I've always wanted a grand piano. Not because I play but because I adore those decorating-magazine tableaus of beautifully framed photos sitting atop a piano.
That would certainly solve a problem for me: I don’t have a lot of space to display pictures around the house. So how can I show off my favorite photos of Grandma, the hubby and the dogs – other than posting them on Facebook? (Yawn.)
Apparently I’m not the only one looking for something fun and different to do with my digital photos. “We’re seeing a big increase in people wanting to know how to take better pictures and what to do with their pictures,” says professional photographer Shari Hartbauer of Digital Labrador.
She recently taught a workshop on how to use digital photos to customize gifts such as snow globes, notepads, playing cards and board games. You can have a photo reproduced on virtually anything. (Photo-customized cupcake wrappers? They make them.) Or personalize blankets, serving trays, mouse pads, paper weights, candles, clocks, lamps and dog beds.
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Inspiration for photo gifts is hard to miss, with online resources such as www.snapfish.com, www.walmart.com and www.kodakgallery.com. In Pittsburg, Kan., Mpix, a division of Miller’s Professional Imaging, will print photos on puzzles and wall clings to calendars and statuettes. One home decor item that caught my eye at www.mpix.com: Gallery wraps, or photos printed on canvas and wrapped around wooden stretcher frames. Prices range from $55 for the smallest, 8 inches by 10 inches, to $170 for the largest, 24 inches by 36 inches.
One of Hartbauer’s favorite resources is www.photojojo.com, which has a free newsletter with do-it-yourself photo projects.
At www.walgreens.com, get photo customization on more than 100 items, the most popular of which is a computer mouse pad.
“If you go to the website, you can shop by product and you’ll see ... pillow cases, collages, fleece blankets, a clock, a keepsake box, pillow shams, placemats, throw blankets, posters. There is a lot of stuff for the home,” says Mona Furlott Kelly in Chicago, general merchandise manager for photo and front-end services for Walgreens.
When Kelly started working in the photo business in the early ’70s, making a print was the most exciting thing anyone could do with a photograph. Now? “It’s the digital age,” says Kelly, who put a photo of her Cavalier King Charles spaniel on a set of coasters for her mother.
So what digital photos work best on customized items? According to the experts at www.photoworks.com, images should be at least 200 pixels per inch (ppi) relative to the size of the product being ordered.
For example, an image that is 800 by 1,200 pixels can be reproduced to a 4-inch-by-6-inch size. Whether your project requires an even higher resolution depends on the subject matter. Some items demand more detail than others. For instance, on pillowcases, woven throws, cutting boards or anything 8 inches by 12 inches or larger, you will probably need a high-resolution file of at least 1,500 by 1,000 pixels.
If you’re not sure your photo will work, contact customer service through the website before placing your order.