For photographers, the holidays present the perfect time for putting your work to good use by creating personalized gifts with your images as the focal point. Whether it’s to make a greeting card, specialty print, photo book, calendar or other keepsakes, online services and software programs are making it easier than ever to get creative with your best shots. After all, photos have the power to keep all our precious moments alive, and part of what makes photography fun is putting those finishing touches on an image and then sharing it with family and friends.
AdoramaPix lets you do it all, from special prints and gallery wraps to custom framing, bookmaking and more. The online service makes it really easy to send out personalized greeting cards using your own photos and words. A variety of high-quality photo papers are available in glossy, matte, lustre and metallic finishes. There’s also an option for black-and-white. The cards are made from cream-colored 80-pound linen stock and come with matching envelopes. The image is printed on 4×6-inch photo paper and mounted on a 5×7-inch folded card. You can add text or leave the card blank. List Price: $3 (single lustre or metallic). Contact: Adorama, (888) 216-6400, www.adoramapix.com.
If you’re a Mac user, you probably know how multifaceted the Apple iPhoto application is within the iLife software suite. Full-screen modes in iPhoto ’11 give you a bigger workspace for putting together a thoughtful photo present. If you want to make a travel book of a recent trip, the dynamic Theme Browser is where each theme is stored, and it displays how selected images will look. Once you’ve chosen a theme, the Autoflow tool goes to work, instantly placing the images for you. Page layouts can be adjusted in just a few clicks, and you can get an overview of how the whole design looks. Photos with a higher rating are featured more prominently. Face detection makes sure your people shots are cropped and framed correctly. List Price: $49 (13×10-inch with 20 pages). Contact: Apple, (800) MY-APPLE, www.apple.com.
ARTISTIC PHOTO CANVAS
If you want to give a special print to a loved one, go above and beyond what your home printer can do by turning the image into a gallery wrap. Artistic Photo Canvas allows you to convert a photo to black-and-white or sepia for a more classic-looking print. Or if you have a scenic landscape or portrait that may look better as a painting, APC offers a Brush Strokes technique that simulates the look of an oil painting. Fine details are muted to give the image a more authentic look while key elements, like facial features, are preserved. A Texturizing Gel Coat can be applied to even make it feel like a painting. List Price: $49 (8×10-inch wrap). Contact: Artistic Photo Canvas, (888) 992-2682, www.artisticphotocanvas.com.
On the higher end of the online-publishing spectrum is AsukaBook. The holidays are a special time, and this is a nice way to make a statement with your photographs. After registering on their site, you can do the layout yourself or enlist the services of Red Boot Design, a group of pros that are part of Kubota Photo Design. An extensive assortment of book formats is available, including stitch-bound and book-bound, with various cover and page-finish options. Zen Layflat and NeoClassic are two of the book lines. Zen Layflat features a laminate finish to protect the pages, and it continues seamlessly into the binding of the book. NeoClassic is more traditional with thicker, board-type pages. List Price: Available upon request. Contact: AuskaBook, (866) 330-1530, www.asukabook.com.
Cards make for ideal gifts because they’re meaningful, easy, inexpensive and fun to make. For showing off multiple images in just one holiday card, Bay Photo offers trifolded and accordion-folded designs. The press-printed cards are available in 11 different paper types, including an ecofriendly option made of uncoated, recycled paper. You can create your own template or use ones created by professional designers. Additionally, Bay Photo offers an extensive lineup of other products that make for nice gifts, including calendars, canvas prints and books. For books, there are hundreds of customizable page-layout templates to choose from, and hardcovers are available in lustre, metallic or canvas surfaces. List Price: $44 (pack of 25 accordion-folded cards); $46 (8×10-inch linen hardcover). Contact: Bay Photo, (800) 435-6686, www.bayphoto.com.