Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Liberate Your Photos!

by Kelly

Sometimes I miss the old days.  It was back when I had my little 35mm point and shoot film camera.  Once a week or so I would take my roll of 24 exposures to the film developing desk at my local grocery store.  I'd fill out the envelope and tear off the stub and seal it up. Then I'd drop it into the slot where, magically, my roll of film would be transformed into 4x6 photographs. Real live photographs that I could pick up the next day. And with those wonderful photographs I would send the duplicates to my mom.  Then with the rest I would fill photo frames around my house and put them into scrapbooks.

Please tell me I'm not the only one....

This is something that's been on my mind a lot lately.  Blame it on REVOLUTION (a post-apocalyptic TV show that I've been watching), but it's become a little unsettling that I can't look at my photos without connecting to some kind of device with an on/off switch.  It's almost as if my pictures are being held hostage on my computer.

Stephanie's post a few weeks ago really struck a chord with me...I too am a long-time scrapbooker who has embraced Project Life.  I got my first kit about a year and a half ago and I love it.  For me it has really simplified the process of memory keeping.

But honestly, the actual process of getting photos off of my computer is where everything breaks down and falls apart.

So for the past few months I've been experimenting with various workflows.  Trying to see if one way was particularly more efficient than another.  And what I found is that there wasn't really a clear winner.  But I thought I might share with you a few of the printing options that I have looked into and the respective pros/cons that I experienced.  Just in case maybe you were in the same boat.

1.  Printing from home.  
Pros:  Convenience - no need to run out and pick up prints. No hassling with uploading them to developing websites.  I like this because if I get a wild hair and feel super creative, I don't have to wait for the photo service to be able to work on a project. Cons:  Expense - photo paper and ink jet refills can be on the pricey side.  Frustration - this probably just me, but sometimes my wireless printer is such a pain.

2.  Developing Services.
Pros:  Cost - in the long run, it's much less expensive to have photos developed by a service. Cons: Inconvenience - having to either a) drive to pick photos or b) wait to have photos mailed.  Shipping - using a mail order service like Shutterfly or Persnickety Prints, you have to account for shipping costs.  (Shutterfly is a flat $5.00 shipping fee on orders less than $30.00.)

And while we're on the subject of mail order services, I have been seeing a lot of ads for Persnickety Prints lately tooting their own horn about how great their prints are.  So I did a little experiment to see how they compare.  Below is a recent photo of my girl that I had printed from three different services...clockwise from top left:

  • Walgreens (this is my usual go to developer here in town)
  • Persnickety Prints
  • Shutterfly
In terms of photo quality, there is no comparison between Walgreens and the two mail order services. Much nicer photo paper, matte finish, good color and clarity.  If I was forced  to choose, I would say Shutterfly would be my preference. The color seemed a little truer and her eyes seemed a little brighter.  But then again, there's that $5.00 shipping charge. If I was having photos done for framing or hanging I would for sure order prints from them...not sure if it's that important for a scrapbook page. But that's just me.

So that covers printing photos from a computer.  But there's also a little handheld computer a lot of us use everyday (or if you like me, you feel naked without it).  And that is your smart phone - you know, that little camera that lets you take phone calls from time to time?

I know that many of you like Instagram as much as I do, and for me getting photos off of my phone has been almost as much as a pain as my computer.  But there are a couple of great apps I've found for having Instagram photos developed.

First is the Walgreens app.  After logging in to my account and selecting the Instagram icon, I can easily check the photos that I would like to have printed.  Then they are available at my local store about an hour later.

Similarly, Shutterfly has an app as well that works in much the same fashion.  Just login and select the size and location of your images. But once again, there is that $5.00 shipping fee.

Persnickety Prints does not have an app, but rather requires users to upload directly to their site for printing.

Once again, I did the same experiment where I had the same photos printed by all three services.  And I can tell you that there was really no significantly noticeable difference in quality between Walgreens, Shutterfly, and Persnickety Prints.

Even if you're not a scrapbooker, there are many other options for displaying photos.  I recently had a 2014 yearly planner made at Paper Coterie.  And can I tell you...I just love it.  So looking forward to seeing my photographs during the course of the year.

I've also had a couple of photo books printed from Blurb and Shutterfly.  It is super easy to upload photos into the pre-designed templates and I have been very pleased with the end results.

Now I know this is not a particularly insightful or thought-provoking kind of post.  But I think it's important nonetheless. Because we all have these wonderful photos that capture the beauty of our lives (and don't even tell me that you don't because I've seen them in the Flickr pool).  But friends, we need to liberate our photos!  In the words of my daughter who has her favorite photos plastered all over her closet door, "I don't want to have to login into Facebook to see photos of my friends and family."

Amen to that my girl.

Whether you are a scrapbooker or not, I still believe that we need to have our photos displayed in our homes. We need to see pictures of our loved one's faces by the kitchen sink.  Snapshots hanging on the bulletin board.  Because our photos tell the story of our lives.  And I believe it's so important to tell them.

So now that I have opened the discussion, I would love for you to share your process for getting photos off of your computer.  Do you have a quick and easy workflow?  Do you use a software like Lightroom or Photoshop?  Who is your go-to developer?

Until next time,


Unknown said...

Thanks for doing the legwork of comparing products! I've been a Shutterfly fan for 12 years now, and I was excited to see they got the thumbs up in the first test! :) Oddly, I've never seen that flat rate of $5! I just posted an order for 5 prints on Sunday (different sizes, including wallets) and paid $1.79 for shipping. And this wasn't even on one of the deals they e-mail me almost daily...

Linda said...

Like Elisa, I'm a long time Shutterfly user, I have always been happy with the quality and have ordered books, canvas, mugs, cards and calendars. Shutterfly makes it easy to share pictures with others so they can print them too. You can send them to Shutterfly straight from LR, saves a little time. Blurb is another fave of mine for books straight from LR (I'm lazy!) I have also sent an order for prints directly from my computer to Walmart and Target for printing. I like PostalPix for printing pictures from my camera that can also be a phone or texting device, it's a direct send from the phone, easy peasy. (again, the laziness factor!)
Great post! Excellent reminder to print those precious memories!

Kim Stevens said...

Well Kelly, I think this is a great post! I for one am so so bad about liberating my photos off my computer hard drive...I've been thinking about this alot lately. I have made some books at blurb and really like how they turned out. I've been wanting to just do a picture book of all things nature, my sunrises, etc. I'm even going to do my Monarchs in a book. But time, I just need some time to sort through it all....I do love the project life, it looks simpler than a whole scrapbook project. I need something with less choices or it takes me too long to complete. If you get a minute I would love for you to shoot me an e-mail on where you got the project life supplies, not sure if I could do it right now expense wise, but would be great to just know. Thanks Kelly! xo

Cathy said...

Last year my hard drive crashed and I thought I had lost all my photos. I burn CD's so I had them on CD, but none of the edits. I was glad I had uploaded to Flickr. Right then and there I vowed to print. I use Paper Coterie and have several little books from them. I have one I am working on in Blub right now. I usually print at home, after buying this big lovely printer I feel obligated, but man the ink is expensive, so I am going to try Shutterfly I think. My husband was able to save my hard drive, even after the computer experts told us no way. But it taught me a lesson. Get those photos off my computer. Even if it is just onto the fridge! This is a great post Kelly. I can't wait to try the Wallgreens app! Thanks, xoox

terriporter said...

Oh, I am always on my soapbox about people getting their photos off of their phones/computers! Before the days of digital, it was a little easier because you had to get your photos printed in order to see them. But being a scrapbooker, I continued printing my photos once I went digital, scrapbooking them, framing them, making cards, books, etc. I've used Blurb for books and love their quality but for prints, I have never found a printing service that can beat my Epson printer. I did a test like the one you did and sent the same photo to five different places for printing: Target, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, Shutterfly, and Mpix. Then I printed one at home and the difference convinced me to print everything myself. The color and clarity were far better with my printer and I love the convenience of having my photos in my hands immediately (I don't wait well!) Since I started digital scrapbooking, I print all my own layouts as well (my printer is a wide-format). As far as my process, I have Dropbox on both my computer and phone. Every time I upload photos to my computer, they go into Dropbox. The same goes for the photos I take on my phone. I combine them into folders by subject on my computer so that when I'm ready to scrapbook them, both the camera and phone photos are together. Right now I'm feeling a bit smug because I am TOTALLY caught up. I just did a digital layout last night of my granddaughter at the pumpkin patch from last Friday. But Kim is right, it does take having the time. If you set up a system that works for you, that helps a lot, but it still takes time. And, Kim, Project Life is as close as your nearest Michael's. You can also order online from Amazon. I've done one for several years and will be doing one for 2014 as well. Great post, Kelly! I'm sure this will encourage a lot of people to get those photos printed and enjoyed.

Katie said...

what a a coincidence that you wrote this piece. just yesterday, i started going through my archives and picking out favorite photos of family and friends and life to frame and hang on a big bare wall in my office. can you believe i hadn't done that since the kids were in 6th grade and kindergarten? ack! i normally use a local camera shop (bedford's camera---i think there's one in tulsa) that i really like. i used to use mpix, but the last few orders i received, just didn't look very good. i'm happy with bedfords, plus it gives me an excuse to talk shop with the staff (they know me by sight now) and drool over all the cool camera gear. ; )

Viv@Thoughts from the Desktop said...

Very thoughtful post , we have been having a shake up in our house and going through old photos, ticket stubs from concerts and so many memories come flooding up to the surface. I have started making photo books so far I have made one using Apple through the iPhoto app , I have had three books done through Blurb and the next company I'm going to try is Artifact Uprising who I found through Cathy Zielske. Project Life is quite difficult to get in the UK so I have not invested in it so I might try it digitally next year.

Dotti said...

Guilty as charged! But not totally. I do several canvases a year, for myself and as gifts. I'm right now making a list and checking it twice for Christmas. I like Blurb for books and am ashamed to say I've not done one yet this year. There are at least 4 I want to do. As for Shutterfly, I used them for years and drifted away. The last book or two I got from there disappointed me so I switched to Blurb which I love. I find more flexibility in Blurb, too. My Epson does a good job so I seldom use an outside service other than for my books. I just ignore the cost of ink but am careful not to print needlessly so my ink seems to go a long way. That and a dollar (inflation, you know) will get me a cup of coffee. Since I don't drink coffee, I'll send it to you, Kelly, for a great post.

Susan W said...

I am so quilty of not printing my photos. I've been processing them and saving them in monthly and yearly folders for a photo book and nightly backups on my computer. Now I've fallen behind on the processing. Someday I'll have the time ( I hope) to get these books done.

Sarah Huizenga said...

I have wrestled with this all year long. The problem is that I keep taking more photos and never take the time to go back and liberate my favorites. I did do a couple of calendars from Shutterfly last year and was very please how they turned out. I have many albums filled with precious photos of my daughter's early years and family vacations that I do love to go back and look through. Must make a commitment in 2014 to liberate my photos. I have always used Shutterfly and have always been happy.

Focusing on Life said...

Just last week my husband very innocently asked me why I have two large photographic prints framed in our family room - that are by another photographer. He asked why I don't have my own photos framed and hanging there. Good question, huh? So now I've been searching through some of my favorite photos to pick just the right two to go on that wall. Like Terri mentioned - boy was it easier to liberate our photos when we used film. This is going on my "list" for the new year - print, frame, hang, share. Thanks for all the print comparisons. I tried my own printing years ago and was more frustrated than happy. I'm sure that will all of the new technology that I need to give that another try. When I want to print for a client I use Nations Photo Lab, and love the quality of color, paper, clarity, and the fact that they can print in just about ANY size I could ever want. When printing just for myself I use Shutterfly.

heyjudephotography said...

....and that last comment would be from me. :)

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