When you’re looking to print your photos, you may question where to go, what your options are and what to do with your finished product. Today I’m sharing some of my favorite printing resources as well as habits I’ve grown up with that have kept my photos safe, organized and accessible. Don’t forget to tune in tomorrow for the final blog of the series – it’s where you’ll be given an opportunity to put these tips into action, join a group of fellow printers sharing resources and tips, and possibly win something BIG!!! I can’t wait to share it with you!
Before we can get to printing, we have to make sure we know where our files are located. It’s always best to keep as many of your files as you can in a central location so that they’re organized and ready to find when you need them. Because our cell phones double as cameras, that’s where most of us tend to leave our images, but your cell phone is a very risky place to keep them if they are not backed up in another location. For this reason, I always encourage people to create the habit of getting their files onto their computer for safekeeping. This way, your files aren’t divided up among random flash drives, your desktop AND laptop, your phone and some random discs from 2004.
You want to place your files in folders that will be easy to find and create a system that makes sense to you. Have you ever uploaded photos onto your computer, and when prompted to name the folder you’re stashing them in, you type something like “summer”, “family pictures”, or even “aldsfjdsl;alskj” because you’re in a hurry? (I’ve known that person, and I’ve been that person) Or maybe you already had a “family pictures” folder, so you name the new one something like “family picturess”, “fam pics”, “family pictures 2”, or “family pictures 2018”? It’s easy to see how this can become a hot mess real fast when 3 years from now you’re trying to find a specific family photo. Which dang family picz folder is it in?!?!
The good news is that you can make it a lot easier on yourself! Here is how I personally organize my image files on my desktop computer so that it is easy for me to come back to when I’m looking for something in particular.
- I start by making a parent folder that is the designated destination for ALL of my image files. It can simply be titled “Photos”, or if you’re a fellow photographer, it doesn’t hurt to add “Personal Photos” so you don’t get them mixed up with any client work.
- Inside of the parent folder, I create yearly folders like “2018” and “2019”. The idea here is to start broad and narrow down to the specifics within these folders.
- Inside of my yearly folders, I create monthly “January”, “February”, “March”, etc. folders.
- Inside of my monthly folders is where I can start getting specific about the events of the year. For example, if I’m uploading Christmas photos from 2018, I would title the folder “Christmas 2018”. (It seems redundant to add “2018” when you’re already inside of the 2018 parent folder, however if you ever utilize something like the finder feature on a mac and type in something as simple as “Christmas”, both “Christmas” folders from both the 2018 and 2019 parent folders will appear. The goal is to find the one thing you’re looking for as quickly as possible.)
There may be a better system that works for you, and that’s great! The idea is simply to be organized as you upload your files. It’s kind of like keeping your room clean as opposed to trying to find that one shirt in a heaping mess. You can start right now by creating those parent folders on your desktop!
Backing Up Your Files
You already did the hard part by organizing your files – don’t forget to back them up so that you have safe duplicates in another location. Lifewire shares some great options for backing up your files. My personal favorites are Dropbox Unlimited for my cloud-based storage, and 1TB Passport external hard drives for an additional back up.
The big question- WHERE should I order my prints? The photographer in me is screaming “anywhere but a drug store!!!!!!!!!!” however the person in me who is simply screaming “print your photos!!!!!!!!!!!” will say that a printed photo is better than no printed photo at all, even if it comes from Walgreens. But seriously. If you can avoid it – please do at all costs. Drugstores offer photo centers as a convenience to their customers, and the cheap price truly reflects the quality all the way from color accuracy (think skin tones) to resolution. You deserve the quality that experts will provide, especially if your photos were captured with a high end camera!!
Utilizing a professional lab will be your BEST investment when you print. Here are my favorites!
Camera Corner Connecting Point – Green Bay, WI.
Camera Corner an awesome local business that has been around for 60 years serving the community, and they have a great in house photo lab! They have a few great options when it comes to the way you can print photos through their lab. You can either bring your image files into the store and upload from there where an employee will take the time to assist you, upload and order from their website, or my personal FAVORITE – download their photo ordering app! Just type in “CCCP Photo” in the App Store and download the free, user-friendly app! What I love about this option is that it’s a constant reminder to make quick and easy orders as you swipe past the app on your phone! So many people tell me that they want to print, they just forget. Well, now you won’t!
If you’re not local to the Green Bay area, Mpix is another high quality lab you can order prints from through their website online and have them delivered directly to your doorstep! They have a huge variety on their website and stand behind their promises of quality, quickness and a great experience!
*Tip- if you can, always print doubles!! It’s fun to share photos with others and this way you’ll ensure you always have an extra copy for yourself!
Organizing Your Photos
Growing up, my mom and I were constantly making trips to get our film developed. When we took our printed photos home, we had to have a safe, organized place for them – they were adding up quickly! We mostly printed 4x6s and 5x7s, which fit perfectly in photo storage boxes that you can find at any craft store (who doesn’t love an excuse to go to a craft store?)! The little slot on the front of the box is perfect to write the year on so you can arrange your boxes in chronological order. When you place an envelope of photos into a box, just make sure you write a little description on it like “Mom’s 40th birthday” or “Wisconsin Dells Trip” so it’s easy to identify them at a glance! This is the same exact concept as organizing files on your computer!
Displaying Your Photos
These days there are so many awesome ways you can show off your photos! You can even have your images printed on wood and metal – who woulda thought? My personal favorites will always be classic, matted prints, framed and hung on walls or set out on tables, followed by albums and books that you can grace coffee tables with! Photos are meant to stand the test of time, so I love those timeless options that will always be beautiful no matter what the current trend is. I have fallen a little bit in love with gallery wraps, though. It’s fun to switch things up a bit!
Prints & Gallery Wraps
When you think about displaying your photos in your home, first you need a vision. If you want to decorate your walls with some photos but don’t really have a vision for it, start by taking a walk around your house with a note pad and look for opportunities that pop out at you. Maybe you’ll find some wall space in a room that could use a little love and you think one of your family photos would look great there. Take out a tape measure and write down the dimensions you’re working with. We tend to think an 8×10 is a “large” print when we’re used to ordering 4x6s, but it actually appears pretty small when hung. If you’re looking to display a print or gallery wrap as a statement piece on your fireplace mantle, measure the height and width there for starters. Don’t be afraid to go big, just make sure you leave some breathing space!
Photos don’t have to be hung all alone all the time either! Get adventurous and pair them with friends for a more dynamic look! In our own dining room, we recently added stacked shelves to the wall to display our framed prints (similar to the photo below). This is fun because it’s something you can change up as you please, and you don’t have to pound a million holes in the wall.
Another fun method for displaying prints is creating a triptych, or small grouping of photos displayed in close proximity on a wall space. Personally, I love the way things look in odd numbers in this fashion, but it’s all a matter of preference! You can switch up the sizes of the prints, or keep them uniform depending on the look you’re going for. It takes a little extra effort and measuring than hanging an individual print, but the result pays off!
Albums and Photo Books
I love albums and books because of their interaction factor. To me, they’re welcoming little invitations to sit back and enjoy the experience of looking through photos. If you’re not one of my wedding clients, you might not know that I offer high-end, linen and leather bound albums that are perfect just for this! If you’ve had or plan to have a session with me, it’s a perfect way to display your photos and enjoy them for years to come!
If you’re looking to make a photo book out of the images from your phone or computer, Chatbooks and Mpix are great resources for that! Chatbooks is wonderful for getting the photos on your phone made in to books without much work on your end – you simply connect your phone and they weed out blurry photos, screenshots and duplicates and choose the best photos to make a book out of! Mpix offers a variety of photo books so you can narrow down the exact look and design that you’re going for and add some of your own creativity.
There are truly so many creative ways you can display your photos that go far beyond what I’ve touched on here! I hope all of these tips and resources have shown you a clear path of how to turn your files into prints and incorporate them in your home! Let me know – what is your favorite way to display your prints?
Still to come in the Print Your Photos series:
Thursday: Introducing the ATP Print Your Photos Challenge