alas, iPhoto does not. If you want professional-looking text in your project, you’ll need to type it yourself. To create opening and closing single quotes, press option-right angle bracket (]) and shift-option-right angle bracket, respectively. For opening and closing double quotes, press option-left angle bracket ([) and shift-option-left angle bracket, respectively.
Kill the Marketing Every Apple calendar, book, or card displays an Apple logo and the text “Made on a Mac” somewhere—it’s on the back of a greeting card, for example, and on the inside back cover of a book. If you’d rather not provide the free advertising, click on the Settings button and then deselect the Include Apple Logo option.— Jim Heid