Urban Backgrounds: Using City Architecture to Enhance Your Photos

Having your photography subjects stand in front of something interesting can help create a unique photo. Dynamic photo backgrounds are everywhere, especially in cities, which have a range of cool architectural styles and designs to feature. Here are a few ways to incorporate your city into your photographs.

Buildings

Grab your camera and head to town. Locate buildings with interesting shapes and designs to use as an eye-catching background. Elements to look for include the following:

  • Buildings with ornate iron gates that evoke romance and elegance. These can look great in an engagement photo or wedding shot.
  • Buildings with vintage advertising that generate old-world charm. Shoot these from a distance using a wide-angle lens to capture your subjects and the signage.
  • Tight alleyways with just a few feet of empty space. These alleys offer a nice scale difference between subject and background, which adds dimension to the photograph. Set your lens to focus on the subject and mute the sides and background.
  • Industrial areas. Metal walls, large fans and concrete cylinders can be great background elements. Shoot these big props with your subject in front and up close to add a different dimension to the photo.

Shooting at Night

When the sun goes down, take advantage of the artificial lighting downtown. A quiet city street provides a fantastic backdrop for all sorts of photos, from portraits and group shots to moody streetscapes that will look great on your wall. Use street lights, signs and other downtown elements to illuminate your photos and subjects in cool and unusual ways.

City bridges at night photos

Large bridges light up the night. Capture the beauty of the lights and the reflection on the water to make an interesting background. Your aperture should be at a wide setting, which will keep your subjects in focus and soften the background. Choose a fast shutter speed if your subject is moving, and use a tripod to keep things steady.

Water Elements

A gushing fountain can be a dramatic background for photos, especially at a wedding. A water background adds subtle hues of whites and light blue, and looks great in natural light. Use nearby benches or ledges as props. Take shots from a distance as well as up close: The details on many older fountains can be exquisite and worth capturing in the photo.

Seek permission from business owners if you’re taking photos on their property, and always use common sense when it comes to the suitability of photo backgrounds and the safety of your subjects. Have fun with your camera and create photos that stand out from the rest.

Share Life’s Happy,

Julie

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Image source: Flickr

Taking the Best Farmers Market Photos

Farmers market photos are full of vibrant colors and interesting shapes. A single mango might be red, orange, yellow and green all at the same time. Pineapples are a great example of the variety of shapes and angles the world of produce has available. We talked to three professional photographers to get advice on taking the best photos at a farmers market. Here’s what they had to say:

Hit the Market Early

Stephani Cuddie of Mirror Image Photography in Florida suggests hitting the market as soon as it opens to avoid big crowds and to take advantage of the morning sunshine. Getting there at the beginning of the day will also give you the widest variety of produce, fresh bread, flowers and other beautiful merchandise to photograph before the crowd snatches them up.

Find Your Subject’s Best Side

Cuddie says, “Find the colors. Go for the rich reds, greens and yellows. Turn any veggies that don’t look their best to the other side; you don’t want ugly looking fruits or veggies in your photos.” Photographer Sheri Rouse of Indiana suggests getting down to the level of the items you want to photograph. She says this provides “interesting angles and cool perspectives.”

Fill the frame with your favorite produce.

Zoom in and Zoom Out

There are advantages to both close-up shots and those with a wide view. Rouse likes zooming in “to cut out all the background ‘noise,’ photographing just the gorgeous flowers and the beautiful fruits.” Cuddie says photographing from above or dead on is best for filling the whole frame with fruits and vegetables. However, she also likes to get a bird’s eye view of the market by getting as high as possible. Look for elevated spots that give a good (and safe) view of a wide area.

Seek Shade to Avoid Capturing Shadows

Washington photographer Jennifer Bogle says, “Farmers markets are full of unique details. Hand-lettered signs, costumes, even uniquely colored vegetables you wouldn’t find at the grocery store all make for great images that are unique to the market experience. Though sunny days bring us to the market, bright sun can wreak havoc on photos. For better pictures without harsh shadows, look for shaded displays to photograph.”

Ask Before Photographing People

There are babies napping in strollers, farmers, craft vendors, musicians, and shoppers laden down with bags of farm-fresh finds. Weekends at a farmers market are full of life, which is great for photographs. Always ask permission before you snap photos with people in them, though.

So what should you do with your best farmers market photos? One great option is to make Canvas Prints of them to hang in the kitchen or dining room. You could also blow them up and make vibrant Posters. The rich colors and dynamic shapes will bring interest and depth to your home.

Share Life’s Happy,
Rachael Moshman

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Image source: Rachael Moshman

Four Tips for Great Park Photos

Playing at the park is a great way to enjoy the weather and get your children moving. There is nothing better than seeing your kids’ smiling faces whizzing down the slide or flying high on the swing. Here are simple tips to get the best park photos and really capture those memories.

Tips for getting the best park photos

1. Take Lots of Pictures

Taking a ton of pictures serves two purposes: You can experiment and you can click away until you get the right shot. You may not get the perfect photo on the first try, but that’s okay. After all, that’s what digital cameras are for. Just keep shooting. Experiment with different angles, lighting and shutter speeds to see what works best.

2. Consider Lighting

Flashes aren’t just for indoors. If the sun is behind your children, consider turning on the flash. This will lighten up their faces and balance out the light in the picture. Be aware of shadows, too. To avoid shadows across your children’s faces, take pictures in full sun or full shade.

3. Pick Candid Versus Posed

Try to take both posed and candid park photos. Did your kids find a nice mud puddle to play in? Get them to pose with their muddy hands up in the air. Then, get a candid picture of them splashing in the puddle. Again, the more pictures you take, the more memories you’ll capture — and the more likely it is you’ll get that perfect shot.

4. Choose Your Shutter Speed

To get the best action shot, use a fast shutter speed. Faster shutter speeds help you capture a crisp scene without blurring the image. If you aren’t experienced with manually adjusting your camera, most cameras have an action shot setting. Read your camera’s manual and become familiar with the different options before you go to the park.

Most importantly, have fun. Enjoy the fresh air and experiment with your camera. If your children are old enough, get them involved in the process. They will love taking pictures of each other and the park surroundings. When you’re finished sorting through the pictures, make sure you get your best park photos developed as Prints.

What is your favorite outdoor activity with your children?

Share Life’s Happy,
Lauren Gaines

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Image source: Lauren Gaines

News Flash: 4 Tips of Flash Photography

Using your camera’s flash seems like the simplest thing in the world. If there isn’t enough light to make the picture, out comes the flash, and suddenly a dark scene becomes a lit picture. But there’s far more to good flash photography than meets the eye.

While you may be content leaving your flash on auto, learning which situations warrant its use will help you get the most print-worthy shots possible.

Entire books have been written about getting started with flash photography, but these basic tips will get you started on your way to flash mastery.

1. Two Exposures in One

The first thing to realize when using your flash is that every flash photo is actually two exposures: the flash, and the ambient light around you. Unless your scene is pitch black, the camera collects all the light around your subject while the shutter is open, in addition to the light coming from your flash. These two exposures are the building blocks of flash photography.

2. Shutter Speed and Flash Exposure

Proper exposure has two building blocks: aperture and shutter speed. Aperture controls how much light comes in through the lens, whereas the shutter speed dictates how long the image sensor is exposed to that light. In order to capture the flash’s full output, the camera will slow the shutter speed, usually to a maximum of 1/250 or below, depending on the camera. So while aperture controls the ambient light in your scene, shutter speed controls that light’s exposure — especially important when using a flash.

Want more ambient exposure? Use a longer shutter speed; the flash exposure remains the same.

3. It’s Hip to Be Square

The more distance between your flash and the subject, the less light that falls on the subject. If you’re five feet away from your subject, double your distance; the subject will only receive one-fourth the amount of light as they did at five feet. This is known as the inverse square law. While this falloff may seem annoying, you can use it to your advantage. Having the subject move away from a background surface will darken the wall and expose the subject more effectively.

4. Stay in Range

On that note, let’s poke fun at today’s stadium audiences. If you’ve ever seen a concert or sporting event, you’ve seen hundreds of flashes go off in the background. But since the typical built-in flash on a point-and-shoot or DSLR camera is about 25 feet, all fans are doing is lighting up the backs of people’s heads. So turn off the flash and save your batteries — your shot has plenty of light to capture from the stage.

There’s so much more to mastering the art of flash photography, but these building blocks will lay the foundation on which you can begin building your camera flash skills.

Share Life’s Happy,

Andy Warycka

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Image source: Andy Warycka

5 Steps to a Great Photo Collage

Picking the right photo to frame for the wall or give to friends and family can be tedious. From wedding pictures to candid shots of your pet, there are simply too many great pictures to choose from. But why choose just one? Throw all of your favorites into a single Photo Collage Print.

Back in the day, a collage required scissors, glue and a lot of time. Now, it can be done in minutes with your own digital photos. Here’s how to do it.

Photo Collage Tips

1. Pick a Size

Start off by selecting a size for your collage. While 4×6 or 5×7 is great for sitting on your desk, 8×10 is perfect for going on a shelf. A Poster-sized Collage Print is ideal for a bedroom or dorm room wall.

The size will help you decide how many pictures to include, as well. Two to four is best for a 4×6, whereas you can easily fit 20 into a poster. Envision a story through your collage, and how many images you’ll need in order to tell it.

2. Select Your Pics

Now for the fun part: picture selection. You’ll generally upload photos from your computer, but the Walgreens Mobile App will let you tether your Facebook and Instagram accounts and upload images directly from a personal album.

Photo collages tend to work best when the pictures share a theme. Consider assembling pictures from a particular vacation or baby’s first Christmas. Then make sure the images’ colors complement each other. If you have a red-and-orange sunset picture that you love, select other photos with warm colors to go with it.

3. Choose Your Border

The best part of photo collage tools is that you can do as much or as little formatting as you want. Many collage print design tools are intuitive enough to assemble the images for you, and then allow you to organize them. First, decide if you want a border; it may affect the layout. The thicker the border, the less room there will be for images. Bordered edges may cut off photos with tons of detail, so mark the width of your border now, and consider which pics are best on all four sides.

4. Edit and Arrange

Remember that you can also play with your photos using editing apps, available right from your tablet or mobile device. Zoom, flip, color correct and more. If you have one or two favorite pics that you want to be the center of attention, pick those images to be “featured,” with the other images you select surrounding them. You may also use a digital program to shuffle your photos, randomly rearranging the images for you until you’re happy with the configuration.

5. Add Your Finishing Touches

“Spring ’14″? You can do better! Channel your inner wordsmith and use a title that captures it all. Then voilà — all done. Save the Collage Print to your cart and get hard copies sent right to your door.

What are you waiting for? Give it a spin.

Share Life’s Happy,
Suzanne Weinstock Klein

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Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Food Photography Guide: Make Your Food Snaps Drool-Worthy

Before diving into a bowl of rainbow-colored fruit or a leafy green salad, grab your camera to capture that delicious moment — then make your friends jealous. Post your irresistible food photography online so the whole world can comment on your creative hobby. Not sure where to start? Grab a snack, and we’ll share some tips with you.

Food Photography Guide

  1. Set the Scene: Your messy countertop isn’t the prettiest backdrop for the quiche that took an hour to make. Instead, show off your culinary creation by serving it on a colorful plate against a simple background. Look for a solid-colored wall as a backdrop, a beautifully set table or head outdoors for blue sky and green grass.
  2. Spice It Up: Some dishes looks naturally drab, so add a splash of color and professionalism to your food photography by using a few garnishes. Plump strawberries or a fresh sprig of parsley will give your snaps a magazine-cover feel.
  3. Add a Human Touch: Don’t be afraid to show that you’re already enjoying the food. A small nibble out of a steaming hot cookie from the oven or a spoon sunk deep into a bowl of Greek yogurt will make viewers want to dig in, too.
  4. Watch the Exposure: Although it’s enticing to just share a quick pic of your dinner plate, take a few seconds to think like a pro photographer. Make sure you have adequate light. Move closer to a window, turn on a lamp or head outside to be sure your snapshot doesn’t turn out too dark.
  5. Take Two: Once you have the perfect location and setup in place, take several pictures. Try something close up, or step back and include your entire place setting or beverage in the frame. Look down at the food for a bird’s eye view, or set the camera on the table and capture the image on the same level as the plate.

You took the time to whip up a great meal — don’t be shy about showing it off.

If you’re a foodie who loves to upload pics of your latest meal to Instagram, you can savor the delicious memories by printing Square Prints directly from your phone through the Walgreens Photo App.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela

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Image source: Flickr

3 Ways to Display Your Vacation Photos

Vacation photos may be some of the best pictures you get of your family all year. Everyone is relaxed, happy and more than willing to ham it up for the camera. Later on, you’ll look at these photos and remember how much fun everyone was having. Rather than losing the images in the black hole that is your hard drive, organize and preserve them, so that you can look back on those happy moments time and again.

Jump!

1. Create a Scrapbook Album

Unleash the artist within by creating a scrapbook album of your vacation images. You can make one from scratch, using stickers, decals or special markers to embellish your photos, or you can even create Scrapbook Pages online. Edit your photos and design your pages using a variety of templates and backgrounds. Then, print out the pages for your album.

2. Create a Digital Album

Use your Walgreens Photo online account to create an album of your vacation photos using your favorite pictures. The shot of your aunt floating down the lazy river in an inner tube might end up as your digital album cover. Or maybe it’s the one of your son in mid-air as he jumps off the side of the boat. Put your photos in chronological order to tell the story of your vacation, from the moment you left your house to the moment you returned, tanned and relaxed. You can share your digital album with friends and family directly from Walgreens.com/Photo.

3. Create a Photo Book

Once you have your images in order for your slide show, why not place them in a Photo Book? Choose a bright, bold photo for the cover, or simply place the same image that you used for your title slide. Show your family traveling and arriving at your destination, then place snapshots of all the best moments throughout your stay. Make sure you get an even number of shots of everyone, so your book will mean something to each family member. If extended family or friends joined you on your trip, print out a book for each person as a holiday gift to remember the good times.

Vacations are an important time for families, so make sure you capture all of those memories and present them in a way that you’ll want to revisit. How do you plan on remembering this summer’s vacation?

Share Life’s Happy,

Karen Putz


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Image source: Karen Putz

6 Summer Birthday Gift Ideas for Her

You’ve ordered a decadent birthday cake and invited friends and family to share in a special celebration. Now the only thing missing is a thoughtful present for the lady of honor. Skip the gift cards and check out this list of great summer birthday gift ideas for her.

Skip the gift cards and check out our list of great birthday gift ideas for her.

1. Tote Bag for the Beach or Pool

Warm-weather birthdays call for gifts that coordinate with the season. Whether she frequents the beach, swims laps at the gym or is looking forward to a vacation that includes lots of sunscreen and a swimsuit, you can’t go wrong with a new Tote Bag personalized with a special photo memory from a previous summer outing.

2. Salad-in-a-Bowl Patio Planter

Does the birthday lady enjoy fresh, healthy meals? Head to the garden center for a beautiful patio planter filled with nutrient-rich edibles such as romaine lettuce, kale, parsley and spinach. These leafy greens can be trimmed, washed and enjoyed without toiling in the garden or making a trip to the grocery store.

3. Photo Water Bottle

During the summer, it’s a good idea to keep a water bottle close by to stay hydrated. Give her a personalized Water Bottle featuring a favorite picture of her friends or family. She’ll be sure to keep it by her side to help her stay cool while reminding her of special memories.

4. Bistro Set for Two

Does she love to eat outdoors during the summer? Surprise her with a cozy bistro table and chair set for two, and an invitation for dinner on the patio. This gift is also an ideal reading spot during the day, as well as a perfect hangout when a girlfriend drops by for a visit.

5. Customized Golf Towel

If she plays golf, make her next tee time extra special with a customized Golf Towel. Have the cloth printed with a snapshot of her and her golf buddies, then use the towel to creatively wrap a new set of golf balls and tees to complete the sporty gift.

6. Summer Door Wreath

Every woman likes to add a little color to the entryway of her home. A cheerful door wreath can do just the trick. Get out the glue gun and craft a patriotic wreath, or pick out a summery decoration at the craft store featuring bright sunflowers or daisies.

Do you have any other summer birthday gift ideas for her? Share one of your favorite birthday gifts from the past in the comments below.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela

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Image source: Flickr

5 Tips for Great School Pictures

We all have at least one terrible school photo hanging around our grandparents’ house (see photo of me below), with our hair sticking every which way, spilled lunch on our shirt and some hideous color combination we swore was in style at the time. Now that I’m on the mom side of the school picture scene, I feel compelled to make sure my guys are looking their very best — if only to save them future humiliation, because I’m going to keep those Prints around forever!

If you’re worrying about a fiasco on picture day, here are a few tips for helping your kids feel relaxed, look their best and perhaps even enjoy the experience.

old-amy-photos-ninth-grade-feature

1. Good Night, Sleep Tight

Making sure the kids have had a good night’s sleep is a big part of setting them up for photo day success. They won’t be feeling overtired as they wait for their turn with the photographer, no bags will be under the eyes and you won’t feel rushed trying to get a sleepyhead out of the house on time.

2. What to Wear?

Pick out an outfit the night before so you don’t have to dig through the laundry piles that morning. Hang up the outfit, and have your child change into it after breakfast. Opt for darker colors, graphic- and pattern-free fabrics and something that your child feels comfortable in. Kids don’t have to be overly fancy for picture day, but neat and tidy does the trick.

3. Pack a Particular Lunch

Consider a mess-free lunch for picture day to save yourself from the dreaded stained shirt snapshot. Braces? Forget about foods that might get stuck — or at least send along a toothbrush for a quick post-lunch brushing. Depending on what time of the school day the photo will be taken, you might be able to skip the lunch issue altogether, but better safe than sorry.

4. Avoid a Hair Scare

Send kids to school with a brush or comb and a little pocket mirror for pre-picture hair-taming. For girls, wearing hair down is preferable and you’ll avoid the bald look. If there’s time, try to schedule kids in for a hair trim a week or two before picture day so their locks will be at their best. Give it a good wash the night before and help them to style it in the morning.

5. Smile

There are photos from my childhood years where my smile looks nothing like me. You know, that awkward, forced grin that doesn’t look a thing like your child? No one wants that. On the big morning, chat with your kids about something funny they can think of when their photo is being taken. Maybe a joke that gets them laughing, a vacation memory they love or anything else that’ll bring out that genuine, gorgeous smile.

School Picture Tips

I hope these ideas help you on your way to a picture day masterpiece and one that you will add to the Photo Books. Now, say cheese!

Share Life’s Happy,
Amy Bellgardt

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Tips for Selfies You’ll Want to Share

We’ve all turned our smartphone cameras on ourselves. Smile. Click. Smile. Click. But not every impulsive image you snap should land on your social media feeds. Here are a few selfie faces to strive for next time a moment inspires you!

Selfie Tips

All About the Smile

Puckering your lips as if you’re blowing a kiss is fine to do in a photo, but try too hard and you’ll end up with the classic selfie error: duck face. It’s about as unflattering as it gets: your cheeks look sunken and your lips jut out like a beak, creating an effect that just looks downright silly. Instead of blowing that kiss, flash a simple smile. Practice in a mirror to see if you like to show teeth or stay close-lipped in your close-up.

Cute, Creative Angles

Taking a great selfie is all about angles. If you hold your phone directly above you, your forehead can end up looking pretty wide. If you tend to have oily skin, the shine will show up as a reflective glare. To avoid a big, shiny forehead, keep your camera at eye level or just use a long, outstretched arm a little above head level for a more flattering, proportionate angle. Then turn your head a bit to the side so you’re not looking straight into the camera.

Focus on the Eyes

We’ve all been there: You stretch out your arm to take a picture, and hit the button just as you blink. Half-closed eyes make you look tired and confused. To make your eyes really stand out, close them before making selfie faces. Pop your eyes open right before clicking the shutter button to ensure you don’t blink as the shutter opens. As an added bonus, closing your lids for a moment will lubricate the eyeball, providing moisture that will brighten your eyes on camera.

Nice Nose Shots

The worst selfie ever is the close-up view of your nostrils. If you hold the camera lower than nose level when taking a selfie, you risk this unflattering pose. Simply raise your camera to eye level or turn your head to the side to get an appealing semi-profile shot.

After nailing the perfect pose, upload your selfie to Instagram and enhance with color filters, festive borders or cropping tools. Print out your selfie with the Walgreens Mobile App and share with friends.

What are your favorite selfies to capture? Tell us about them in the comments below, or snap a selfie and post a link — we’d love to see your super selfie skills.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela Tague

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Image source: Flickr

Urban Backgrounds: Using City Architecture to Enhance Your Photos

Having your photography subjects stand in front of something interesting can help create a unique photo. Dynamic photo backgrounds are everywhere, especially in cities, which have a range of cool architectural styles and designs to feature. Here are a few ways to incorporate your city into your photographs.

Buildings

Grab your camera and head to town. Locate buildings with interesting shapes and designs to use as an eye-catching background. Elements to look for include the following:

  • Buildings with ornate iron gates that evoke romance and elegance. These can look great in an engagement photo or wedding shot.
  • Buildings with vintage advertising that generate old-world charm. Shoot these from a distance using a wide-angle lens to capture your subjects and the signage.
  • Tight alleyways with just a few feet of empty space. These alleys offer a nice scale difference between subject and background, which adds dimension to the photograph. Set your lens to focus on the subject and mute the sides and background.
  • Industrial areas. Metal walls, large fans and concrete cylinders can be great background elements. Shoot these big props with your subject in front and up close to add a different dimension to the photo.

Shooting at Night

When the sun goes down, take advantage of the artificial lighting downtown. A quiet city street provides a fantastic backdrop for all sorts of photos, from portraits and group shots to moody streetscapes that will look great on your wall. Use street lights, signs and other downtown elements to illuminate your photos and subjects in cool and unusual ways.

City bridges at night photos

Large bridges light up the night. Capture the beauty of the lights and the reflection on the water to make an interesting background. Your aperture should be at a wide setting, which will keep your subjects in focus and soften the background. Choose a fast shutter speed if your subject is moving, and use a tripod to keep things steady.

Water Elements

A gushing fountain can be a dramatic background for photos, especially at a wedding. A water background adds subtle hues of whites and light blue, and looks great in natural light. Use nearby benches or ledges as props. Take shots from a distance as well as up close: The details on many older fountains can be exquisite and worth capturing in the photo.

Seek permission from business owners if you’re taking photos on their property, and always use common sense when it comes to the suitability of photo backgrounds and the safety of your subjects. Have fun with your camera and create photos that stand out from the rest.

Share Life’s Happy,

Julie

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Image source: Flickr

Taking the Best Farmers Market Photos

Farmers market photos are full of vibrant colors and interesting shapes. A single mango might be red, orange, yellow and green all at the same time. Pineapples are a great example of the variety of shapes and angles the world of produce has available. We talked to three professional photographers to get advice on taking the best photos at a farmers market. Here’s what they had to say:

Hit the Market Early

Stephani Cuddie of Mirror Image Photography in Florida suggests hitting the market as soon as it opens to avoid big crowds and to take advantage of the morning sunshine. Getting there at the beginning of the day will also give you the widest variety of produce, fresh bread, flowers and other beautiful merchandise to photograph before the crowd snatches them up.

Find Your Subject’s Best Side

Cuddie says, “Find the colors. Go for the rich reds, greens and yellows. Turn any veggies that don’t look their best to the other side; you don’t want ugly looking fruits or veggies in your photos.” Photographer Sheri Rouse of Indiana suggests getting down to the level of the items you want to photograph. She says this provides “interesting angles and cool perspectives.”

Fill the frame with your favorite produce.

Zoom in and Zoom Out

There are advantages to both close-up shots and those with a wide view. Rouse likes zooming in “to cut out all the background ‘noise,’ photographing just the gorgeous flowers and the beautiful fruits.” Cuddie says photographing from above or dead on is best for filling the whole frame with fruits and vegetables. However, she also likes to get a bird’s eye view of the market by getting as high as possible. Look for elevated spots that give a good (and safe) view of a wide area.

Seek Shade to Avoid Capturing Shadows

Washington photographer Jennifer Bogle says, “Farmers markets are full of unique details. Hand-lettered signs, costumes, even uniquely colored vegetables you wouldn’t find at the grocery store all make for great images that are unique to the market experience. Though sunny days bring us to the market, bright sun can wreak havoc on photos. For better pictures without harsh shadows, look for shaded displays to photograph.”

Ask Before Photographing People

There are babies napping in strollers, farmers, craft vendors, musicians, and shoppers laden down with bags of farm-fresh finds. Weekends at a farmers market are full of life, which is great for photographs. Always ask permission before you snap photos with people in them, though.

So what should you do with your best farmers market photos? One great option is to make Canvas Prints of them to hang in the kitchen or dining room. You could also blow them up and make vibrant Posters. The rich colors and dynamic shapes will bring interest and depth to your home.

Share Life’s Happy,
Rachael Moshman

Print photos at Walgreens
Download the FREE Walgreens Mobile App

Image source: Rachael Moshman

Four Tips for Great Park Photos

Playing at the park is a great way to enjoy the weather and get your children moving. There is nothing better than seeing your kids’ smiling faces whizzing down the slide or flying high on the swing. Here are simple tips to get the best park photos and really capture those memories.

Tips for getting the best park photos

1. Take Lots of Pictures

Taking a ton of pictures serves two purposes: You can experiment and you can click away until you get the right shot. You may not get the perfect photo on the first try, but that’s okay. After all, that’s what digital cameras are for. Just keep shooting. Experiment with different angles, lighting and shutter speeds to see what works best.

2. Consider Lighting

Flashes aren’t just for indoors. If the sun is behind your children, consider turning on the flash. This will lighten up their faces and balance out the light in the picture. Be aware of shadows, too. To avoid shadows across your children’s faces, take pictures in full sun or full shade.

3. Pick Candid Versus Posed

Try to take both posed and candid park photos. Did your kids find a nice mud puddle to play in? Get them to pose with their muddy hands up in the air. Then, get a candid picture of them splashing in the puddle. Again, the more pictures you take, the more memories you’ll capture — and the more likely it is you’ll get that perfect shot.

4. Choose Your Shutter Speed

To get the best action shot, use a fast shutter speed. Faster shutter speeds help you capture a crisp scene without blurring the image. If you aren’t experienced with manually adjusting your camera, most cameras have an action shot setting. Read your camera’s manual and become familiar with the different options before you go to the park.

Most importantly, have fun. Enjoy the fresh air and experiment with your camera. If your children are old enough, get them involved in the process. They will love taking pictures of each other and the park surroundings. When you’re finished sorting through the pictures, make sure you get your best park photos developed as Prints.

What is your favorite outdoor activity with your children?

Share Life’s Happy,
Lauren Gaines

Print photos at Walgreens
Download the FREE Walgreens Mobile App

Image source: Lauren Gaines

News Flash: 4 Tips of Flash Photography

Using your camera’s flash seems like the simplest thing in the world. If there isn’t enough light to make the picture, out comes the flash, and suddenly a dark scene becomes a lit picture. But there’s far more to good flash photography than meets the eye.

While you may be content leaving your flash on auto, learning which situations warrant its use will help you get the most print-worthy shots possible.

Entire books have been written about getting started with flash photography, but these basic tips will get you started on your way to flash mastery.

1. Two Exposures in One

The first thing to realize when using your flash is that every flash photo is actually two exposures: the flash, and the ambient light around you. Unless your scene is pitch black, the camera collects all the light around your subject while the shutter is open, in addition to the light coming from your flash. These two exposures are the building blocks of flash photography.

2. Shutter Speed and Flash Exposure

Proper exposure has two building blocks: aperture and shutter speed. Aperture controls how much light comes in through the lens, whereas the shutter speed dictates how long the image sensor is exposed to that light. In order to capture the flash’s full output, the camera will slow the shutter speed, usually to a maximum of 1/250 or below, depending on the camera. So while aperture controls the ambient light in your scene, shutter speed controls that light’s exposure — especially important when using a flash.

Want more ambient exposure? Use a longer shutter speed; the flash exposure remains the same.

3. It’s Hip to Be Square

The more distance between your flash and the subject, the less light that falls on the subject. If you’re five feet away from your subject, double your distance; the subject will only receive one-fourth the amount of light as they did at five feet. This is known as the inverse square law. While this falloff may seem annoying, you can use it to your advantage. Having the subject move away from a background surface will darken the wall and expose the subject more effectively.

4. Stay in Range

On that note, let’s poke fun at today’s stadium audiences. If you’ve ever seen a concert or sporting event, you’ve seen hundreds of flashes go off in the background. But since the typical built-in flash on a point-and-shoot or DSLR camera is about 25 feet, all fans are doing is lighting up the backs of people’s heads. So turn off the flash and save your batteries — your shot has plenty of light to capture from the stage.

There’s so much more to mastering the art of flash photography, but these building blocks will lay the foundation on which you can begin building your camera flash skills.

Share Life’s Happy,

Andy Warycka

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Image source: Andy Warycka

5 Steps to a Great Photo Collage

Picking the right photo to frame for the wall or give to friends and family can be tedious. From wedding pictures to candid shots of your pet, there are simply too many great pictures to choose from. But why choose just one? Throw all of your favorites into a single Photo Collage Print.

Back in the day, a collage required scissors, glue and a lot of time. Now, it can be done in minutes with your own digital photos. Here’s how to do it.

Photo Collage Tips

1. Pick a Size

Start off by selecting a size for your collage. While 4×6 or 5×7 is great for sitting on your desk, 8×10 is perfect for going on a shelf. A Poster-sized Collage Print is ideal for a bedroom or dorm room wall.

The size will help you decide how many pictures to include, as well. Two to four is best for a 4×6, whereas you can easily fit 20 into a poster. Envision a story through your collage, and how many images you’ll need in order to tell it.

2. Select Your Pics

Now for the fun part: picture selection. You’ll generally upload photos from your computer, but the Walgreens Mobile App will let you tether your Facebook and Instagram accounts and upload images directly from a personal album.

Photo collages tend to work best when the pictures share a theme. Consider assembling pictures from a particular vacation or baby’s first Christmas. Then make sure the images’ colors complement each other. If you have a red-and-orange sunset picture that you love, select other photos with warm colors to go with it.

3. Choose Your Border

The best part of photo collage tools is that you can do as much or as little formatting as you want. Many collage print design tools are intuitive enough to assemble the images for you, and then allow you to organize them. First, decide if you want a border; it may affect the layout. The thicker the border, the less room there will be for images. Bordered edges may cut off photos with tons of detail, so mark the width of your border now, and consider which pics are best on all four sides.

4. Edit and Arrange

Remember that you can also play with your photos using editing apps, available right from your tablet or mobile device. Zoom, flip, color correct and more. If you have one or two favorite pics that you want to be the center of attention, pick those images to be “featured,” with the other images you select surrounding them. You may also use a digital program to shuffle your photos, randomly rearranging the images for you until you’re happy with the configuration.

5. Add Your Finishing Touches

“Spring ’14″? You can do better! Channel your inner wordsmith and use a title that captures it all. Then voilà — all done. Save the Collage Print to your cart and get hard copies sent right to your door.

What are you waiting for? Give it a spin.

Share Life’s Happy,
Suzanne Weinstock Klein

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Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Food Photography Guide: Make Your Food Snaps Drool-Worthy

Before diving into a bowl of rainbow-colored fruit or a leafy green salad, grab your camera to capture that delicious moment — then make your friends jealous. Post your irresistible food photography online so the whole world can comment on your creative hobby. Not sure where to start? Grab a snack, and we’ll share some tips with you.

Food Photography Guide

  1. Set the Scene: Your messy countertop isn’t the prettiest backdrop for the quiche that took an hour to make. Instead, show off your culinary creation by serving it on a colorful plate against a simple background. Look for a solid-colored wall as a backdrop, a beautifully set table or head outdoors for blue sky and green grass.
  2. Spice It Up: Some dishes looks naturally drab, so add a splash of color and professionalism to your food photography by using a few garnishes. Plump strawberries or a fresh sprig of parsley will give your snaps a magazine-cover feel.
  3. Add a Human Touch: Don’t be afraid to show that you’re already enjoying the food. A small nibble out of a steaming hot cookie from the oven or a spoon sunk deep into a bowl of Greek yogurt will make viewers want to dig in, too.
  4. Watch the Exposure: Although it’s enticing to just share a quick pic of your dinner plate, take a few seconds to think like a pro photographer. Make sure you have adequate light. Move closer to a window, turn on a lamp or head outside to be sure your snapshot doesn’t turn out too dark.
  5. Take Two: Once you have the perfect location and setup in place, take several pictures. Try something close up, or step back and include your entire place setting or beverage in the frame. Look down at the food for a bird’s eye view, or set the camera on the table and capture the image on the same level as the plate.

You took the time to whip up a great meal — don’t be shy about showing it off.

If you’re a foodie who loves to upload pics of your latest meal to Instagram, you can savor the delicious memories by printing Square Prints directly from your phone through the Walgreens Photo App.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela

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Image source: Flickr

3 Ways to Display Your Vacation Photos

Vacation photos may be some of the best pictures you get of your family all year. Everyone is relaxed, happy and more than willing to ham it up for the camera. Later on, you’ll look at these photos and remember how much fun everyone was having. Rather than losing the images in the black hole that is your hard drive, organize and preserve them, so that you can look back on those happy moments time and again.

Jump!

1. Create a Scrapbook Album

Unleash the artist within by creating a scrapbook album of your vacation images. You can make one from scratch, using stickers, decals or special markers to embellish your photos, or you can even create Scrapbook Pages online. Edit your photos and design your pages using a variety of templates and backgrounds. Then, print out the pages for your album.

2. Create a Digital Album

Use your Walgreens Photo online account to create an album of your vacation photos using your favorite pictures. The shot of your aunt floating down the lazy river in an inner tube might end up as your digital album cover. Or maybe it’s the one of your son in mid-air as he jumps off the side of the boat. Put your photos in chronological order to tell the story of your vacation, from the moment you left your house to the moment you returned, tanned and relaxed. You can share your digital album with friends and family directly from Walgreens.com/Photo.

3. Create a Photo Book

Once you have your images in order for your slide show, why not place them in a Photo Book? Choose a bright, bold photo for the cover, or simply place the same image that you used for your title slide. Show your family traveling and arriving at your destination, then place snapshots of all the best moments throughout your stay. Make sure you get an even number of shots of everyone, so your book will mean something to each family member. If extended family or friends joined you on your trip, print out a book for each person as a holiday gift to remember the good times.

Vacations are an important time for families, so make sure you capture all of those memories and present them in a way that you’ll want to revisit. How do you plan on remembering this summer’s vacation?

Share Life’s Happy,

Karen Putz


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Image source: Karen Putz

6 Summer Birthday Gift Ideas for Her

You’ve ordered a decadent birthday cake and invited friends and family to share in a special celebration. Now the only thing missing is a thoughtful present for the lady of honor. Skip the gift cards and check out this list of great summer birthday gift ideas for her.

Skip the gift cards and check out our list of great birthday gift ideas for her.

1. Tote Bag for the Beach or Pool

Warm-weather birthdays call for gifts that coordinate with the season. Whether she frequents the beach, swims laps at the gym or is looking forward to a vacation that includes lots of sunscreen and a swimsuit, you can’t go wrong with a new Tote Bag personalized with a special photo memory from a previous summer outing.

2. Salad-in-a-Bowl Patio Planter

Does the birthday lady enjoy fresh, healthy meals? Head to the garden center for a beautiful patio planter filled with nutrient-rich edibles such as romaine lettuce, kale, parsley and spinach. These leafy greens can be trimmed, washed and enjoyed without toiling in the garden or making a trip to the grocery store.

3. Photo Water Bottle

During the summer, it’s a good idea to keep a water bottle close by to stay hydrated. Give her a personalized Water Bottle featuring a favorite picture of her friends or family. She’ll be sure to keep it by her side to help her stay cool while reminding her of special memories.

4. Bistro Set for Two

Does she love to eat outdoors during the summer? Surprise her with a cozy bistro table and chair set for two, and an invitation for dinner on the patio. This gift is also an ideal reading spot during the day, as well as a perfect hangout when a girlfriend drops by for a visit.

5. Customized Golf Towel

If she plays golf, make her next tee time extra special with a customized Golf Towel. Have the cloth printed with a snapshot of her and her golf buddies, then use the towel to creatively wrap a new set of golf balls and tees to complete the sporty gift.

6. Summer Door Wreath

Every woman likes to add a little color to the entryway of her home. A cheerful door wreath can do just the trick. Get out the glue gun and craft a patriotic wreath, or pick out a summery decoration at the craft store featuring bright sunflowers or daisies.

Do you have any other summer birthday gift ideas for her? Share one of your favorite birthday gifts from the past in the comments below.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela

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Image source: Flickr

5 Tips for Great School Pictures

We all have at least one terrible school photo hanging around our grandparents’ house (see photo of me below), with our hair sticking every which way, spilled lunch on our shirt and some hideous color combination we swore was in style at the time. Now that I’m on the mom side of the school picture scene, I feel compelled to make sure my guys are looking their very best — if only to save them future humiliation, because I’m going to keep those Prints around forever!

If you’re worrying about a fiasco on picture day, here are a few tips for helping your kids feel relaxed, look their best and perhaps even enjoy the experience.

old-amy-photos-ninth-grade-feature

1. Good Night, Sleep Tight

Making sure the kids have had a good night’s sleep is a big part of setting them up for photo day success. They won’t be feeling overtired as they wait for their turn with the photographer, no bags will be under the eyes and you won’t feel rushed trying to get a sleepyhead out of the house on time.

2. What to Wear?

Pick out an outfit the night before so you don’t have to dig through the laundry piles that morning. Hang up the outfit, and have your child change into it after breakfast. Opt for darker colors, graphic- and pattern-free fabrics and something that your child feels comfortable in. Kids don’t have to be overly fancy for picture day, but neat and tidy does the trick.

3. Pack a Particular Lunch

Consider a mess-free lunch for picture day to save yourself from the dreaded stained shirt snapshot. Braces? Forget about foods that might get stuck — or at least send along a toothbrush for a quick post-lunch brushing. Depending on what time of the school day the photo will be taken, you might be able to skip the lunch issue altogether, but better safe than sorry.

4. Avoid a Hair Scare

Send kids to school with a brush or comb and a little pocket mirror for pre-picture hair-taming. For girls, wearing hair down is preferable and you’ll avoid the bald look. If there’s time, try to schedule kids in for a hair trim a week or two before picture day so their locks will be at their best. Give it a good wash the night before and help them to style it in the morning.

5. Smile

There are photos from my childhood years where my smile looks nothing like me. You know, that awkward, forced grin that doesn’t look a thing like your child? No one wants that. On the big morning, chat with your kids about something funny they can think of when their photo is being taken. Maybe a joke that gets them laughing, a vacation memory they love or anything else that’ll bring out that genuine, gorgeous smile.

School Picture Tips

I hope these ideas help you on your way to a picture day masterpiece and one that you will add to the Photo Books. Now, say cheese!

Share Life’s Happy,
Amy Bellgardt

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Tips for Selfies You’ll Want to Share

We’ve all turned our smartphone cameras on ourselves. Smile. Click. Smile. Click. But not every impulsive image you snap should land on your social media feeds. Here are a few selfie faces to strive for next time a moment inspires you!

Selfie Tips

All About the Smile

Puckering your lips as if you’re blowing a kiss is fine to do in a photo, but try too hard and you’ll end up with the classic selfie error: duck face. It’s about as unflattering as it gets: your cheeks look sunken and your lips jut out like a beak, creating an effect that just looks downright silly. Instead of blowing that kiss, flash a simple smile. Practice in a mirror to see if you like to show teeth or stay close-lipped in your close-up.

Cute, Creative Angles

Taking a great selfie is all about angles. If you hold your phone directly above you, your forehead can end up looking pretty wide. If you tend to have oily skin, the shine will show up as a reflective glare. To avoid a big, shiny forehead, keep your camera at eye level or just use a long, outstretched arm a little above head level for a more flattering, proportionate angle. Then turn your head a bit to the side so you’re not looking straight into the camera.

Focus on the Eyes

We’ve all been there: You stretch out your arm to take a picture, and hit the button just as you blink. Half-closed eyes make you look tired and confused. To make your eyes really stand out, close them before making selfie faces. Pop your eyes open right before clicking the shutter button to ensure you don’t blink as the shutter opens. As an added bonus, closing your lids for a moment will lubricate the eyeball, providing moisture that will brighten your eyes on camera.

Nice Nose Shots

The worst selfie ever is the close-up view of your nostrils. If you hold the camera lower than nose level when taking a selfie, you risk this unflattering pose. Simply raise your camera to eye level or turn your head to the side to get an appealing semi-profile shot.

After nailing the perfect pose, upload your selfie to Instagram and enhance with color filters, festive borders or cropping tools. Print out your selfie with the Walgreens Mobile App and share with friends.

What are your favorite selfies to capture? Tell us about them in the comments below, or snap a selfie and post a link — we’d love to see your super selfie skills.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela Tague

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Image source: Flickr

Urban Backgrounds: Using City Architecture to Enhance Your Photos

Having your photography subjects stand in front of something interesting can help create a unique photo. Dynamic photo backgrounds are everywhere, especially in cities, which have a range of cool architectural styles and designs to feature. Here are a few ways to incorporate your city into your photographs.

Buildings

Grab your camera and head to town. Locate buildings with interesting shapes and designs to use as an eye-catching background. Elements to look for include the following:

  • Buildings with ornate iron gates that evoke romance and elegance. These can look great in an engagement photo or wedding shot.
  • Buildings with vintage advertising that generate old-world charm. Shoot these from a distance using a wide-angle lens to capture your subjects and the signage.
  • Tight alleyways with just a few feet of empty space. These alleys offer a nice scale difference between subject and background, which adds dimension to the photograph. Set your lens to focus on the subject and mute the sides and background.
  • Industrial areas. Metal walls, large fans and concrete cylinders can be great background elements. Shoot these big props with your subject in front and up close to add a different dimension to the photo.

Shooting at Night

When the sun goes down, take advantage of the artificial lighting downtown. A quiet city street provides a fantastic backdrop for all sorts of photos, from portraits and group shots to moody streetscapes that will look great on your wall. Use street lights, signs and other downtown elements to illuminate your photos and subjects in cool and unusual ways.

City bridges at night photos

Large bridges light up the night. Capture the beauty of the lights and the reflection on the water to make an interesting background. Your aperture should be at a wide setting, which will keep your subjects in focus and soften the background. Choose a fast shutter speed if your subject is moving, and use a tripod to keep things steady.

Water Elements

A gushing fountain can be a dramatic background for photos, especially at a wedding. A water background adds subtle hues of whites and light blue, and looks great in natural light. Use nearby benches or ledges as props. Take shots from a distance as well as up close: The details on many older fountains can be exquisite and worth capturing in the photo.

Seek permission from business owners if you’re taking photos on their property, and always use common sense when it comes to the suitability of photo backgrounds and the safety of your subjects. Have fun with your camera and create photos that stand out from the rest.

Share Life’s Happy,

Julie

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Image source: Flickr

Taking the Best Farmers Market Photos

Farmers market photos are full of vibrant colors and interesting shapes. A single mango might be red, orange, yellow and green all at the same time. Pineapples are a great example of the variety of shapes and angles the world of produce has available. We talked to three professional photographers to get advice on taking the best photos at a farmers market. Here’s what they had to say:

Hit the Market Early

Stephani Cuddie of Mirror Image Photography in Florida suggests hitting the market as soon as it opens to avoid big crowds and to take advantage of the morning sunshine. Getting there at the beginning of the day will also give you the widest variety of produce, fresh bread, flowers and other beautiful merchandise to photograph before the crowd snatches them up.

Find Your Subject’s Best Side

Cuddie says, “Find the colors. Go for the rich reds, greens and yellows. Turn any veggies that don’t look their best to the other side; you don’t want ugly looking fruits or veggies in your photos.” Photographer Sheri Rouse of Indiana suggests getting down to the level of the items you want to photograph. She says this provides “interesting angles and cool perspectives.”

Fill the frame with your favorite produce.

Zoom in and Zoom Out

There are advantages to both close-up shots and those with a wide view. Rouse likes zooming in “to cut out all the background ‘noise,’ photographing just the gorgeous flowers and the beautiful fruits.” Cuddie says photographing from above or dead on is best for filling the whole frame with fruits and vegetables. However, she also likes to get a bird’s eye view of the market by getting as high as possible. Look for elevated spots that give a good (and safe) view of a wide area.

Seek Shade to Avoid Capturing Shadows

Washington photographer Jennifer Bogle says, “Farmers markets are full of unique details. Hand-lettered signs, costumes, even uniquely colored vegetables you wouldn’t find at the grocery store all make for great images that are unique to the market experience. Though sunny days bring us to the market, bright sun can wreak havoc on photos. For better pictures without harsh shadows, look for shaded displays to photograph.”

Ask Before Photographing People

There are babies napping in strollers, farmers, craft vendors, musicians, and shoppers laden down with bags of farm-fresh finds. Weekends at a farmers market are full of life, which is great for photographs. Always ask permission before you snap photos with people in them, though.

So what should you do with your best farmers market photos? One great option is to make Canvas Prints of them to hang in the kitchen or dining room. You could also blow them up and make vibrant Posters. The rich colors and dynamic shapes will bring interest and depth to your home.

Share Life’s Happy,
Rachael Moshman

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Image source: Rachael Moshman

Four Tips for Great Park Photos

Playing at the park is a great way to enjoy the weather and get your children moving. There is nothing better than seeing your kids’ smiling faces whizzing down the slide or flying high on the swing. Here are simple tips to get the best park photos and really capture those memories.

Tips for getting the best park photos

1. Take Lots of Pictures

Taking a ton of pictures serves two purposes: You can experiment and you can click away until you get the right shot. You may not get the perfect photo on the first try, but that’s okay. After all, that’s what digital cameras are for. Just keep shooting. Experiment with different angles, lighting and shutter speeds to see what works best.

2. Consider Lighting

Flashes aren’t just for indoors. If the sun is behind your children, consider turning on the flash. This will lighten up their faces and balance out the light in the picture. Be aware of shadows, too. To avoid shadows across your children’s faces, take pictures in full sun or full shade.

3. Pick Candid Versus Posed

Try to take both posed and candid park photos. Did your kids find a nice mud puddle to play in? Get them to pose with their muddy hands up in the air. Then, get a candid picture of them splashing in the puddle. Again, the more pictures you take, the more memories you’ll capture — and the more likely it is you’ll get that perfect shot.

4. Choose Your Shutter Speed

To get the best action shot, use a fast shutter speed. Faster shutter speeds help you capture a crisp scene without blurring the image. If you aren’t experienced with manually adjusting your camera, most cameras have an action shot setting. Read your camera’s manual and become familiar with the different options before you go to the park.

Most importantly, have fun. Enjoy the fresh air and experiment with your camera. If your children are old enough, get them involved in the process. They will love taking pictures of each other and the park surroundings. When you’re finished sorting through the pictures, make sure you get your best park photos developed as Prints.

What is your favorite outdoor activity with your children?

Share Life’s Happy,
Lauren Gaines

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Image source: Lauren Gaines

News Flash: 4 Tips of Flash Photography

Using your camera’s flash seems like the simplest thing in the world. If there isn’t enough light to make the picture, out comes the flash, and suddenly a dark scene becomes a lit picture. But there’s far more to good flash photography than meets the eye.

While you may be content leaving your flash on auto, learning which situations warrant its use will help you get the most print-worthy shots possible.

Entire books have been written about getting started with flash photography, but these basic tips will get you started on your way to flash mastery.

1. Two Exposures in One

The first thing to realize when using your flash is that every flash photo is actually two exposures: the flash, and the ambient light around you. Unless your scene is pitch black, the camera collects all the light around your subject while the shutter is open, in addition to the light coming from your flash. These two exposures are the building blocks of flash photography.

2. Shutter Speed and Flash Exposure

Proper exposure has two building blocks: aperture and shutter speed. Aperture controls how much light comes in through the lens, whereas the shutter speed dictates how long the image sensor is exposed to that light. In order to capture the flash’s full output, the camera will slow the shutter speed, usually to a maximum of 1/250 or below, depending on the camera. So while aperture controls the ambient light in your scene, shutter speed controls that light’s exposure — especially important when using a flash.

Want more ambient exposure? Use a longer shutter speed; the flash exposure remains the same.

3. It’s Hip to Be Square

The more distance between your flash and the subject, the less light that falls on the subject. If you’re five feet away from your subject, double your distance; the subject will only receive one-fourth the amount of light as they did at five feet. This is known as the inverse square law. While this falloff may seem annoying, you can use it to your advantage. Having the subject move away from a background surface will darken the wall and expose the subject more effectively.

4. Stay in Range

On that note, let’s poke fun at today’s stadium audiences. If you’ve ever seen a concert or sporting event, you’ve seen hundreds of flashes go off in the background. But since the typical built-in flash on a point-and-shoot or DSLR camera is about 25 feet, all fans are doing is lighting up the backs of people’s heads. So turn off the flash and save your batteries — your shot has plenty of light to capture from the stage.

There’s so much more to mastering the art of flash photography, but these building blocks will lay the foundation on which you can begin building your camera flash skills.

Share Life’s Happy,

Andy Warycka

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Image source: Andy Warycka

5 Steps to a Great Photo Collage

Picking the right photo to frame for the wall or give to friends and family can be tedious. From wedding pictures to candid shots of your pet, there are simply too many great pictures to choose from. But why choose just one? Throw all of your favorites into a single Photo Collage Print.

Back in the day, a collage required scissors, glue and a lot of time. Now, it can be done in minutes with your own digital photos. Here’s how to do it.

Photo Collage Tips

1. Pick a Size

Start off by selecting a size for your collage. While 4×6 or 5×7 is great for sitting on your desk, 8×10 is perfect for going on a shelf. A Poster-sized Collage Print is ideal for a bedroom or dorm room wall.

The size will help you decide how many pictures to include, as well. Two to four is best for a 4×6, whereas you can easily fit 20 into a poster. Envision a story through your collage, and how many images you’ll need in order to tell it.

2. Select Your Pics

Now for the fun part: picture selection. You’ll generally upload photos from your computer, but the Walgreens Mobile App will let you tether your Facebook and Instagram accounts and upload images directly from a personal album.

Photo collages tend to work best when the pictures share a theme. Consider assembling pictures from a particular vacation or baby’s first Christmas. Then make sure the images’ colors complement each other. If you have a red-and-orange sunset picture that you love, select other photos with warm colors to go with it.

3. Choose Your Border

The best part of photo collage tools is that you can do as much or as little formatting as you want. Many collage print design tools are intuitive enough to assemble the images for you, and then allow you to organize them. First, decide if you want a border; it may affect the layout. The thicker the border, the less room there will be for images. Bordered edges may cut off photos with tons of detail, so mark the width of your border now, and consider which pics are best on all four sides.

4. Edit and Arrange

Remember that you can also play with your photos using editing apps, available right from your tablet or mobile device. Zoom, flip, color correct and more. If you have one or two favorite pics that you want to be the center of attention, pick those images to be “featured,” with the other images you select surrounding them. You may also use a digital program to shuffle your photos, randomly rearranging the images for you until you’re happy with the configuration.

5. Add Your Finishing Touches

“Spring ’14″? You can do better! Channel your inner wordsmith and use a title that captures it all. Then voilà — all done. Save the Collage Print to your cart and get hard copies sent right to your door.

What are you waiting for? Give it a spin.

Share Life’s Happy,
Suzanne Weinstock Klein

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Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Food Photography Guide: Make Your Food Snaps Drool-Worthy

Before diving into a bowl of rainbow-colored fruit or a leafy green salad, grab your camera to capture that delicious moment — then make your friends jealous. Post your irresistible food photography online so the whole world can comment on your creative hobby. Not sure where to start? Grab a snack, and we’ll share some tips with you.

Food Photography Guide

  1. Set the Scene: Your messy countertop isn’t the prettiest backdrop for the quiche that took an hour to make. Instead, show off your culinary creation by serving it on a colorful plate against a simple background. Look for a solid-colored wall as a backdrop, a beautifully set table or head outdoors for blue sky and green grass.
  2. Spice It Up: Some dishes looks naturally drab, so add a splash of color and professionalism to your food photography by using a few garnishes. Plump strawberries or a fresh sprig of parsley will give your snaps a magazine-cover feel.
  3. Add a Human Touch: Don’t be afraid to show that you’re already enjoying the food. A small nibble out of a steaming hot cookie from the oven or a spoon sunk deep into a bowl of Greek yogurt will make viewers want to dig in, too.
  4. Watch the Exposure: Although it’s enticing to just share a quick pic of your dinner plate, take a few seconds to think like a pro photographer. Make sure you have adequate light. Move closer to a window, turn on a lamp or head outside to be sure your snapshot doesn’t turn out too dark.
  5. Take Two: Once you have the perfect location and setup in place, take several pictures. Try something close up, or step back and include your entire place setting or beverage in the frame. Look down at the food for a bird’s eye view, or set the camera on the table and capture the image on the same level as the plate.

You took the time to whip up a great meal — don’t be shy about showing it off.

If you’re a foodie who loves to upload pics of your latest meal to Instagram, you can savor the delicious memories by printing Square Prints directly from your phone through the Walgreens Photo App.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela

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Image source: Flickr

3 Ways to Display Your Vacation Photos

Vacation photos may be some of the best pictures you get of your family all year. Everyone is relaxed, happy and more than willing to ham it up for the camera. Later on, you’ll look at these photos and remember how much fun everyone was having. Rather than losing the images in the black hole that is your hard drive, organize and preserve them, so that you can look back on those happy moments time and again.

Jump!

1. Create a Scrapbook Album

Unleash the artist within by creating a scrapbook album of your vacation images. You can make one from scratch, using stickers, decals or special markers to embellish your photos, or you can even create Scrapbook Pages online. Edit your photos and design your pages using a variety of templates and backgrounds. Then, print out the pages for your album.

2. Create a Digital Album

Use your Walgreens Photo online account to create an album of your vacation photos using your favorite pictures. The shot of your aunt floating down the lazy river in an inner tube might end up as your digital album cover. Or maybe it’s the one of your son in mid-air as he jumps off the side of the boat. Put your photos in chronological order to tell the story of your vacation, from the moment you left your house to the moment you returned, tanned and relaxed. You can share your digital album with friends and family directly from Walgreens.com/Photo.

3. Create a Photo Book

Once you have your images in order for your slide show, why not place them in a Photo Book? Choose a bright, bold photo for the cover, or simply place the same image that you used for your title slide. Show your family traveling and arriving at your destination, then place snapshots of all the best moments throughout your stay. Make sure you get an even number of shots of everyone, so your book will mean something to each family member. If extended family or friends joined you on your trip, print out a book for each person as a holiday gift to remember the good times.

Vacations are an important time for families, so make sure you capture all of those memories and present them in a way that you’ll want to revisit. How do you plan on remembering this summer’s vacation?

Share Life’s Happy,

Karen Putz


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Image source: Karen Putz

6 Summer Birthday Gift Ideas for Her

You’ve ordered a decadent birthday cake and invited friends and family to share in a special celebration. Now the only thing missing is a thoughtful present for the lady of honor. Skip the gift cards and check out this list of great summer birthday gift ideas for her.

Skip the gift cards and check out our list of great birthday gift ideas for her.

1. Tote Bag for the Beach or Pool

Warm-weather birthdays call for gifts that coordinate with the season. Whether she frequents the beach, swims laps at the gym or is looking forward to a vacation that includes lots of sunscreen and a swimsuit, you can’t go wrong with a new Tote Bag personalized with a special photo memory from a previous summer outing.

2. Salad-in-a-Bowl Patio Planter

Does the birthday lady enjoy fresh, healthy meals? Head to the garden center for a beautiful patio planter filled with nutrient-rich edibles such as romaine lettuce, kale, parsley and spinach. These leafy greens can be trimmed, washed and enjoyed without toiling in the garden or making a trip to the grocery store.

3. Photo Water Bottle

During the summer, it’s a good idea to keep a water bottle close by to stay hydrated. Give her a personalized Water Bottle featuring a favorite picture of her friends or family. She’ll be sure to keep it by her side to help her stay cool while reminding her of special memories.

4. Bistro Set for Two

Does she love to eat outdoors during the summer? Surprise her with a cozy bistro table and chair set for two, and an invitation for dinner on the patio. This gift is also an ideal reading spot during the day, as well as a perfect hangout when a girlfriend drops by for a visit.

5. Customized Golf Towel

If she plays golf, make her next tee time extra special with a customized Golf Towel. Have the cloth printed with a snapshot of her and her golf buddies, then use the towel to creatively wrap a new set of golf balls and tees to complete the sporty gift.

6. Summer Door Wreath

Every woman likes to add a little color to the entryway of her home. A cheerful door wreath can do just the trick. Get out the glue gun and craft a patriotic wreath, or pick out a summery decoration at the craft store featuring bright sunflowers or daisies.

Do you have any other summer birthday gift ideas for her? Share one of your favorite birthday gifts from the past in the comments below.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela

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Image source: Flickr

5 Tips for Great School Pictures

We all have at least one terrible school photo hanging around our grandparents’ house (see photo of me below), with our hair sticking every which way, spilled lunch on our shirt and some hideous color combination we swore was in style at the time. Now that I’m on the mom side of the school picture scene, I feel compelled to make sure my guys are looking their very best — if only to save them future humiliation, because I’m going to keep those Prints around forever!

If you’re worrying about a fiasco on picture day, here are a few tips for helping your kids feel relaxed, look their best and perhaps even enjoy the experience.

old-amy-photos-ninth-grade-feature

1. Good Night, Sleep Tight

Making sure the kids have had a good night’s sleep is a big part of setting them up for photo day success. They won’t be feeling overtired as they wait for their turn with the photographer, no bags will be under the eyes and you won’t feel rushed trying to get a sleepyhead out of the house on time.

2. What to Wear?

Pick out an outfit the night before so you don’t have to dig through the laundry piles that morning. Hang up the outfit, and have your child change into it after breakfast. Opt for darker colors, graphic- and pattern-free fabrics and something that your child feels comfortable in. Kids don’t have to be overly fancy for picture day, but neat and tidy does the trick.

3. Pack a Particular Lunch

Consider a mess-free lunch for picture day to save yourself from the dreaded stained shirt snapshot. Braces? Forget about foods that might get stuck — or at least send along a toothbrush for a quick post-lunch brushing. Depending on what time of the school day the photo will be taken, you might be able to skip the lunch issue altogether, but better safe than sorry.

4. Avoid a Hair Scare

Send kids to school with a brush or comb and a little pocket mirror for pre-picture hair-taming. For girls, wearing hair down is preferable and you’ll avoid the bald look. If there’s time, try to schedule kids in for a hair trim a week or two before picture day so their locks will be at their best. Give it a good wash the night before and help them to style it in the morning.

5. Smile

There are photos from my childhood years where my smile looks nothing like me. You know, that awkward, forced grin that doesn’t look a thing like your child? No one wants that. On the big morning, chat with your kids about something funny they can think of when their photo is being taken. Maybe a joke that gets them laughing, a vacation memory they love or anything else that’ll bring out that genuine, gorgeous smile.

School Picture Tips

I hope these ideas help you on your way to a picture day masterpiece and one that you will add to the Photo Books. Now, say cheese!

Share Life’s Happy,
Amy Bellgardt

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Tips for Selfies You’ll Want to Share

We’ve all turned our smartphone cameras on ourselves. Smile. Click. Smile. Click. But not every impulsive image you snap should land on your social media feeds. Here are a few selfie faces to strive for next time a moment inspires you!

Selfie Tips

All About the Smile

Puckering your lips as if you’re blowing a kiss is fine to do in a photo, but try too hard and you’ll end up with the classic selfie error: duck face. It’s about as unflattering as it gets: your cheeks look sunken and your lips jut out like a beak, creating an effect that just looks downright silly. Instead of blowing that kiss, flash a simple smile. Practice in a mirror to see if you like to show teeth or stay close-lipped in your close-up.

Cute, Creative Angles

Taking a great selfie is all about angles. If you hold your phone directly above you, your forehead can end up looking pretty wide. If you tend to have oily skin, the shine will show up as a reflective glare. To avoid a big, shiny forehead, keep your camera at eye level or just use a long, outstretched arm a little above head level for a more flattering, proportionate angle. Then turn your head a bit to the side so you’re not looking straight into the camera.

Focus on the Eyes

We’ve all been there: You stretch out your arm to take a picture, and hit the button just as you blink. Half-closed eyes make you look tired and confused. To make your eyes really stand out, close them before making selfie faces. Pop your eyes open right before clicking the shutter button to ensure you don’t blink as the shutter opens. As an added bonus, closing your lids for a moment will lubricate the eyeball, providing moisture that will brighten your eyes on camera.

Nice Nose Shots

The worst selfie ever is the close-up view of your nostrils. If you hold the camera lower than nose level when taking a selfie, you risk this unflattering pose. Simply raise your camera to eye level or turn your head to the side to get an appealing semi-profile shot.

After nailing the perfect pose, upload your selfie to Instagram and enhance with color filters, festive borders or cropping tools. Print out your selfie with the Walgreens Mobile App and share with friends.

What are your favorite selfies to capture? Tell us about them in the comments below, or snap a selfie and post a link — we’d love to see your super selfie skills.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela Tague

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Image source: Flickr

Urban Backgrounds: Using City Architecture to Enhance Your Photos

Having your photography subjects stand in front of something interesting can help create a unique photo. Dynamic photo backgrounds are everywhere, especially in cities, which have a range of cool architectural styles and designs to feature. Here are a few ways to incorporate your city into your photographs.

Buildings

Grab your camera and head to town. Locate buildings with interesting shapes and designs to use as an eye-catching background. Elements to look for include the following:

  • Buildings with ornate iron gates that evoke romance and elegance. These can look great in an engagement photo or wedding shot.
  • Buildings with vintage advertising that generate old-world charm. Shoot these from a distance using a wide-angle lens to capture your subjects and the signage.
  • Tight alleyways with just a few feet of empty space. These alleys offer a nice scale difference between subject and background, which adds dimension to the photograph. Set your lens to focus on the subject and mute the sides and background.
  • Industrial areas. Metal walls, large fans and concrete cylinders can be great background elements. Shoot these big props with your subject in front and up close to add a different dimension to the photo.

Shooting at Night

When the sun goes down, take advantage of the artificial lighting downtown. A quiet city street provides a fantastic backdrop for all sorts of photos, from portraits and group shots to moody streetscapes that will look great on your wall. Use street lights, signs and other downtown elements to illuminate your photos and subjects in cool and unusual ways.

City bridges at night photos

Large bridges light up the night. Capture the beauty of the lights and the reflection on the water to make an interesting background. Your aperture should be at a wide setting, which will keep your subjects in focus and soften the background. Choose a fast shutter speed if your subject is moving, and use a tripod to keep things steady.

Water Elements

A gushing fountain can be a dramatic background for photos, especially at a wedding. A water background adds subtle hues of whites and light blue, and looks great in natural light. Use nearby benches or ledges as props. Take shots from a distance as well as up close: The details on many older fountains can be exquisite and worth capturing in the photo.

Seek permission from business owners if you’re taking photos on their property, and always use common sense when it comes to the suitability of photo backgrounds and the safety of your subjects. Have fun with your camera and create photos that stand out from the rest.

Share Life’s Happy,

Julie

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Image source: Flickr

Taking the Best Farmers Market Photos

Farmers market photos are full of vibrant colors and interesting shapes. A single mango might be red, orange, yellow and green all at the same time. Pineapples are a great example of the variety of shapes and angles the world of produce has available. We talked to three professional photographers to get advice on taking the best photos at a farmers market. Here’s what they had to say:

Hit the Market Early

Stephani Cuddie of Mirror Image Photography in Florida suggests hitting the market as soon as it opens to avoid big crowds and to take advantage of the morning sunshine. Getting there at the beginning of the day will also give you the widest variety of produce, fresh bread, flowers and other beautiful merchandise to photograph before the crowd snatches them up.

Find Your Subject’s Best Side

Cuddie says, “Find the colors. Go for the rich reds, greens and yellows. Turn any veggies that don’t look their best to the other side; you don’t want ugly looking fruits or veggies in your photos.” Photographer Sheri Rouse of Indiana suggests getting down to the level of the items you want to photograph. She says this provides “interesting angles and cool perspectives.”

Fill the frame with your favorite produce.

Zoom in and Zoom Out

There are advantages to both close-up shots and those with a wide view. Rouse likes zooming in “to cut out all the background ‘noise,’ photographing just the gorgeous flowers and the beautiful fruits.” Cuddie says photographing from above or dead on is best for filling the whole frame with fruits and vegetables. However, she also likes to get a bird’s eye view of the market by getting as high as possible. Look for elevated spots that give a good (and safe) view of a wide area.

Seek Shade to Avoid Capturing Shadows

Washington photographer Jennifer Bogle says, “Farmers markets are full of unique details. Hand-lettered signs, costumes, even uniquely colored vegetables you wouldn’t find at the grocery store all make for great images that are unique to the market experience. Though sunny days bring us to the market, bright sun can wreak havoc on photos. For better pictures without harsh shadows, look for shaded displays to photograph.”

Ask Before Photographing People

There are babies napping in strollers, farmers, craft vendors, musicians, and shoppers laden down with bags of farm-fresh finds. Weekends at a farmers market are full of life, which is great for photographs. Always ask permission before you snap photos with people in them, though.

So what should you do with your best farmers market photos? One great option is to make Canvas Prints of them to hang in the kitchen or dining room. You could also blow them up and make vibrant Posters. The rich colors and dynamic shapes will bring interest and depth to your home.

Share Life’s Happy,
Rachael Moshman

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Image source: Rachael Moshman

Four Tips for Great Park Photos

Playing at the park is a great way to enjoy the weather and get your children moving. There is nothing better than seeing your kids’ smiling faces whizzing down the slide or flying high on the swing. Here are simple tips to get the best park photos and really capture those memories.

Tips for getting the best park photos

1. Take Lots of Pictures

Taking a ton of pictures serves two purposes: You can experiment and you can click away until you get the right shot. You may not get the perfect photo on the first try, but that’s okay. After all, that’s what digital cameras are for. Just keep shooting. Experiment with different angles, lighting and shutter speeds to see what works best.

2. Consider Lighting

Flashes aren’t just for indoors. If the sun is behind your children, consider turning on the flash. This will lighten up their faces and balance out the light in the picture. Be aware of shadows, too. To avoid shadows across your children’s faces, take pictures in full sun or full shade.

3. Pick Candid Versus Posed

Try to take both posed and candid park photos. Did your kids find a nice mud puddle to play in? Get them to pose with their muddy hands up in the air. Then, get a candid picture of them splashing in the puddle. Again, the more pictures you take, the more memories you’ll capture — and the more likely it is you’ll get that perfect shot.

4. Choose Your Shutter Speed

To get the best action shot, use a fast shutter speed. Faster shutter speeds help you capture a crisp scene without blurring the image. If you aren’t experienced with manually adjusting your camera, most cameras have an action shot setting. Read your camera’s manual and become familiar with the different options before you go to the park.

Most importantly, have fun. Enjoy the fresh air and experiment with your camera. If your children are old enough, get them involved in the process. They will love taking pictures of each other and the park surroundings. When you’re finished sorting through the pictures, make sure you get your best park photos developed as Prints.

What is your favorite outdoor activity with your children?

Share Life’s Happy,
Lauren Gaines

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Image source: Lauren Gaines

News Flash: 4 Tips of Flash Photography

Using your camera’s flash seems like the simplest thing in the world. If there isn’t enough light to make the picture, out comes the flash, and suddenly a dark scene becomes a lit picture. But there’s far more to good flash photography than meets the eye.

While you may be content leaving your flash on auto, learning which situations warrant its use will help you get the most print-worthy shots possible.

Entire books have been written about getting started with flash photography, but these basic tips will get you started on your way to flash mastery.

1. Two Exposures in One

The first thing to realize when using your flash is that every flash photo is actually two exposures: the flash, and the ambient light around you. Unless your scene is pitch black, the camera collects all the light around your subject while the shutter is open, in addition to the light coming from your flash. These two exposures are the building blocks of flash photography.

2. Shutter Speed and Flash Exposure

Proper exposure has two building blocks: aperture and shutter speed. Aperture controls how much light comes in through the lens, whereas the shutter speed dictates how long the image sensor is exposed to that light. In order to capture the flash’s full output, the camera will slow the shutter speed, usually to a maximum of 1/250 or below, depending on the camera. So while aperture controls the ambient light in your scene, shutter speed controls that light’s exposure — especially important when using a flash.

Want more ambient exposure? Use a longer shutter speed; the flash exposure remains the same.

3. It’s Hip to Be Square

The more distance between your flash and the subject, the less light that falls on the subject. If you’re five feet away from your subject, double your distance; the subject will only receive one-fourth the amount of light as they did at five feet. This is known as the inverse square law. While this falloff may seem annoying, you can use it to your advantage. Having the subject move away from a background surface will darken the wall and expose the subject more effectively.

4. Stay in Range

On that note, let’s poke fun at today’s stadium audiences. If you’ve ever seen a concert or sporting event, you’ve seen hundreds of flashes go off in the background. But since the typical built-in flash on a point-and-shoot or DSLR camera is about 25 feet, all fans are doing is lighting up the backs of people’s heads. So turn off the flash and save your batteries — your shot has plenty of light to capture from the stage.

There’s so much more to mastering the art of flash photography, but these building blocks will lay the foundation on which you can begin building your camera flash skills.

Share Life’s Happy,

Andy Warycka

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Image source: Andy Warycka

5 Steps to a Great Photo Collage

Picking the right photo to frame for the wall or give to friends and family can be tedious. From wedding pictures to candid shots of your pet, there are simply too many great pictures to choose from. But why choose just one? Throw all of your favorites into a single Photo Collage Print.

Back in the day, a collage required scissors, glue and a lot of time. Now, it can be done in minutes with your own digital photos. Here’s how to do it.

Photo Collage Tips

1. Pick a Size

Start off by selecting a size for your collage. While 4×6 or 5×7 is great for sitting on your desk, 8×10 is perfect for going on a shelf. A Poster-sized Collage Print is ideal for a bedroom or dorm room wall.

The size will help you decide how many pictures to include, as well. Two to four is best for a 4×6, whereas you can easily fit 20 into a poster. Envision a story through your collage, and how many images you’ll need in order to tell it.

2. Select Your Pics

Now for the fun part: picture selection. You’ll generally upload photos from your computer, but the Walgreens Mobile App will let you tether your Facebook and Instagram accounts and upload images directly from a personal album.

Photo collages tend to work best when the pictures share a theme. Consider assembling pictures from a particular vacation or baby’s first Christmas. Then make sure the images’ colors complement each other. If you have a red-and-orange sunset picture that you love, select other photos with warm colors to go with it.

3. Choose Your Border

The best part of photo collage tools is that you can do as much or as little formatting as you want. Many collage print design tools are intuitive enough to assemble the images for you, and then allow you to organize them. First, decide if you want a border; it may affect the layout. The thicker the border, the less room there will be for images. Bordered edges may cut off photos with tons of detail, so mark the width of your border now, and consider which pics are best on all four sides.

4. Edit and Arrange

Remember that you can also play with your photos using editing apps, available right from your tablet or mobile device. Zoom, flip, color correct and more. If you have one or two favorite pics that you want to be the center of attention, pick those images to be “featured,” with the other images you select surrounding them. You may also use a digital program to shuffle your photos, randomly rearranging the images for you until you’re happy with the configuration.

5. Add Your Finishing Touches

“Spring ’14″? You can do better! Channel your inner wordsmith and use a title that captures it all. Then voilà — all done. Save the Collage Print to your cart and get hard copies sent right to your door.

What are you waiting for? Give it a spin.

Share Life’s Happy,
Suzanne Weinstock Klein

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Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Food Photography Guide: Make Your Food Snaps Drool-Worthy

Before diving into a bowl of rainbow-colored fruit or a leafy green salad, grab your camera to capture that delicious moment — then make your friends jealous. Post your irresistible food photography online so the whole world can comment on your creative hobby. Not sure where to start? Grab a snack, and we’ll share some tips with you.

Food Photography Guide

  1. Set the Scene: Your messy countertop isn’t the prettiest backdrop for the quiche that took an hour to make. Instead, show off your culinary creation by serving it on a colorful plate against a simple background. Look for a solid-colored wall as a backdrop, a beautifully set table or head outdoors for blue sky and green grass.
  2. Spice It Up: Some dishes looks naturally drab, so add a splash of color and professionalism to your food photography by using a few garnishes. Plump strawberries or a fresh sprig of parsley will give your snaps a magazine-cover feel.
  3. Add a Human Touch: Don’t be afraid to show that you’re already enjoying the food. A small nibble out of a steaming hot cookie from the oven or a spoon sunk deep into a bowl of Greek yogurt will make viewers want to dig in, too.
  4. Watch the Exposure: Although it’s enticing to just share a quick pic of your dinner plate, take a few seconds to think like a pro photographer. Make sure you have adequate light. Move closer to a window, turn on a lamp or head outside to be sure your snapshot doesn’t turn out too dark.
  5. Take Two: Once you have the perfect location and setup in place, take several pictures. Try something close up, or step back and include your entire place setting or beverage in the frame. Look down at the food for a bird’s eye view, or set the camera on the table and capture the image on the same level as the plate.

You took the time to whip up a great meal — don’t be shy about showing it off.

If you’re a foodie who loves to upload pics of your latest meal to Instagram, you can savor the delicious memories by printing Square Prints directly from your phone through the Walgreens Photo App.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela

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Image source: Flickr

3 Ways to Display Your Vacation Photos

Vacation photos may be some of the best pictures you get of your family all year. Everyone is relaxed, happy and more than willing to ham it up for the camera. Later on, you’ll look at these photos and remember how much fun everyone was having. Rather than losing the images in the black hole that is your hard drive, organize and preserve them, so that you can look back on those happy moments time and again.

Jump!

1. Create a Scrapbook Album

Unleash the artist within by creating a scrapbook album of your vacation images. You can make one from scratch, using stickers, decals or special markers to embellish your photos, or you can even create Scrapbook Pages online. Edit your photos and design your pages using a variety of templates and backgrounds. Then, print out the pages for your album.

2. Create a Digital Album

Use your Walgreens Photo online account to create an album of your vacation photos using your favorite pictures. The shot of your aunt floating down the lazy river in an inner tube might end up as your digital album cover. Or maybe it’s the one of your son in mid-air as he jumps off the side of the boat. Put your photos in chronological order to tell the story of your vacation, from the moment you left your house to the moment you returned, tanned and relaxed. You can share your digital album with friends and family directly from Walgreens.com/Photo.

3. Create a Photo Book

Once you have your images in order for your slide show, why not place them in a Photo Book? Choose a bright, bold photo for the cover, or simply place the same image that you used for your title slide. Show your family traveling and arriving at your destination, then place snapshots of all the best moments throughout your stay. Make sure you get an even number of shots of everyone, so your book will mean something to each family member. If extended family or friends joined you on your trip, print out a book for each person as a holiday gift to remember the good times.

Vacations are an important time for families, so make sure you capture all of those memories and present them in a way that you’ll want to revisit. How do you plan on remembering this summer’s vacation?

Share Life’s Happy,

Karen Putz


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Image source: Karen Putz

6 Summer Birthday Gift Ideas for Her

You’ve ordered a decadent birthday cake and invited friends and family to share in a special celebration. Now the only thing missing is a thoughtful present for the lady of honor. Skip the gift cards and check out this list of great summer birthday gift ideas for her.

Skip the gift cards and check out our list of great birthday gift ideas for her.

1. Tote Bag for the Beach or Pool

Warm-weather birthdays call for gifts that coordinate with the season. Whether she frequents the beach, swims laps at the gym or is looking forward to a vacation that includes lots of sunscreen and a swimsuit, you can’t go wrong with a new Tote Bag personalized with a special photo memory from a previous summer outing.

2. Salad-in-a-Bowl Patio Planter

Does the birthday lady enjoy fresh, healthy meals? Head to the garden center for a beautiful patio planter filled with nutrient-rich edibles such as romaine lettuce, kale, parsley and spinach. These leafy greens can be trimmed, washed and enjoyed without toiling in the garden or making a trip to the grocery store.

3. Photo Water Bottle

During the summer, it’s a good idea to keep a water bottle close by to stay hydrated. Give her a personalized Water Bottle featuring a favorite picture of her friends or family. She’ll be sure to keep it by her side to help her stay cool while reminding her of special memories.

4. Bistro Set for Two

Does she love to eat outdoors during the summer? Surprise her with a cozy bistro table and chair set for two, and an invitation for dinner on the patio. This gift is also an ideal reading spot during the day, as well as a perfect hangout when a girlfriend drops by for a visit.

5. Customized Golf Towel

If she plays golf, make her next tee time extra special with a customized Golf Towel. Have the cloth printed with a snapshot of her and her golf buddies, then use the towel to creatively wrap a new set of golf balls and tees to complete the sporty gift.

6. Summer Door Wreath

Every woman likes to add a little color to the entryway of her home. A cheerful door wreath can do just the trick. Get out the glue gun and craft a patriotic wreath, or pick out a summery decoration at the craft store featuring bright sunflowers or daisies.

Do you have any other summer birthday gift ideas for her? Share one of your favorite birthday gifts from the past in the comments below.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela

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Image source: Flickr

5 Tips for Great School Pictures

We all have at least one terrible school photo hanging around our grandparents’ house (see photo of me below), with our hair sticking every which way, spilled lunch on our shirt and some hideous color combination we swore was in style at the time. Now that I’m on the mom side of the school picture scene, I feel compelled to make sure my guys are looking their very best — if only to save them future humiliation, because I’m going to keep those Prints around forever!

If you’re worrying about a fiasco on picture day, here are a few tips for helping your kids feel relaxed, look their best and perhaps even enjoy the experience.

old-amy-photos-ninth-grade-feature

1. Good Night, Sleep Tight

Making sure the kids have had a good night’s sleep is a big part of setting them up for photo day success. They won’t be feeling overtired as they wait for their turn with the photographer, no bags will be under the eyes and you won’t feel rushed trying to get a sleepyhead out of the house on time.

2. What to Wear?

Pick out an outfit the night before so you don’t have to dig through the laundry piles that morning. Hang up the outfit, and have your child change into it after breakfast. Opt for darker colors, graphic- and pattern-free fabrics and something that your child feels comfortable in. Kids don’t have to be overly fancy for picture day, but neat and tidy does the trick.

3. Pack a Particular Lunch

Consider a mess-free lunch for picture day to save yourself from the dreaded stained shirt snapshot. Braces? Forget about foods that might get stuck — or at least send along a toothbrush for a quick post-lunch brushing. Depending on what time of the school day the photo will be taken, you might be able to skip the lunch issue altogether, but better safe than sorry.

4. Avoid a Hair Scare

Send kids to school with a brush or comb and a little pocket mirror for pre-picture hair-taming. For girls, wearing hair down is preferable and you’ll avoid the bald look. If there’s time, try to schedule kids in for a hair trim a week or two before picture day so their locks will be at their best. Give it a good wash the night before and help them to style it in the morning.

5. Smile

There are photos from my childhood years where my smile looks nothing like me. You know, that awkward, forced grin that doesn’t look a thing like your child? No one wants that. On the big morning, chat with your kids about something funny they can think of when their photo is being taken. Maybe a joke that gets them laughing, a vacation memory they love or anything else that’ll bring out that genuine, gorgeous smile.

School Picture Tips

I hope these ideas help you on your way to a picture day masterpiece and one that you will add to the Photo Books. Now, say cheese!

Share Life’s Happy,
Amy Bellgardt

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Tips for Selfies You’ll Want to Share

We’ve all turned our smartphone cameras on ourselves. Smile. Click. Smile. Click. But not every impulsive image you snap should land on your social media feeds. Here are a few selfie faces to strive for next time a moment inspires you!

Selfie Tips

All About the Smile

Puckering your lips as if you’re blowing a kiss is fine to do in a photo, but try too hard and you’ll end up with the classic selfie error: duck face. It’s about as unflattering as it gets: your cheeks look sunken and your lips jut out like a beak, creating an effect that just looks downright silly. Instead of blowing that kiss, flash a simple smile. Practice in a mirror to see if you like to show teeth or stay close-lipped in your close-up.

Cute, Creative Angles

Taking a great selfie is all about angles. If you hold your phone directly above you, your forehead can end up looking pretty wide. If you tend to have oily skin, the shine will show up as a reflective glare. To avoid a big, shiny forehead, keep your camera at eye level or just use a long, outstretched arm a little above head level for a more flattering, proportionate angle. Then turn your head a bit to the side so you’re not looking straight into the camera.

Focus on the Eyes

We’ve all been there: You stretch out your arm to take a picture, and hit the button just as you blink. Half-closed eyes make you look tired and confused. To make your eyes really stand out, close them before making selfie faces. Pop your eyes open right before clicking the shutter button to ensure you don’t blink as the shutter opens. As an added bonus, closing your lids for a moment will lubricate the eyeball, providing moisture that will brighten your eyes on camera.

Nice Nose Shots

The worst selfie ever is the close-up view of your nostrils. If you hold the camera lower than nose level when taking a selfie, you risk this unflattering pose. Simply raise your camera to eye level or turn your head to the side to get an appealing semi-profile shot.

After nailing the perfect pose, upload your selfie to Instagram and enhance with color filters, festive borders or cropping tools. Print out your selfie with the Walgreens Mobile App and share with friends.

What are your favorite selfies to capture? Tell us about them in the comments below, or snap a selfie and post a link — we’d love to see your super selfie skills.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela Tague

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Image source: Flickr

Urban Backgrounds: Using City Architecture to Enhance Your Photos

Having your photography subjects stand in front of something interesting can help create a unique photo. Dynamic photo backgrounds are everywhere, especially in cities, which have a range of cool architectural styles and designs to feature. Here are a few ways to incorporate your city into your photographs.

Buildings

Grab your camera and head to town. Locate buildings with interesting shapes and designs to use as an eye-catching background. Elements to look for include the following:

  • Buildings with ornate iron gates that evoke romance and elegance. These can look great in an engagement photo or wedding shot.
  • Buildings with vintage advertising that generate old-world charm. Shoot these from a distance using a wide-angle lens to capture your subjects and the signage.
  • Tight alleyways with just a few feet of empty space. These alleys offer a nice scale difference between subject and background, which adds dimension to the photograph. Set your lens to focus on the subject and mute the sides and background.
  • Industrial areas. Metal walls, large fans and concrete cylinders can be great background elements. Shoot these big props with your subject in front and up close to add a different dimension to the photo.

Shooting at Night

When the sun goes down, take advantage of the artificial lighting downtown. A quiet city street provides a fantastic backdrop for all sorts of photos, from portraits and group shots to moody streetscapes that will look great on your wall. Use street lights, signs and other downtown elements to illuminate your photos and subjects in cool and unusual ways.

City bridges at night photos

Large bridges light up the night. Capture the beauty of the lights and the reflection on the water to make an interesting background. Your aperture should be at a wide setting, which will keep your subjects in focus and soften the background. Choose a fast shutter speed if your subject is moving, and use a tripod to keep things steady.

Water Elements

A gushing fountain can be a dramatic background for photos, especially at a wedding. A water background adds subtle hues of whites and light blue, and looks great in natural light. Use nearby benches or ledges as props. Take shots from a distance as well as up close: The details on many older fountains can be exquisite and worth capturing in the photo.

Seek permission from business owners if you’re taking photos on their property, and always use common sense when it comes to the suitability of photo backgrounds and the safety of your subjects. Have fun with your camera and create photos that stand out from the rest.

Share Life’s Happy,

Julie

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Image source: Flickr

Taking the Best Farmers Market Photos

Farmers market photos are full of vibrant colors and interesting shapes. A single mango might be red, orange, yellow and green all at the same time. Pineapples are a great example of the variety of shapes and angles the world of produce has available. We talked to three professional photographers to get advice on taking the best photos at a farmers market. Here’s what they had to say:

Hit the Market Early

Stephani Cuddie of Mirror Image Photography in Florida suggests hitting the market as soon as it opens to avoid big crowds and to take advantage of the morning sunshine. Getting there at the beginning of the day will also give you the widest variety of produce, fresh bread, flowers and other beautiful merchandise to photograph before the crowd snatches them up.

Find Your Subject’s Best Side

Cuddie says, “Find the colors. Go for the rich reds, greens and yellows. Turn any veggies that don’t look their best to the other side; you don’t want ugly looking fruits or veggies in your photos.” Photographer Sheri Rouse of Indiana suggests getting down to the level of the items you want to photograph. She says this provides “interesting angles and cool perspectives.”

Fill the frame with your favorite produce.

Zoom in and Zoom Out

There are advantages to both close-up shots and those with a wide view. Rouse likes zooming in “to cut out all the background ‘noise,’ photographing just the gorgeous flowers and the beautiful fruits.” Cuddie says photographing from above or dead on is best for filling the whole frame with fruits and vegetables. However, she also likes to get a bird’s eye view of the market by getting as high as possible. Look for elevated spots that give a good (and safe) view of a wide area.

Seek Shade to Avoid Capturing Shadows

Washington photographer Jennifer Bogle says, “Farmers markets are full of unique details. Hand-lettered signs, costumes, even uniquely colored vegetables you wouldn’t find at the grocery store all make for great images that are unique to the market experience. Though sunny days bring us to the market, bright sun can wreak havoc on photos. For better pictures without harsh shadows, look for shaded displays to photograph.”

Ask Before Photographing People

There are babies napping in strollers, farmers, craft vendors, musicians, and shoppers laden down with bags of farm-fresh finds. Weekends at a farmers market are full of life, which is great for photographs. Always ask permission before you snap photos with people in them, though.

So what should you do with your best farmers market photos? One great option is to make Canvas Prints of them to hang in the kitchen or dining room. You could also blow them up and make vibrant Posters. The rich colors and dynamic shapes will bring interest and depth to your home.

Share Life’s Happy,
Rachael Moshman

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Image source: Rachael Moshman

Four Tips for Great Park Photos

Playing at the park is a great way to enjoy the weather and get your children moving. There is nothing better than seeing your kids’ smiling faces whizzing down the slide or flying high on the swing. Here are simple tips to get the best park photos and really capture those memories.

Tips for getting the best park photos

1. Take Lots of Pictures

Taking a ton of pictures serves two purposes: You can experiment and you can click away until you get the right shot. You may not get the perfect photo on the first try, but that’s okay. After all, that’s what digital cameras are for. Just keep shooting. Experiment with different angles, lighting and shutter speeds to see what works best.

2. Consider Lighting

Flashes aren’t just for indoors. If the sun is behind your children, consider turning on the flash. This will lighten up their faces and balance out the light in the picture. Be aware of shadows, too. To avoid shadows across your children’s faces, take pictures in full sun or full shade.

3. Pick Candid Versus Posed

Try to take both posed and candid park photos. Did your kids find a nice mud puddle to play in? Get them to pose with their muddy hands up in the air. Then, get a candid picture of them splashing in the puddle. Again, the more pictures you take, the more memories you’ll capture — and the more likely it is you’ll get that perfect shot.

4. Choose Your Shutter Speed

To get the best action shot, use a fast shutter speed. Faster shutter speeds help you capture a crisp scene without blurring the image. If you aren’t experienced with manually adjusting your camera, most cameras have an action shot setting. Read your camera’s manual and become familiar with the different options before you go to the park.

Most importantly, have fun. Enjoy the fresh air and experiment with your camera. If your children are old enough, get them involved in the process. They will love taking pictures of each other and the park surroundings. When you’re finished sorting through the pictures, make sure you get your best park photos developed as Prints.

What is your favorite outdoor activity with your children?

Share Life’s Happy,
Lauren Gaines

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Image source: Lauren Gaines

News Flash: 4 Tips of Flash Photography

Using your camera’s flash seems like the simplest thing in the world. If there isn’t enough light to make the picture, out comes the flash, and suddenly a dark scene becomes a lit picture. But there’s far more to good flash photography than meets the eye.

While you may be content leaving your flash on auto, learning which situations warrant its use will help you get the most print-worthy shots possible.

Entire books have been written about getting started with flash photography, but these basic tips will get you started on your way to flash mastery.

1. Two Exposures in One

The first thing to realize when using your flash is that every flash photo is actually two exposures: the flash, and the ambient light around you. Unless your scene is pitch black, the camera collects all the light around your subject while the shutter is open, in addition to the light coming from your flash. These two exposures are the building blocks of flash photography.

2. Shutter Speed and Flash Exposure

Proper exposure has two building blocks: aperture and shutter speed. Aperture controls how much light comes in through the lens, whereas the shutter speed dictates how long the image sensor is exposed to that light. In order to capture the flash’s full output, the camera will slow the shutter speed, usually to a maximum of 1/250 or below, depending on the camera. So while aperture controls the ambient light in your scene, shutter speed controls that light’s exposure — especially important when using a flash.

Want more ambient exposure? Use a longer shutter speed; the flash exposure remains the same.

3. It’s Hip to Be Square

The more distance between your flash and the subject, the less light that falls on the subject. If you’re five feet away from your subject, double your distance; the subject will only receive one-fourth the amount of light as they did at five feet. This is known as the inverse square law. While this falloff may seem annoying, you can use it to your advantage. Having the subject move away from a background surface will darken the wall and expose the subject more effectively.

4. Stay in Range

On that note, let’s poke fun at today’s stadium audiences. If you’ve ever seen a concert or sporting event, you’ve seen hundreds of flashes go off in the background. But since the typical built-in flash on a point-and-shoot or DSLR camera is about 25 feet, all fans are doing is lighting up the backs of people’s heads. So turn off the flash and save your batteries — your shot has plenty of light to capture from the stage.

There’s so much more to mastering the art of flash photography, but these building blocks will lay the foundation on which you can begin building your camera flash skills.

Share Life’s Happy,

Andy Warycka

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Image source: Andy Warycka

5 Steps to a Great Photo Collage

Picking the right photo to frame for the wall or give to friends and family can be tedious. From wedding pictures to candid shots of your pet, there are simply too many great pictures to choose from. But why choose just one? Throw all of your favorites into a single Photo Collage Print.

Back in the day, a collage required scissors, glue and a lot of time. Now, it can be done in minutes with your own digital photos. Here’s how to do it.

Photo Collage Tips

1. Pick a Size

Start off by selecting a size for your collage. While 4×6 or 5×7 is great for sitting on your desk, 8×10 is perfect for going on a shelf. A Poster-sized Collage Print is ideal for a bedroom or dorm room wall.

The size will help you decide how many pictures to include, as well. Two to four is best for a 4×6, whereas you can easily fit 20 into a poster. Envision a story through your collage, and how many images you’ll need in order to tell it.

2. Select Your Pics

Now for the fun part: picture selection. You’ll generally upload photos from your computer, but the Walgreens Mobile App will let you tether your Facebook and Instagram accounts and upload images directly from a personal album.

Photo collages tend to work best when the pictures share a theme. Consider assembling pictures from a particular vacation or baby’s first Christmas. Then make sure the images’ colors complement each other. If you have a red-and-orange sunset picture that you love, select other photos with warm colors to go with it.

3. Choose Your Border

The best part of photo collage tools is that you can do as much or as little formatting as you want. Many collage print design tools are intuitive enough to assemble the images for you, and then allow you to organize them. First, decide if you want a border; it may affect the layout. The thicker the border, the less room there will be for images. Bordered edges may cut off photos with tons of detail, so mark the width of your border now, and consider which pics are best on all four sides.

4. Edit and Arrange

Remember that you can also play with your photos using editing apps, available right from your tablet or mobile device. Zoom, flip, color correct and more. If you have one or two favorite pics that you want to be the center of attention, pick those images to be “featured,” with the other images you select surrounding them. You may also use a digital program to shuffle your photos, randomly rearranging the images for you until you’re happy with the configuration.

5. Add Your Finishing Touches

“Spring ’14″? You can do better! Channel your inner wordsmith and use a title that captures it all. Then voilà — all done. Save the Collage Print to your cart and get hard copies sent right to your door.

What are you waiting for? Give it a spin.

Share Life’s Happy,
Suzanne Weinstock Klein

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Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Food Photography Guide: Make Your Food Snaps Drool-Worthy

Before diving into a bowl of rainbow-colored fruit or a leafy green salad, grab your camera to capture that delicious moment — then make your friends jealous. Post your irresistible food photography online so the whole world can comment on your creative hobby. Not sure where to start? Grab a snack, and we’ll share some tips with you.

Food Photography Guide

  1. Set the Scene: Your messy countertop isn’t the prettiest backdrop for the quiche that took an hour to make. Instead, show off your culinary creation by serving it on a colorful plate against a simple background. Look for a solid-colored wall as a backdrop, a beautifully set table or head outdoors for blue sky and green grass.
  2. Spice It Up: Some dishes looks naturally drab, so add a splash of color and professionalism to your food photography by using a few garnishes. Plump strawberries or a fresh sprig of parsley will give your snaps a magazine-cover feel.
  3. Add a Human Touch: Don’t be afraid to show that you’re already enjoying the food. A small nibble out of a steaming hot cookie from the oven or a spoon sunk deep into a bowl of Greek yogurt will make viewers want to dig in, too.
  4. Watch the Exposure: Although it’s enticing to just share a quick pic of your dinner plate, take a few seconds to think like a pro photographer. Make sure you have adequate light. Move closer to a window, turn on a lamp or head outside to be sure your snapshot doesn’t turn out too dark.
  5. Take Two: Once you have the perfect location and setup in place, take several pictures. Try something close up, or step back and include your entire place setting or beverage in the frame. Look down at the food for a bird’s eye view, or set the camera on the table and capture the image on the same level as the plate.

You took the time to whip up a great meal — don’t be shy about showing it off.

If you’re a foodie who loves to upload pics of your latest meal to Instagram, you can savor the delicious memories by printing Square Prints directly from your phone through the Walgreens Photo App.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela

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Image source: Flickr

3 Ways to Display Your Vacation Photos

Vacation photos may be some of the best pictures you get of your family all year. Everyone is relaxed, happy and more than willing to ham it up for the camera. Later on, you’ll look at these photos and remember how much fun everyone was having. Rather than losing the images in the black hole that is your hard drive, organize and preserve them, so that you can look back on those happy moments time and again.

Jump!

1. Create a Scrapbook Album

Unleash the artist within by creating a scrapbook album of your vacation images. You can make one from scratch, using stickers, decals or special markers to embellish your photos, or you can even create Scrapbook Pages online. Edit your photos and design your pages using a variety of templates and backgrounds. Then, print out the pages for your album.

2. Create a Digital Album

Use your Walgreens Photo online account to create an album of your vacation photos using your favorite pictures. The shot of your aunt floating down the lazy river in an inner tube might end up as your digital album cover. Or maybe it’s the one of your son in mid-air as he jumps off the side of the boat. Put your photos in chronological order to tell the story of your vacation, from the moment you left your house to the moment you returned, tanned and relaxed. You can share your digital album with friends and family directly from Walgreens.com/Photo.

3. Create a Photo Book

Once you have your images in order for your slide show, why not place them in a Photo Book? Choose a bright, bold photo for the cover, or simply place the same image that you used for your title slide. Show your family traveling and arriving at your destination, then place snapshots of all the best moments throughout your stay. Make sure you get an even number of shots of everyone, so your book will mean something to each family member. If extended family or friends joined you on your trip, print out a book for each person as a holiday gift to remember the good times.

Vacations are an important time for families, so make sure you capture all of those memories and present them in a way that you’ll want to revisit. How do you plan on remembering this summer’s vacation?

Share Life’s Happy,

Karen Putz


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Image source: Karen Putz

6 Summer Birthday Gift Ideas for Her

You’ve ordered a decadent birthday cake and invited friends and family to share in a special celebration. Now the only thing missing is a thoughtful present for the lady of honor. Skip the gift cards and check out this list of great summer birthday gift ideas for her.

Skip the gift cards and check out our list of great birthday gift ideas for her.

1. Tote Bag for the Beach or Pool

Warm-weather birthdays call for gifts that coordinate with the season. Whether she frequents the beach, swims laps at the gym or is looking forward to a vacation that includes lots of sunscreen and a swimsuit, you can’t go wrong with a new Tote Bag personalized with a special photo memory from a previous summer outing.

2. Salad-in-a-Bowl Patio Planter

Does the birthday lady enjoy fresh, healthy meals? Head to the garden center for a beautiful patio planter filled with nutrient-rich edibles such as romaine lettuce, kale, parsley and spinach. These leafy greens can be trimmed, washed and enjoyed without toiling in the garden or making a trip to the grocery store.

3. Photo Water Bottle

During the summer, it’s a good idea to keep a water bottle close by to stay hydrated. Give her a personalized Water Bottle featuring a favorite picture of her friends or family. She’ll be sure to keep it by her side to help her stay cool while reminding her of special memories.

4. Bistro Set for Two

Does she love to eat outdoors during the summer? Surprise her with a cozy bistro table and chair set for two, and an invitation for dinner on the patio. This gift is also an ideal reading spot during the day, as well as a perfect hangout when a girlfriend drops by for a visit.

5. Customized Golf Towel

If she plays golf, make her next tee time extra special with a customized Golf Towel. Have the cloth printed with a snapshot of her and her golf buddies, then use the towel to creatively wrap a new set of golf balls and tees to complete the sporty gift.

6. Summer Door Wreath

Every woman likes to add a little color to the entryway of her home. A cheerful door wreath can do just the trick. Get out the glue gun and craft a patriotic wreath, or pick out a summery decoration at the craft store featuring bright sunflowers or daisies.

Do you have any other summer birthday gift ideas for her? Share one of your favorite birthday gifts from the past in the comments below.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela

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Image source: Flickr

5 Tips for Great School Pictures

We all have at least one terrible school photo hanging around our grandparents’ house (see photo of me below), with our hair sticking every which way, spilled lunch on our shirt and some hideous color combination we swore was in style at the time. Now that I’m on the mom side of the school picture scene, I feel compelled to make sure my guys are looking their very best — if only to save them future humiliation, because I’m going to keep those Prints around forever!

If you’re worrying about a fiasco on picture day, here are a few tips for helping your kids feel relaxed, look their best and perhaps even enjoy the experience.

old-amy-photos-ninth-grade-feature

1. Good Night, Sleep Tight

Making sure the kids have had a good night’s sleep is a big part of setting them up for photo day success. They won’t be feeling overtired as they wait for their turn with the photographer, no bags will be under the eyes and you won’t feel rushed trying to get a sleepyhead out of the house on time.

2. What to Wear?

Pick out an outfit the night before so you don’t have to dig through the laundry piles that morning. Hang up the outfit, and have your child change into it after breakfast. Opt for darker colors, graphic- and pattern-free fabrics and something that your child feels comfortable in. Kids don’t have to be overly fancy for picture day, but neat and tidy does the trick.

3. Pack a Particular Lunch

Consider a mess-free lunch for picture day to save yourself from the dreaded stained shirt snapshot. Braces? Forget about foods that might get stuck — or at least send along a toothbrush for a quick post-lunch brushing. Depending on what time of the school day the photo will be taken, you might be able to skip the lunch issue altogether, but better safe than sorry.

4. Avoid a Hair Scare

Send kids to school with a brush or comb and a little pocket mirror for pre-picture hair-taming. For girls, wearing hair down is preferable and you’ll avoid the bald look. If there’s time, try to schedule kids in for a hair trim a week or two before picture day so their locks will be at their best. Give it a good wash the night before and help them to style it in the morning.

5. Smile

There are photos from my childhood years where my smile looks nothing like me. You know, that awkward, forced grin that doesn’t look a thing like your child? No one wants that. On the big morning, chat with your kids about something funny they can think of when their photo is being taken. Maybe a joke that gets them laughing, a vacation memory they love or anything else that’ll bring out that genuine, gorgeous smile.

School Picture Tips

I hope these ideas help you on your way to a picture day masterpiece and one that you will add to the Photo Books. Now, say cheese!

Share Life’s Happy,
Amy Bellgardt

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Tips for Selfies You’ll Want to Share

We’ve all turned our smartphone cameras on ourselves. Smile. Click. Smile. Click. But not every impulsive image you snap should land on your social media feeds. Here are a few selfie faces to strive for next time a moment inspires you!

Selfie Tips

All About the Smile

Puckering your lips as if you’re blowing a kiss is fine to do in a photo, but try too hard and you’ll end up with the classic selfie error: duck face. It’s about as unflattering as it gets: your cheeks look sunken and your lips jut out like a beak, creating an effect that just looks downright silly. Instead of blowing that kiss, flash a simple smile. Practice in a mirror to see if you like to show teeth or stay close-lipped in your close-up.

Cute, Creative Angles

Taking a great selfie is all about angles. If you hold your phone directly above you, your forehead can end up looking pretty wide. If you tend to have oily skin, the shine will show up as a reflective glare. To avoid a big, shiny forehead, keep your camera at eye level or just use a long, outstretched arm a little above head level for a more flattering, proportionate angle. Then turn your head a bit to the side so you’re not looking straight into the camera.

Focus on the Eyes

We’ve all been there: You stretch out your arm to take a picture, and hit the button just as you blink. Half-closed eyes make you look tired and confused. To make your eyes really stand out, close them before making selfie faces. Pop your eyes open right before clicking the shutter button to ensure you don’t blink as the shutter opens. As an added bonus, closing your lids for a moment will lubricate the eyeball, providing moisture that will brighten your eyes on camera.

Nice Nose Shots

The worst selfie ever is the close-up view of your nostrils. If you hold the camera lower than nose level when taking a selfie, you risk this unflattering pose. Simply raise your camera to eye level or turn your head to the side to get an appealing semi-profile shot.

After nailing the perfect pose, upload your selfie to Instagram and enhance with color filters, festive borders or cropping tools. Print out your selfie with the Walgreens Mobile App and share with friends.

What are your favorite selfies to capture? Tell us about them in the comments below, or snap a selfie and post a link — we’d love to see your super selfie skills.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela Tague

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Image source: Flickr

Urban Backgrounds: Using City Architecture to Enhance Your Photos

Having your photography subjects stand in front of something interesting can help create a unique photo. Dynamic photo backgrounds are everywhere, especially in cities, which have a range of cool architectural styles and designs to feature. Here are a few ways to incorporate your city into your photographs.

Buildings

Grab your camera and head to town. Locate buildings with interesting shapes and designs to use as an eye-catching background. Elements to look for include the following:

  • Buildings with ornate iron gates that evoke romance and elegance. These can look great in an engagement photo or wedding shot.
  • Buildings with vintage advertising that generate old-world charm. Shoot these from a distance using a wide-angle lens to capture your subjects and the signage.
  • Tight alleyways with just a few feet of empty space. These alleys offer a nice scale difference between subject and background, which adds dimension to the photograph. Set your lens to focus on the subject and mute the sides and background.
  • Industrial areas. Metal walls, large fans and concrete cylinders can be great background elements. Shoot these big props with your subject in front and up close to add a different dimension to the photo.

Shooting at Night

When the sun goes down, take advantage of the artificial lighting downtown. A quiet city street provides a fantastic backdrop for all sorts of photos, from portraits and group shots to moody streetscapes that will look great on your wall. Use street lights, signs and other downtown elements to illuminate your photos and subjects in cool and unusual ways.

City bridges at night photos

Large bridges light up the night. Capture the beauty of the lights and the reflection on the water to make an interesting background. Your aperture should be at a wide setting, which will keep your subjects in focus and soften the background. Choose a fast shutter speed if your subject is moving, and use a tripod to keep things steady.

Water Elements

A gushing fountain can be a dramatic background for photos, especially at a wedding. A water background adds subtle hues of whites and light blue, and looks great in natural light. Use nearby benches or ledges as props. Take shots from a distance as well as up close: The details on many older fountains can be exquisite and worth capturing in the photo.

Seek permission from business owners if you’re taking photos on their property, and always use common sense when it comes to the suitability of photo backgrounds and the safety of your subjects. Have fun with your camera and create photos that stand out from the rest.

Share Life’s Happy,

Julie

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Image source: Flickr

Taking the Best Farmers Market Photos

Farmers market photos are full of vibrant colors and interesting shapes. A single mango might be red, orange, yellow and green all at the same time. Pineapples are a great example of the variety of shapes and angles the world of produce has available. We talked to three professional photographers to get advice on taking the best photos at a farmers market. Here’s what they had to say:

Hit the Market Early

Stephani Cuddie of Mirror Image Photography in Florida suggests hitting the market as soon as it opens to avoid big crowds and to take advantage of the morning sunshine. Getting there at the beginning of the day will also give you the widest variety of produce, fresh bread, flowers and other beautiful merchandise to photograph before the crowd snatches them up.

Find Your Subject’s Best Side

Cuddie says, “Find the colors. Go for the rich reds, greens and yellows. Turn any veggies that don’t look their best to the other side; you don’t want ugly looking fruits or veggies in your photos.” Photographer Sheri Rouse of Indiana suggests getting down to the level of the items you want to photograph. She says this provides “interesting angles and cool perspectives.”

Fill the frame with your favorite produce.

Zoom in and Zoom Out

There are advantages to both close-up shots and those with a wide view. Rouse likes zooming in “to cut out all the background ‘noise,’ photographing just the gorgeous flowers and the beautiful fruits.” Cuddie says photographing from above or dead on is best for filling the whole frame with fruits and vegetables. However, she also likes to get a bird’s eye view of the market by getting as high as possible. Look for elevated spots that give a good (and safe) view of a wide area.

Seek Shade to Avoid Capturing Shadows

Washington photographer Jennifer Bogle says, “Farmers markets are full of unique details. Hand-lettered signs, costumes, even uniquely colored vegetables you wouldn’t find at the grocery store all make for great images that are unique to the market experience. Though sunny days bring us to the market, bright sun can wreak havoc on photos. For better pictures without harsh shadows, look for shaded displays to photograph.”

Ask Before Photographing People

There are babies napping in strollers, farmers, craft vendors, musicians, and shoppers laden down with bags of farm-fresh finds. Weekends at a farmers market are full of life, which is great for photographs. Always ask permission before you snap photos with people in them, though.

So what should you do with your best farmers market photos? One great option is to make Canvas Prints of them to hang in the kitchen or dining room. You could also blow them up and make vibrant Posters. The rich colors and dynamic shapes will bring interest and depth to your home.

Share Life’s Happy,
Rachael Moshman

Print photos at Walgreens
Download the FREE Walgreens Mobile App

Image source: Rachael Moshman

Four Tips for Great Park Photos

Playing at the park is a great way to enjoy the weather and get your children moving. There is nothing better than seeing your kids’ smiling faces whizzing down the slide or flying high on the swing. Here are simple tips to get the best park photos and really capture those memories.

Tips for getting the best park photos

1. Take Lots of Pictures

Taking a ton of pictures serves two purposes: You can experiment and you can click away until you get the right shot. You may not get the perfect photo on the first try, but that’s okay. After all, that’s what digital cameras are for. Just keep shooting. Experiment with different angles, lighting and shutter speeds to see what works best.

2. Consider Lighting

Flashes aren’t just for indoors. If the sun is behind your children, consider turning on the flash. This will lighten up their faces and balance out the light in the picture. Be aware of shadows, too. To avoid shadows across your children’s faces, take pictures in full sun or full shade.

3. Pick Candid Versus Posed

Try to take both posed and candid park photos. Did your kids find a nice mud puddle to play in? Get them to pose with their muddy hands up in the air. Then, get a candid picture of them splashing in the puddle. Again, the more pictures you take, the more memories you’ll capture — and the more likely it is you’ll get that perfect shot.

4. Choose Your Shutter Speed

To get the best action shot, use a fast shutter speed. Faster shutter speeds help you capture a crisp scene without blurring the image. If you aren’t experienced with manually adjusting your camera, most cameras have an action shot setting. Read your camera’s manual and become familiar with the different options before you go to the park.

Most importantly, have fun. Enjoy the fresh air and experiment with your camera. If your children are old enough, get them involved in the process. They will love taking pictures of each other and the park surroundings. When you’re finished sorting through the pictures, make sure you get your best park photos developed as Prints.

What is your favorite outdoor activity with your children?

Share Life’s Happy,
Lauren Gaines

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Image source: Lauren Gaines

News Flash: 4 Tips of Flash Photography

Using your camera’s flash seems like the simplest thing in the world. If there isn’t enough light to make the picture, out comes the flash, and suddenly a dark scene becomes a lit picture. But there’s far more to good flash photography than meets the eye.

While you may be content leaving your flash on auto, learning which situations warrant its use will help you get the most print-worthy shots possible.

Entire books have been written about getting started with flash photography, but these basic tips will get you started on your way to flash mastery.

1. Two Exposures in One

The first thing to realize when using your flash is that every flash photo is actually two exposures: the flash, and the ambient light around you. Unless your scene is pitch black, the camera collects all the light around your subject while the shutter is open, in addition to the light coming from your flash. These two exposures are the building blocks of flash photography.

2. Shutter Speed and Flash Exposure

Proper exposure has two building blocks: aperture and shutter speed. Aperture controls how much light comes in through the lens, whereas the shutter speed dictates how long the image sensor is exposed to that light. In order to capture the flash’s full output, the camera will slow the shutter speed, usually to a maximum of 1/250 or below, depending on the camera. So while aperture controls the ambient light in your scene, shutter speed controls that light’s exposure — especially important when using a flash.

Want more ambient exposure? Use a longer shutter speed; the flash exposure remains the same.

3. It’s Hip to Be Square

The more distance between your flash and the subject, the less light that falls on the subject. If you’re five feet away from your subject, double your distance; the subject will only receive one-fourth the amount of light as they did at five feet. This is known as the inverse square law. While this falloff may seem annoying, you can use it to your advantage. Having the subject move away from a background surface will darken the wall and expose the subject more effectively.

4. Stay in Range

On that note, let’s poke fun at today’s stadium audiences. If you’ve ever seen a concert or sporting event, you’ve seen hundreds of flashes go off in the background. But since the typical built-in flash on a point-and-shoot or DSLR camera is about 25 feet, all fans are doing is lighting up the backs of people’s heads. So turn off the flash and save your batteries — your shot has plenty of light to capture from the stage.

There’s so much more to mastering the art of flash photography, but these building blocks will lay the foundation on which you can begin building your camera flash skills.

Share Life’s Happy,

Andy Warycka

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Image source: Andy Warycka

5 Steps to a Great Photo Collage

Picking the right photo to frame for the wall or give to friends and family can be tedious. From wedding pictures to candid shots of your pet, there are simply too many great pictures to choose from. But why choose just one? Throw all of your favorites into a single Photo Collage Print.

Back in the day, a collage required scissors, glue and a lot of time. Now, it can be done in minutes with your own digital photos. Here’s how to do it.

Photo Collage Tips

1. Pick a Size

Start off by selecting a size for your collage. While 4×6 or 5×7 is great for sitting on your desk, 8×10 is perfect for going on a shelf. A Poster-sized Collage Print is ideal for a bedroom or dorm room wall.

The size will help you decide how many pictures to include, as well. Two to four is best for a 4×6, whereas you can easily fit 20 into a poster. Envision a story through your collage, and how many images you’ll need in order to tell it.

2. Select Your Pics

Now for the fun part: picture selection. You’ll generally upload photos from your computer, but the Walgreens Mobile App will let you tether your Facebook and Instagram accounts and upload images directly from a personal album.

Photo collages tend to work best when the pictures share a theme. Consider assembling pictures from a particular vacation or baby’s first Christmas. Then make sure the images’ colors complement each other. If you have a red-and-orange sunset picture that you love, select other photos with warm colors to go with it.

3. Choose Your Border

The best part of photo collage tools is that you can do as much or as little formatting as you want. Many collage print design tools are intuitive enough to assemble the images for you, and then allow you to organize them. First, decide if you want a border; it may affect the layout. The thicker the border, the less room there will be for images. Bordered edges may cut off photos with tons of detail, so mark the width of your border now, and consider which pics are best on all four sides.

4. Edit and Arrange

Remember that you can also play with your photos using editing apps, available right from your tablet or mobile device. Zoom, flip, color correct and more. If you have one or two favorite pics that you want to be the center of attention, pick those images to be “featured,” with the other images you select surrounding them. You may also use a digital program to shuffle your photos, randomly rearranging the images for you until you’re happy with the configuration.

5. Add Your Finishing Touches

“Spring ’14″? You can do better! Channel your inner wordsmith and use a title that captures it all. Then voilà — all done. Save the Collage Print to your cart and get hard copies sent right to your door.

What are you waiting for? Give it a spin.

Share Life’s Happy,
Suzanne Weinstock Klein

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Download the FREE Walgreens Mobile App

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Food Photography Guide: Make Your Food Snaps Drool-Worthy

Before diving into a bowl of rainbow-colored fruit or a leafy green salad, grab your camera to capture that delicious moment — then make your friends jealous. Post your irresistible food photography online so the whole world can comment on your creative hobby. Not sure where to start? Grab a snack, and we’ll share some tips with you.

Food Photography Guide

  1. Set the Scene: Your messy countertop isn’t the prettiest backdrop for the quiche that took an hour to make. Instead, show off your culinary creation by serving it on a colorful plate against a simple background. Look for a solid-colored wall as a backdrop, a beautifully set table or head outdoors for blue sky and green grass.
  2. Spice It Up: Some dishes looks naturally drab, so add a splash of color and professionalism to your food photography by using a few garnishes. Plump strawberries or a fresh sprig of parsley will give your snaps a magazine-cover feel.
  3. Add a Human Touch: Don’t be afraid to show that you’re already enjoying the food. A small nibble out of a steaming hot cookie from the oven or a spoon sunk deep into a bowl of Greek yogurt will make viewers want to dig in, too.
  4. Watch the Exposure: Although it’s enticing to just share a quick pic of your dinner plate, take a few seconds to think like a pro photographer. Make sure you have adequate light. Move closer to a window, turn on a lamp or head outside to be sure your snapshot doesn’t turn out too dark.
  5. Take Two: Once you have the perfect location and setup in place, take several pictures. Try something close up, or step back and include your entire place setting or beverage in the frame. Look down at the food for a bird’s eye view, or set the camera on the table and capture the image on the same level as the plate.

You took the time to whip up a great meal — don’t be shy about showing it off.

If you’re a foodie who loves to upload pics of your latest meal to Instagram, you can savor the delicious memories by printing Square Prints directly from your phone through the Walgreens Photo App.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela

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Image source: Flickr

3 Ways to Display Your Vacation Photos

Vacation photos may be some of the best pictures you get of your family all year. Everyone is relaxed, happy and more than willing to ham it up for the camera. Later on, you’ll look at these photos and remember how much fun everyone was having. Rather than losing the images in the black hole that is your hard drive, organize and preserve them, so that you can look back on those happy moments time and again.

Jump!

1. Create a Scrapbook Album

Unleash the artist within by creating a scrapbook album of your vacation images. You can make one from scratch, using stickers, decals or special markers to embellish your photos, or you can even create Scrapbook Pages online. Edit your photos and design your pages using a variety of templates and backgrounds. Then, print out the pages for your album.

2. Create a Digital Album

Use your Walgreens Photo online account to create an album of your vacation photos using your favorite pictures. The shot of your aunt floating down the lazy river in an inner tube might end up as your digital album cover. Or maybe it’s the one of your son in mid-air as he jumps off the side of the boat. Put your photos in chronological order to tell the story of your vacation, from the moment you left your house to the moment you returned, tanned and relaxed. You can share your digital album with friends and family directly from Walgreens.com/Photo.

3. Create a Photo Book

Once you have your images in order for your slide show, why not place them in a Photo Book? Choose a bright, bold photo for the cover, or simply place the same image that you used for your title slide. Show your family traveling and arriving at your destination, then place snapshots of all the best moments throughout your stay. Make sure you get an even number of shots of everyone, so your book will mean something to each family member. If extended family or friends joined you on your trip, print out a book for each person as a holiday gift to remember the good times.

Vacations are an important time for families, so make sure you capture all of those memories and present them in a way that you’ll want to revisit. How do you plan on remembering this summer’s vacation?

Share Life’s Happy,

Karen Putz


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Image source: Karen Putz

6 Summer Birthday Gift Ideas for Her

You’ve ordered a decadent birthday cake and invited friends and family to share in a special celebration. Now the only thing missing is a thoughtful present for the lady of honor. Skip the gift cards and check out this list of great summer birthday gift ideas for her.

Skip the gift cards and check out our list of great birthday gift ideas for her.

1. Tote Bag for the Beach or Pool

Warm-weather birthdays call for gifts that coordinate with the season. Whether she frequents the beach, swims laps at the gym or is looking forward to a vacation that includes lots of sunscreen and a swimsuit, you can’t go wrong with a new Tote Bag personalized with a special photo memory from a previous summer outing.

2. Salad-in-a-Bowl Patio Planter

Does the birthday lady enjoy fresh, healthy meals? Head to the garden center for a beautiful patio planter filled with nutrient-rich edibles such as romaine lettuce, kale, parsley and spinach. These leafy greens can be trimmed, washed and enjoyed without toiling in the garden or making a trip to the grocery store.

3. Photo Water Bottle

During the summer, it’s a good idea to keep a water bottle close by to stay hydrated. Give her a personalized Water Bottle featuring a favorite picture of her friends or family. She’ll be sure to keep it by her side to help her stay cool while reminding her of special memories.

4. Bistro Set for Two

Does she love to eat outdoors during the summer? Surprise her with a cozy bistro table and chair set for two, and an invitation for dinner on the patio. This gift is also an ideal reading spot during the day, as well as a perfect hangout when a girlfriend drops by for a visit.

5. Customized Golf Towel

If she plays golf, make her next tee time extra special with a customized Golf Towel. Have the cloth printed with a snapshot of her and her golf buddies, then use the towel to creatively wrap a new set of golf balls and tees to complete the sporty gift.

6. Summer Door Wreath

Every woman likes to add a little color to the entryway of her home. A cheerful door wreath can do just the trick. Get out the glue gun and craft a patriotic wreath, or pick out a summery decoration at the craft store featuring bright sunflowers or daisies.

Do you have any other summer birthday gift ideas for her? Share one of your favorite birthday gifts from the past in the comments below.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela

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Image source: Flickr

5 Tips for Great School Pictures

We all have at least one terrible school photo hanging around our grandparents’ house (see photo of me below), with our hair sticking every which way, spilled lunch on our shirt and some hideous color combination we swore was in style at the time. Now that I’m on the mom side of the school picture scene, I feel compelled to make sure my guys are looking their very best — if only to save them future humiliation, because I’m going to keep those Prints around forever!

If you’re worrying about a fiasco on picture day, here are a few tips for helping your kids feel relaxed, look their best and perhaps even enjoy the experience.

old-amy-photos-ninth-grade-feature

1. Good Night, Sleep Tight

Making sure the kids have had a good night’s sleep is a big part of setting them up for photo day success. They won’t be feeling overtired as they wait for their turn with the photographer, no bags will be under the eyes and you won’t feel rushed trying to get a sleepyhead out of the house on time.

2. What to Wear?

Pick out an outfit the night before so you don’t have to dig through the laundry piles that morning. Hang up the outfit, and have your child change into it after breakfast. Opt for darker colors, graphic- and pattern-free fabrics and something that your child feels comfortable in. Kids don’t have to be overly fancy for picture day, but neat and tidy does the trick.

3. Pack a Particular Lunch

Consider a mess-free lunch for picture day to save yourself from the dreaded stained shirt snapshot. Braces? Forget about foods that might get stuck — or at least send along a toothbrush for a quick post-lunch brushing. Depending on what time of the school day the photo will be taken, you might be able to skip the lunch issue altogether, but better safe than sorry.

4. Avoid a Hair Scare

Send kids to school with a brush or comb and a little pocket mirror for pre-picture hair-taming. For girls, wearing hair down is preferable and you’ll avoid the bald look. If there’s time, try to schedule kids in for a hair trim a week or two before picture day so their locks will be at their best. Give it a good wash the night before and help them to style it in the morning.

5. Smile

There are photos from my childhood years where my smile looks nothing like me. You know, that awkward, forced grin that doesn’t look a thing like your child? No one wants that. On the big morning, chat with your kids about something funny they can think of when their photo is being taken. Maybe a joke that gets them laughing, a vacation memory they love or anything else that’ll bring out that genuine, gorgeous smile.

School Picture Tips

I hope these ideas help you on your way to a picture day masterpiece and one that you will add to the Photo Books. Now, say cheese!

Share Life’s Happy,
Amy Bellgardt

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Tips for Selfies You’ll Want to Share

We’ve all turned our smartphone cameras on ourselves. Smile. Click. Smile. Click. But not every impulsive image you snap should land on your social media feeds. Here are a few selfie faces to strive for next time a moment inspires you!

Selfie Tips

All About the Smile

Puckering your lips as if you’re blowing a kiss is fine to do in a photo, but try too hard and you’ll end up with the classic selfie error: duck face. It’s about as unflattering as it gets: your cheeks look sunken and your lips jut out like a beak, creating an effect that just looks downright silly. Instead of blowing that kiss, flash a simple smile. Practice in a mirror to see if you like to show teeth or stay close-lipped in your close-up.

Cute, Creative Angles

Taking a great selfie is all about angles. If you hold your phone directly above you, your forehead can end up looking pretty wide. If you tend to have oily skin, the shine will show up as a reflective glare. To avoid a big, shiny forehead, keep your camera at eye level or just use a long, outstretched arm a little above head level for a more flattering, proportionate angle. Then turn your head a bit to the side so you’re not looking straight into the camera.

Focus on the Eyes

We’ve all been there: You stretch out your arm to take a picture, and hit the button just as you blink. Half-closed eyes make you look tired and confused. To make your eyes really stand out, close them before making selfie faces. Pop your eyes open right before clicking the shutter button to ensure you don’t blink as the shutter opens. As an added bonus, closing your lids for a moment will lubricate the eyeball, providing moisture that will brighten your eyes on camera.

Nice Nose Shots

The worst selfie ever is the close-up view of your nostrils. If you hold the camera lower than nose level when taking a selfie, you risk this unflattering pose. Simply raise your camera to eye level or turn your head to the side to get an appealing semi-profile shot.

After nailing the perfect pose, upload your selfie to Instagram and enhance with color filters, festive borders or cropping tools. Print out your selfie with the Walgreens Mobile App and share with friends.

What are your favorite selfies to capture? Tell us about them in the comments below, or snap a selfie and post a link — we’d love to see your super selfie skills.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela Tague

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Image source: Flickr

Urban Backgrounds: Using City Architecture to Enhance Your Photos

Having your photography subjects stand in front of something interesting can help create a unique photo. Dynamic photo backgrounds are everywhere, especially in cities, which have a range of cool architectural styles and designs to feature. Here are a few ways to incorporate your city into your photographs.

Buildings

Grab your camera and head to town. Locate buildings with interesting shapes and designs to use as an eye-catching background. Elements to look for include the following:

  • Buildings with ornate iron gates that evoke romance and elegance. These can look great in an engagement photo or wedding shot.
  • Buildings with vintage advertising that generate old-world charm. Shoot these from a distance using a wide-angle lens to capture your subjects and the signage.
  • Tight alleyways with just a few feet of empty space. These alleys offer a nice scale difference between subject and background, which adds dimension to the photograph. Set your lens to focus on the subject and mute the sides and background.
  • Industrial areas. Metal walls, large fans and concrete cylinders can be great background elements. Shoot these big props with your subject in front and up close to add a different dimension to the photo.

Shooting at Night

When the sun goes down, take advantage of the artificial lighting downtown. A quiet city street provides a fantastic backdrop for all sorts of photos, from portraits and group shots to moody streetscapes that will look great on your wall. Use street lights, signs and other downtown elements to illuminate your photos and subjects in cool and unusual ways.

City bridges at night photos

Large bridges light up the night. Capture the beauty of the lights and the reflection on the water to make an interesting background. Your aperture should be at a wide setting, which will keep your subjects in focus and soften the background. Choose a fast shutter speed if your subject is moving, and use a tripod to keep things steady.

Water Elements

A gushing fountain can be a dramatic background for photos, especially at a wedding. A water background adds subtle hues of whites and light blue, and looks great in natural light. Use nearby benches or ledges as props. Take shots from a distance as well as up close: The details on many older fountains can be exquisite and worth capturing in the photo.

Seek permission from business owners if you’re taking photos on their property, and always use common sense when it comes to the suitability of photo backgrounds and the safety of your subjects. Have fun with your camera and create photos that stand out from the rest.

Share Life’s Happy,

Julie

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Image source: Flickr

Taking the Best Farmers Market Photos

Farmers market photos are full of vibrant colors and interesting shapes. A single mango might be red, orange, yellow and green all at the same time. Pineapples are a great example of the variety of shapes and angles the world of produce has available. We talked to three professional photographers to get advice on taking the best photos at a farmers market. Here’s what they had to say:

Hit the Market Early

Stephani Cuddie of Mirror Image Photography in Florida suggests hitting the market as soon as it opens to avoid big crowds and to take advantage of the morning sunshine. Getting there at the beginning of the day will also give you the widest variety of produce, fresh bread, flowers and other beautiful merchandise to photograph before the crowd snatches them up.

Find Your Subject’s Best Side

Cuddie says, “Find the colors. Go for the rich reds, greens and yellows. Turn any veggies that don’t look their best to the other side; you don’t want ugly looking fruits or veggies in your photos.” Photographer Sheri Rouse of Indiana suggests getting down to the level of the items you want to photograph. She says this provides “interesting angles and cool perspectives.”

Fill the frame with your favorite produce.

Zoom in and Zoom Out

There are advantages to both close-up shots and those with a wide view. Rouse likes zooming in “to cut out all the background ‘noise,’ photographing just the gorgeous flowers and the beautiful fruits.” Cuddie says photographing from above or dead on is best for filling the whole frame with fruits and vegetables. However, she also likes to get a bird’s eye view of the market by getting as high as possible. Look for elevated spots that give a good (and safe) view of a wide area.

Seek Shade to Avoid Capturing Shadows

Washington photographer Jennifer Bogle says, “Farmers markets are full of unique details. Hand-lettered signs, costumes, even uniquely colored vegetables you wouldn’t find at the grocery store all make for great images that are unique to the market experience. Though sunny days bring us to the market, bright sun can wreak havoc on photos. For better pictures without harsh shadows, look for shaded displays to photograph.”

Ask Before Photographing People

There are babies napping in strollers, farmers, craft vendors, musicians, and shoppers laden down with bags of farm-fresh finds. Weekends at a farmers market are full of life, which is great for photographs. Always ask permission before you snap photos with people in them, though.

So what should you do with your best farmers market photos? One great option is to make Canvas Prints of them to hang in the kitchen or dining room. You could also blow them up and make vibrant Posters. The rich colors and dynamic shapes will bring interest and depth to your home.

Share Life’s Happy,
Rachael Moshman

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Image source: Rachael Moshman

Four Tips for Great Park Photos

Playing at the park is a great way to enjoy the weather and get your children moving. There is nothing better than seeing your kids’ smiling faces whizzing down the slide or flying high on the swing. Here are simple tips to get the best park photos and really capture those memories.

Tips for getting the best park photos

1. Take Lots of Pictures

Taking a ton of pictures serves two purposes: You can experiment and you can click away until you get the right shot. You may not get the perfect photo on the first try, but that’s okay. After all, that’s what digital cameras are for. Just keep shooting. Experiment with different angles, lighting and shutter speeds to see what works best.

2. Consider Lighting

Flashes aren’t just for indoors. If the sun is behind your children, consider turning on the flash. This will lighten up their faces and balance out the light in the picture. Be aware of shadows, too. To avoid shadows across your children’s faces, take pictures in full sun or full shade.

3. Pick Candid Versus Posed

Try to take both posed and candid park photos. Did your kids find a nice mud puddle to play in? Get them to pose with their muddy hands up in the air. Then, get a candid picture of them splashing in the puddle. Again, the more pictures you take, the more memories you’ll capture — and the more likely it is you’ll get that perfect shot.

4. Choose Your Shutter Speed

To get the best action shot, use a fast shutter speed. Faster shutter speeds help you capture a crisp scene without blurring the image. If you aren’t experienced with manually adjusting your camera, most cameras have an action shot setting. Read your camera’s manual and become familiar with the different options before you go to the park.

Most importantly, have fun. Enjoy the fresh air and experiment with your camera. If your children are old enough, get them involved in the process. They will love taking pictures of each other and the park surroundings. When you’re finished sorting through the pictures, make sure you get your best park photos developed as Prints.

What is your favorite outdoor activity with your children?

Share Life’s Happy,
Lauren Gaines

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Image source: Lauren Gaines

News Flash: 4 Tips of Flash Photography

Using your camera’s flash seems like the simplest thing in the world. If there isn’t enough light to make the picture, out comes the flash, and suddenly a dark scene becomes a lit picture. But there’s far more to good flash photography than meets the eye.

While you may be content leaving your flash on auto, learning which situations warrant its use will help you get the most print-worthy shots possible.

Entire books have been written about getting started with flash photography, but these basic tips will get you started on your way to flash mastery.

1. Two Exposures in One

The first thing to realize when using your flash is that every flash photo is actually two exposures: the flash, and the ambient light around you. Unless your scene is pitch black, the camera collects all the light around your subject while the shutter is open, in addition to the light coming from your flash. These two exposures are the building blocks of flash photography.

2. Shutter Speed and Flash Exposure

Proper exposure has two building blocks: aperture and shutter speed. Aperture controls how much light comes in through the lens, whereas the shutter speed dictates how long the image sensor is exposed to that light. In order to capture the flash’s full output, the camera will slow the shutter speed, usually to a maximum of 1/250 or below, depending on the camera. So while aperture controls the ambient light in your scene, shutter speed controls that light’s exposure — especially important when using a flash.

Want more ambient exposure? Use a longer shutter speed; the flash exposure remains the same.

3. It’s Hip to Be Square

The more distance between your flash and the subject, the less light that falls on the subject. If you’re five feet away from your subject, double your distance; the subject will only receive one-fourth the amount of light as they did at five feet. This is known as the inverse square law. While this falloff may seem annoying, you can use it to your advantage. Having the subject move away from a background surface will darken the wall and expose the subject more effectively.

4. Stay in Range

On that note, let’s poke fun at today’s stadium audiences. If you’ve ever seen a concert or sporting event, you’ve seen hundreds of flashes go off in the background. But since the typical built-in flash on a point-and-shoot or DSLR camera is about 25 feet, all fans are doing is lighting up the backs of people’s heads. So turn off the flash and save your batteries — your shot has plenty of light to capture from the stage.

There’s so much more to mastering the art of flash photography, but these building blocks will lay the foundation on which you can begin building your camera flash skills.

Share Life’s Happy,

Andy Warycka

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Image source: Andy Warycka

5 Steps to a Great Photo Collage

Picking the right photo to frame for the wall or give to friends and family can be tedious. From wedding pictures to candid shots of your pet, there are simply too many great pictures to choose from. But why choose just one? Throw all of your favorites into a single Photo Collage Print.

Back in the day, a collage required scissors, glue and a lot of time. Now, it can be done in minutes with your own digital photos. Here’s how to do it.

Photo Collage Tips

1. Pick a Size

Start off by selecting a size for your collage. While 4×6 or 5×7 is great for sitting on your desk, 8×10 is perfect for going on a shelf. A Poster-sized Collage Print is ideal for a bedroom or dorm room wall.

The size will help you decide how many pictures to include, as well. Two to four is best for a 4×6, whereas you can easily fit 20 into a poster. Envision a story through your collage, and how many images you’ll need in order to tell it.

2. Select Your Pics

Now for the fun part: picture selection. You’ll generally upload photos from your computer, but the Walgreens Mobile App will let you tether your Facebook and Instagram accounts and upload images directly from a personal album.

Photo collages tend to work best when the pictures share a theme. Consider assembling pictures from a particular vacation or baby’s first Christmas. Then make sure the images’ colors complement each other. If you have a red-and-orange sunset picture that you love, select other photos with warm colors to go with it.

3. Choose Your Border

The best part of photo collage tools is that you can do as much or as little formatting as you want. Many collage print design tools are intuitive enough to assemble the images for you, and then allow you to organize them. First, decide if you want a border; it may affect the layout. The thicker the border, the less room there will be for images. Bordered edges may cut off photos with tons of detail, so mark the width of your border now, and consider which pics are best on all four sides.

4. Edit and Arrange

Remember that you can also play with your photos using editing apps, available right from your tablet or mobile device. Zoom, flip, color correct and more. If you have one or two favorite pics that you want to be the center of attention, pick those images to be “featured,” with the other images you select surrounding them. You may also use a digital program to shuffle your photos, randomly rearranging the images for you until you’re happy with the configuration.

5. Add Your Finishing Touches

“Spring ’14″? You can do better! Channel your inner wordsmith and use a title that captures it all. Then voilà — all done. Save the Collage Print to your cart and get hard copies sent right to your door.

What are you waiting for? Give it a spin.

Share Life’s Happy,
Suzanne Weinstock Klein

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Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Food Photography Guide: Make Your Food Snaps Drool-Worthy

Before diving into a bowl of rainbow-colored fruit or a leafy green salad, grab your camera to capture that delicious moment — then make your friends jealous. Post your irresistible food photography online so the whole world can comment on your creative hobby. Not sure where to start? Grab a snack, and we’ll share some tips with you.

Food Photography Guide

  1. Set the Scene: Your messy countertop isn’t the prettiest backdrop for the quiche that took an hour to make. Instead, show off your culinary creation by serving it on a colorful plate against a simple background. Look for a solid-colored wall as a backdrop, a beautifully set table or head outdoors for blue sky and green grass.
  2. Spice It Up: Some dishes looks naturally drab, so add a splash of color and professionalism to your food photography by using a few garnishes. Plump strawberries or a fresh sprig of parsley will give your snaps a magazine-cover feel.
  3. Add a Human Touch: Don’t be afraid to show that you’re already enjoying the food. A small nibble out of a steaming hot cookie from the oven or a spoon sunk deep into a bowl of Greek yogurt will make viewers want to dig in, too.
  4. Watch the Exposure: Although it’s enticing to just share a quick pic of your dinner plate, take a few seconds to think like a pro photographer. Make sure you have adequate light. Move closer to a window, turn on a lamp or head outside to be sure your snapshot doesn’t turn out too dark.
  5. Take Two: Once you have the perfect location and setup in place, take several pictures. Try something close up, or step back and include your entire place setting or beverage in the frame. Look down at the food for a bird’s eye view, or set the camera on the table and capture the image on the same level as the plate.

You took the time to whip up a great meal — don’t be shy about showing it off.

If you’re a foodie who loves to upload pics of your latest meal to Instagram, you can savor the delicious memories by printing Square Prints directly from your phone through the Walgreens Photo App.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela

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Image source: Flickr

3 Ways to Display Your Vacation Photos

Vacation photos may be some of the best pictures you get of your family all year. Everyone is relaxed, happy and more than willing to ham it up for the camera. Later on, you’ll look at these photos and remember how much fun everyone was having. Rather than losing the images in the black hole that is your hard drive, organize and preserve them, so that you can look back on those happy moments time and again.

Jump!

1. Create a Scrapbook Album

Unleash the artist within by creating a scrapbook album of your vacation images. You can make one from scratch, using stickers, decals or special markers to embellish your photos, or you can even create Scrapbook Pages online. Edit your photos and design your pages using a variety of templates and backgrounds. Then, print out the pages for your album.

2. Create a Digital Album

Use your Walgreens Photo online account to create an album of your vacation photos using your favorite pictures. The shot of your aunt floating down the lazy river in an inner tube might end up as your digital album cover. Or maybe it’s the one of your son in mid-air as he jumps off the side of the boat. Put your photos in chronological order to tell the story of your vacation, from the moment you left your house to the moment you returned, tanned and relaxed. You can share your digital album with friends and family directly from Walgreens.com/Photo.

3. Create a Photo Book

Once you have your images in order for your slide show, why not place them in a Photo Book? Choose a bright, bold photo for the cover, or simply place the same image that you used for your title slide. Show your family traveling and arriving at your destination, then place snapshots of all the best moments throughout your stay. Make sure you get an even number of shots of everyone, so your book will mean something to each family member. If extended family or friends joined you on your trip, print out a book for each person as a holiday gift to remember the good times.

Vacations are an important time for families, so make sure you capture all of those memories and present them in a way that you’ll want to revisit. How do you plan on remembering this summer’s vacation?

Share Life’s Happy,

Karen Putz


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Image source: Karen Putz

6 Summer Birthday Gift Ideas for Her

You’ve ordered a decadent birthday cake and invited friends and family to share in a special celebration. Now the only thing missing is a thoughtful present for the lady of honor. Skip the gift cards and check out this list of great summer birthday gift ideas for her.

Skip the gift cards and check out our list of great birthday gift ideas for her.

1. Tote Bag for the Beach or Pool

Warm-weather birthdays call for gifts that coordinate with the season. Whether she frequents the beach, swims laps at the gym or is looking forward to a vacation that includes lots of sunscreen and a swimsuit, you can’t go wrong with a new Tote Bag personalized with a special photo memory from a previous summer outing.

2. Salad-in-a-Bowl Patio Planter

Does the birthday lady enjoy fresh, healthy meals? Head to the garden center for a beautiful patio planter filled with nutrient-rich edibles such as romaine lettuce, kale, parsley and spinach. These leafy greens can be trimmed, washed and enjoyed without toiling in the garden or making a trip to the grocery store.

3. Photo Water Bottle

During the summer, it’s a good idea to keep a water bottle close by to stay hydrated. Give her a personalized Water Bottle featuring a favorite picture of her friends or family. She’ll be sure to keep it by her side to help her stay cool while reminding her of special memories.

4. Bistro Set for Two

Does she love to eat outdoors during the summer? Surprise her with a cozy bistro table and chair set for two, and an invitation for dinner on the patio. This gift is also an ideal reading spot during the day, as well as a perfect hangout when a girlfriend drops by for a visit.

5. Customized Golf Towel

If she plays golf, make her next tee time extra special with a customized Golf Towel. Have the cloth printed with a snapshot of her and her golf buddies, then use the towel to creatively wrap a new set of golf balls and tees to complete the sporty gift.

6. Summer Door Wreath

Every woman likes to add a little color to the entryway of her home. A cheerful door wreath can do just the trick. Get out the glue gun and craft a patriotic wreath, or pick out a summery decoration at the craft store featuring bright sunflowers or daisies.

Do you have any other summer birthday gift ideas for her? Share one of your favorite birthday gifts from the past in the comments below.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela

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Image source: Flickr

5 Tips for Great School Pictures

We all have at least one terrible school photo hanging around our grandparents’ house (see photo of me below), with our hair sticking every which way, spilled lunch on our shirt and some hideous color combination we swore was in style at the time. Now that I’m on the mom side of the school picture scene, I feel compelled to make sure my guys are looking their very best — if only to save them future humiliation, because I’m going to keep those Prints around forever!

If you’re worrying about a fiasco on picture day, here are a few tips for helping your kids feel relaxed, look their best and perhaps even enjoy the experience.

old-amy-photos-ninth-grade-feature

1. Good Night, Sleep Tight

Making sure the kids have had a good night’s sleep is a big part of setting them up for photo day success. They won’t be feeling overtired as they wait for their turn with the photographer, no bags will be under the eyes and you won’t feel rushed trying to get a sleepyhead out of the house on time.

2. What to Wear?

Pick out an outfit the night before so you don’t have to dig through the laundry piles that morning. Hang up the outfit, and have your child change into it after breakfast. Opt for darker colors, graphic- and pattern-free fabrics and something that your child feels comfortable in. Kids don’t have to be overly fancy for picture day, but neat and tidy does the trick.

3. Pack a Particular Lunch

Consider a mess-free lunch for picture day to save yourself from the dreaded stained shirt snapshot. Braces? Forget about foods that might get stuck — or at least send along a toothbrush for a quick post-lunch brushing. Depending on what time of the school day the photo will be taken, you might be able to skip the lunch issue altogether, but better safe than sorry.

4. Avoid a Hair Scare

Send kids to school with a brush or comb and a little pocket mirror for pre-picture hair-taming. For girls, wearing hair down is preferable and you’ll avoid the bald look. If there’s time, try to schedule kids in for a hair trim a week or two before picture day so their locks will be at their best. Give it a good wash the night before and help them to style it in the morning.

5. Smile

There are photos from my childhood years where my smile looks nothing like me. You know, that awkward, forced grin that doesn’t look a thing like your child? No one wants that. On the big morning, chat with your kids about something funny they can think of when their photo is being taken. Maybe a joke that gets them laughing, a vacation memory they love or anything else that’ll bring out that genuine, gorgeous smile.

School Picture Tips

I hope these ideas help you on your way to a picture day masterpiece and one that you will add to the Photo Books. Now, say cheese!

Share Life’s Happy,
Amy Bellgardt

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Tips for Selfies You’ll Want to Share

We’ve all turned our smartphone cameras on ourselves. Smile. Click. Smile. Click. But not every impulsive image you snap should land on your social media feeds. Here are a few selfie faces to strive for next time a moment inspires you!

Selfie Tips

All About the Smile

Puckering your lips as if you’re blowing a kiss is fine to do in a photo, but try too hard and you’ll end up with the classic selfie error: duck face. It’s about as unflattering as it gets: your cheeks look sunken and your lips jut out like a beak, creating an effect that just looks downright silly. Instead of blowing that kiss, flash a simple smile. Practice in a mirror to see if you like to show teeth or stay close-lipped in your close-up.

Cute, Creative Angles

Taking a great selfie is all about angles. If you hold your phone directly above you, your forehead can end up looking pretty wide. If you tend to have oily skin, the shine will show up as a reflective glare. To avoid a big, shiny forehead, keep your camera at eye level or just use a long, outstretched arm a little above head level for a more flattering, proportionate angle. Then turn your head a bit to the side so you’re not looking straight into the camera.

Focus on the Eyes

We’ve all been there: You stretch out your arm to take a picture, and hit the button just as you blink. Half-closed eyes make you look tired and confused. To make your eyes really stand out, close them before making selfie faces. Pop your eyes open right before clicking the shutter button to ensure you don’t blink as the shutter opens. As an added bonus, closing your lids for a moment will lubricate the eyeball, providing moisture that will brighten your eyes on camera.

Nice Nose Shots

The worst selfie ever is the close-up view of your nostrils. If you hold the camera lower than nose level when taking a selfie, you risk this unflattering pose. Simply raise your camera to eye level or turn your head to the side to get an appealing semi-profile shot.

After nailing the perfect pose, upload your selfie to Instagram and enhance with color filters, festive borders or cropping tools. Print out your selfie with the Walgreens Mobile App and share with friends.

What are your favorite selfies to capture? Tell us about them in the comments below, or snap a selfie and post a link — we’d love to see your super selfie skills.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela Tague

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Image source: Flickr

Urban Backgrounds: Using City Architecture to Enhance Your Photos

Having your photography subjects stand in front of something interesting can help create a unique photo. Dynamic photo backgrounds are everywhere, especially in cities, which have a range of cool architectural styles and designs to feature. Here are a few ways to incorporate your city into your photographs.

Buildings

Grab your camera and head to town. Locate buildings with interesting shapes and designs to use as an eye-catching background. Elements to look for include the following:

  • Buildings with ornate iron gates that evoke romance and elegance. These can look great in an engagement photo or wedding shot.
  • Buildings with vintage advertising that generate old-world charm. Shoot these from a distance using a wide-angle lens to capture your subjects and the signage.
  • Tight alleyways with just a few feet of empty space. These alleys offer a nice scale difference between subject and background, which adds dimension to the photograph. Set your lens to focus on the subject and mute the sides and background.
  • Industrial areas. Metal walls, large fans and concrete cylinders can be great background elements. Shoot these big props with your subject in front and up close to add a different dimension to the photo.

Shooting at Night

When the sun goes down, take advantage of the artificial lighting downtown. A quiet city street provides a fantastic backdrop for all sorts of photos, from portraits and group shots to moody streetscapes that will look great on your wall. Use street lights, signs and other downtown elements to illuminate your photos and subjects in cool and unusual ways.

City bridges at night photos

Large bridges light up the night. Capture the beauty of the lights and the reflection on the water to make an interesting background. Your aperture should be at a wide setting, which will keep your subjects in focus and soften the background. Choose a fast shutter speed if your subject is moving, and use a tripod to keep things steady.

Water Elements

A gushing fountain can be a dramatic background for photos, especially at a wedding. A water background adds subtle hues of whites and light blue, and looks great in natural light. Use nearby benches or ledges as props. Take shots from a distance as well as up close: The details on many older fountains can be exquisite and worth capturing in the photo.

Seek permission from business owners if you’re taking photos on their property, and always use common sense when it comes to the suitability of photo backgrounds and the safety of your subjects. Have fun with your camera and create photos that stand out from the rest.

Share Life’s Happy,

Julie

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Image source: Flickr

Taking the Best Farmers Market Photos

Farmers market photos are full of vibrant colors and interesting shapes. A single mango might be red, orange, yellow and green all at the same time. Pineapples are a great example of the variety of shapes and angles the world of produce has available. We talked to three professional photographers to get advice on taking the best photos at a farmers market. Here’s what they had to say:

Hit the Market Early

Stephani Cuddie of Mirror Image Photography in Florida suggests hitting the market as soon as it opens to avoid big crowds and to take advantage of the morning sunshine. Getting there at the beginning of the day will also give you the widest variety of produce, fresh bread, flowers and other beautiful merchandise to photograph before the crowd snatches them up.

Find Your Subject’s Best Side

Cuddie says, “Find the colors. Go for the rich reds, greens and yellows. Turn any veggies that don’t look their best to the other side; you don’t want ugly looking fruits or veggies in your photos.” Photographer Sheri Rouse of Indiana suggests getting down to the level of the items you want to photograph. She says this provides “interesting angles and cool perspectives.”

Fill the frame with your favorite produce.

Zoom in and Zoom Out

There are advantages to both close-up shots and those with a wide view. Rouse likes zooming in “to cut out all the background ‘noise,’ photographing just the gorgeous flowers and the beautiful fruits.” Cuddie says photographing from above or dead on is best for filling the whole frame with fruits and vegetables. However, she also likes to get a bird’s eye view of the market by getting as high as possible. Look for elevated spots that give a good (and safe) view of a wide area.

Seek Shade to Avoid Capturing Shadows

Washington photographer Jennifer Bogle says, “Farmers markets are full of unique details. Hand-lettered signs, costumes, even uniquely colored vegetables you wouldn’t find at the grocery store all make for great images that are unique to the market experience. Though sunny days bring us to the market, bright sun can wreak havoc on photos. For better pictures without harsh shadows, look for shaded displays to photograph.”

Ask Before Photographing People

There are babies napping in strollers, farmers, craft vendors, musicians, and shoppers laden down with bags of farm-fresh finds. Weekends at a farmers market are full of life, which is great for photographs. Always ask permission before you snap photos with people in them, though.

So what should you do with your best farmers market photos? One great option is to make Canvas Prints of them to hang in the kitchen or dining room. You could also blow them up and make vibrant Posters. The rich colors and dynamic shapes will bring interest and depth to your home.

Share Life’s Happy,
Rachael Moshman

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Image source: Rachael Moshman

Four Tips for Great Park Photos

Playing at the park is a great way to enjoy the weather and get your children moving. There is nothing better than seeing your kids’ smiling faces whizzing down the slide or flying high on the swing. Here are simple tips to get the best park photos and really capture those memories.

Tips for getting the best park photos

1. Take Lots of Pictures

Taking a ton of pictures serves two purposes: You can experiment and you can click away until you get the right shot. You may not get the perfect photo on the first try, but that’s okay. After all, that’s what digital cameras are for. Just keep shooting. Experiment with different angles, lighting and shutter speeds to see what works best.

2. Consider Lighting

Flashes aren’t just for indoors. If the sun is behind your children, consider turning on the flash. This will lighten up their faces and balance out the light in the picture. Be aware of shadows, too. To avoid shadows across your children’s faces, take pictures in full sun or full shade.

3. Pick Candid Versus Posed

Try to take both posed and candid park photos. Did your kids find a nice mud puddle to play in? Get them to pose with their muddy hands up in the air. Then, get a candid picture of them splashing in the puddle. Again, the more pictures you take, the more memories you’ll capture — and the more likely it is you’ll get that perfect shot.

4. Choose Your Shutter Speed

To get the best action shot, use a fast shutter speed. Faster shutter speeds help you capture a crisp scene without blurring the image. If you aren’t experienced with manually adjusting your camera, most cameras have an action shot setting. Read your camera’s manual and become familiar with the different options before you go to the park.

Most importantly, have fun. Enjoy the fresh air and experiment with your camera. If your children are old enough, get them involved in the process. They will love taking pictures of each other and the park surroundings. When you’re finished sorting through the pictures, make sure you get your best park photos developed as Prints.

What is your favorite outdoor activity with your children?

Share Life’s Happy,
Lauren Gaines

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Image source: Lauren Gaines

News Flash: 4 Tips of Flash Photography

Using your camera’s flash seems like the simplest thing in the world. If there isn’t enough light to make the picture, out comes the flash, and suddenly a dark scene becomes a lit picture. But there’s far more to good flash photography than meets the eye.

While you may be content leaving your flash on auto, learning which situations warrant its use will help you get the most print-worthy shots possible.

Entire books have been written about getting started with flash photography, but these basic tips will get you started on your way to flash mastery.

1. Two Exposures in One

The first thing to realize when using your flash is that every flash photo is actually two exposures: the flash, and the ambient light around you. Unless your scene is pitch black, the camera collects all the light around your subject while the shutter is open, in addition to the light coming from your flash. These two exposures are the building blocks of flash photography.

2. Shutter Speed and Flash Exposure

Proper exposure has two building blocks: aperture and shutter speed. Aperture controls how much light comes in through the lens, whereas the shutter speed dictates how long the image sensor is exposed to that light. In order to capture the flash’s full output, the camera will slow the shutter speed, usually to a maximum of 1/250 or below, depending on the camera. So while aperture controls the ambient light in your scene, shutter speed controls that light’s exposure — especially important when using a flash.

Want more ambient exposure? Use a longer shutter speed; the flash exposure remains the same.

3. It’s Hip to Be Square

The more distance between your flash and the subject, the less light that falls on the subject. If you’re five feet away from your subject, double your distance; the subject will only receive one-fourth the amount of light as they did at five feet. This is known as the inverse square law. While this falloff may seem annoying, you can use it to your advantage. Having the subject move away from a background surface will darken the wall and expose the subject more effectively.

4. Stay in Range

On that note, let’s poke fun at today’s stadium audiences. If you’ve ever seen a concert or sporting event, you’ve seen hundreds of flashes go off in the background. But since the typical built-in flash on a point-and-shoot or DSLR camera is about 25 feet, all fans are doing is lighting up the backs of people’s heads. So turn off the flash and save your batteries — your shot has plenty of light to capture from the stage.

There’s so much more to mastering the art of flash photography, but these building blocks will lay the foundation on which you can begin building your camera flash skills.

Share Life’s Happy,

Andy Warycka

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Image source: Andy Warycka

5 Steps to a Great Photo Collage

Picking the right photo to frame for the wall or give to friends and family can be tedious. From wedding pictures to candid shots of your pet, there are simply too many great pictures to choose from. But why choose just one? Throw all of your favorites into a single Photo Collage Print.

Back in the day, a collage required scissors, glue and a lot of time. Now, it can be done in minutes with your own digital photos. Here’s how to do it.

Photo Collage Tips

1. Pick a Size

Start off by selecting a size for your collage. While 4×6 or 5×7 is great for sitting on your desk, 8×10 is perfect for going on a shelf. A Poster-sized Collage Print is ideal for a bedroom or dorm room wall.

The size will help you decide how many pictures to include, as well. Two to four is best for a 4×6, whereas you can easily fit 20 into a poster. Envision a story through your collage, and how many images you’ll need in order to tell it.

2. Select Your Pics

Now for the fun part: picture selection. You’ll generally upload photos from your computer, but the Walgreens Mobile App will let you tether your Facebook and Instagram accounts and upload images directly from a personal album.

Photo collages tend to work best when the pictures share a theme. Consider assembling pictures from a particular vacation or baby’s first Christmas. Then make sure the images’ colors complement each other. If you have a red-and-orange sunset picture that you love, select other photos with warm colors to go with it.

3. Choose Your Border

The best part of photo collage tools is that you can do as much or as little formatting as you want. Many collage print design tools are intuitive enough to assemble the images for you, and then allow you to organize them. First, decide if you want a border; it may affect the layout. The thicker the border, the less room there will be for images. Bordered edges may cut off photos with tons of detail, so mark the width of your border now, and consider which pics are best on all four sides.

4. Edit and Arrange

Remember that you can also play with your photos using editing apps, available right from your tablet or mobile device. Zoom, flip, color correct and more. If you have one or two favorite pics that you want to be the center of attention, pick those images to be “featured,” with the other images you select surrounding them. You may also use a digital program to shuffle your photos, randomly rearranging the images for you until you’re happy with the configuration.

5. Add Your Finishing Touches

“Spring ’14″? You can do better! Channel your inner wordsmith and use a title that captures it all. Then voilà — all done. Save the Collage Print to your cart and get hard copies sent right to your door.

What are you waiting for? Give it a spin.

Share Life’s Happy,
Suzanne Weinstock Klein

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Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Food Photography Guide: Make Your Food Snaps Drool-Worthy

Before diving into a bowl of rainbow-colored fruit or a leafy green salad, grab your camera to capture that delicious moment — then make your friends jealous. Post your irresistible food photography online so the whole world can comment on your creative hobby. Not sure where to start? Grab a snack, and we’ll share some tips with you.

Food Photography Guide

  1. Set the Scene: Your messy countertop isn’t the prettiest backdrop for the quiche that took an hour to make. Instead, show off your culinary creation by serving it on a colorful plate against a simple background. Look for a solid-colored wall as a backdrop, a beautifully set table or head outdoors for blue sky and green grass.
  2. Spice It Up: Some dishes looks naturally drab, so add a splash of color and professionalism to your food photography by using a few garnishes. Plump strawberries or a fresh sprig of parsley will give your snaps a magazine-cover feel.
  3. Add a Human Touch: Don’t be afraid to show that you’re already enjoying the food. A small nibble out of a steaming hot cookie from the oven or a spoon sunk deep into a bowl of Greek yogurt will make viewers want to dig in, too.
  4. Watch the Exposure: Although it’s enticing to just share a quick pic of your dinner plate, take a few seconds to think like a pro photographer. Make sure you have adequate light. Move closer to a window, turn on a lamp or head outside to be sure your snapshot doesn’t turn out too dark.
  5. Take Two: Once you have the perfect location and setup in place, take several pictures. Try something close up, or step back and include your entire place setting or beverage in the frame. Look down at the food for a bird’s eye view, or set the camera on the table and capture the image on the same level as the plate.

You took the time to whip up a great meal — don’t be shy about showing it off.

If you’re a foodie who loves to upload pics of your latest meal to Instagram, you can savor the delicious memories by printing Square Prints directly from your phone through the Walgreens Photo App.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela

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Image source: Flickr

3 Ways to Display Your Vacation Photos

Vacation photos may be some of the best pictures you get of your family all year. Everyone is relaxed, happy and more than willing to ham it up for the camera. Later on, you’ll look at these photos and remember how much fun everyone was having. Rather than losing the images in the black hole that is your hard drive, organize and preserve them, so that you can look back on those happy moments time and again.

Jump!

1. Create a Scrapbook Album

Unleash the artist within by creating a scrapbook album of your vacation images. You can make one from scratch, using stickers, decals or special markers to embellish your photos, or you can even create Scrapbook Pages online. Edit your photos and design your pages using a variety of templates and backgrounds. Then, print out the pages for your album.

2. Create a Digital Album

Use your Walgreens Photo online account to create an album of your vacation photos using your favorite pictures. The shot of your aunt floating down the lazy river in an inner tube might end up as your digital album cover. Or maybe it’s the one of your son in mid-air as he jumps off the side of the boat. Put your photos in chronological order to tell the story of your vacation, from the moment you left your house to the moment you returned, tanned and relaxed. You can share your digital album with friends and family directly from Walgreens.com/Photo.

3. Create a Photo Book

Once you have your images in order for your slide show, why not place them in a Photo Book? Choose a bright, bold photo for the cover, or simply place the same image that you used for your title slide. Show your family traveling and arriving at your destination, then place snapshots of all the best moments throughout your stay. Make sure you get an even number of shots of everyone, so your book will mean something to each family member. If extended family or friends joined you on your trip, print out a book for each person as a holiday gift to remember the good times.

Vacations are an important time for families, so make sure you capture all of those memories and present them in a way that you’ll want to revisit. How do you plan on remembering this summer’s vacation?

Share Life’s Happy,

Karen Putz


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Image source: Karen Putz

6 Summer Birthday Gift Ideas for Her

You’ve ordered a decadent birthday cake and invited friends and family to share in a special celebration. Now the only thing missing is a thoughtful present for the lady of honor. Skip the gift cards and check out this list of great summer birthday gift ideas for her.

Skip the gift cards and check out our list of great birthday gift ideas for her.

1. Tote Bag for the Beach or Pool

Warm-weather birthdays call for gifts that coordinate with the season. Whether she frequents the beach, swims laps at the gym or is looking forward to a vacation that includes lots of sunscreen and a swimsuit, you can’t go wrong with a new Tote Bag personalized with a special photo memory from a previous summer outing.

2. Salad-in-a-Bowl Patio Planter

Does the birthday lady enjoy fresh, healthy meals? Head to the garden center for a beautiful patio planter filled with nutrient-rich edibles such as romaine lettuce, kale, parsley and spinach. These leafy greens can be trimmed, washed and enjoyed without toiling in the garden or making a trip to the grocery store.

3. Photo Water Bottle

During the summer, it’s a good idea to keep a water bottle close by to stay hydrated. Give her a personalized Water Bottle featuring a favorite picture of her friends or family. She’ll be sure to keep it by her side to help her stay cool while reminding her of special memories.

4. Bistro Set for Two

Does she love to eat outdoors during the summer? Surprise her with a cozy bistro table and chair set for two, and an invitation for dinner on the patio. This gift is also an ideal reading spot during the day, as well as a perfect hangout when a girlfriend drops by for a visit.

5. Customized Golf Towel

If she plays golf, make her next tee time extra special with a customized Golf Towel. Have the cloth printed with a snapshot of her and her golf buddies, then use the towel to creatively wrap a new set of golf balls and tees to complete the sporty gift.

6. Summer Door Wreath

Every woman likes to add a little color to the entryway of her home. A cheerful door wreath can do just the trick. Get out the glue gun and craft a patriotic wreath, or pick out a summery decoration at the craft store featuring bright sunflowers or daisies.

Do you have any other summer birthday gift ideas for her? Share one of your favorite birthday gifts from the past in the comments below.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela

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Image source: Flickr

5 Tips for Great School Pictures

We all have at least one terrible school photo hanging around our grandparents’ house (see photo of me below), with our hair sticking every which way, spilled lunch on our shirt and some hideous color combination we swore was in style at the time. Now that I’m on the mom side of the school picture scene, I feel compelled to make sure my guys are looking their very best — if only to save them future humiliation, because I’m going to keep those Prints around forever!

If you’re worrying about a fiasco on picture day, here are a few tips for helping your kids feel relaxed, look their best and perhaps even enjoy the experience.

old-amy-photos-ninth-grade-feature

1. Good Night, Sleep Tight

Making sure the kids have had a good night’s sleep is a big part of setting them up for photo day success. They won’t be feeling overtired as they wait for their turn with the photographer, no bags will be under the eyes and you won’t feel rushed trying to get a sleepyhead out of the house on time.

2. What to Wear?

Pick out an outfit the night before so you don’t have to dig through the laundry piles that morning. Hang up the outfit, and have your child change into it after breakfast. Opt for darker colors, graphic- and pattern-free fabrics and something that your child feels comfortable in. Kids don’t have to be overly fancy for picture day, but neat and tidy does the trick.

3. Pack a Particular Lunch

Consider a mess-free lunch for picture day to save yourself from the dreaded stained shirt snapshot. Braces? Forget about foods that might get stuck — or at least send along a toothbrush for a quick post-lunch brushing. Depending on what time of the school day the photo will be taken, you might be able to skip the lunch issue altogether, but better safe than sorry.

4. Avoid a Hair Scare

Send kids to school with a brush or comb and a little pocket mirror for pre-picture hair-taming. For girls, wearing hair down is preferable and you’ll avoid the bald look. If there’s time, try to schedule kids in for a hair trim a week or two before picture day so their locks will be at their best. Give it a good wash the night before and help them to style it in the morning.

5. Smile

There are photos from my childhood years where my smile looks nothing like me. You know, that awkward, forced grin that doesn’t look a thing like your child? No one wants that. On the big morning, chat with your kids about something funny they can think of when their photo is being taken. Maybe a joke that gets them laughing, a vacation memory they love or anything else that’ll bring out that genuine, gorgeous smile.

School Picture Tips

I hope these ideas help you on your way to a picture day masterpiece and one that you will add to the Photo Books. Now, say cheese!

Share Life’s Happy,
Amy Bellgardt

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Tips for Selfies You’ll Want to Share

We’ve all turned our smartphone cameras on ourselves. Smile. Click. Smile. Click. But not every impulsive image you snap should land on your social media feeds. Here are a few selfie faces to strive for next time a moment inspires you!

Selfie Tips

All About the Smile

Puckering your lips as if you’re blowing a kiss is fine to do in a photo, but try too hard and you’ll end up with the classic selfie error: duck face. It’s about as unflattering as it gets: your cheeks look sunken and your lips jut out like a beak, creating an effect that just looks downright silly. Instead of blowing that kiss, flash a simple smile. Practice in a mirror to see if you like to show teeth or stay close-lipped in your close-up.

Cute, Creative Angles

Taking a great selfie is all about angles. If you hold your phone directly above you, your forehead can end up looking pretty wide. If you tend to have oily skin, the shine will show up as a reflective glare. To avoid a big, shiny forehead, keep your camera at eye level or just use a long, outstretched arm a little above head level for a more flattering, proportionate angle. Then turn your head a bit to the side so you’re not looking straight into the camera.

Focus on the Eyes

We’ve all been there: You stretch out your arm to take a picture, and hit the button just as you blink. Half-closed eyes make you look tired and confused. To make your eyes really stand out, close them before making selfie faces. Pop your eyes open right before clicking the shutter button to ensure you don’t blink as the shutter opens. As an added bonus, closing your lids for a moment will lubricate the eyeball, providing moisture that will brighten your eyes on camera.

Nice Nose Shots

The worst selfie ever is the close-up view of your nostrils. If you hold the camera lower than nose level when taking a selfie, you risk this unflattering pose. Simply raise your camera to eye level or turn your head to the side to get an appealing semi-profile shot.

After nailing the perfect pose, upload your selfie to Instagram and enhance with color filters, festive borders or cropping tools. Print out your selfie with the Walgreens Mobile App and share with friends.

What are your favorite selfies to capture? Tell us about them in the comments below, or snap a selfie and post a link — we’d love to see your super selfie skills.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela Tague

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Image source: Flickr

Urban Backgrounds: Using City Architecture to Enhance Your Photos

Having your photography subjects stand in front of something interesting can help create a unique photo. Dynamic photo backgrounds are everywhere, especially in cities, which have a range of cool architectural styles and designs to feature. Here are a few ways to incorporate your city into your photographs.

Buildings

Grab your camera and head to town. Locate buildings with interesting shapes and designs to use as an eye-catching background. Elements to look for include the following:

  • Buildings with ornate iron gates that evoke romance and elegance. These can look great in an engagement photo or wedding shot.
  • Buildings with vintage advertising that generate old-world charm. Shoot these from a distance using a wide-angle lens to capture your subjects and the signage.
  • Tight alleyways with just a few feet of empty space. These alleys offer a nice scale difference between subject and background, which adds dimension to the photograph. Set your lens to focus on the subject and mute the sides and background.
  • Industrial areas. Metal walls, large fans and concrete cylinders can be great background elements. Shoot these big props with your subject in front and up close to add a different dimension to the photo.

Shooting at Night

When the sun goes down, take advantage of the artificial lighting downtown. A quiet city street provides a fantastic backdrop for all sorts of photos, from portraits and group shots to moody streetscapes that will look great on your wall. Use street lights, signs and other downtown elements to illuminate your photos and subjects in cool and unusual ways.

City bridges at night photos

Large bridges light up the night. Capture the beauty of the lights and the reflection on the water to make an interesting background. Your aperture should be at a wide setting, which will keep your subjects in focus and soften the background. Choose a fast shutter speed if your subject is moving, and use a tripod to keep things steady.

Water Elements

A gushing fountain can be a dramatic background for photos, especially at a wedding. A water background adds subtle hues of whites and light blue, and looks great in natural light. Use nearby benches or ledges as props. Take shots from a distance as well as up close: The details on many older fountains can be exquisite and worth capturing in the photo.

Seek permission from business owners if you’re taking photos on their property, and always use common sense when it comes to the suitability of photo backgrounds and the safety of your subjects. Have fun with your camera and create photos that stand out from the rest.

Share Life’s Happy,

Julie

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Image source: Flickr

Taking the Best Farmers Market Photos

Farmers market photos are full of vibrant colors and interesting shapes. A single mango might be red, orange, yellow and green all at the same time. Pineapples are a great example of the variety of shapes and angles the world of produce has available. We talked to three professional photographers to get advice on taking the best photos at a farmers market. Here’s what they had to say:

Hit the Market Early

Stephani Cuddie of Mirror Image Photography in Florida suggests hitting the market as soon as it opens to avoid big crowds and to take advantage of the morning sunshine. Getting there at the beginning of the day will also give you the widest variety of produce, fresh bread, flowers and other beautiful merchandise to photograph before the crowd snatches them up.

Find Your Subject’s Best Side

Cuddie says, “Find the colors. Go for the rich reds, greens and yellows. Turn any veggies that don’t look their best to the other side; you don’t want ugly looking fruits or veggies in your photos.” Photographer Sheri Rouse of Indiana suggests getting down to the level of the items you want to photograph. She says this provides “interesting angles and cool perspectives.”

Fill the frame with your favorite produce.

Zoom in and Zoom Out

There are advantages to both close-up shots and those with a wide view. Rouse likes zooming in “to cut out all the background ‘noise,’ photographing just the gorgeous flowers and the beautiful fruits.” Cuddie says photographing from above or dead on is best for filling the whole frame with fruits and vegetables. However, she also likes to get a bird’s eye view of the market by getting as high as possible. Look for elevated spots that give a good (and safe) view of a wide area.

Seek Shade to Avoid Capturing Shadows

Washington photographer Jennifer Bogle says, “Farmers markets are full of unique details. Hand-lettered signs, costumes, even uniquely colored vegetables you wouldn’t find at the grocery store all make for great images that are unique to the market experience. Though sunny days bring us to the market, bright sun can wreak havoc on photos. For better pictures without harsh shadows, look for shaded displays to photograph.”

Ask Before Photographing People

There are babies napping in strollers, farmers, craft vendors, musicians, and shoppers laden down with bags of farm-fresh finds. Weekends at a farmers market are full of life, which is great for photographs. Always ask permission before you snap photos with people in them, though.

So what should you do with your best farmers market photos? One great option is to make Canvas Prints of them to hang in the kitchen or dining room. You could also blow them up and make vibrant Posters. The rich colors and dynamic shapes will bring interest and depth to your home.

Share Life’s Happy,
Rachael Moshman

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Image source: Rachael Moshman

Four Tips for Great Park Photos

Playing at the park is a great way to enjoy the weather and get your children moving. There is nothing better than seeing your kids’ smiling faces whizzing down the slide or flying high on the swing. Here are simple tips to get the best park photos and really capture those memories.

Tips for getting the best park photos

1. Take Lots of Pictures

Taking a ton of pictures serves two purposes: You can experiment and you can click away until you get the right shot. You may not get the perfect photo on the first try, but that’s okay. After all, that’s what digital cameras are for. Just keep shooting. Experiment with different angles, lighting and shutter speeds to see what works best.

2. Consider Lighting

Flashes aren’t just for indoors. If the sun is behind your children, consider turning on the flash. This will lighten up their faces and balance out the light in the picture. Be aware of shadows, too. To avoid shadows across your children’s faces, take pictures in full sun or full shade.

3. Pick Candid Versus Posed

Try to take both posed and candid park photos. Did your kids find a nice mud puddle to play in? Get them to pose with their muddy hands up in the air. Then, get a candid picture of them splashing in the puddle. Again, the more pictures you take, the more memories you’ll capture — and the more likely it is you’ll get that perfect shot.

4. Choose Your Shutter Speed

To get the best action shot, use a fast shutter speed. Faster shutter speeds help you capture a crisp scene without blurring the image. If you aren’t experienced with manually adjusting your camera, most cameras have an action shot setting. Read your camera’s manual and become familiar with the different options before you go to the park.

Most importantly, have fun. Enjoy the fresh air and experiment with your camera. If your children are old enough, get them involved in the process. They will love taking pictures of each other and the park surroundings. When you’re finished sorting through the pictures, make sure you get your best park photos developed as Prints.

What is your favorite outdoor activity with your children?

Share Life’s Happy,
Lauren Gaines

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Image source: Lauren Gaines

News Flash: 4 Tips of Flash Photography

Using your camera’s flash seems like the simplest thing in the world. If there isn’t enough light to make the picture, out comes the flash, and suddenly a dark scene becomes a lit picture. But there’s far more to good flash photography than meets the eye.

While you may be content leaving your flash on auto, learning which situations warrant its use will help you get the most print-worthy shots possible.

Entire books have been written about getting started with flash photography, but these basic tips will get you started on your way to flash mastery.

1. Two Exposures in One

The first thing to realize when using your flash is that every flash photo is actually two exposures: the flash, and the ambient light around you. Unless your scene is pitch black, the camera collects all the light around your subject while the shutter is open, in addition to the light coming from your flash. These two exposures are the building blocks of flash photography.

2. Shutter Speed and Flash Exposure

Proper exposure has two building blocks: aperture and shutter speed. Aperture controls how much light comes in through the lens, whereas the shutter speed dictates how long the image sensor is exposed to that light. In order to capture the flash’s full output, the camera will slow the shutter speed, usually to a maximum of 1/250 or below, depending on the camera. So while aperture controls the ambient light in your scene, shutter speed controls that light’s exposure — especially important when using a flash.

Want more ambient exposure? Use a longer shutter speed; the flash exposure remains the same.

3. It’s Hip to Be Square

The more distance between your flash and the subject, the less light that falls on the subject. If you’re five feet away from your subject, double your distance; the subject will only receive one-fourth the amount of light as they did at five feet. This is known as the inverse square law. While this falloff may seem annoying, you can use it to your advantage. Having the subject move away from a background surface will darken the wall and expose the subject more effectively.

4. Stay in Range

On that note, let’s poke fun at today’s stadium audiences. If you’ve ever seen a concert or sporting event, you’ve seen hundreds of flashes go off in the background. But since the typical built-in flash on a point-and-shoot or DSLR camera is about 25 feet, all fans are doing is lighting up the backs of people’s heads. So turn off the flash and save your batteries — your shot has plenty of light to capture from the stage.

There’s so much more to mastering the art of flash photography, but these building blocks will lay the foundation on which you can begin building your camera flash skills.

Share Life’s Happy,

Andy Warycka

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Image source: Andy Warycka

5 Steps to a Great Photo Collage

Picking the right photo to frame for the wall or give to friends and family can be tedious. From wedding pictures to candid shots of your pet, there are simply too many great pictures to choose from. But why choose just one? Throw all of your favorites into a single Photo Collage Print.

Back in the day, a collage required scissors, glue and a lot of time. Now, it can be done in minutes with your own digital photos. Here’s how to do it.

Photo Collage Tips

1. Pick a Size

Start off by selecting a size for your collage. While 4×6 or 5×7 is great for sitting on your desk, 8×10 is perfect for going on a shelf. A Poster-sized Collage Print is ideal for a bedroom or dorm room wall.

The size will help you decide how many pictures to include, as well. Two to four is best for a 4×6, whereas you can easily fit 20 into a poster. Envision a story through your collage, and how many images you’ll need in order to tell it.

2. Select Your Pics

Now for the fun part: picture selection. You’ll generally upload photos from your computer, but the Walgreens Mobile App will let you tether your Facebook and Instagram accounts and upload images directly from a personal album.

Photo collages tend to work best when the pictures share a theme. Consider assembling pictures from a particular vacation or baby’s first Christmas. Then make sure the images’ colors complement each other. If you have a red-and-orange sunset picture that you love, select other photos with warm colors to go with it.

3. Choose Your Border

The best part of photo collage tools is that you can do as much or as little formatting as you want. Many collage print design tools are intuitive enough to assemble the images for you, and then allow you to organize them. First, decide if you want a border; it may affect the layout. The thicker the border, the less room there will be for images. Bordered edges may cut off photos with tons of detail, so mark the width of your border now, and consider which pics are best on all four sides.

4. Edit and Arrange

Remember that you can also play with your photos using editing apps, available right from your tablet or mobile device. Zoom, flip, color correct and more. If you have one or two favorite pics that you want to be the center of attention, pick those images to be “featured,” with the other images you select surrounding them. You may also use a digital program to shuffle your photos, randomly rearranging the images for you until you’re happy with the configuration.

5. Add Your Finishing Touches

“Spring ’14″? You can do better! Channel your inner wordsmith and use a title that captures it all. Then voilà — all done. Save the Collage Print to your cart and get hard copies sent right to your door.

What are you waiting for? Give it a spin.

Share Life’s Happy,
Suzanne Weinstock Klein

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Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Food Photography Guide: Make Your Food Snaps Drool-Worthy

Before diving into a bowl of rainbow-colored fruit or a leafy green salad, grab your camera to capture that delicious moment — then make your friends jealous. Post your irresistible food photography online so the whole world can comment on your creative hobby. Not sure where to start? Grab a snack, and we’ll share some tips with you.

Food Photography Guide

  1. Set the Scene: Your messy countertop isn’t the prettiest backdrop for the quiche that took an hour to make. Instead, show off your culinary creation by serving it on a colorful plate against a simple background. Look for a solid-colored wall as a backdrop, a beautifully set table or head outdoors for blue sky and green grass.
  2. Spice It Up: Some dishes looks naturally drab, so add a splash of color and professionalism to your food photography by using a few garnishes. Plump strawberries or a fresh sprig of parsley will give your snaps a magazine-cover feel.
  3. Add a Human Touch: Don’t be afraid to show that you’re already enjoying the food. A small nibble out of a steaming hot cookie from the oven or a spoon sunk deep into a bowl of Greek yogurt will make viewers want to dig in, too.
  4. Watch the Exposure: Although it’s enticing to just share a quick pic of your dinner plate, take a few seconds to think like a pro photographer. Make sure you have adequate light. Move closer to a window, turn on a lamp or head outside to be sure your snapshot doesn’t turn out too dark.
  5. Take Two: Once you have the perfect location and setup in place, take several pictures. Try something close up, or step back and include your entire place setting or beverage in the frame. Look down at the food for a bird’s eye view, or set the camera on the table and capture the image on the same level as the plate.

You took the time to whip up a great meal — don’t be shy about showing it off.

If you’re a foodie who loves to upload pics of your latest meal to Instagram, you can savor the delicious memories by printing Square Prints directly from your phone through the Walgreens Photo App.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela

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Image source: Flickr

3 Ways to Display Your Vacation Photos

Vacation photos may be some of the best pictures you get of your family all year. Everyone is relaxed, happy and more than willing to ham it up for the camera. Later on, you’ll look at these photos and remember how much fun everyone was having. Rather than losing the images in the black hole that is your hard drive, organize and preserve them, so that you can look back on those happy moments time and again.

Jump!

1. Create a Scrapbook Album

Unleash the artist within by creating a scrapbook album of your vacation images. You can make one from scratch, using stickers, decals or special markers to embellish your photos, or you can even create Scrapbook Pages online. Edit your photos and design your pages using a variety of templates and backgrounds. Then, print out the pages for your album.

2. Create a Digital Album

Use your Walgreens Photo online account to create an album of your vacation photos using your favorite pictures. The shot of your aunt floating down the lazy river in an inner tube might end up as your digital album cover. Or maybe it’s the one of your son in mid-air as he jumps off the side of the boat. Put your photos in chronological order to tell the story of your vacation, from the moment you left your house to the moment you returned, tanned and relaxed. You can share your digital album with friends and family directly from Walgreens.com/Photo.

3. Create a Photo Book

Once you have your images in order for your slide show, why not place them in a Photo Book? Choose a bright, bold photo for the cover, or simply place the same image that you used for your title slide. Show your family traveling and arriving at your destination, then place snapshots of all the best moments throughout your stay. Make sure you get an even number of shots of everyone, so your book will mean something to each family member. If extended family or friends joined you on your trip, print out a book for each person as a holiday gift to remember the good times.

Vacations are an important time for families, so make sure you capture all of those memories and present them in a way that you’ll want to revisit. How do you plan on remembering this summer’s vacation?

Share Life’s Happy,

Karen Putz


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Image source: Karen Putz

6 Summer Birthday Gift Ideas for Her

You’ve ordered a decadent birthday cake and invited friends and family to share in a special celebration. Now the only thing missing is a thoughtful present for the lady of honor. Skip the gift cards and check out this list of great summer birthday gift ideas for her.

Skip the gift cards and check out our list of great birthday gift ideas for her.

1. Tote Bag for the Beach or Pool

Warm-weather birthdays call for gifts that coordinate with the season. Whether she frequents the beach, swims laps at the gym or is looking forward to a vacation that includes lots of sunscreen and a swimsuit, you can’t go wrong with a new Tote Bag personalized with a special photo memory from a previous summer outing.

2. Salad-in-a-Bowl Patio Planter

Does the birthday lady enjoy fresh, healthy meals? Head to the garden center for a beautiful patio planter filled with nutrient-rich edibles such as romaine lettuce, kale, parsley and spinach. These leafy greens can be trimmed, washed and enjoyed without toiling in the garden or making a trip to the grocery store.

3. Photo Water Bottle

During the summer, it’s a good idea to keep a water bottle close by to stay hydrated. Give her a personalized Water Bottle featuring a favorite picture of her friends or family. She’ll be sure to keep it by her side to help her stay cool while reminding her of special memories.

4. Bistro Set for Two

Does she love to eat outdoors during the summer? Surprise her with a cozy bistro table and chair set for two, and an invitation for dinner on the patio. This gift is also an ideal reading spot during the day, as well as a perfect hangout when a girlfriend drops by for a visit.

5. Customized Golf Towel

If she plays golf, make her next tee time extra special with a customized Golf Towel. Have the cloth printed with a snapshot of her and her golf buddies, then use the towel to creatively wrap a new set of golf balls and tees to complete the sporty gift.

6. Summer Door Wreath

Every woman likes to add a little color to the entryway of her home. A cheerful door wreath can do just the trick. Get out the glue gun and craft a patriotic wreath, or pick out a summery decoration at the craft store featuring bright sunflowers or daisies.

Do you have any other summer birthday gift ideas for her? Share one of your favorite birthday gifts from the past in the comments below.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela

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Image source: Flickr

5 Tips for Great School Pictures

We all have at least one terrible school photo hanging around our grandparents’ house (see photo of me below), with our hair sticking every which way, spilled lunch on our shirt and some hideous color combination we swore was in style at the time. Now that I’m on the mom side of the school picture scene, I feel compelled to make sure my guys are looking their very best — if only to save them future humiliation, because I’m going to keep those Prints around forever!

If you’re worrying about a fiasco on picture day, here are a few tips for helping your kids feel relaxed, look their best and perhaps even enjoy the experience.

old-amy-photos-ninth-grade-feature

1. Good Night, Sleep Tight

Making sure the kids have had a good night’s sleep is a big part of setting them up for photo day success. They won’t be feeling overtired as they wait for their turn with the photographer, no bags will be under the eyes and you won’t feel rushed trying to get a sleepyhead out of the house on time.

2. What to Wear?

Pick out an outfit the night before so you don’t have to dig through the laundry piles that morning. Hang up the outfit, and have your child change into it after breakfast. Opt for darker colors, graphic- and pattern-free fabrics and something that your child feels comfortable in. Kids don’t have to be overly fancy for picture day, but neat and tidy does the trick.

3. Pack a Particular Lunch

Consider a mess-free lunch for picture day to save yourself from the dreaded stained shirt snapshot. Braces? Forget about foods that might get stuck — or at least send along a toothbrush for a quick post-lunch brushing. Depending on what time of the school day the photo will be taken, you might be able to skip the lunch issue altogether, but better safe than sorry.

4. Avoid a Hair Scare

Send kids to school with a brush or comb and a little pocket mirror for pre-picture hair-taming. For girls, wearing hair down is preferable and you’ll avoid the bald look. If there’s time, try to schedule kids in for a hair trim a week or two before picture day so their locks will be at their best. Give it a good wash the night before and help them to style it in the morning.

5. Smile

There are photos from my childhood years where my smile looks nothing like me. You know, that awkward, forced grin that doesn’t look a thing like your child? No one wants that. On the big morning, chat with your kids about something funny they can think of when their photo is being taken. Maybe a joke that gets them laughing, a vacation memory they love or anything else that’ll bring out that genuine, gorgeous smile.

School Picture Tips

I hope these ideas help you on your way to a picture day masterpiece and one that you will add to the Photo Books. Now, say cheese!

Share Life’s Happy,
Amy Bellgardt

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Tips for Selfies You’ll Want to Share

We’ve all turned our smartphone cameras on ourselves. Smile. Click. Smile. Click. But not every impulsive image you snap should land on your social media feeds. Here are a few selfie faces to strive for next time a moment inspires you!

Selfie Tips

All About the Smile

Puckering your lips as if you’re blowing a kiss is fine to do in a photo, but try too hard and you’ll end up with the classic selfie error: duck face. It’s about as unflattering as it gets: your cheeks look sunken and your lips jut out like a beak, creating an effect that just looks downright silly. Instead of blowing that kiss, flash a simple smile. Practice in a mirror to see if you like to show teeth or stay close-lipped in your close-up.

Cute, Creative Angles

Taking a great selfie is all about angles. If you hold your phone directly above you, your forehead can end up looking pretty wide. If you tend to have oily skin, the shine will show up as a reflective glare. To avoid a big, shiny forehead, keep your camera at eye level or just use a long, outstretched arm a little above head level for a more flattering, proportionate angle. Then turn your head a bit to the side so you’re not looking straight into the camera.

Focus on the Eyes

We’ve all been there: You stretch out your arm to take a picture, and hit the button just as you blink. Half-closed eyes make you look tired and confused. To make your eyes really stand out, close them before making selfie faces. Pop your eyes open right before clicking the shutter button to ensure you don’t blink as the shutter opens. As an added bonus, closing your lids for a moment will lubricate the eyeball, providing moisture that will brighten your eyes on camera.

Nice Nose Shots

The worst selfie ever is the close-up view of your nostrils. If you hold the camera lower than nose level when taking a selfie, you risk this unflattering pose. Simply raise your camera to eye level or turn your head to the side to get an appealing semi-profile shot.

After nailing the perfect pose, upload your selfie to Instagram and enhance with color filters, festive borders or cropping tools. Print out your selfie with the Walgreens Mobile App and share with friends.

What are your favorite selfies to capture? Tell us about them in the comments below, or snap a selfie and post a link — we’d love to see your super selfie skills.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela Tague

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Image source: Flickr

Urban Backgrounds: Using City Architecture to Enhance Your Photos

Having your photography subjects stand in front of something interesting can help create a unique photo. Dynamic photo backgrounds are everywhere, especially in cities, which have a range of cool architectural styles and designs to feature. Here are a few ways to incorporate your city into your photographs.

Buildings

Grab your camera and head to town. Locate buildings with interesting shapes and designs to use as an eye-catching background. Elements to look for include the following:

  • Buildings with ornate iron gates that evoke romance and elegance. These can look great in an engagement photo or wedding shot.
  • Buildings with vintage advertising that generate old-world charm. Shoot these from a distance using a wide-angle lens to capture your subjects and the signage.
  • Tight alleyways with just a few feet of empty space. These alleys offer a nice scale difference between subject and background, which adds dimension to the photograph. Set your lens to focus on the subject and mute the sides and background.
  • Industrial areas. Metal walls, large fans and concrete cylinders can be great background elements. Shoot these big props with your subject in front and up close to add a different dimension to the photo.

Shooting at Night

When the sun goes down, take advantage of the artificial lighting downtown. A quiet city street provides a fantastic backdrop for all sorts of photos, from portraits and group shots to moody streetscapes that will look great on your wall. Use street lights, signs and other downtown elements to illuminate your photos and subjects in cool and unusual ways.

City bridges at night photos

Large bridges light up the night. Capture the beauty of the lights and the reflection on the water to make an interesting background. Your aperture should be at a wide setting, which will keep your subjects in focus and soften the background. Choose a fast shutter speed if your subject is moving, and use a tripod to keep things steady.

Water Elements

A gushing fountain can be a dramatic background for photos, especially at a wedding. A water background adds subtle hues of whites and light blue, and looks great in natural light. Use nearby benches or ledges as props. Take shots from a distance as well as up close: The details on many older fountains can be exquisite and worth capturing in the photo.

Seek permission from business owners if you’re taking photos on their property, and always use common sense when it comes to the suitability of photo backgrounds and the safety of your subjects. Have fun with your camera and create photos that stand out from the rest.

Share Life’s Happy,

Julie

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Image source: Flickr

Taking the Best Farmers Market Photos

Farmers market photos are full of vibrant colors and interesting shapes. A single mango might be red, orange, yellow and green all at the same time. Pineapples are a great example of the variety of shapes and angles the world of produce has available. We talked to three professional photographers to get advice on taking the best photos at a farmers market. Here’s what they had to say:

Hit the Market Early

Stephani Cuddie of Mirror Image Photography in Florida suggests hitting the market as soon as it opens to avoid big crowds and to take advantage of the morning sunshine. Getting there at the beginning of the day will also give you the widest variety of produce, fresh bread, flowers and other beautiful merchandise to photograph before the crowd snatches them up.

Find Your Subject’s Best Side

Cuddie says, “Find the colors. Go for the rich reds, greens and yellows. Turn any veggies that don’t look their best to the other side; you don’t want ugly looking fruits or veggies in your photos.” Photographer Sheri Rouse of Indiana suggests getting down to the level of the items you want to photograph. She says this provides “interesting angles and cool perspectives.”

Fill the frame with your favorite produce.

Zoom in and Zoom Out

There are advantages to both close-up shots and those with a wide view. Rouse likes zooming in “to cut out all the background ‘noise,’ photographing just the gorgeous flowers and the beautiful fruits.” Cuddie says photographing from above or dead on is best for filling the whole frame with fruits and vegetables. However, she also likes to get a bird’s eye view of the market by getting as high as possible. Look for elevated spots that give a good (and safe) view of a wide area.

Seek Shade to Avoid Capturing Shadows

Washington photographer Jennifer Bogle says, “Farmers markets are full of unique details. Hand-lettered signs, costumes, even uniquely colored vegetables you wouldn’t find at the grocery store all make for great images that are unique to the market experience. Though sunny days bring us to the market, bright sun can wreak havoc on photos. For better pictures without harsh shadows, look for shaded displays to photograph.”

Ask Before Photographing People

There are babies napping in strollers, farmers, craft vendors, musicians, and shoppers laden down with bags of farm-fresh finds. Weekends at a farmers market are full of life, which is great for photographs. Always ask permission before you snap photos with people in them, though.

So what should you do with your best farmers market photos? One great option is to make Canvas Prints of them to hang in the kitchen or dining room. You could also blow them up and make vibrant Posters. The rich colors and dynamic shapes will bring interest and depth to your home.

Share Life’s Happy,
Rachael Moshman

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Image source: Rachael Moshman

Four Tips for Great Park Photos

Playing at the park is a great way to enjoy the weather and get your children moving. There is nothing better than seeing your kids’ smiling faces whizzing down the slide or flying high on the swing. Here are simple tips to get the best park photos and really capture those memories.

Tips for getting the best park photos

1. Take Lots of Pictures

Taking a ton of pictures serves two purposes: You can experiment and you can click away until you get the right shot. You may not get the perfect photo on the first try, but that’s okay. After all, that’s what digital cameras are for. Just keep shooting. Experiment with different angles, lighting and shutter speeds to see what works best.

2. Consider Lighting

Flashes aren’t just for indoors. If the sun is behind your children, consider turning on the flash. This will lighten up their faces and balance out the light in the picture. Be aware of shadows, too. To avoid shadows across your children’s faces, take pictures in full sun or full shade.

3. Pick Candid Versus Posed

Try to take both posed and candid park photos. Did your kids find a nice mud puddle to play in? Get them to pose with their muddy hands up in the air. Then, get a candid picture of them splashing in the puddle. Again, the more pictures you take, the more memories you’ll capture — and the more likely it is you’ll get that perfect shot.

4. Choose Your Shutter Speed

To get the best action shot, use a fast shutter speed. Faster shutter speeds help you capture a crisp scene without blurring the image. If you aren’t experienced with manually adjusting your camera, most cameras have an action shot setting. Read your camera’s manual and become familiar with the different options before you go to the park.

Most importantly, have fun. Enjoy the fresh air and experiment with your camera. If your children are old enough, get them involved in the process. They will love taking pictures of each other and the park surroundings. When you’re finished sorting through the pictures, make sure you get your best park photos developed as Prints.

What is your favorite outdoor activity with your children?

Share Life’s Happy,
Lauren Gaines

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Image source: Lauren Gaines

News Flash: 4 Tips of Flash Photography

Using your camera’s flash seems like the simplest thing in the world. If there isn’t enough light to make the picture, out comes the flash, and suddenly a dark scene becomes a lit picture. But there’s far more to good flash photography than meets the eye.

While you may be content leaving your flash on auto, learning which situations warrant its use will help you get the most print-worthy shots possible.

Entire books have been written about getting started with flash photography, but these basic tips will get you started on your way to flash mastery.

1. Two Exposures in One

The first thing to realize when using your flash is that every flash photo is actually two exposures: the flash, and the ambient light around you. Unless your scene is pitch black, the camera collects all the light around your subject while the shutter is open, in addition to the light coming from your flash. These two exposures are the building blocks of flash photography.

2. Shutter Speed and Flash Exposure

Proper exposure has two building blocks: aperture and shutter speed. Aperture controls how much light comes in through the lens, whereas the shutter speed dictates how long the image sensor is exposed to that light. In order to capture the flash’s full output, the camera will slow the shutter speed, usually to a maximum of 1/250 or below, depending on the camera. So while aperture controls the ambient light in your scene, shutter speed controls that light’s exposure — especially important when using a flash.

Want more ambient exposure? Use a longer shutter speed; the flash exposure remains the same.

3. It’s Hip to Be Square

The more distance between your flash and the subject, the less light that falls on the subject. If you’re five feet away from your subject, double your distance; the subject will only receive one-fourth the amount of light as they did at five feet. This is known as the inverse square law. While this falloff may seem annoying, you can use it to your advantage. Having the subject move away from a background surface will darken the wall and expose the subject more effectively.

4. Stay in Range

On that note, let’s poke fun at today’s stadium audiences. If you’ve ever seen a concert or sporting event, you’ve seen hundreds of flashes go off in the background. But since the typical built-in flash on a point-and-shoot or DSLR camera is about 25 feet, all fans are doing is lighting up the backs of people’s heads. So turn off the flash and save your batteries — your shot has plenty of light to capture from the stage.

There’s so much more to mastering the art of flash photography, but these building blocks will lay the foundation on which you can begin building your camera flash skills.

Share Life’s Happy,

Andy Warycka

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Image source: Andy Warycka

5 Steps to a Great Photo Collage

Picking the right photo to frame for the wall or give to friends and family can be tedious. From wedding pictures to candid shots of your pet, there are simply too many great pictures to choose from. But why choose just one? Throw all of your favorites into a single Photo Collage Print.

Back in the day, a collage required scissors, glue and a lot of time. Now, it can be done in minutes with your own digital photos. Here’s how to do it.

Photo Collage Tips

1. Pick a Size

Start off by selecting a size for your collage. While 4×6 or 5×7 is great for sitting on your desk, 8×10 is perfect for going on a shelf. A Poster-sized Collage Print is ideal for a bedroom or dorm room wall.

The size will help you decide how many pictures to include, as well. Two to four is best for a 4×6, whereas you can easily fit 20 into a poster. Envision a story through your collage, and how many images you’ll need in order to tell it.

2. Select Your Pics

Now for the fun part: picture selection. You’ll generally upload photos from your computer, but the Walgreens Mobile App will let you tether your Facebook and Instagram accounts and upload images directly from a personal album.

Photo collages tend to work best when the pictures share a theme. Consider assembling pictures from a particular vacation or baby’s first Christmas. Then make sure the images’ colors complement each other. If you have a red-and-orange sunset picture that you love, select other photos with warm colors to go with it.

3. Choose Your Border

The best part of photo collage tools is that you can do as much or as little formatting as you want. Many collage print design tools are intuitive enough to assemble the images for you, and then allow you to organize them. First, decide if you want a border; it may affect the layout. The thicker the border, the less room there will be for images. Bordered edges may cut off photos with tons of detail, so mark the width of your border now, and consider which pics are best on all four sides.

4. Edit and Arrange

Remember that you can also play with your photos using editing apps, available right from your tablet or mobile device. Zoom, flip, color correct and more. If you have one or two favorite pics that you want to be the center of attention, pick those images to be “featured,” with the other images you select surrounding them. You may also use a digital program to shuffle your photos, randomly rearranging the images for you until you’re happy with the configuration.

5. Add Your Finishing Touches

“Spring ’14″? You can do better! Channel your inner wordsmith and use a title that captures it all. Then voilà — all done. Save the Collage Print to your cart and get hard copies sent right to your door.

What are you waiting for? Give it a spin.

Share Life’s Happy,
Suzanne Weinstock Klein

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Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Food Photography Guide: Make Your Food Snaps Drool-Worthy

Before diving into a bowl of rainbow-colored fruit or a leafy green salad, grab your camera to capture that delicious moment — then make your friends jealous. Post your irresistible food photography online so the whole world can comment on your creative hobby. Not sure where to start? Grab a snack, and we’ll share some tips with you.

Food Photography Guide

  1. Set the Scene: Your messy countertop isn’t the prettiest backdrop for the quiche that took an hour to make. Instead, show off your culinary creation by serving it on a colorful plate against a simple background. Look for a solid-colored wall as a backdrop, a beautifully set table or head outdoors for blue sky and green grass.
  2. Spice It Up: Some dishes looks naturally drab, so add a splash of color and professionalism to your food photography by using a few garnishes. Plump strawberries or a fresh sprig of parsley will give your snaps a magazine-cover feel.
  3. Add a Human Touch: Don’t be afraid to show that you’re already enjoying the food. A small nibble out of a steaming hot cookie from the oven or a spoon sunk deep into a bowl of Greek yogurt will make viewers want to dig in, too.
  4. Watch the Exposure: Although it’s enticing to just share a quick pic of your dinner plate, take a few seconds to think like a pro photographer. Make sure you have adequate light. Move closer to a window, turn on a lamp or head outside to be sure your snapshot doesn’t turn out too dark.
  5. Take Two: Once you have the perfect location and setup in place, take several pictures. Try something close up, or step back and include your entire place setting or beverage in the frame. Look down at the food for a bird’s eye view, or set the camera on the table and capture the image on the same level as the plate.

You took the time to whip up a great meal — don’t be shy about showing it off.

If you’re a foodie who loves to upload pics of your latest meal to Instagram, you can savor the delicious memories by printing Square Prints directly from your phone through the Walgreens Photo App.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela

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Image source: Flickr

3 Ways to Display Your Vacation Photos

Vacation photos may be some of the best pictures you get of your family all year. Everyone is relaxed, happy and more than willing to ham it up for the camera. Later on, you’ll look at these photos and remember how much fun everyone was having. Rather than losing the images in the black hole that is your hard drive, organize and preserve them, so that you can look back on those happy moments time and again.

Jump!

1. Create a Scrapbook Album

Unleash the artist within by creating a scrapbook album of your vacation images. You can make one from scratch, using stickers, decals or special markers to embellish your photos, or you can even create Scrapbook Pages online. Edit your photos and design your pages using a variety of templates and backgrounds. Then, print out the pages for your album.

2. Create a Digital Album

Use your Walgreens Photo online account to create an album of your vacation photos using your favorite pictures. The shot of your aunt floating down the lazy river in an inner tube might end up as your digital album cover. Or maybe it’s the one of your son in mid-air as he jumps off the side of the boat. Put your photos in chronological order to tell the story of your vacation, from the moment you left your house to the moment you returned, tanned and relaxed. You can share your digital album with friends and family directly from Walgreens.com/Photo.

3. Create a Photo Book

Once you have your images in order for your slide show, why not place them in a Photo Book? Choose a bright, bold photo for the cover, or simply place the same image that you used for your title slide. Show your family traveling and arriving at your destination, then place snapshots of all the best moments throughout your stay. Make sure you get an even number of shots of everyone, so your book will mean something to each family member. If extended family or friends joined you on your trip, print out a book for each person as a holiday gift to remember the good times.

Vacations are an important time for families, so make sure you capture all of those memories and present them in a way that you’ll want to revisit. How do you plan on remembering this summer’s vacation?

Share Life’s Happy,

Karen Putz


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Image source: Karen Putz

6 Summer Birthday Gift Ideas for Her

You’ve ordered a decadent birthday cake and invited friends and family to share in a special celebration. Now the only thing missing is a thoughtful present for the lady of honor. Skip the gift cards and check out this list of great summer birthday gift ideas for her.

Skip the gift cards and check out our list of great birthday gift ideas for her.

1. Tote Bag for the Beach or Pool

Warm-weather birthdays call for gifts that coordinate with the season. Whether she frequents the beach, swims laps at the gym or is looking forward to a vacation that includes lots of sunscreen and a swimsuit, you can’t go wrong with a new Tote Bag personalized with a special photo memory from a previous summer outing.

2. Salad-in-a-Bowl Patio Planter

Does the birthday lady enjoy fresh, healthy meals? Head to the garden center for a beautiful patio planter filled with nutrient-rich edibles such as romaine lettuce, kale, parsley and spinach. These leafy greens can be trimmed, washed and enjoyed without toiling in the garden or making a trip to the grocery store.

3. Photo Water Bottle

During the summer, it’s a good idea to keep a water bottle close by to stay hydrated. Give her a personalized Water Bottle featuring a favorite picture of her friends or family. She’ll be sure to keep it by her side to help her stay cool while reminding her of special memories.

4. Bistro Set for Two

Does she love to eat outdoors during the summer? Surprise her with a cozy bistro table and chair set for two, and an invitation for dinner on the patio. This gift is also an ideal reading spot during the day, as well as a perfect hangout when a girlfriend drops by for a visit.

5. Customized Golf Towel

If she plays golf, make her next tee time extra special with a customized Golf Towel. Have the cloth printed with a snapshot of her and her golf buddies, then use the towel to creatively wrap a new set of golf balls and tees to complete the sporty gift.

6. Summer Door Wreath

Every woman likes to add a little color to the entryway of her home. A cheerful door wreath can do just the trick. Get out the glue gun and craft a patriotic wreath, or pick out a summery decoration at the craft store featuring bright sunflowers or daisies.

Do you have any other summer birthday gift ideas for her? Share one of your favorite birthday gifts from the past in the comments below.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela

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Image source: Flickr

5 Tips for Great School Pictures

We all have at least one terrible school photo hanging around our grandparents’ house (see photo of me below), with our hair sticking every which way, spilled lunch on our shirt and some hideous color combination we swore was in style at the time. Now that I’m on the mom side of the school picture scene, I feel compelled to make sure my guys are looking their very best — if only to save them future humiliation, because I’m going to keep those Prints around forever!

If you’re worrying about a fiasco on picture day, here are a few tips for helping your kids feel relaxed, look their best and perhaps even enjoy the experience.

old-amy-photos-ninth-grade-feature

1. Good Night, Sleep Tight

Making sure the kids have had a good night’s sleep is a big part of setting them up for photo day success. They won’t be feeling overtired as they wait for their turn with the photographer, no bags will be under the eyes and you won’t feel rushed trying to get a sleepyhead out of the house on time.

2. What to Wear?

Pick out an outfit the night before so you don’t have to dig through the laundry piles that morning. Hang up the outfit, and have your child change into it after breakfast. Opt for darker colors, graphic- and pattern-free fabrics and something that your child feels comfortable in. Kids don’t have to be overly fancy for picture day, but neat and tidy does the trick.

3. Pack a Particular Lunch

Consider a mess-free lunch for picture day to save yourself from the dreaded stained shirt snapshot. Braces? Forget about foods that might get stuck — or at least send along a toothbrush for a quick post-lunch brushing. Depending on what time of the school day the photo will be taken, you might be able to skip the lunch issue altogether, but better safe than sorry.

4. Avoid a Hair Scare

Send kids to school with a brush or comb and a little pocket mirror for pre-picture hair-taming. For girls, wearing hair down is preferable and you’ll avoid the bald look. If there’s time, try to schedule kids in for a hair trim a week or two before picture day so their locks will be at their best. Give it a good wash the night before and help them to style it in the morning.

5. Smile

There are photos from my childhood years where my smile looks nothing like me. You know, that awkward, forced grin that doesn’t look a thing like your child? No one wants that. On the big morning, chat with your kids about something funny they can think of when their photo is being taken. Maybe a joke that gets them laughing, a vacation memory they love or anything else that’ll bring out that genuine, gorgeous smile.

School Picture Tips

I hope these ideas help you on your way to a picture day masterpiece and one that you will add to the Photo Books. Now, say cheese!

Share Life’s Happy,
Amy Bellgardt

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Tips for Selfies You’ll Want to Share

We’ve all turned our smartphone cameras on ourselves. Smile. Click. Smile. Click. But not every impulsive image you snap should land on your social media feeds. Here are a few selfie faces to strive for next time a moment inspires you!

Selfie Tips

All About the Smile

Puckering your lips as if you’re blowing a kiss is fine to do in a photo, but try too hard and you’ll end up with the classic selfie error: duck face. It’s about as unflattering as it gets: your cheeks look sunken and your lips jut out like a beak, creating an effect that just looks downright silly. Instead of blowing that kiss, flash a simple smile. Practice in a mirror to see if you like to show teeth or stay close-lipped in your close-up.

Cute, Creative Angles

Taking a great selfie is all about angles. If you hold your phone directly above you, your forehead can end up looking pretty wide. If you tend to have oily skin, the shine will show up as a reflective glare. To avoid a big, shiny forehead, keep your camera at eye level or just use a long, outstretched arm a little above head level for a more flattering, proportionate angle. Then turn your head a bit to the side so you’re not looking straight into the camera.

Focus on the Eyes

We’ve all been there: You stretch out your arm to take a picture, and hit the button just as you blink. Half-closed eyes make you look tired and confused. To make your eyes really stand out, close them before making selfie faces. Pop your eyes open right before clicking the shutter button to ensure you don’t blink as the shutter opens. As an added bonus, closing your lids for a moment will lubricate the eyeball, providing moisture that will brighten your eyes on camera.

Nice Nose Shots

The worst selfie ever is the close-up view of your nostrils. If you hold the camera lower than nose level when taking a selfie, you risk this unflattering pose. Simply raise your camera to eye level or turn your head to the side to get an appealing semi-profile shot.

After nailing the perfect pose, upload your selfie to Instagram and enhance with color filters, festive borders or cropping tools. Print out your selfie with the Walgreens Mobile App and share with friends.

What are your favorite selfies to capture? Tell us about them in the comments below, or snap a selfie and post a link — we’d love to see your super selfie skills.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela Tague

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Image source: Flickr

Urban Backgrounds: Using City Architecture to Enhance Your Photos

Having your photography subjects stand in front of something interesting can help create a unique photo. Dynamic photo backgrounds are everywhere, especially in cities, which have a range of cool architectural styles and designs to feature. Here are a few ways to incorporate your city into your photographs.

Buildings

Grab your camera and head to town. Locate buildings with interesting shapes and designs to use as an eye-catching background. Elements to look for include the following:

  • Buildings with ornate iron gates that evoke romance and elegance. These can look great in an engagement photo or wedding shot.
  • Buildings with vintage advertising that generate old-world charm. Shoot these from a distance using a wide-angle lens to capture your subjects and the signage.
  • Tight alleyways with just a few feet of empty space. These alleys offer a nice scale difference between subject and background, which adds dimension to the photograph. Set your lens to focus on the subject and mute the sides and background.
  • Industrial areas. Metal walls, large fans and concrete cylinders can be great background elements. Shoot these big props with your subject in front and up close to add a different dimension to the photo.

Shooting at Night

When the sun goes down, take advantage of the artificial lighting downtown. A quiet city street provides a fantastic backdrop for all sorts of photos, from portraits and group shots to moody streetscapes that will look great on your wall. Use street lights, signs and other downtown elements to illuminate your photos and subjects in cool and unusual ways.

City bridges at night photos

Large bridges light up the night. Capture the beauty of the lights and the reflection on the water to make an interesting background. Your aperture should be at a wide setting, which will keep your subjects in focus and soften the background. Choose a fast shutter speed if your subject is moving, and use a tripod to keep things steady.

Water Elements

A gushing fountain can be a dramatic background for photos, especially at a wedding. A water background adds subtle hues of whites and light blue, and looks great in natural light. Use nearby benches or ledges as props. Take shots from a distance as well as up close: The details on many older fountains can be exquisite and worth capturing in the photo.

Seek permission from business owners if you’re taking photos on their property, and always use common sense when it comes to the suitability of photo backgrounds and the safety of your subjects. Have fun with your camera and create photos that stand out from the rest.

Share Life’s Happy,

Julie

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Image source: Flickr

Taking the Best Farmers Market Photos

Farmers market photos are full of vibrant colors and interesting shapes. A single mango might be red, orange, yellow and green all at the same time. Pineapples are a great example of the variety of shapes and angles the world of produce has available. We talked to three professional photographers to get advice on taking the best photos at a farmers market. Here’s what they had to say:

Hit the Market Early

Stephani Cuddie of Mirror Image Photography in Florida suggests hitting the market as soon as it opens to avoid big crowds and to take advantage of the morning sunshine. Getting there at the beginning of the day will also give you the widest variety of produce, fresh bread, flowers and other beautiful merchandise to photograph before the crowd snatches them up.

Find Your Subject’s Best Side

Cuddie says, “Find the colors. Go for the rich reds, greens and yellows. Turn any veggies that don’t look their best to the other side; you don’t want ugly looking fruits or veggies in your photos.” Photographer Sheri Rouse of Indiana suggests getting down to the level of the items you want to photograph. She says this provides “interesting angles and cool perspectives.”

Fill the frame with your favorite produce.

Zoom in and Zoom Out

There are advantages to both close-up shots and those with a wide view. Rouse likes zooming in “to cut out all the background ‘noise,’ photographing just the gorgeous flowers and the beautiful fruits.” Cuddie says photographing from above or dead on is best for filling the whole frame with fruits and vegetables. However, she also likes to get a bird’s eye view of the market by getting as high as possible. Look for elevated spots that give a good (and safe) view of a wide area.

Seek Shade to Avoid Capturing Shadows

Washington photographer Jennifer Bogle says, “Farmers markets are full of unique details. Hand-lettered signs, costumes, even uniquely colored vegetables you wouldn’t find at the grocery store all make for great images that are unique to the market experience. Though sunny days bring us to the market, bright sun can wreak havoc on photos. For better pictures without harsh shadows, look for shaded displays to photograph.”

Ask Before Photographing People

There are babies napping in strollers, farmers, craft vendors, musicians, and shoppers laden down with bags of farm-fresh finds. Weekends at a farmers market are full of life, which is great for photographs. Always ask permission before you snap photos with people in them, though.

So what should you do with your best farmers market photos? One great option is to make Canvas Prints of them to hang in the kitchen or dining room. You could also blow them up and make vibrant Posters. The rich colors and dynamic shapes will bring interest and depth to your home.

Share Life’s Happy,
Rachael Moshman

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Image source: Rachael Moshman

Four Tips for Great Park Photos

Playing at the park is a great way to enjoy the weather and get your children moving. There is nothing better than seeing your kids’ smiling faces whizzing down the slide or flying high on the swing. Here are simple tips to get the best park photos and really capture those memories.

Tips for getting the best park photos

1. Take Lots of Pictures

Taking a ton of pictures serves two purposes: You can experiment and you can click away until you get the right shot. You may not get the perfect photo on the first try, but that’s okay. After all, that’s what digital cameras are for. Just keep shooting. Experiment with different angles, lighting and shutter speeds to see what works best.

2. Consider Lighting

Flashes aren’t just for indoors. If the sun is behind your children, consider turning on the flash. This will lighten up their faces and balance out the light in the picture. Be aware of shadows, too. To avoid shadows across your children’s faces, take pictures in full sun or full shade.

3. Pick Candid Versus Posed

Try to take both posed and candid park photos. Did your kids find a nice mud puddle to play in? Get them to pose with their muddy hands up in the air. Then, get a candid picture of them splashing in the puddle. Again, the more pictures you take, the more memories you’ll capture — and the more likely it is you’ll get that perfect shot.

4. Choose Your Shutter Speed

To get the best action shot, use a fast shutter speed. Faster shutter speeds help you capture a crisp scene without blurring the image. If you aren’t experienced with manually adjusting your camera, most cameras have an action shot setting. Read your camera’s manual and become familiar with the different options before you go to the park.

Most importantly, have fun. Enjoy the fresh air and experiment with your camera. If your children are old enough, get them involved in the process. They will love taking pictures of each other and the park surroundings. When you’re finished sorting through the pictures, make sure you get your best park photos developed as Prints.

What is your favorite outdoor activity with your children?

Share Life’s Happy,
Lauren Gaines

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Image source: Lauren Gaines

News Flash: 4 Tips of Flash Photography

Using your camera’s flash seems like the simplest thing in the world. If there isn’t enough light to make the picture, out comes the flash, and suddenly a dark scene becomes a lit picture. But there’s far more to good flash photography than meets the eye.

While you may be content leaving your flash on auto, learning which situations warrant its use will help you get the most print-worthy shots possible.

Entire books have been written about getting started with flash photography, but these basic tips will get you started on your way to flash mastery.

1. Two Exposures in One

The first thing to realize when using your flash is that every flash photo is actually two exposures: the flash, and the ambient light around you. Unless your scene is pitch black, the camera collects all the light around your subject while the shutter is open, in addition to the light coming from your flash. These two exposures are the building blocks of flash photography.

2. Shutter Speed and Flash Exposure

Proper exposure has two building blocks: aperture and shutter speed. Aperture controls how much light comes in through the lens, whereas the shutter speed dictates how long the image sensor is exposed to that light. In order to capture the flash’s full output, the camera will slow the shutter speed, usually to a maximum of 1/250 or below, depending on the camera. So while aperture controls the ambient light in your scene, shutter speed controls that light’s exposure — especially important when using a flash.

Want more ambient exposure? Use a longer shutter speed; the flash exposure remains the same.

3. It’s Hip to Be Square

The more distance between your flash and the subject, the less light that falls on the subject. If you’re five feet away from your subject, double your distance; the subject will only receive one-fourth the amount of light as they did at five feet. This is known as the inverse square law. While this falloff may seem annoying, you can use it to your advantage. Having the subject move away from a background surface will darken the wall and expose the subject more effectively.

4. Stay in Range

On that note, let’s poke fun at today’s stadium audiences. If you’ve ever seen a concert or sporting event, you’ve seen hundreds of flashes go off in the background. But since the typical built-in flash on a point-and-shoot or DSLR camera is about 25 feet, all fans are doing is lighting up the backs of people’s heads. So turn off the flash and save your batteries — your shot has plenty of light to capture from the stage.

There’s so much more to mastering the art of flash photography, but these building blocks will lay the foundation on which you can begin building your camera flash skills.

Share Life’s Happy,

Andy Warycka

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Image source: Andy Warycka

5 Steps to a Great Photo Collage

Picking the right photo to frame for the wall or give to friends and family can be tedious. From wedding pictures to candid shots of your pet, there are simply too many great pictures to choose from. But why choose just one? Throw all of your favorites into a single Photo Collage Print.

Back in the day, a collage required scissors, glue and a lot of time. Now, it can be done in minutes with your own digital photos. Here’s how to do it.

Photo Collage Tips

1. Pick a Size

Start off by selecting a size for your collage. While 4×6 or 5×7 is great for sitting on your desk, 8×10 is perfect for going on a shelf. A Poster-sized Collage Print is ideal for a bedroom or dorm room wall.

The size will help you decide how many pictures to include, as well. Two to four is best for a 4×6, whereas you can easily fit 20 into a poster. Envision a story through your collage, and how many images you’ll need in order to tell it.

2. Select Your Pics

Now for the fun part: picture selection. You’ll generally upload photos from your computer, but the Walgreens Mobile App will let you tether your Facebook and Instagram accounts and upload images directly from a personal album.

Photo collages tend to work best when the pictures share a theme. Consider assembling pictures from a particular vacation or baby’s first Christmas. Then make sure the images’ colors complement each other. If you have a red-and-orange sunset picture that you love, select other photos with warm colors to go with it.

3. Choose Your Border

The best part of photo collage tools is that you can do as much or as little formatting as you want. Many collage print design tools are intuitive enough to assemble the images for you, and then allow you to organize them. First, decide if you want a border; it may affect the layout. The thicker the border, the less room there will be for images. Bordered edges may cut off photos with tons of detail, so mark the width of your border now, and consider which pics are best on all four sides.

4. Edit and Arrange

Remember that you can also play with your photos using editing apps, available right from your tablet or mobile device. Zoom, flip, color correct and more. If you have one or two favorite pics that you want to be the center of attention, pick those images to be “featured,” with the other images you select surrounding them. You may also use a digital program to shuffle your photos, randomly rearranging the images for you until you’re happy with the configuration.

5. Add Your Finishing Touches

“Spring ’14″? You can do better! Channel your inner wordsmith and use a title that captures it all. Then voilà — all done. Save the Collage Print to your cart and get hard copies sent right to your door.

What are you waiting for? Give it a spin.

Share Life’s Happy,
Suzanne Weinstock Klein

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Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Food Photography Guide: Make Your Food Snaps Drool-Worthy

Before diving into a bowl of rainbow-colored fruit or a leafy green salad, grab your camera to capture that delicious moment — then make your friends jealous. Post your irresistible food photography online so the whole world can comment on your creative hobby. Not sure where to start? Grab a snack, and we’ll share some tips with you.

Food Photography Guide

  1. Set the Scene: Your messy countertop isn’t the prettiest backdrop for the quiche that took an hour to make. Instead, show off your culinary creation by serving it on a colorful plate against a simple background. Look for a solid-colored wall as a backdrop, a beautifully set table or head outdoors for blue sky and green grass.
  2. Spice It Up: Some dishes looks naturally drab, so add a splash of color and professionalism to your food photography by using a few garnishes. Plump strawberries or a fresh sprig of parsley will give your snaps a magazine-cover feel.
  3. Add a Human Touch: Don’t be afraid to show that you’re already enjoying the food. A small nibble out of a steaming hot cookie from the oven or a spoon sunk deep into a bowl of Greek yogurt will make viewers want to dig in, too.
  4. Watch the Exposure: Although it’s enticing to just share a quick pic of your dinner plate, take a few seconds to think like a pro photographer. Make sure you have adequate light. Move closer to a window, turn on a lamp or head outside to be sure your snapshot doesn’t turn out too dark.
  5. Take Two: Once you have the perfect location and setup in place, take several pictures. Try something close up, or step back and include your entire place setting or beverage in the frame. Look down at the food for a bird’s eye view, or set the camera on the table and capture the image on the same level as the plate.

You took the time to whip up a great meal — don’t be shy about showing it off.

If you’re a foodie who loves to upload pics of your latest meal to Instagram, you can savor the delicious memories by printing Square Prints directly from your phone through the Walgreens Photo App.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela

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Image source: Flickr

3 Ways to Display Your Vacation Photos

Vacation photos may be some of the best pictures you get of your family all year. Everyone is relaxed, happy and more than willing to ham it up for the camera. Later on, you’ll look at these photos and remember how much fun everyone was having. Rather than losing the images in the black hole that is your hard drive, organize and preserve them, so that you can look back on those happy moments time and again.

Jump!

1. Create a Scrapbook Album

Unleash the artist within by creating a scrapbook album of your vacation images. You can make one from scratch, using stickers, decals or special markers to embellish your photos, or you can even create Scrapbook Pages online. Edit your photos and design your pages using a variety of templates and backgrounds. Then, print out the pages for your album.

2. Create a Digital Album

Use your Walgreens Photo online account to create an album of your vacation photos using your favorite pictures. The shot of your aunt floating down the lazy river in an inner tube might end up as your digital album cover. Or maybe it’s the one of your son in mid-air as he jumps off the side of the boat. Put your photos in chronological order to tell the story of your vacation, from the moment you left your house to the moment you returned, tanned and relaxed. You can share your digital album with friends and family directly from Walgreens.com/Photo.

3. Create a Photo Book

Once you have your images in order for your slide show, why not place them in a Photo Book? Choose a bright, bold photo for the cover, or simply place the same image that you used for your title slide. Show your family traveling and arriving at your destination, then place snapshots of all the best moments throughout your stay. Make sure you get an even number of shots of everyone, so your book will mean something to each family member. If extended family or friends joined you on your trip, print out a book for each person as a holiday gift to remember the good times.

Vacations are an important time for families, so make sure you capture all of those memories and present them in a way that you’ll want to revisit. How do you plan on remembering this summer’s vacation?

Share Life’s Happy,

Karen Putz


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Image source: Karen Putz

6 Summer Birthday Gift Ideas for Her

You’ve ordered a decadent birthday cake and invited friends and family to share in a special celebration. Now the only thing missing is a thoughtful present for the lady of honor. Skip the gift cards and check out this list of great summer birthday gift ideas for her.

Skip the gift cards and check out our list of great birthday gift ideas for her.

1. Tote Bag for the Beach or Pool

Warm-weather birthdays call for gifts that coordinate with the season. Whether she frequents the beach, swims laps at the gym or is looking forward to a vacation that includes lots of sunscreen and a swimsuit, you can’t go wrong with a new Tote Bag personalized with a special photo memory from a previous summer outing.

2. Salad-in-a-Bowl Patio Planter

Does the birthday lady enjoy fresh, healthy meals? Head to the garden center for a beautiful patio planter filled with nutrient-rich edibles such as romaine lettuce, kale, parsley and spinach. These leafy greens can be trimmed, washed and enjoyed without toiling in the garden or making a trip to the grocery store.

3. Photo Water Bottle

During the summer, it’s a good idea to keep a water bottle close by to stay hydrated. Give her a personalized Water Bottle featuring a favorite picture of her friends or family. She’ll be sure to keep it by her side to help her stay cool while reminding her of special memories.

4. Bistro Set for Two

Does she love to eat outdoors during the summer? Surprise her with a cozy bistro table and chair set for two, and an invitation for dinner on the patio. This gift is also an ideal reading spot during the day, as well as a perfect hangout when a girlfriend drops by for a visit.

5. Customized Golf Towel

If she plays golf, make her next tee time extra special with a customized Golf Towel. Have the cloth printed with a snapshot of her and her golf buddies, then use the towel to creatively wrap a new set of golf balls and tees to complete the sporty gift.

6. Summer Door Wreath

Every woman likes to add a little color to the entryway of her home. A cheerful door wreath can do just the trick. Get out the glue gun and craft a patriotic wreath, or pick out a summery decoration at the craft store featuring bright sunflowers or daisies.

Do you have any other summer birthday gift ideas for her? Share one of your favorite birthday gifts from the past in the comments below.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela

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Image source: Flickr

5 Tips for Great School Pictures

We all have at least one terrible school photo hanging around our grandparents’ house (see photo of me below), with our hair sticking every which way, spilled lunch on our shirt and some hideous color combination we swore was in style at the time. Now that I’m on the mom side of the school picture scene, I feel compelled to make sure my guys are looking their very best — if only to save them future humiliation, because I’m going to keep those Prints around forever!

If you’re worrying about a fiasco on picture day, here are a few tips for helping your kids feel relaxed, look their best and perhaps even enjoy the experience.

old-amy-photos-ninth-grade-feature

1. Good Night, Sleep Tight

Making sure the kids have had a good night’s sleep is a big part of setting them up for photo day success. They won’t be feeling overtired as they wait for their turn with the photographer, no bags will be under the eyes and you won’t feel rushed trying to get a sleepyhead out of the house on time.

2. What to Wear?

Pick out an outfit the night before so you don’t have to dig through the laundry piles that morning. Hang up the outfit, and have your child change into it after breakfast. Opt for darker colors, graphic- and pattern-free fabrics and something that your child feels comfortable in. Kids don’t have to be overly fancy for picture day, but neat and tidy does the trick.

3. Pack a Particular Lunch

Consider a mess-free lunch for picture day to save yourself from the dreaded stained shirt snapshot. Braces? Forget about foods that might get stuck — or at least send along a toothbrush for a quick post-lunch brushing. Depending on what time of the school day the photo will be taken, you might be able to skip the lunch issue altogether, but better safe than sorry.

4. Avoid a Hair Scare

Send kids to school with a brush or comb and a little pocket mirror for pre-picture hair-taming. For girls, wearing hair down is preferable and you’ll avoid the bald look. If there’s time, try to schedule kids in for a hair trim a week or two before picture day so their locks will be at their best. Give it a good wash the night before and help them to style it in the morning.

5. Smile

There are photos from my childhood years where my smile looks nothing like me. You know, that awkward, forced grin that doesn’t look a thing like your child? No one wants that. On the big morning, chat with your kids about something funny they can think of when their photo is being taken. Maybe a joke that gets them laughing, a vacation memory they love or anything else that’ll bring out that genuine, gorgeous smile.

School Picture Tips

I hope these ideas help you on your way to a picture day masterpiece and one that you will add to the Photo Books. Now, say cheese!

Share Life’s Happy,
Amy Bellgardt

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Tips for Selfies You’ll Want to Share

We’ve all turned our smartphone cameras on ourselves. Smile. Click. Smile. Click. But not every impulsive image you snap should land on your social media feeds. Here are a few selfie faces to strive for next time a moment inspires you!

Selfie Tips

All About the Smile

Puckering your lips as if you’re blowing a kiss is fine to do in a photo, but try too hard and you’ll end up with the classic selfie error: duck face. It’s about as unflattering as it gets: your cheeks look sunken and your lips jut out like a beak, creating an effect that just looks downright silly. Instead of blowing that kiss, flash a simple smile. Practice in a mirror to see if you like to show teeth or stay close-lipped in your close-up.

Cute, Creative Angles

Taking a great selfie is all about angles. If you hold your phone directly above you, your forehead can end up looking pretty wide. If you tend to have oily skin, the shine will show up as a reflective glare. To avoid a big, shiny forehead, keep your camera at eye level or just use a long, outstretched arm a little above head level for a more flattering, proportionate angle. Then turn your head a bit to the side so you’re not looking straight into the camera.

Focus on the Eyes

We’ve all been there: You stretch out your arm to take a picture, and hit the button just as you blink. Half-closed eyes make you look tired and confused. To make your eyes really stand out, close them before making selfie faces. Pop your eyes open right before clicking the shutter button to ensure you don’t blink as the shutter opens. As an added bonus, closing your lids for a moment will lubricate the eyeball, providing moisture that will brighten your eyes on camera.

Nice Nose Shots

The worst selfie ever is the close-up view of your nostrils. If you hold the camera lower than nose level when taking a selfie, you risk this unflattering pose. Simply raise your camera to eye level or turn your head to the side to get an appealing semi-profile shot.

After nailing the perfect pose, upload your selfie to Instagram and enhance with color filters, festive borders or cropping tools. Print out your selfie with the Walgreens Mobile App and share with friends.

What are your favorite selfies to capture? Tell us about them in the comments below, or snap a selfie and post a link — we’d love to see your super selfie skills.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela Tague

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Image source: Flickr

Urban Backgrounds: Using City Architecture to Enhance Your Photos

Having your photography subjects stand in front of something interesting can help create a unique photo. Dynamic photo backgrounds are everywhere, especially in cities, which have a range of cool architectural styles and designs to feature. Here are a few ways to incorporate your city into your photographs.

Buildings

Grab your camera and head to town. Locate buildings with interesting shapes and designs to use as an eye-catching background. Elements to look for include the following:

  • Buildings with ornate iron gates that evoke romance and elegance. These can look great in an engagement photo or wedding shot.
  • Buildings with vintage advertising that generate old-world charm. Shoot these from a distance using a wide-angle lens to capture your subjects and the signage.
  • Tight alleyways with just a few feet of empty space. These alleys offer a nice scale difference between subject and background, which adds dimension to the photograph. Set your lens to focus on the subject and mute the sides and background.
  • Industrial areas. Metal walls, large fans and concrete cylinders can be great background elements. Shoot these big props with your subject in front and up close to add a different dimension to the photo.

Shooting at Night

When the sun goes down, take advantage of the artificial lighting downtown. A quiet city street provides a fantastic backdrop for all sorts of photos, from portraits and group shots to moody streetscapes that will look great on your wall. Use street lights, signs and other downtown elements to illuminate your photos and subjects in cool and unusual ways.

City bridges at night photos

Large bridges light up the night. Capture the beauty of the lights and the reflection on the water to make an interesting background. Your aperture should be at a wide setting, which will keep your subjects in focus and soften the background. Choose a fast shutter speed if your subject is moving, and use a tripod to keep things steady.

Water Elements

A gushing fountain can be a dramatic background for photos, especially at a wedding. A water background adds subtle hues of whites and light blue, and looks great in natural light. Use nearby benches or ledges as props. Take shots from a distance as well as up close: The details on many older fountains can be exquisite and worth capturing in the photo.

Seek permission from business owners if you’re taking photos on their property, and always use common sense when it comes to the suitability of photo backgrounds and the safety of your subjects. Have fun with your camera and create photos that stand out from the rest.

Share Life’s Happy,

Julie

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Image source: Flickr

Taking the Best Farmers Market Photos

Farmers market photos are full of vibrant colors and interesting shapes. A single mango might be red, orange, yellow and green all at the same time. Pineapples are a great example of the variety of shapes and angles the world of produce has available. We talked to three professional photographers to get advice on taking the best photos at a farmers market. Here’s what they had to say:

Hit the Market Early

Stephani Cuddie of Mirror Image Photography in Florida suggests hitting the market as soon as it opens to avoid big crowds and to take advantage of the morning sunshine. Getting there at the beginning of the day will also give you the widest variety of produce, fresh bread, flowers and other beautiful merchandise to photograph before the crowd snatches them up.

Find Your Subject’s Best Side

Cuddie says, “Find the colors. Go for the rich reds, greens and yellows. Turn any veggies that don’t look their best to the other side; you don’t want ugly looking fruits or veggies in your photos.” Photographer Sheri Rouse of Indiana suggests getting down to the level of the items you want to photograph. She says this provides “interesting angles and cool perspectives.”

Fill the frame with your favorite produce.

Zoom in and Zoom Out

There are advantages to both close-up shots and those with a wide view. Rouse likes zooming in “to cut out all the background ‘noise,’ photographing just the gorgeous flowers and the beautiful fruits.” Cuddie says photographing from above or dead on is best for filling the whole frame with fruits and vegetables. However, she also likes to get a bird’s eye view of the market by getting as high as possible. Look for elevated spots that give a good (and safe) view of a wide area.

Seek Shade to Avoid Capturing Shadows

Washington photographer Jennifer Bogle says, “Farmers markets are full of unique details. Hand-lettered signs, costumes, even uniquely colored vegetables you wouldn’t find at the grocery store all make for great images that are unique to the market experience. Though sunny days bring us to the market, bright sun can wreak havoc on photos. For better pictures without harsh shadows, look for shaded displays to photograph.”

Ask Before Photographing People

There are babies napping in strollers, farmers, craft vendors, musicians, and shoppers laden down with bags of farm-fresh finds. Weekends at a farmers market are full of life, which is great for photographs. Always ask permission before you snap photos with people in them, though.

So what should you do with your best farmers market photos? One great option is to make Canvas Prints of them to hang in the kitchen or dining room. You could also blow them up and make vibrant Posters. The rich colors and dynamic shapes will bring interest and depth to your home.

Share Life’s Happy,
Rachael Moshman

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Image source: Rachael Moshman

Four Tips for Great Park Photos

Playing at the park is a great way to enjoy the weather and get your children moving. There is nothing better than seeing your kids’ smiling faces whizzing down the slide or flying high on the swing. Here are simple tips to get the best park photos and really capture those memories.

Tips for getting the best park photos

1. Take Lots of Pictures

Taking a ton of pictures serves two purposes: You can experiment and you can click away until you get the right shot. You may not get the perfect photo on the first try, but that’s okay. After all, that’s what digital cameras are for. Just keep shooting. Experiment with different angles, lighting and shutter speeds to see what works best.

2. Consider Lighting

Flashes aren’t just for indoors. If the sun is behind your children, consider turning on the flash. This will lighten up their faces and balance out the light in the picture. Be aware of shadows, too. To avoid shadows across your children’s faces, take pictures in full sun or full shade.

3. Pick Candid Versus Posed

Try to take both posed and candid park photos. Did your kids find a nice mud puddle to play in? Get them to pose with their muddy hands up in the air. Then, get a candid picture of them splashing in the puddle. Again, the more pictures you take, the more memories you’ll capture — and the more likely it is you’ll get that perfect shot.

4. Choose Your Shutter Speed

To get the best action shot, use a fast shutter speed. Faster shutter speeds help you capture a crisp scene without blurring the image. If you aren’t experienced with manually adjusting your camera, most cameras have an action shot setting. Read your camera’s manual and become familiar with the different options before you go to the park.

Most importantly, have fun. Enjoy the fresh air and experiment with your camera. If your children are old enough, get them involved in the process. They will love taking pictures of each other and the park surroundings. When you’re finished sorting through the pictures, make sure you get your best park photos developed as Prints.

What is your favorite outdoor activity with your children?

Share Life’s Happy,
Lauren Gaines

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Image source: Lauren Gaines

News Flash: 4 Tips of Flash Photography

Using your camera’s flash seems like the simplest thing in the world. If there isn’t enough light to make the picture, out comes the flash, and suddenly a dark scene becomes a lit picture. But there’s far more to good flash photography than meets the eye.

While you may be content leaving your flash on auto, learning which situations warrant its use will help you get the most print-worthy shots possible.

Entire books have been written about getting started with flash photography, but these basic tips will get you started on your way to flash mastery.

1. Two Exposures in One

The first thing to realize when using your flash is that every flash photo is actually two exposures: the flash, and the ambient light around you. Unless your scene is pitch black, the camera collects all the light around your subject while the shutter is open, in addition to the light coming from your flash. These two exposures are the building blocks of flash photography.

2. Shutter Speed and Flash Exposure

Proper exposure has two building blocks: aperture and shutter speed. Aperture controls how much light comes in through the lens, whereas the shutter speed dictates how long the image sensor is exposed to that light. In order to capture the flash’s full output, the camera will slow the shutter speed, usually to a maximum of 1/250 or below, depending on the camera. So while aperture controls the ambient light in your scene, shutter speed controls that light’s exposure — especially important when using a flash.

Want more ambient exposure? Use a longer shutter speed; the flash exposure remains the same.

3. It’s Hip to Be Square

The more distance between your flash and the subject, the less light that falls on the subject. If you’re five feet away from your subject, double your distance; the subject will only receive one-fourth the amount of light as they did at five feet. This is known as the inverse square law. While this falloff may seem annoying, you can use it to your advantage. Having the subject move away from a background surface will darken the wall and expose the subject more effectively.

4. Stay in Range

On that note, let’s poke fun at today’s stadium audiences. If you’ve ever seen a concert or sporting event, you’ve seen hundreds of flashes go off in the background. But since the typical built-in flash on a point-and-shoot or DSLR camera is about 25 feet, all fans are doing is lighting up the backs of people’s heads. So turn off the flash and save your batteries — your shot has plenty of light to capture from the stage.

There’s so much more to mastering the art of flash photography, but these building blocks will lay the foundation on which you can begin building your camera flash skills.

Share Life’s Happy,

Andy Warycka

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Image source: Andy Warycka

5 Steps to a Great Photo Collage

Picking the right photo to frame for the wall or give to friends and family can be tedious. From wedding pictures to candid shots of your pet, there are simply too many great pictures to choose from. But why choose just one? Throw all of your favorites into a single Photo Collage Print.

Back in the day, a collage required scissors, glue and a lot of time. Now, it can be done in minutes with your own digital photos. Here’s how to do it.

Photo Collage Tips

1. Pick a Size

Start off by selecting a size for your collage. While 4×6 or 5×7 is great for sitting on your desk, 8×10 is perfect for going on a shelf. A Poster-sized Collage Print is ideal for a bedroom or dorm room wall.

The size will help you decide how many pictures to include, as well. Two to four is best for a 4×6, whereas you can easily fit 20 into a poster. Envision a story through your collage, and how many images you’ll need in order to tell it.

2. Select Your Pics

Now for the fun part: picture selection. You’ll generally upload photos from your computer, but the Walgreens Mobile App will let you tether your Facebook and Instagram accounts and upload images directly from a personal album.

Photo collages tend to work best when the pictures share a theme. Consider assembling pictures from a particular vacation or baby’s first Christmas. Then make sure the images’ colors complement each other. If you have a red-and-orange sunset picture that you love, select other photos with warm colors to go with it.

3. Choose Your Border

The best part of photo collage tools is that you can do as much or as little formatting as you want. Many collage print design tools are intuitive enough to assemble the images for you, and then allow you to organize them. First, decide if you want a border; it may affect the layout. The thicker the border, the less room there will be for images. Bordered edges may cut off photos with tons of detail, so mark the width of your border now, and consider which pics are best on all four sides.

4. Edit and Arrange

Remember that you can also play with your photos using editing apps, available right from your tablet or mobile device. Zoom, flip, color correct and more. If you have one or two favorite pics that you want to be the center of attention, pick those images to be “featured,” with the other images you select surrounding them. You may also use a digital program to shuffle your photos, randomly rearranging the images for you until you’re happy with the configuration.

5. Add Your Finishing Touches

“Spring ’14″? You can do better! Channel your inner wordsmith and use a title that captures it all. Then voilà — all done. Save the Collage Print to your cart and get hard copies sent right to your door.

What are you waiting for? Give it a spin.

Share Life’s Happy,
Suzanne Weinstock Klein

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Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Food Photography Guide: Make Your Food Snaps Drool-Worthy

Before diving into a bowl of rainbow-colored fruit or a leafy green salad, grab your camera to capture that delicious moment — then make your friends jealous. Post your irresistible food photography online so the whole world can comment on your creative hobby. Not sure where to start? Grab a snack, and we’ll share some tips with you.

Food Photography Guide

  1. Set the Scene: Your messy countertop isn’t the prettiest backdrop for the quiche that took an hour to make. Instead, show off your culinary creation by serving it on a colorful plate against a simple background. Look for a solid-colored wall as a backdrop, a beautifully set table or head outdoors for blue sky and green grass.
  2. Spice It Up: Some dishes looks naturally drab, so add a splash of color and professionalism to your food photography by using a few garnishes. Plump strawberries or a fresh sprig of parsley will give your snaps a magazine-cover feel.
  3. Add a Human Touch: Don’t be afraid to show that you’re already enjoying the food. A small nibble out of a steaming hot cookie from the oven or a spoon sunk deep into a bowl of Greek yogurt will make viewers want to dig in, too.
  4. Watch the Exposure: Although it’s enticing to just share a quick pic of your dinner plate, take a few seconds to think like a pro photographer. Make sure you have adequate light. Move closer to a window, turn on a lamp or head outside to be sure your snapshot doesn’t turn out too dark.
  5. Take Two: Once you have the perfect location and setup in place, take several pictures. Try something close up, or step back and include your entire place setting or beverage in the frame. Look down at the food for a bird’s eye view, or set the camera on the table and capture the image on the same level as the plate.

You took the time to whip up a great meal — don’t be shy about showing it off.

If you’re a foodie who loves to upload pics of your latest meal to Instagram, you can savor the delicious memories by printing Square Prints directly from your phone through the Walgreens Photo App.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela

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Image source: Flickr

3 Ways to Display Your Vacation Photos

Vacation photos may be some of the best pictures you get of your family all year. Everyone is relaxed, happy and more than willing to ham it up for the camera. Later on, you’ll look at these photos and remember how much fun everyone was having. Rather than losing the images in the black hole that is your hard drive, organize and preserve them, so that you can look back on those happy moments time and again.

Jump!

1. Create a Scrapbook Album

Unleash the artist within by creating a scrapbook album of your vacation images. You can make one from scratch, using stickers, decals or special markers to embellish your photos, or you can even create Scrapbook Pages online. Edit your photos and design your pages using a variety of templates and backgrounds. Then, print out the pages for your album.

2. Create a Digital Album

Use your Walgreens Photo online account to create an album of your vacation photos using your favorite pictures. The shot of your aunt floating down the lazy river in an inner tube might end up as your digital album cover. Or maybe it’s the one of your son in mid-air as he jumps off the side of the boat. Put your photos in chronological order to tell the story of your vacation, from the moment you left your house to the moment you returned, tanned and relaxed. You can share your digital album with friends and family directly from Walgreens.com/Photo.

3. Create a Photo Book

Once you have your images in order for your slide show, why not place them in a Photo Book? Choose a bright, bold photo for the cover, or simply place the same image that you used for your title slide. Show your family traveling and arriving at your destination, then place snapshots of all the best moments throughout your stay. Make sure you get an even number of shots of everyone, so your book will mean something to each family member. If extended family or friends joined you on your trip, print out a book for each person as a holiday gift to remember the good times.

Vacations are an important time for families, so make sure you capture all of those memories and present them in a way that you’ll want to revisit. How do you plan on remembering this summer’s vacation?

Share Life’s Happy,

Karen Putz


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Image source: Karen Putz

6 Summer Birthday Gift Ideas for Her

You’ve ordered a decadent birthday cake and invited friends and family to share in a special celebration. Now the only thing missing is a thoughtful present for the lady of honor. Skip the gift cards and check out this list of great summer birthday gift ideas for her.

Skip the gift cards and check out our list of great birthday gift ideas for her.

1. Tote Bag for the Beach or Pool

Warm-weather birthdays call for gifts that coordinate with the season. Whether she frequents the beach, swims laps at the gym or is looking forward to a vacation that includes lots of sunscreen and a swimsuit, you can’t go wrong with a new Tote Bag personalized with a special photo memory from a previous summer outing.

2. Salad-in-a-Bowl Patio Planter

Does the birthday lady enjoy fresh, healthy meals? Head to the garden center for a beautiful patio planter filled with nutrient-rich edibles such as romaine lettuce, kale, parsley and spinach. These leafy greens can be trimmed, washed and enjoyed without toiling in the garden or making a trip to the grocery store.

3. Photo Water Bottle

During the summer, it’s a good idea to keep a water bottle close by to stay hydrated. Give her a personalized Water Bottle featuring a favorite picture of her friends or family. She’ll be sure to keep it by her side to help her stay cool while reminding her of special memories.

4. Bistro Set for Two

Does she love to eat outdoors during the summer? Surprise her with a cozy bistro table and chair set for two, and an invitation for dinner on the patio. This gift is also an ideal reading spot during the day, as well as a perfect hangout when a girlfriend drops by for a visit.

5. Customized Golf Towel

If she plays golf, make her next tee time extra special with a customized Golf Towel. Have the cloth printed with a snapshot of her and her golf buddies, then use the towel to creatively wrap a new set of golf balls and tees to complete the sporty gift.

6. Summer Door Wreath

Every woman likes to add a little color to the entryway of her home. A cheerful door wreath can do just the trick. Get out the glue gun and craft a patriotic wreath, or pick out a summery decoration at the craft store featuring bright sunflowers or daisies.

Do you have any other summer birthday gift ideas for her? Share one of your favorite birthday gifts from the past in the comments below.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela

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Image source: Flickr

5 Tips for Great School Pictures

We all have at least one terrible school photo hanging around our grandparents’ house (see photo of me below), with our hair sticking every which way, spilled lunch on our shirt and some hideous color combination we swore was in style at the time. Now that I’m on the mom side of the school picture scene, I feel compelled to make sure my guys are looking their very best — if only to save them future humiliation, because I’m going to keep those Prints around forever!

If you’re worrying about a fiasco on picture day, here are a few tips for helping your kids feel relaxed, look their best and perhaps even enjoy the experience.

old-amy-photos-ninth-grade-feature

1. Good Night, Sleep Tight

Making sure the kids have had a good night’s sleep is a big part of setting them up for photo day success. They won’t be feeling overtired as they wait for their turn with the photographer, no bags will be under the eyes and you won’t feel rushed trying to get a sleepyhead out of the house on time.

2. What to Wear?

Pick out an outfit the night before so you don’t have to dig through the laundry piles that morning. Hang up the outfit, and have your child change into it after breakfast. Opt for darker colors, graphic- and pattern-free fabrics and something that your child feels comfortable in. Kids don’t have to be overly fancy for picture day, but neat and tidy does the trick.

3. Pack a Particular Lunch

Consider a mess-free lunch for picture day to save yourself from the dreaded stained shirt snapshot. Braces? Forget about foods that might get stuck — or at least send along a toothbrush for a quick post-lunch brushing. Depending on what time of the school day the photo will be taken, you might be able to skip the lunch issue altogether, but better safe than sorry.

4. Avoid a Hair Scare

Send kids to school with a brush or comb and a little pocket mirror for pre-picture hair-taming. For girls, wearing hair down is preferable and you’ll avoid the bald look. If there’s time, try to schedule kids in for a hair trim a week or two before picture day so their locks will be at their best. Give it a good wash the night before and help them to style it in the morning.

5. Smile

There are photos from my childhood years where my smile looks nothing like me. You know, that awkward, forced grin that doesn’t look a thing like your child? No one wants that. On the big morning, chat with your kids about something funny they can think of when their photo is being taken. Maybe a joke that gets them laughing, a vacation memory they love or anything else that’ll bring out that genuine, gorgeous smile.

School Picture Tips

I hope these ideas help you on your way to a picture day masterpiece and one that you will add to the Photo Books. Now, say cheese!

Share Life’s Happy,
Amy Bellgardt

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Tips for Selfies You’ll Want to Share

We’ve all turned our smartphone cameras on ourselves. Smile. Click. Smile. Click. But not every impulsive image you snap should land on your social media feeds. Here are a few selfie faces to strive for next time a moment inspires you!

Selfie Tips

All About the Smile

Puckering your lips as if you’re blowing a kiss is fine to do in a photo, but try too hard and you’ll end up with the classic selfie error: duck face. It’s about as unflattering as it gets: your cheeks look sunken and your lips jut out like a beak, creating an effect that just looks downright silly. Instead of blowing that kiss, flash a simple smile. Practice in a mirror to see if you like to show teeth or stay close-lipped in your close-up.

Cute, Creative Angles

Taking a great selfie is all about angles. If you hold your phone directly above you, your forehead can end up looking pretty wide. If you tend to have oily skin, the shine will show up as a reflective glare. To avoid a big, shiny forehead, keep your camera at eye level or just use a long, outstretched arm a little above head level for a more flattering, proportionate angle. Then turn your head a bit to the side so you’re not looking straight into the camera.

Focus on the Eyes

We’ve all been there: You stretch out your arm to take a picture, and hit the button just as you blink. Half-closed eyes make you look tired and confused. To make your eyes really stand out, close them before making selfie faces. Pop your eyes open right before clicking the shutter button to ensure you don’t blink as the shutter opens. As an added bonus, closing your lids for a moment will lubricate the eyeball, providing moisture that will brighten your eyes on camera.

Nice Nose Shots

The worst selfie ever is the close-up view of your nostrils. If you hold the camera lower than nose level when taking a selfie, you risk this unflattering pose. Simply raise your camera to eye level or turn your head to the side to get an appealing semi-profile shot.

After nailing the perfect pose, upload your selfie to Instagram and enhance with color filters, festive borders or cropping tools. Print out your selfie with the Walgreens Mobile App and share with friends.

What are your favorite selfies to capture? Tell us about them in the comments below, or snap a selfie and post a link — we’d love to see your super selfie skills.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela Tague

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Image source: Flickr

Urban Backgrounds: Using City Architecture to Enhance Your Photos

Having your photography subjects stand in front of something interesting can help create a unique photo. Dynamic photo backgrounds are everywhere, especially in cities, which have a range of cool architectural styles and designs to feature. Here are a few ways to incorporate your city into your photographs.

Buildings

Grab your camera and head to town. Locate buildings with interesting shapes and designs to use as an eye-catching background. Elements to look for include the following:

  • Buildings with ornate iron gates that evoke romance and elegance. These can look great in an engagement photo or wedding shot.
  • Buildings with vintage advertising that generate old-world charm. Shoot these from a distance using a wide-angle lens to capture your subjects and the signage.
  • Tight alleyways with just a few feet of empty space. These alleys offer a nice scale difference between subject and background, which adds dimension to the photograph. Set your lens to focus on the subject and mute the sides and background.
  • Industrial areas. Metal walls, large fans and concrete cylinders can be great background elements. Shoot these big props with your subject in front and up close to add a different dimension to the photo.

Shooting at Night

When the sun goes down, take advantage of the artificial lighting downtown. A quiet city street provides a fantastic backdrop for all sorts of photos, from portraits and group shots to moody streetscapes that will look great on your wall. Use street lights, signs and other downtown elements to illuminate your photos and subjects in cool and unusual ways.

City bridges at night photos

Large bridges light up the night. Capture the beauty of the lights and the reflection on the water to make an interesting background. Your aperture should be at a wide setting, which will keep your subjects in focus and soften the background. Choose a fast shutter speed if your subject is moving, and use a tripod to keep things steady.

Water Elements

A gushing fountain can be a dramatic background for photos, especially at a wedding. A water background adds subtle hues of whites and light blue, and looks great in natural light. Use nearby benches or ledges as props. Take shots from a distance as well as up close: The details on many older fountains can be exquisite and worth capturing in the photo.

Seek permission from business owners if you’re taking photos on their property, and always use common sense when it comes to the suitability of photo backgrounds and the safety of your subjects. Have fun with your camera and create photos that stand out from the rest.

Share Life’s Happy,

Julie

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Image source: Flickr

Taking the Best Farmers Market Photos

Farmers market photos are full of vibrant colors and interesting shapes. A single mango might be red, orange, yellow and green all at the same time. Pineapples are a great example of the variety of shapes and angles the world of produce has available. We talked to three professional photographers to get advice on taking the best photos at a farmers market. Here’s what they had to say:

Hit the Market Early

Stephani Cuddie of Mirror Image Photography in Florida suggests hitting the market as soon as it opens to avoid big crowds and to take advantage of the morning sunshine. Getting there at the beginning of the day will also give you the widest variety of produce, fresh bread, flowers and other beautiful merchandise to photograph before the crowd snatches them up.

Find Your Subject’s Best Side

Cuddie says, “Find the colors. Go for the rich reds, greens and yellows. Turn any veggies that don’t look their best to the other side; you don’t want ugly looking fruits or veggies in your photos.” Photographer Sheri Rouse of Indiana suggests getting down to the level of the items you want to photograph. She says this provides “interesting angles and cool perspectives.”

Fill the frame with your favorite produce.

Zoom in and Zoom Out

There are advantages to both close-up shots and those with a wide view. Rouse likes zooming in “to cut out all the background ‘noise,’ photographing just the gorgeous flowers and the beautiful fruits.” Cuddie says photographing from above or dead on is best for filling the whole frame with fruits and vegetables. However, she also likes to get a bird’s eye view of the market by getting as high as possible. Look for elevated spots that give a good (and safe) view of a wide area.

Seek Shade to Avoid Capturing Shadows

Washington photographer Jennifer Bogle says, “Farmers markets are full of unique details. Hand-lettered signs, costumes, even uniquely colored vegetables you wouldn’t find at the grocery store all make for great images that are unique to the market experience. Though sunny days bring us to the market, bright sun can wreak havoc on photos. For better pictures without harsh shadows, look for shaded displays to photograph.”

Ask Before Photographing People

There are babies napping in strollers, farmers, craft vendors, musicians, and shoppers laden down with bags of farm-fresh finds. Weekends at a farmers market are full of life, which is great for photographs. Always ask permission before you snap photos with people in them, though.

So what should you do with your best farmers market photos? One great option is to make Canvas Prints of them to hang in the kitchen or dining room. You could also blow them up and make vibrant Posters. The rich colors and dynamic shapes will bring interest and depth to your home.

Share Life’s Happy,
Rachael Moshman

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Image source: Rachael Moshman

Four Tips for Great Park Photos

Playing at the park is a great way to enjoy the weather and get your children moving. There is nothing better than seeing your kids’ smiling faces whizzing down the slide or flying high on the swing. Here are simple tips to get the best park photos and really capture those memories.

Tips for getting the best park photos

1. Take Lots of Pictures

Taking a ton of pictures serves two purposes: You can experiment and you can click away until you get the right shot. You may not get the perfect photo on the first try, but that’s okay. After all, that’s what digital cameras are for. Just keep shooting. Experiment with different angles, lighting and shutter speeds to see what works best.

2. Consider Lighting

Flashes aren’t just for indoors. If the sun is behind your children, consider turning on the flash. This will lighten up their faces and balance out the light in the picture. Be aware of shadows, too. To avoid shadows across your children’s faces, take pictures in full sun or full shade.

3. Pick Candid Versus Posed

Try to take both posed and candid park photos. Did your kids find a nice mud puddle to play in? Get them to pose with their muddy hands up in the air. Then, get a candid picture of them splashing in the puddle. Again, the more pictures you take, the more memories you’ll capture — and the more likely it is you’ll get that perfect shot.

4. Choose Your Shutter Speed

To get the best action shot, use a fast shutter speed. Faster shutter speeds help you capture a crisp scene without blurring the image. If you aren’t experienced with manually adjusting your camera, most cameras have an action shot setting. Read your camera’s manual and become familiar with the different options before you go to the park.

Most importantly, have fun. Enjoy the fresh air and experiment with your camera. If your children are old enough, get them involved in the process. They will love taking pictures of each other and the park surroundings. When you’re finished sorting through the pictures, make sure you get your best park photos developed as Prints.

What is your favorite outdoor activity with your children?

Share Life’s Happy,
Lauren Gaines

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Image source: Lauren Gaines

News Flash: 4 Tips of Flash Photography

Using your camera’s flash seems like the simplest thing in the world. If there isn’t enough light to make the picture, out comes the flash, and suddenly a dark scene becomes a lit picture. But there’s far more to good flash photography than meets the eye.

While you may be content leaving your flash on auto, learning which situations warrant its use will help you get the most print-worthy shots possible.

Entire books have been written about getting started with flash photography, but these basic tips will get you started on your way to flash mastery.

1. Two Exposures in One

The first thing to realize when using your flash is that every flash photo is actually two exposures: the flash, and the ambient light around you. Unless your scene is pitch black, the camera collects all the light around your subject while the shutter is open, in addition to the light coming from your flash. These two exposures are the building blocks of flash photography.

2. Shutter Speed and Flash Exposure

Proper exposure has two building blocks: aperture and shutter speed. Aperture controls how much light comes in through the lens, whereas the shutter speed dictates how long the image sensor is exposed to that light. In order to capture the flash’s full output, the camera will slow the shutter speed, usually to a maximum of 1/250 or below, depending on the camera. So while aperture controls the ambient light in your scene, shutter speed controls that light’s exposure — especially important when using a flash.

Want more ambient exposure? Use a longer shutter speed; the flash exposure remains the same.

3. It’s Hip to Be Square

The more distance between your flash and the subject, the less light that falls on the subject. If you’re five feet away from your subject, double your distance; the subject will only receive one-fourth the amount of light as they did at five feet. This is known as the inverse square law. While this falloff may seem annoying, you can use it to your advantage. Having the subject move away from a background surface will darken the wall and expose the subject more effectively.

4. Stay in Range

On that note, let’s poke fun at today’s stadium audiences. If you’ve ever seen a concert or sporting event, you’ve seen hundreds of flashes go off in the background. But since the typical built-in flash on a point-and-shoot or DSLR camera is about 25 feet, all fans are doing is lighting up the backs of people’s heads. So turn off the flash and save your batteries — your shot has plenty of light to capture from the stage.

There’s so much more to mastering the art of flash photography, but these building blocks will lay the foundation on which you can begin building your camera flash skills.

Share Life’s Happy,

Andy Warycka

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Image source: Andy Warycka

5 Steps to a Great Photo Collage

Picking the right photo to frame for the wall or give to friends and family can be tedious. From wedding pictures to candid shots of your pet, there are simply too many great pictures to choose from. But why choose just one? Throw all of your favorites into a single Photo Collage Print.

Back in the day, a collage required scissors, glue and a lot of time. Now, it can be done in minutes with your own digital photos. Here’s how to do it.

Photo Collage Tips

1. Pick a Size

Start off by selecting a size for your collage. While 4×6 or 5×7 is great for sitting on your desk, 8×10 is perfect for going on a shelf. A Poster-sized Collage Print is ideal for a bedroom or dorm room wall.

The size will help you decide how many pictures to include, as well. Two to four is best for a 4×6, whereas you can easily fit 20 into a poster. Envision a story through your collage, and how many images you’ll need in order to tell it.

2. Select Your Pics

Now for the fun part: picture selection. You’ll generally upload photos from your computer, but the Walgreens Mobile App will let you tether your Facebook and Instagram accounts and upload images directly from a personal album.

Photo collages tend to work best when the pictures share a theme. Consider assembling pictures from a particular vacation or baby’s first Christmas. Then make sure the images’ colors complement each other. If you have a red-and-orange sunset picture that you love, select other photos with warm colors to go with it.

3. Choose Your Border

The best part of photo collage tools is that you can do as much or as little formatting as you want. Many collage print design tools are intuitive enough to assemble the images for you, and then allow you to organize them. First, decide if you want a border; it may affect the layout. The thicker the border, the less room there will be for images. Bordered edges may cut off photos with tons of detail, so mark the width of your border now, and consider which pics are best on all four sides.

4. Edit and Arrange

Remember that you can also play with your photos using editing apps, available right from your tablet or mobile device. Zoom, flip, color correct and more. If you have one or two favorite pics that you want to be the center of attention, pick those images to be “featured,” with the other images you select surrounding them. You may also use a digital program to shuffle your photos, randomly rearranging the images for you until you’re happy with the configuration.

5. Add Your Finishing Touches

“Spring ’14″? You can do better! Channel your inner wordsmith and use a title that captures it all. Then voilà — all done. Save the Collage Print to your cart and get hard copies sent right to your door.

What are you waiting for? Give it a spin.

Share Life’s Happy,
Suzanne Weinstock Klein

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Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Food Photography Guide: Make Your Food Snaps Drool-Worthy

Before diving into a bowl of rainbow-colored fruit or a leafy green salad, grab your camera to capture that delicious moment — then make your friends jealous. Post your irresistible food photography online so the whole world can comment on your creative hobby. Not sure where to start? Grab a snack, and we’ll share some tips with you.

Food Photography Guide

  1. Set the Scene: Your messy countertop isn’t the prettiest backdrop for the quiche that took an hour to make. Instead, show off your culinary creation by serving it on a colorful plate against a simple background. Look for a solid-colored wall as a backdrop, a beautifully set table or head outdoors for blue sky and green grass.
  2. Spice It Up: Some dishes looks naturally drab, so add a splash of color and professionalism to your food photography by using a few garnishes. Plump strawberries or a fresh sprig of parsley will give your snaps a magazine-cover feel.
  3. Add a Human Touch: Don’t be afraid to show that you’re already enjoying the food. A small nibble out of a steaming hot cookie from the oven or a spoon sunk deep into a bowl of Greek yogurt will make viewers want to dig in, too.
  4. Watch the Exposure: Although it’s enticing to just share a quick pic of your dinner plate, take a few seconds to think like a pro photographer. Make sure you have adequate light. Move closer to a window, turn on a lamp or head outside to be sure your snapshot doesn’t turn out too dark.
  5. Take Two: Once you have the perfect location and setup in place, take several pictures. Try something close up, or step back and include your entire place setting or beverage in the frame. Look down at the food for a bird’s eye view, or set the camera on the table and capture the image on the same level as the plate.

You took the time to whip up a great meal — don’t be shy about showing it off.

If you’re a foodie who loves to upload pics of your latest meal to Instagram, you can savor the delicious memories by printing Square Prints directly from your phone through the Walgreens Photo App.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela

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Image source: Flickr

3 Ways to Display Your Vacation Photos

Vacation photos may be some of the best pictures you get of your family all year. Everyone is relaxed, happy and more than willing to ham it up for the camera. Later on, you’ll look at these photos and remember how much fun everyone was having. Rather than losing the images in the black hole that is your hard drive, organize and preserve them, so that you can look back on those happy moments time and again.

Jump!

1. Create a Scrapbook Album

Unleash the artist within by creating a scrapbook album of your vacation images. You can make one from scratch, using stickers, decals or special markers to embellish your photos, or you can even create Scrapbook Pages online. Edit your photos and design your pages using a variety of templates and backgrounds. Then, print out the pages for your album.

2. Create a Digital Album

Use your Walgreens Photo online account to create an album of your vacation photos using your favorite pictures. The shot of your aunt floating down the lazy river in an inner tube might end up as your digital album cover. Or maybe it’s the one of your son in mid-air as he jumps off the side of the boat. Put your photos in chronological order to tell the story of your vacation, from the moment you left your house to the moment you returned, tanned and relaxed. You can share your digital album with friends and family directly from Walgreens.com/Photo.

3. Create a Photo Book

Once you have your images in order for your slide show, why not place them in a Photo Book? Choose a bright, bold photo for the cover, or simply place the same image that you used for your title slide. Show your family traveling and arriving at your destination, then place snapshots of all the best moments throughout your stay. Make sure you get an even number of shots of everyone, so your book will mean something to each family member. If extended family or friends joined you on your trip, print out a book for each person as a holiday gift to remember the good times.

Vacations are an important time for families, so make sure you capture all of those memories and present them in a way that you’ll want to revisit. How do you plan on remembering this summer’s vacation?

Share Life’s Happy,

Karen Putz


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Image source: Karen Putz

6 Summer Birthday Gift Ideas for Her

You’ve ordered a decadent birthday cake and invited friends and family to share in a special celebration. Now the only thing missing is a thoughtful present for the lady of honor. Skip the gift cards and check out this list of great summer birthday gift ideas for her.

Skip the gift cards and check out our list of great birthday gift ideas for her.

1. Tote Bag for the Beach or Pool

Warm-weather birthdays call for gifts that coordinate with the season. Whether she frequents the beach, swims laps at the gym or is looking forward to a vacation that includes lots of sunscreen and a swimsuit, you can’t go wrong with a new Tote Bag personalized with a special photo memory from a previous summer outing.

2. Salad-in-a-Bowl Patio Planter

Does the birthday lady enjoy fresh, healthy meals? Head to the garden center for a beautiful patio planter filled with nutrient-rich edibles such as romaine lettuce, kale, parsley and spinach. These leafy greens can be trimmed, washed and enjoyed without toiling in the garden or making a trip to the grocery store.

3. Photo Water Bottle

During the summer, it’s a good idea to keep a water bottle close by to stay hydrated. Give her a personalized Water Bottle featuring a favorite picture of her friends or family. She’ll be sure to keep it by her side to help her stay cool while reminding her of special memories.

4. Bistro Set for Two

Does she love to eat outdoors during the summer? Surprise her with a cozy bistro table and chair set for two, and an invitation for dinner on the patio. This gift is also an ideal reading spot during the day, as well as a perfect hangout when a girlfriend drops by for a visit.

5. Customized Golf Towel

If she plays golf, make her next tee time extra special with a customized Golf Towel. Have the cloth printed with a snapshot of her and her golf buddies, then use the towel to creatively wrap a new set of golf balls and tees to complete the sporty gift.

6. Summer Door Wreath

Every woman likes to add a little color to the entryway of her home. A cheerful door wreath can do just the trick. Get out the glue gun and craft a patriotic wreath, or pick out a summery decoration at the craft store featuring bright sunflowers or daisies.

Do you have any other summer birthday gift ideas for her? Share one of your favorite birthday gifts from the past in the comments below.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela

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Image source: Flickr

5 Tips for Great School Pictures

We all have at least one terrible school photo hanging around our grandparents’ house (see photo of me below), with our hair sticking every which way, spilled lunch on our shirt and some hideous color combination we swore was in style at the time. Now that I’m on the mom side of the school picture scene, I feel compelled to make sure my guys are looking their very best — if only to save them future humiliation, because I’m going to keep those Prints around forever!

If you’re worrying about a fiasco on picture day, here are a few tips for helping your kids feel relaxed, look their best and perhaps even enjoy the experience.

old-amy-photos-ninth-grade-feature

1. Good Night, Sleep Tight

Making sure the kids have had a good night’s sleep is a big part of setting them up for photo day success. They won’t be feeling overtired as they wait for their turn with the photographer, no bags will be under the eyes and you won’t feel rushed trying to get a sleepyhead out of the house on time.

2. What to Wear?

Pick out an outfit the night before so you don’t have to dig through the laundry piles that morning. Hang up the outfit, and have your child change into it after breakfast. Opt for darker colors, graphic- and pattern-free fabrics and something that your child feels comfortable in. Kids don’t have to be overly fancy for picture day, but neat and tidy does the trick.

3. Pack a Particular Lunch

Consider a mess-free lunch for picture day to save yourself from the dreaded stained shirt snapshot. Braces? Forget about foods that might get stuck — or at least send along a toothbrush for a quick post-lunch brushing. Depending on what time of the school day the photo will be taken, you might be able to skip the lunch issue altogether, but better safe than sorry.

4. Avoid a Hair Scare

Send kids to school with a brush or comb and a little pocket mirror for pre-picture hair-taming. For girls, wearing hair down is preferable and you’ll avoid the bald look. If there’s time, try to schedule kids in for a hair trim a week or two before picture day so their locks will be at their best. Give it a good wash the night before and help them to style it in the morning.

5. Smile

There are photos from my childhood years where my smile looks nothing like me. You know, that awkward, forced grin that doesn’t look a thing like your child? No one wants that. On the big morning, chat with your kids about something funny they can think of when their photo is being taken. Maybe a joke that gets them laughing, a vacation memory they love or anything else that’ll bring out that genuine, gorgeous smile.

School Picture Tips

I hope these ideas help you on your way to a picture day masterpiece and one that you will add to the Photo Books. Now, say cheese!

Share Life’s Happy,
Amy Bellgardt

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Tips for Selfies You’ll Want to Share

We’ve all turned our smartphone cameras on ourselves. Smile. Click. Smile. Click. But not every impulsive image you snap should land on your social media feeds. Here are a few selfie faces to strive for next time a moment inspires you!

Selfie Tips

All About the Smile

Puckering your lips as if you’re blowing a kiss is fine to do in a photo, but try too hard and you’ll end up with the classic selfie error: duck face. It’s about as unflattering as it gets: your cheeks look sunken and your lips jut out like a beak, creating an effect that just looks downright silly. Instead of blowing that kiss, flash a simple smile. Practice in a mirror to see if you like to show teeth or stay close-lipped in your close-up.

Cute, Creative Angles

Taking a great selfie is all about angles. If you hold your phone directly above you, your forehead can end up looking pretty wide. If you tend to have oily skin, the shine will show up as a reflective glare. To avoid a big, shiny forehead, keep your camera at eye level or just use a long, outstretched arm a little above head level for a more flattering, proportionate angle. Then turn your head a bit to the side so you’re not looking straight into the camera.

Focus on the Eyes

We’ve all been there: You stretch out your arm to take a picture, and hit the button just as you blink. Half-closed eyes make you look tired and confused. To make your eyes really stand out, close them before making selfie faces. Pop your eyes open right before clicking the shutter button to ensure you don’t blink as the shutter opens. As an added bonus, closing your lids for a moment will lubricate the eyeball, providing moisture that will brighten your eyes on camera.

Nice Nose Shots

The worst selfie ever is the close-up view of your nostrils. If you hold the camera lower than nose level when taking a selfie, you risk this unflattering pose. Simply raise your camera to eye level or turn your head to the side to get an appealing semi-profile shot.

After nailing the perfect pose, upload your selfie to Instagram and enhance with color filters, festive borders or cropping tools. Print out your selfie with the Walgreens Mobile App and share with friends.

What are your favorite selfies to capture? Tell us about them in the comments below, or snap a selfie and post a link — we’d love to see your super selfie skills.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela Tague

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Image source: Flickr

Urban Backgrounds: Using City Architecture to Enhance Your Photos

Having your photography subjects stand in front of something interesting can help create a unique photo. Dynamic photo backgrounds are everywhere, especially in cities, which have a range of cool architectural styles and designs to feature. Here are a few ways to incorporate your city into your photographs.

Buildings

Grab your camera and head to town. Locate buildings with interesting shapes and designs to use as an eye-catching background. Elements to look for include the following:

  • Buildings with ornate iron gates that evoke romance and elegance. These can look great in an engagement photo or wedding shot.
  • Buildings with vintage advertising that generate old-world charm. Shoot these from a distance using a wide-angle lens to capture your subjects and the signage.
  • Tight alleyways with just a few feet of empty space. These alleys offer a nice scale difference between subject and background, which adds dimension to the photograph. Set your lens to focus on the subject and mute the sides and background.
  • Industrial areas. Metal walls, large fans and concrete cylinders can be great background elements. Shoot these big props with your subject in front and up close to add a different dimension to the photo.

Shooting at Night

When the sun goes down, take advantage of the artificial lighting downtown. A quiet city street provides a fantastic backdrop for all sorts of photos, from portraits and group shots to moody streetscapes that will look great on your wall. Use street lights, signs and other downtown elements to illuminate your photos and subjects in cool and unusual ways.

City bridges at night photos

Large bridges light up the night. Capture the beauty of the lights and the reflection on the water to make an interesting background. Your aperture should be at a wide setting, which will keep your subjects in focus and soften the background. Choose a fast shutter speed if your subject is moving, and use a tripod to keep things steady.

Water Elements

A gushing fountain can be a dramatic background for photos, especially at a wedding. A water background adds subtle hues of whites and light blue, and looks great in natural light. Use nearby benches or ledges as props. Take shots from a distance as well as up close: The details on many older fountains can be exquisite and worth capturing in the photo.

Seek permission from business owners if you’re taking photos on their property, and always use common sense when it comes to the suitability of photo backgrounds and the safety of your subjects. Have fun with your camera and create photos that stand out from the rest.

Share Life’s Happy,

Julie

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Image source: Flickr

Taking the Best Farmers Market Photos

Farmers market photos are full of vibrant colors and interesting shapes. A single mango might be red, orange, yellow and green all at the same time. Pineapples are a great example of the variety of shapes and angles the world of produce has available. We talked to three professional photographers to get advice on taking the best photos at a farmers market. Here’s what they had to say:

Hit the Market Early

Stephani Cuddie of Mirror Image Photography in Florida suggests hitting the market as soon as it opens to avoid big crowds and to take advantage of the morning sunshine. Getting there at the beginning of the day will also give you the widest variety of produce, fresh bread, flowers and other beautiful merchandise to photograph before the crowd snatches them up.

Find Your Subject’s Best Side

Cuddie says, “Find the colors. Go for the rich reds, greens and yellows. Turn any veggies that don’t look their best to the other side; you don’t want ugly looking fruits or veggies in your photos.” Photographer Sheri Rouse of Indiana suggests getting down to the level of the items you want to photograph. She says this provides “interesting angles and cool perspectives.”

Fill the frame with your favorite produce.

Zoom in and Zoom Out

There are advantages to both close-up shots and those with a wide view. Rouse likes zooming in “to cut out all the background ‘noise,’ photographing just the gorgeous flowers and the beautiful fruits.” Cuddie says photographing from above or dead on is best for filling the whole frame with fruits and vegetables. However, she also likes to get a bird’s eye view of the market by getting as high as possible. Look for elevated spots that give a good (and safe) view of a wide area.

Seek Shade to Avoid Capturing Shadows

Washington photographer Jennifer Bogle says, “Farmers markets are full of unique details. Hand-lettered signs, costumes, even uniquely colored vegetables you wouldn’t find at the grocery store all make for great images that are unique to the market experience. Though sunny days bring us to the market, bright sun can wreak havoc on photos. For better pictures without harsh shadows, look for shaded displays to photograph.”

Ask Before Photographing People

There are babies napping in strollers, farmers, craft vendors, musicians, and shoppers laden down with bags of farm-fresh finds. Weekends at a farmers market are full of life, which is great for photographs. Always ask permission before you snap photos with people in them, though.

So what should you do with your best farmers market photos? One great option is to make Canvas Prints of them to hang in the kitchen or dining room. You could also blow them up and make vibrant Posters. The rich colors and dynamic shapes will bring interest and depth to your home.

Share Life’s Happy,
Rachael Moshman

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Image source: Rachael Moshman

Four Tips for Great Park Photos

Playing at the park is a great way to enjoy the weather and get your children moving. There is nothing better than seeing your kids’ smiling faces whizzing down the slide or flying high on the swing. Here are simple tips to get the best park photos and really capture those memories.

Tips for getting the best park photos

1. Take Lots of Pictures

Taking a ton of pictures serves two purposes: You can experiment and you can click away until you get the right shot. You may not get the perfect photo on the first try, but that’s okay. After all, that’s what digital cameras are for. Just keep shooting. Experiment with different angles, lighting and shutter speeds to see what works best.

2. Consider Lighting

Flashes aren’t just for indoors. If the sun is behind your children, consider turning on the flash. This will lighten up their faces and balance out the light in the picture. Be aware of shadows, too. To avoid shadows across your children’s faces, take pictures in full sun or full shade.

3. Pick Candid Versus Posed

Try to take both posed and candid park photos. Did your kids find a nice mud puddle to play in? Get them to pose with their muddy hands up in the air. Then, get a candid picture of them splashing in the puddle. Again, the more pictures you take, the more memories you’ll capture — and the more likely it is you’ll get that perfect shot.

4. Choose Your Shutter Speed

To get the best action shot, use a fast shutter speed. Faster shutter speeds help you capture a crisp scene without blurring the image. If you aren’t experienced with manually adjusting your camera, most cameras have an action shot setting. Read your camera’s manual and become familiar with the different options before you go to the park.

Most importantly, have fun. Enjoy the fresh air and experiment with your camera. If your children are old enough, get them involved in the process. They will love taking pictures of each other and the park surroundings. When you’re finished sorting through the pictures, make sure you get your best park photos developed as Prints.

What is your favorite outdoor activity with your children?

Share Life’s Happy,
Lauren Gaines

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Image source: Lauren Gaines

News Flash: 4 Tips of Flash Photography

Using your camera’s flash seems like the simplest thing in the world. If there isn’t enough light to make the picture, out comes the flash, and suddenly a dark scene becomes a lit picture. But there’s far more to good flash photography than meets the eye.

While you may be content leaving your flash on auto, learning which situations warrant its use will help you get the most print-worthy shots possible.

Entire books have been written about getting started with flash photography, but these basic tips will get you started on your way to flash mastery.

1. Two Exposures in One

The first thing to realize when using your flash is that every flash photo is actually two exposures: the flash, and the ambient light around you. Unless your scene is pitch black, the camera collects all the light around your subject while the shutter is open, in addition to the light coming from your flash. These two exposures are the building blocks of flash photography.

2. Shutter Speed and Flash Exposure

Proper exposure has two building blocks: aperture and shutter speed. Aperture controls how much light comes in through the lens, whereas the shutter speed dictates how long the image sensor is exposed to that light. In order to capture the flash’s full output, the camera will slow the shutter speed, usually to a maximum of 1/250 or below, depending on the camera. So while aperture controls the ambient light in your scene, shutter speed controls that light’s exposure — especially important when using a flash.

Want more ambient exposure? Use a longer shutter speed; the flash exposure remains the same.

3. It’s Hip to Be Square

The more distance between your flash and the subject, the less light that falls on the subject. If you’re five feet away from your subject, double your distance; the subject will only receive one-fourth the amount of light as they did at five feet. This is known as the inverse square law. While this falloff may seem annoying, you can use it to your advantage. Having the subject move away from a background surface will darken the wall and expose the subject more effectively.

4. Stay in Range

On that note, let’s poke fun at today’s stadium audiences. If you’ve ever seen a concert or sporting event, you’ve seen hundreds of flashes go off in the background. But since the typical built-in flash on a point-and-shoot or DSLR camera is about 25 feet, all fans are doing is lighting up the backs of people’s heads. So turn off the flash and save your batteries — your shot has plenty of light to capture from the stage.

There’s so much more to mastering the art of flash photography, but these building blocks will lay the foundation on which you can begin building your camera flash skills.

Share Life’s Happy,

Andy Warycka

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Image source: Andy Warycka

5 Steps to a Great Photo Collage

Picking the right photo to frame for the wall or give to friends and family can be tedious. From wedding pictures to candid shots of your pet, there are simply too many great pictures to choose from. But why choose just one? Throw all of your favorites into a single Photo Collage Print.

Back in the day, a collage required scissors, glue and a lot of time. Now, it can be done in minutes with your own digital photos. Here’s how to do it.

Photo Collage Tips

1. Pick a Size

Start off by selecting a size for your collage. While 4×6 or 5×7 is great for sitting on your desk, 8×10 is perfect for going on a shelf. A Poster-sized Collage Print is ideal for a bedroom or dorm room wall.

The size will help you decide how many pictures to include, as well. Two to four is best for a 4×6, whereas you can easily fit 20 into a poster. Envision a story through your collage, and how many images you’ll need in order to tell it.

2. Select Your Pics

Now for the fun part: picture selection. You’ll generally upload photos from your computer, but the Walgreens Mobile App will let you tether your Facebook and Instagram accounts and upload images directly from a personal album.

Photo collages tend to work best when the pictures share a theme. Consider assembling pictures from a particular vacation or baby’s first Christmas. Then make sure the images’ colors complement each other. If you have a red-and-orange sunset picture that you love, select other photos with warm colors to go with it.

3. Choose Your Border

The best part of photo collage tools is that you can do as much or as little formatting as you want. Many collage print design tools are intuitive enough to assemble the images for you, and then allow you to organize them. First, decide if you want a border; it may affect the layout. The thicker the border, the less room there will be for images. Bordered edges may cut off photos with tons of detail, so mark the width of your border now, and consider which pics are best on all four sides.

4. Edit and Arrange

Remember that you can also play with your photos using editing apps, available right from your tablet or mobile device. Zoom, flip, color correct and more. If you have one or two favorite pics that you want to be the center of attention, pick those images to be “featured,” with the other images you select surrounding them. You may also use a digital program to shuffle your photos, randomly rearranging the images for you until you’re happy with the configuration.

5. Add Your Finishing Touches

“Spring ’14″? You can do better! Channel your inner wordsmith and use a title that captures it all. Then voilà — all done. Save the Collage Print to your cart and get hard copies sent right to your door.

What are you waiting for? Give it a spin.

Share Life’s Happy,
Suzanne Weinstock Klein

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Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Food Photography Guide: Make Your Food Snaps Drool-Worthy

Before diving into a bowl of rainbow-colored fruit or a leafy green salad, grab your camera to capture that delicious moment — then make your friends jealous. Post your irresistible food photography online so the whole world can comment on your creative hobby. Not sure where to start? Grab a snack, and we’ll share some tips with you.

Food Photography Guide

  1. Set the Scene: Your messy countertop isn’t the prettiest backdrop for the quiche that took an hour to make. Instead, show off your culinary creation by serving it on a colorful plate against a simple background. Look for a solid-colored wall as a backdrop, a beautifully set table or head outdoors for blue sky and green grass.
  2. Spice It Up: Some dishes looks naturally drab, so add a splash of color and professionalism to your food photography by using a few garnishes. Plump strawberries or a fresh sprig of parsley will give your snaps a magazine-cover feel.
  3. Add a Human Touch: Don’t be afraid to show that you’re already enjoying the food. A small nibble out of a steaming hot cookie from the oven or a spoon sunk deep into a bowl of Greek yogurt will make viewers want to dig in, too.
  4. Watch the Exposure: Although it’s enticing to just share a quick pic of your dinner plate, take a few seconds to think like a pro photographer. Make sure you have adequate light. Move closer to a window, turn on a lamp or head outside to be sure your snapshot doesn’t turn out too dark.
  5. Take Two: Once you have the perfect location and setup in place, take several pictures. Try something close up, or step back and include your entire place setting or beverage in the frame. Look down at the food for a bird’s eye view, or set the camera on the table and capture the image on the same level as the plate.

You took the time to whip up a great meal — don’t be shy about showing it off.

If you’re a foodie who loves to upload pics of your latest meal to Instagram, you can savor the delicious memories by printing Square Prints directly from your phone through the Walgreens Photo App.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela

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Image source: Flickr

3 Ways to Display Your Vacation Photos

Vacation photos may be some of the best pictures you get of your family all year. Everyone is relaxed, happy and more than willing to ham it up for the camera. Later on, you’ll look at these photos and remember how much fun everyone was having. Rather than losing the images in the black hole that is your hard drive, organize and preserve them, so that you can look back on those happy moments time and again.

Jump!

1. Create a Scrapbook Album

Unleash the artist within by creating a scrapbook album of your vacation images. You can make one from scratch, using stickers, decals or special markers to embellish your photos, or you can even create Scrapbook Pages online. Edit your photos and design your pages using a variety of templates and backgrounds. Then, print out the pages for your album.

2. Create a Digital Album

Use your Walgreens Photo online account to create an album of your vacation photos using your favorite pictures. The shot of your aunt floating down the lazy river in an inner tube might end up as your digital album cover. Or maybe it’s the one of your son in mid-air as he jumps off the side of the boat. Put your photos in chronological order to tell the story of your vacation, from the moment you left your house to the moment you returned, tanned and relaxed. You can share your digital album with friends and family directly from Walgreens.com/Photo.

3. Create a Photo Book

Once you have your images in order for your slide show, why not place them in a Photo Book? Choose a bright, bold photo for the cover, or simply place the same image that you used for your title slide. Show your family traveling and arriving at your destination, then place snapshots of all the best moments throughout your stay. Make sure you get an even number of shots of everyone, so your book will mean something to each family member. If extended family or friends joined you on your trip, print out a book for each person as a holiday gift to remember the good times.

Vacations are an important time for families, so make sure you capture all of those memories and present them in a way that you’ll want to revisit. How do you plan on remembering this summer’s vacation?

Share Life’s Happy,

Karen Putz


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Image source: Karen Putz

6 Summer Birthday Gift Ideas for Her

You’ve ordered a decadent birthday cake and invited friends and family to share in a special celebration. Now the only thing missing is a thoughtful present for the lady of honor. Skip the gift cards and check out this list of great summer birthday gift ideas for her.

Skip the gift cards and check out our list of great birthday gift ideas for her.

1. Tote Bag for the Beach or Pool

Warm-weather birthdays call for gifts that coordinate with the season. Whether she frequents the beach, swims laps at the gym or is looking forward to a vacation that includes lots of sunscreen and a swimsuit, you can’t go wrong with a new Tote Bag personalized with a special photo memory from a previous summer outing.

2. Salad-in-a-Bowl Patio Planter

Does the birthday lady enjoy fresh, healthy meals? Head to the garden center for a beautiful patio planter filled with nutrient-rich edibles such as romaine lettuce, kale, parsley and spinach. These leafy greens can be trimmed, washed and enjoyed without toiling in the garden or making a trip to the grocery store.

3. Photo Water Bottle

During the summer, it’s a good idea to keep a water bottle close by to stay hydrated. Give her a personalized Water Bottle featuring a favorite picture of her friends or family. She’ll be sure to keep it by her side to help her stay cool while reminding her of special memories.

4. Bistro Set for Two

Does she love to eat outdoors during the summer? Surprise her with a cozy bistro table and chair set for two, and an invitation for dinner on the patio. This gift is also an ideal reading spot during the day, as well as a perfect hangout when a girlfriend drops by for a visit.

5. Customized Golf Towel

If she plays golf, make her next tee time extra special with a customized Golf Towel. Have the cloth printed with a snapshot of her and her golf buddies, then use the towel to creatively wrap a new set of golf balls and tees to complete the sporty gift.

6. Summer Door Wreath

Every woman likes to add a little color to the entryway of her home. A cheerful door wreath can do just the trick. Get out the glue gun and craft a patriotic wreath, or pick out a summery decoration at the craft store featuring bright sunflowers or daisies.

Do you have any other summer birthday gift ideas for her? Share one of your favorite birthday gifts from the past in the comments below.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela

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Image source: Flickr

5 Tips for Great School Pictures

We all have at least one terrible school photo hanging around our grandparents’ house (see photo of me below), with our hair sticking every which way, spilled lunch on our shirt and some hideous color combination we swore was in style at the time. Now that I’m on the mom side of the school picture scene, I feel compelled to make sure my guys are looking their very best — if only to save them future humiliation, because I’m going to keep those Prints around forever!

If you’re worrying about a fiasco on picture day, here are a few tips for helping your kids feel relaxed, look their best and perhaps even enjoy the experience.

old-amy-photos-ninth-grade-feature

1. Good Night, Sleep Tight

Making sure the kids have had a good night’s sleep is a big part of setting them up for photo day success. They won’t be feeling overtired as they wait for their turn with the photographer, no bags will be under the eyes and you won’t feel rushed trying to get a sleepyhead out of the house on time.

2. What to Wear?

Pick out an outfit the night before so you don’t have to dig through the laundry piles that morning. Hang up the outfit, and have your child change into it after breakfast. Opt for darker colors, graphic- and pattern-free fabrics and something that your child feels comfortable in. Kids don’t have to be overly fancy for picture day, but neat and tidy does the trick.

3. Pack a Particular Lunch

Consider a mess-free lunch for picture day to save yourself from the dreaded stained shirt snapshot. Braces? Forget about foods that might get stuck — or at least send along a toothbrush for a quick post-lunch brushing. Depending on what time of the school day the photo will be taken, you might be able to skip the lunch issue altogether, but better safe than sorry.

4. Avoid a Hair Scare

Send kids to school with a brush or comb and a little pocket mirror for pre-picture hair-taming. For girls, wearing hair down is preferable and you’ll avoid the bald look. If there’s time, try to schedule kids in for a hair trim a week or two before picture day so their locks will be at their best. Give it a good wash the night before and help them to style it in the morning.

5. Smile

There are photos from my childhood years where my smile looks nothing like me. You know, that awkward, forced grin that doesn’t look a thing like your child? No one wants that. On the big morning, chat with your kids about something funny they can think of when their photo is being taken. Maybe a joke that gets them laughing, a vacation memory they love or anything else that’ll bring out that genuine, gorgeous smile.

School Picture Tips

I hope these ideas help you on your way to a picture day masterpiece and one that you will add to the Photo Books. Now, say cheese!

Share Life’s Happy,
Amy Bellgardt

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Tips for Selfies You’ll Want to Share

We’ve all turned our smartphone cameras on ourselves. Smile. Click. Smile. Click. But not every impulsive image you snap should land on your social media feeds. Here are a few selfie faces to strive for next time a moment inspires you!

Selfie Tips

All About the Smile

Puckering your lips as if you’re blowing a kiss is fine to do in a photo, but try too hard and you’ll end up with the classic selfie error: duck face. It’s about as unflattering as it gets: your cheeks look sunken and your lips jut out like a beak, creating an effect that just looks downright silly. Instead of blowing that kiss, flash a simple smile. Practice in a mirror to see if you like to show teeth or stay close-lipped in your close-up.

Cute, Creative Angles

Taking a great selfie is all about angles. If you hold your phone directly above you, your forehead can end up looking pretty wide. If you tend to have oily skin, the shine will show up as a reflective glare. To avoid a big, shiny forehead, keep your camera at eye level or just use a long, outstretched arm a little above head level for a more flattering, proportionate angle. Then turn your head a bit to the side so you’re not looking straight into the camera.

Focus on the Eyes

We’ve all been there: You stretch out your arm to take a picture, and hit the button just as you blink. Half-closed eyes make you look tired and confused. To make your eyes really stand out, close them before making selfie faces. Pop your eyes open right before clicking the shutter button to ensure you don’t blink as the shutter opens. As an added bonus, closing your lids for a moment will lubricate the eyeball, providing moisture that will brighten your eyes on camera.

Nice Nose Shots

The worst selfie ever is the close-up view of your nostrils. If you hold the camera lower than nose level when taking a selfie, you risk this unflattering pose. Simply raise your camera to eye level or turn your head to the side to get an appealing semi-profile shot.

After nailing the perfect pose, upload your selfie to Instagram and enhance with color filters, festive borders or cropping tools. Print out your selfie with the Walgreens Mobile App and share with friends.

What are your favorite selfies to capture? Tell us about them in the comments below, or snap a selfie and post a link — we’d love to see your super selfie skills.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela Tague

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Image source: Flickr

Urban Backgrounds: Using City Architecture to Enhance Your Photos

Having your photography subjects stand in front of something interesting can help create a unique photo. Dynamic photo backgrounds are everywhere, especially in cities, which have a range of cool architectural styles and designs to feature. Here are a few ways to incorporate your city into your photographs.

Buildings

Grab your camera and head to town. Locate buildings with interesting shapes and designs to use as an eye-catching background. Elements to look for include the following:

  • Buildings with ornate iron gates that evoke romance and elegance. These can look great in an engagement photo or wedding shot.
  • Buildings with vintage advertising that generate old-world charm. Shoot these from a distance using a wide-angle lens to capture your subjects and the signage.
  • Tight alleyways with just a few feet of empty space. These alleys offer a nice scale difference between subject and background, which adds dimension to the photograph. Set your lens to focus on the subject and mute the sides and background.
  • Industrial areas. Metal walls, large fans and concrete cylinders can be great background elements. Shoot these big props with your subject in front and up close to add a different dimension to the photo.

Shooting at Night

When the sun goes down, take advantage of the artificial lighting downtown. A quiet city street provides a fantastic backdrop for all sorts of photos, from portraits and group shots to moody streetscapes that will look great on your wall. Use street lights, signs and other downtown elements to illuminate your photos and subjects in cool and unusual ways.

City bridges at night photos

Large bridges light up the night. Capture the beauty of the lights and the reflection on the water to make an interesting background. Your aperture should be at a wide setting, which will keep your subjects in focus and soften the background. Choose a fast shutter speed if your subject is moving, and use a tripod to keep things steady.

Water Elements

A gushing fountain can be a dramatic background for photos, especially at a wedding. A water background adds subtle hues of whites and light blue, and looks great in natural light. Use nearby benches or ledges as props. Take shots from a distance as well as up close: The details on many older fountains can be exquisite and worth capturing in the photo.

Seek permission from business owners if you’re taking photos on their property, and always use common sense when it comes to the suitability of photo backgrounds and the safety of your subjects. Have fun with your camera and create photos that stand out from the rest.

Share Life’s Happy,

Julie

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Image source: Flickr

Taking the Best Farmers Market Photos

Farmers market photos are full of vibrant colors and interesting shapes. A single mango might be red, orange, yellow and green all at the same time. Pineapples are a great example of the variety of shapes and angles the world of produce has available. We talked to three professional photographers to get advice on taking the best photos at a farmers market. Here’s what they had to say:

Hit the Market Early

Stephani Cuddie of Mirror Image Photography in Florida suggests hitting the market as soon as it opens to avoid big crowds and to take advantage of the morning sunshine. Getting there at the beginning of the day will also give you the widest variety of produce, fresh bread, flowers and other beautiful merchandise to photograph before the crowd snatches them up.

Find Your Subject’s Best Side

Cuddie says, “Find the colors. Go for the rich reds, greens and yellows. Turn any veggies that don’t look their best to the other side; you don’t want ugly looking fruits or veggies in your photos.” Photographer Sheri Rouse of Indiana suggests getting down to the level of the items you want to photograph. She says this provides “interesting angles and cool perspectives.”

Fill the frame with your favorite produce.

Zoom in and Zoom Out

There are advantages to both close-up shots and those with a wide view. Rouse likes zooming in “to cut out all the background ‘noise,’ photographing just the gorgeous flowers and the beautiful fruits.” Cuddie says photographing from above or dead on is best for filling the whole frame with fruits and vegetables. However, she also likes to get a bird’s eye view of the market by getting as high as possible. Look for elevated spots that give a good (and safe) view of a wide area.

Seek Shade to Avoid Capturing Shadows

Washington photographer Jennifer Bogle says, “Farmers markets are full of unique details. Hand-lettered signs, costumes, even uniquely colored vegetables you wouldn’t find at the grocery store all make for great images that are unique to the market experience. Though sunny days bring us to the market, bright sun can wreak havoc on photos. For better pictures without harsh shadows, look for shaded displays to photograph.”

Ask Before Photographing People

There are babies napping in strollers, farmers, craft vendors, musicians, and shoppers laden down with bags of farm-fresh finds. Weekends at a farmers market are full of life, which is great for photographs. Always ask permission before you snap photos with people in them, though.

So what should you do with your best farmers market photos? One great option is to make Canvas Prints of them to hang in the kitchen or dining room. You could also blow them up and make vibrant Posters. The rich colors and dynamic shapes will bring interest and depth to your home.

Share Life’s Happy,
Rachael Moshman

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Download the FREE Walgreens Mobile App

Image source: Rachael Moshman

Four Tips for Great Park Photos

Playing at the park is a great way to enjoy the weather and get your children moving. There is nothing better than seeing your kids’ smiling faces whizzing down the slide or flying high on the swing. Here are simple tips to get the best park photos and really capture those memories.

Tips for getting the best park photos

1. Take Lots of Pictures

Taking a ton of pictures serves two purposes: You can experiment and you can click away until you get the right shot. You may not get the perfect photo on the first try, but that’s okay. After all, that’s what digital cameras are for. Just keep shooting. Experiment with different angles, lighting and shutter speeds to see what works best.

2. Consider Lighting

Flashes aren’t just for indoors. If the sun is behind your children, consider turning on the flash. This will lighten up their faces and balance out the light in the picture. Be aware of shadows, too. To avoid shadows across your children’s faces, take pictures in full sun or full shade.

3. Pick Candid Versus Posed

Try to take both posed and candid park photos. Did your kids find a nice mud puddle to play in? Get them to pose with their muddy hands up in the air. Then, get a candid picture of them splashing in the puddle. Again, the more pictures you take, the more memories you’ll capture — and the more likely it is you’ll get that perfect shot.

4. Choose Your Shutter Speed

To get the best action shot, use a fast shutter speed. Faster shutter speeds help you capture a crisp scene without blurring the image. If you aren’t experienced with manually adjusting your camera, most cameras have an action shot setting. Read your camera’s manual and become familiar with the different options before you go to the park.

Most importantly, have fun. Enjoy the fresh air and experiment with your camera. If your children are old enough, get them involved in the process. They will love taking pictures of each other and the park surroundings. When you’re finished sorting through the pictures, make sure you get your best park photos developed as Prints.

What is your favorite outdoor activity with your children?

Share Life’s Happy,
Lauren Gaines

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Download the FREE Walgreens Mobile App

Image source: Lauren Gaines

News Flash: 4 Tips of Flash Photography

Using your camera’s flash seems like the simplest thing in the world. If there isn’t enough light to make the picture, out comes the flash, and suddenly a dark scene becomes a lit picture. But there’s far more to good flash photography than meets the eye.

While you may be content leaving your flash on auto, learning which situations warrant its use will help you get the most print-worthy shots possible.

Entire books have been written about getting started with flash photography, but these basic tips will get you started on your way to flash mastery.

1. Two Exposures in One

The first thing to realize when using your flash is that every flash photo is actually two exposures: the flash, and the ambient light around you. Unless your scene is pitch black, the camera collects all the light around your subject while the shutter is open, in addition to the light coming from your flash. These two exposures are the building blocks of flash photography.

2. Shutter Speed and Flash Exposure

Proper exposure has two building blocks: aperture and shutter speed. Aperture controls how much light comes in through the lens, whereas the shutter speed dictates how long the image sensor is exposed to that light. In order to capture the flash’s full output, the camera will slow the shutter speed, usually to a maximum of 1/250 or below, depending on the camera. So while aperture controls the ambient light in your scene, shutter speed controls that light’s exposure — especially important when using a flash.

Want more ambient exposure? Use a longer shutter speed; the flash exposure remains the same.

3. It’s Hip to Be Square

The more distance between your flash and the subject, the less light that falls on the subject. If you’re five feet away from your subject, double your distance; the subject will only receive one-fourth the amount of light as they did at five feet. This is known as the inverse square law. While this falloff may seem annoying, you can use it to your advantage. Having the subject move away from a background surface will darken the wall and expose the subject more effectively.

4. Stay in Range

On that note, let’s poke fun at today’s stadium audiences. If you’ve ever seen a concert or sporting event, you’ve seen hundreds of flashes go off in the background. But since the typical built-in flash on a point-and-shoot or DSLR camera is about 25 feet, all fans are doing is lighting up the backs of people’s heads. So turn off the flash and save your batteries — your shot has plenty of light to capture from the stage.

There’s so much more to mastering the art of flash photography, but these building blocks will lay the foundation on which you can begin building your camera flash skills.

Share Life’s Happy,

Andy Warycka

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Image source: Andy Warycka

5 Steps to a Great Photo Collage

Picking the right photo to frame for the wall or give to friends and family can be tedious. From wedding pictures to candid shots of your pet, there are simply too many great pictures to choose from. But why choose just one? Throw all of your favorites into a single Photo Collage Print.

Back in the day, a collage required scissors, glue and a lot of time. Now, it can be done in minutes with your own digital photos. Here’s how to do it.

Photo Collage Tips

1. Pick a Size

Start off by selecting a size for your collage. While 4×6 or 5×7 is great for sitting on your desk, 8×10 is perfect for going on a shelf. A Poster-sized Collage Print is ideal for a bedroom or dorm room wall.

The size will help you decide how many pictures to include, as well. Two to four is best for a 4×6, whereas you can easily fit 20 into a poster. Envision a story through your collage, and how many images you’ll need in order to tell it.

2. Select Your Pics

Now for the fun part: picture selection. You’ll generally upload photos from your computer, but the Walgreens Mobile App will let you tether your Facebook and Instagram accounts and upload images directly from a personal album.

Photo collages tend to work best when the pictures share a theme. Consider assembling pictures from a particular vacation or baby’s first Christmas. Then make sure the images’ colors complement each other. If you have a red-and-orange sunset picture that you love, select other photos with warm colors to go with it.

3. Choose Your Border

The best part of photo collage tools is that you can do as much or as little formatting as you want. Many collage print design tools are intuitive enough to assemble the images for you, and then allow you to organize them. First, decide if you want a border; it may affect the layout. The thicker the border, the less room there will be for images. Bordered edges may cut off photos with tons of detail, so mark the width of your border now, and consider which pics are best on all four sides.

4. Edit and Arrange

Remember that you can also play with your photos using editing apps, available right from your tablet or mobile device. Zoom, flip, color correct and more. If you have one or two favorite pics that you want to be the center of attention, pick those images to be “featured,” with the other images you select surrounding them. You may also use a digital program to shuffle your photos, randomly rearranging the images for you until you’re happy with the configuration.

5. Add Your Finishing Touches

“Spring ’14″? You can do better! Channel your inner wordsmith and use a title that captures it all. Then voilà — all done. Save the Collage Print to your cart and get hard copies sent right to your door.

What are you waiting for? Give it a spin.

Share Life’s Happy,
Suzanne Weinstock Klein

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Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Food Photography Guide: Make Your Food Snaps Drool-Worthy

Before diving into a bowl of rainbow-colored fruit or a leafy green salad, grab your camera to capture that delicious moment — then make your friends jealous. Post your irresistible food photography online so the whole world can comment on your creative hobby. Not sure where to start? Grab a snack, and we’ll share some tips with you.

Food Photography Guide

  1. Set the Scene: Your messy countertop isn’t the prettiest backdrop for the quiche that took an hour to make. Instead, show off your culinary creation by serving it on a colorful plate against a simple background. Look for a solid-colored wall as a backdrop, a beautifully set table or head outdoors for blue sky and green grass.
  2. Spice It Up: Some dishes looks naturally drab, so add a splash of color and professionalism to your food photography by using a few garnishes. Plump strawberries or a fresh sprig of parsley will give your snaps a magazine-cover feel.
  3. Add a Human Touch: Don’t be afraid to show that you’re already enjoying the food. A small nibble out of a steaming hot cookie from the oven or a spoon sunk deep into a bowl of Greek yogurt will make viewers want to dig in, too.
  4. Watch the Exposure: Although it’s enticing to just share a quick pic of your dinner plate, take a few seconds to think like a pro photographer. Make sure you have adequate light. Move closer to a window, turn on a lamp or head outside to be sure your snapshot doesn’t turn out too dark.
  5. Take Two: Once you have the perfect location and setup in place, take several pictures. Try something close up, or step back and include your entire place setting or beverage in the frame. Look down at the food for a bird’s eye view, or set the camera on the table and capture the image on the same level as the plate.

You took the time to whip up a great meal — don’t be shy about showing it off.

If you’re a foodie who loves to upload pics of your latest meal to Instagram, you can savor the delicious memories by printing Square Prints directly from your phone through the Walgreens Photo App.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela

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Image source: Flickr

3 Ways to Display Your Vacation Photos

Vacation photos may be some of the best pictures you get of your family all year. Everyone is relaxed, happy and more than willing to ham it up for the camera. Later on, you’ll look at these photos and remember how much fun everyone was having. Rather than losing the images in the black hole that is your hard drive, organize and preserve them, so that you can look back on those happy moments time and again.

Jump!

1. Create a Scrapbook Album

Unleash the artist within by creating a scrapbook album of your vacation images. You can make one from scratch, using stickers, decals or special markers to embellish your photos, or you can even create Scrapbook Pages online. Edit your photos and design your pages using a variety of templates and backgrounds. Then, print out the pages for your album.

2. Create a Digital Album

Use your Walgreens Photo online account to create an album of your vacation photos using your favorite pictures. The shot of your aunt floating down the lazy river in an inner tube might end up as your digital album cover. Or maybe it’s the one of your son in mid-air as he jumps off the side of the boat. Put your photos in chronological order to tell the story of your vacation, from the moment you left your house to the moment you returned, tanned and relaxed. You can share your digital album with friends and family directly from Walgreens.com/Photo.

3. Create a Photo Book

Once you have your images in order for your slide show, why not place them in a Photo Book? Choose a bright, bold photo for the cover, or simply place the same image that you used for your title slide. Show your family traveling and arriving at your destination, then place snapshots of all the best moments throughout your stay. Make sure you get an even number of shots of everyone, so your book will mean something to each family member. If extended family or friends joined you on your trip, print out a book for each person as a holiday gift to remember the good times.

Vacations are an important time for families, so make sure you capture all of those memories and present them in a way that you’ll want to revisit. How do you plan on remembering this summer’s vacation?

Share Life’s Happy,

Karen Putz


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Image source: Karen Putz

6 Summer Birthday Gift Ideas for Her

You’ve ordered a decadent birthday cake and invited friends and family to share in a special celebration. Now the only thing missing is a thoughtful present for the lady of honor. Skip the gift cards and check out this list of great summer birthday gift ideas for her.

Skip the gift cards and check out our list of great birthday gift ideas for her.

1. Tote Bag for the Beach or Pool

Warm-weather birthdays call for gifts that coordinate with the season. Whether she frequents the beach, swims laps at the gym or is looking forward to a vacation that includes lots of sunscreen and a swimsuit, you can’t go wrong with a new Tote Bag personalized with a special photo memory from a previous summer outing.

2. Salad-in-a-Bowl Patio Planter

Does the birthday lady enjoy fresh, healthy meals? Head to the garden center for a beautiful patio planter filled with nutrient-rich edibles such as romaine lettuce, kale, parsley and spinach. These leafy greens can be trimmed, washed and enjoyed without toiling in the garden or making a trip to the grocery store.

3. Photo Water Bottle

During the summer, it’s a good idea to keep a water bottle close by to stay hydrated. Give her a personalized Water Bottle featuring a favorite picture of her friends or family. She’ll be sure to keep it by her side to help her stay cool while reminding her of special memories.

4. Bistro Set for Two

Does she love to eat outdoors during the summer? Surprise her with a cozy bistro table and chair set for two, and an invitation for dinner on the patio. This gift is also an ideal reading spot during the day, as well as a perfect hangout when a girlfriend drops by for a visit.

5. Customized Golf Towel

If she plays golf, make her next tee time extra special with a customized Golf Towel. Have the cloth printed with a snapshot of her and her golf buddies, then use the towel to creatively wrap a new set of golf balls and tees to complete the sporty gift.

6. Summer Door Wreath

Every woman likes to add a little color to the entryway of her home. A cheerful door wreath can do just the trick. Get out the glue gun and craft a patriotic wreath, or pick out a summery decoration at the craft store featuring bright sunflowers or daisies.

Do you have any other summer birthday gift ideas for her? Share one of your favorite birthday gifts from the past in the comments below.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela

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Image source: Flickr

5 Tips for Great School Pictures

We all have at least one terrible school photo hanging around our grandparents’ house (see photo of me below), with our hair sticking every which way, spilled lunch on our shirt and some hideous color combination we swore was in style at the time. Now that I’m on the mom side of the school picture scene, I feel compelled to make sure my guys are looking their very best — if only to save them future humiliation, because I’m going to keep those Prints around forever!

If you’re worrying about a fiasco on picture day, here are a few tips for helping your kids feel relaxed, look their best and perhaps even enjoy the experience.

old-amy-photos-ninth-grade-feature

1. Good Night, Sleep Tight

Making sure the kids have had a good night’s sleep is a big part of setting them up for photo day success. They won’t be feeling overtired as they wait for their turn with the photographer, no bags will be under the eyes and you won’t feel rushed trying to get a sleepyhead out of the house on time.

2. What to Wear?

Pick out an outfit the night before so you don’t have to dig through the laundry piles that morning. Hang up the outfit, and have your child change into it after breakfast. Opt for darker colors, graphic- and pattern-free fabrics and something that your child feels comfortable in. Kids don’t have to be overly fancy for picture day, but neat and tidy does the trick.

3. Pack a Particular Lunch

Consider a mess-free lunch for picture day to save yourself from the dreaded stained shirt snapshot. Braces? Forget about foods that might get stuck — or at least send along a toothbrush for a quick post-lunch brushing. Depending on what time of the school day the photo will be taken, you might be able to skip the lunch issue altogether, but better safe than sorry.

4. Avoid a Hair Scare

Send kids to school with a brush or comb and a little pocket mirror for pre-picture hair-taming. For girls, wearing hair down is preferable and you’ll avoid the bald look. If there’s time, try to schedule kids in for a hair trim a week or two before picture day so their locks will be at their best. Give it a good wash the night before and help them to style it in the morning.

5. Smile

There are photos from my childhood years where my smile looks nothing like me. You know, that awkward, forced grin that doesn’t look a thing like your child? No one wants that. On the big morning, chat with your kids about something funny they can think of when their photo is being taken. Maybe a joke that gets them laughing, a vacation memory they love or anything else that’ll bring out that genuine, gorgeous smile.

School Picture Tips

I hope these ideas help you on your way to a picture day masterpiece and one that you will add to the Photo Books. Now, say cheese!

Share Life’s Happy,
Amy Bellgardt

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Tips for Selfies You’ll Want to Share

We’ve all turned our smartphone cameras on ourselves. Smile. Click. Smile. Click. But not every impulsive image you snap should land on your social media feeds. Here are a few selfie faces to strive for next time a moment inspires you!

Selfie Tips

All About the Smile

Puckering your lips as if you’re blowing a kiss is fine to do in a photo, but try too hard and you’ll end up with the classic selfie error: duck face. It’s about as unflattering as it gets: your cheeks look sunken and your lips jut out like a beak, creating an effect that just looks downright silly. Instead of blowing that kiss, flash a simple smile. Practice in a mirror to see if you like to show teeth or stay close-lipped in your close-up.

Cute, Creative Angles

Taking a great selfie is all about angles. If you hold your phone directly above you, your forehead can end up looking pretty wide. If you tend to have oily skin, the shine will show up as a reflective glare. To avoid a big, shiny forehead, keep your camera at eye level or just use a long, outstretched arm a little above head level for a more flattering, proportionate angle. Then turn your head a bit to the side so you’re not looking straight into the camera.

Focus on the Eyes

We’ve all been there: You stretch out your arm to take a picture, and hit the button just as you blink. Half-closed eyes make you look tired and confused. To make your eyes really stand out, close them before making selfie faces. Pop your eyes open right before clicking the shutter button to ensure you don’t blink as the shutter opens. As an added bonus, closing your lids for a moment will lubricate the eyeball, providing moisture that will brighten your eyes on camera.

Nice Nose Shots

The worst selfie ever is the close-up view of your nostrils. If you hold the camera lower than nose level when taking a selfie, you risk this unflattering pose. Simply raise your camera to eye level or turn your head to the side to get an appealing semi-profile shot.

After nailing the perfect pose, upload your selfie to Instagram and enhance with color filters, festive borders or cropping tools. Print out your selfie with the Walgreens Mobile App and share with friends.

What are your favorite selfies to capture? Tell us about them in the comments below, or snap a selfie and post a link — we’d love to see your super selfie skills.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela Tague

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Image source: Flickr

Urban Backgrounds: Using City Architecture to Enhance Your Photos

Having your photography subjects stand in front of something interesting can help create a unique photo. Dynamic photo backgrounds are everywhere, especially in cities, which have a range of cool architectural styles and designs to feature. Here are a few ways to incorporate your city into your photographs.

Buildings

Grab your camera and head to town. Locate buildings with interesting shapes and designs to use as an eye-catching background. Elements to look for include the following:

  • Buildings with ornate iron gates that evoke romance and elegance. These can look great in an engagement photo or wedding shot.
  • Buildings with vintage advertising that generate old-world charm. Shoot these from a distance using a wide-angle lens to capture your subjects and the signage.
  • Tight alleyways with just a few feet of empty space. These alleys offer a nice scale difference between subject and background, which adds dimension to the photograph. Set your lens to focus on the subject and mute the sides and background.
  • Industrial areas. Metal walls, large fans and concrete cylinders can be great background elements. Shoot these big props with your subject in front and up close to add a different dimension to the photo.

Shooting at Night

When the sun goes down, take advantage of the artificial lighting downtown. A quiet city street provides a fantastic backdrop for all sorts of photos, from portraits and group shots to moody streetscapes that will look great on your wall. Use street lights, signs and other downtown elements to illuminate your photos and subjects in cool and unusual ways.

City bridges at night photos

Large bridges light up the night. Capture the beauty of the lights and the reflection on the water to make an interesting background. Your aperture should be at a wide setting, which will keep your subjects in focus and soften the background. Choose a fast shutter speed if your subject is moving, and use a tripod to keep things steady.

Water Elements

A gushing fountain can be a dramatic background for photos, especially at a wedding. A water background adds subtle hues of whites and light blue, and looks great in natural light. Use nearby benches or ledges as props. Take shots from a distance as well as up close: The details on many older fountains can be exquisite and worth capturing in the photo.

Seek permission from business owners if you’re taking photos on their property, and always use common sense when it comes to the suitability of photo backgrounds and the safety of your subjects. Have fun with your camera and create photos that stand out from the rest.

Share Life’s Happy,

Julie

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Image source: Flickr

Taking the Best Farmers Market Photos

Farmers market photos are full of vibrant colors and interesting shapes. A single mango might be red, orange, yellow and green all at the same time. Pineapples are a great example of the variety of shapes and angles the world of produce has available. We talked to three professional photographers to get advice on taking the best photos at a farmers market. Here’s what they had to say:

Hit the Market Early

Stephani Cuddie of Mirror Image Photography in Florida suggests hitting the market as soon as it opens to avoid big crowds and to take advantage of the morning sunshine. Getting there at the beginning of the day will also give you the widest variety of produce, fresh bread, flowers and other beautiful merchandise to photograph before the crowd snatches them up.

Find Your Subject’s Best Side

Cuddie says, “Find the colors. Go for the rich reds, greens and yellows. Turn any veggies that don’t look their best to the other side; you don’t want ugly looking fruits or veggies in your photos.” Photographer Sheri Rouse of Indiana suggests getting down to the level of the items you want to photograph. She says this provides “interesting angles and cool perspectives.”

Fill the frame with your favorite produce.

Zoom in and Zoom Out

There are advantages to both close-up shots and those with a wide view. Rouse likes zooming in “to cut out all the background ‘noise,’ photographing just the gorgeous flowers and the beautiful fruits.” Cuddie says photographing from above or dead on is best for filling the whole frame with fruits and vegetables. However, she also likes to get a bird’s eye view of the market by getting as high as possible. Look for elevated spots that give a good (and safe) view of a wide area.

Seek Shade to Avoid Capturing Shadows

Washington photographer Jennifer Bogle says, “Farmers markets are full of unique details. Hand-lettered signs, costumes, even uniquely colored vegetables you wouldn’t find at the grocery store all make for great images that are unique to the market experience. Though sunny days bring us to the market, bright sun can wreak havoc on photos. For better pictures without harsh shadows, look for shaded displays to photograph.”

Ask Before Photographing People

There are babies napping in strollers, farmers, craft vendors, musicians, and shoppers laden down with bags of farm-fresh finds. Weekends at a farmers market are full of life, which is great for photographs. Always ask permission before you snap photos with people in them, though.

So what should you do with your best farmers market photos? One great option is to make Canvas Prints of them to hang in the kitchen or dining room. You could also blow them up and make vibrant Posters. The rich colors and dynamic shapes will bring interest and depth to your home.

Share Life’s Happy,
Rachael Moshman

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Image source: Rachael Moshman

Four Tips for Great Park Photos

Playing at the park is a great way to enjoy the weather and get your children moving. There is nothing better than seeing your kids’ smiling faces whizzing down the slide or flying high on the swing. Here are simple tips to get the best park photos and really capture those memories.

Tips for getting the best park photos

1. Take Lots of Pictures

Taking a ton of pictures serves two purposes: You can experiment and you can click away until you get the right shot. You may not get the perfect photo on the first try, but that’s okay. After all, that’s what digital cameras are for. Just keep shooting. Experiment with different angles, lighting and shutter speeds to see what works best.

2. Consider Lighting

Flashes aren’t just for indoors. If the sun is behind your children, consider turning on the flash. This will lighten up their faces and balance out the light in the picture. Be aware of shadows, too. To avoid shadows across your children’s faces, take pictures in full sun or full shade.

3. Pick Candid Versus Posed

Try to take both posed and candid park photos. Did your kids find a nice mud puddle to play in? Get them to pose with their muddy hands up in the air. Then, get a candid picture of them splashing in the puddle. Again, the more pictures you take, the more memories you’ll capture — and the more likely it is you’ll get that perfect shot.

4. Choose Your Shutter Speed

To get the best action shot, use a fast shutter speed. Faster shutter speeds help you capture a crisp scene without blurring the image. If you aren’t experienced with manually adjusting your camera, most cameras have an action shot setting. Read your camera’s manual and become familiar with the different options before you go to the park.

Most importantly, have fun. Enjoy the fresh air and experiment with your camera. If your children are old enough, get them involved in the process. They will love taking pictures of each other and the park surroundings. When you’re finished sorting through the pictures, make sure you get your best park photos developed as Prints.

What is your favorite outdoor activity with your children?

Share Life’s Happy,
Lauren Gaines

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Image source: Lauren Gaines

News Flash: 4 Tips of Flash Photography

Using your camera’s flash seems like the simplest thing in the world. If there isn’t enough light to make the picture, out comes the flash, and suddenly a dark scene becomes a lit picture. But there’s far more to good flash photography than meets the eye.

While you may be content leaving your flash on auto, learning which situations warrant its use will help you get the most print-worthy shots possible.

Entire books have been written about getting started with flash photography, but these basic tips will get you started on your way to flash mastery.

1. Two Exposures in One

The first thing to realize when using your flash is that every flash photo is actually two exp