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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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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What Is Shutter Speed?

Most digital cameras have automatic settings for action shots, portraits and other types of photos, but if you really want to take your photography to the next level, you need to use a manual setting. In this post, we teach you how to set your shutter speed.

What is Shutter Speed?

The shutter is like a curtain that opens when you take a picture — the term snap comes from the snap sound the shutter make. This opening allows light to flow through the lens and into the camera’s sensor (or film, if you still use it). Becoming familiar with how to use different speeds will let you to take a variety of captivating photos.

How to Set Shutter Speed on Your Camera

To set your shutter speed, adjust the setting that is often displayed as a single number or a fraction. These numbers tell you how long the shutter will stay open (for example, 1/250th of a second). With DSLR cameras, you can set the shutter speed and still let the camera automate the other settings through “shutter priority mode,” which is generally indicated by an S or TV on your camera.

When to Use Fast Settings

A short exposure time essentially freezes quick movement, such as a bird in flight or the action during a basketball game. With the faster speeds, you have to ensure that there is enough light or the picture will be underexposed. If the light is low, you can still use the fast settings, but you should use a wide aperture setting and a higher ISO, as well.

When to Use Slow Settings

Using a slower shutter speed can help you capture different types of lighting

A slow shutter speed adds motion blur to the photo and can give a sense of movement in the image. It’s the preferred way to capture images of certain fast-moving subjects, such as fireworks, and provides a clear depth-of-field for the stationary objects in the photo. When using slower speeds, a tripod is essential or the image could be ruined by camera shake.

What About Long Exposure Time?

Long shutter speeds are used for certain types of landscape shooting and pictures of the stars’ movement across the night sky. For these images, the exposure time can be anywhere from a quarter-minute to many hours. Usually, you would need special equipment to take pictures like that.

Getting familiar with shutter speed settings on your camera requires more than information; it also requires practice. It’s helpful to jot down your settings as you adjust them initially so you can become familiar with how each affects the final image. With just a little practice, you will be able to take professional quality photos you can use to decorate your home.

Share Life’s Happy,

Joshua


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3 Tips for Making Your Photos More Professional

Taking a professional photo isn’t easy. Even for seasoned pros, it can take hours of shooting before they get a perfect picture. That being said, there are three main things that all professional photographers do that will significantly improve your photos.

When my daughter needed some quick headshots for a play she was auditioning for, we went out in the yard to take them. Ten minutes later, we had this professional photo.

1. Practice

As with any skill, the more you do it, the better you become at it. To continue to evolve as a photographer, you should do the following:

  • Take photos every day.
  • Have something specific in mind that you want to shoot.
  • Take photos of that subject in different locations.
  • Experiment with different settings on your camera until you know what all of them do.

The more you practice, the better you’ll get to know your camera. Even if it’s an inexpensive camera, knowing its features and settings will help you take better photos.

2. Plan

Every professional photo shoot is planned out long before the first click of the shutter button. For your own photo sessions, whether it be a family reunion or pictures for Christmas cards, you need to know where and when you’re shooting. Other things to consider include the following:

  • Lighting: Where will the natural light be, and how will it affect the shot you want to get? Do you need to bring artificial lights?
  • Backdrops: Do you need one, or will you use a natural setting?
  • Clothing: If you’re photographing people, do you want them to wear similar colors or does anything go?

Planning out the details ahead of time will make the whole process much smoother.

3. Get the Right Light

Photography is all about light; it is by far the most important element when you take any photograph. But you don’t have to run out and buy a bunch of studio strobes. Follow these tips to effectively light your shots:

  • Use existing lights: You can often just use the lights in the room you are in. Simply move them, shoot a test photo and then move them again until you like the results.
  • Use natural light: Consider going outside to shoot your photo. Natural light is always your friend, which is why you’ll see many portraits and headshots taken outdoors. I took this photo of my daughter against a neighbor’s fence in the afternoon light when she needed a headshot for an audition she was going to.
  • Use a reflector: If you’re not getting quite enough light on your subject, try reflecting the light on it. A piece of white poster board or paper is a perfect budget option.

Each of these tips will help you take more professional photos that will make great Prints for friends and family. Good luck, and happy shooting.

Share Life’s Happy,

C.C. Chapman

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Image source: C.C. Chapman

4 Great Photo Crafts for Grandparent Gifts

Grandparents really love photos that remind them of their family and friends. If you’re thinking of creating a gift for your grandparents, add something special by being creative and hands-on. Here are some ideas that will make great photo gifts.

A happy child with her grandparents

1. A New Twist on the Family Tree

If you really want to personalize your grandparent gifts, try a different approach to the traditional family tree. If you have children, help them paint a large tree with a branch for each family member. Instead of writing out all the names, you can create Prints of each relative. Use craft scissors to cut them out and place on your painted branches.

2. Handmade Frames

If you look around the home of any grandparent, photos of their past make up much of the decor. Family pictures are expected, so why not add a handmade frame to ensure your gift will stand out? Craft stores offer so many options for frames, and they’re generally easy for tiny hands to make and decorate. Smaller kids can try a popsicle stick frame decorated with glitter or beads; older kids can paint a simple wooden frame.

3. Handprints

If your children like to get messy, they’ll love this one. Let them cover their hands in water-based paint, then fill a large piece of paper with their brightly colored handprints. Scan these works of art and use the image file to create a Laminated Placemats that your grandparents can pull out and show off whenever friends visit.

4. Photo Book

Photo Books aren’t hard to make anymore, and Facebook isn’t the only place to post a cute family album. At Walgreens, you can easily create a Photo Book that tells a story your grandparent can keep and proudly share with the rest of the family. You can also include some artwork and letters from the kids.

You can’t go wrong with a little touch of the personal when creating visual grandparent photo gifts. They’re sure to love anything that reminds them of their grandchildren, but nothing compares to those extra details your kids add by hand.

Share Life’s Happy,

Shanell Mouland

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Image source: FreeImages.com

Dorm Room Decorating Ideas

Dorm move-in day is swiftly approaching. College students, you know what that means — the roommate who steals your food, those necessary communal-shower flip-flops and cinderblock walls that haven’t been repainted in a few, um, decades. While our “Snaps!” team can’t do much about your rogue roomie, we can help you cover those walls and freshen up your surroundings with our budget-friendly dorm room decorating tips.

Dorm Room Decorations

  • Buy an ornately framed vintage mirror from a thrift store and paint it with magnetic chalkboard paint. Use it as an artistic accent that’s also functional by exchanging notes with your roommate.
  • Customize your dorm-room bed with a Collage Fleece Blanket, which can accommodate up to 30 photos. Show your school spirit by choosing a background personalized with your school colors.
  • Elevate your dorm décor on a tight budget with Square Prints. Make a collage of Instagram photos using record frames, which fit up to nine 4×4 prints.
  • Is painting your walls against the rules? No problem. Buy a multipack of sticky notes and create a mosaic-like wall covering.
  • For interchangeable art, cut out magazine pictures or create 8×10 Prints and attach them to clipboards. Post a row of clipboards on nails or hooks on the wall. The back of the clipboard serves as a frame. Plus, you can reuse them as, you know, clipboards.

Got any dorm room design ideas of your own? Do tell!

 

Share Life’s Happy,

Madeline

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5 Photos to Take Before the Summer Ends

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Hard to believe it, but summer’s winding down already. Before our thoughts turn to dreaded cooler temps, our “Snaps!” crew aims to spend every weekend minute soaking up the sun, putting our feet in the sand and feasting on picnic foods — and photographing all of it.

Here are our top five things to shoot before we bid adieu to summer 2014.

1. Photograph sand hearts
We don’t know who the genius is who discovered that hands holding sand turn into the shape of a heart, but we thank them. To set up this beach pic, cup your hands together and scrape up some sand; let your fingers relax — and voila! — a heart. For best results, put those lapping waves and the blue sky in the background.

Sand Heart Photography

2. Squeeze a landmark between your fingers
Whether your late-summer travel plans include a visit to the Eiffel Tower or to the Lucy the Elephant, this forced perspective trick never fails to get a laugh. Stage the shot by standing far enough away from a landmark that it fully fits in the camera’s frame. Ask a camera-wielding friend to shoot you, and when your fingers are open the right amount, it will look like you’ve got the monument in your hands.

Forced Perspective Photography

3. Capture sunbeams in your photo
When we think of summer, we imagine warm, streaming sunbeams. To capture that “ahh!” feeling in a photo, pose an object or person between you and the sun — the dark silhouette will show off the contrasting sunbeams. Then set your aperture to a high value such as f/16 or f/22. The higher the number, the smaller the aperture becomes and the more sparkling rays appear in your photograph.

sunbeams_3

4. Photograph writing with sparklers
If you have any leftover Fourth of July sparklers, grab a digital or film camera with adjustable shutter speed, a tripod and a friend. Put the camera on the tripod and set the shutter speed to about five seconds and shoot. Then have a friend write a cursive message in the air with a sparkler. It might take a few tries to ace this trick, but the resulting image will feature their words in glittery lights.

5. Shoot hot dog legs on the beach

The Hot-Dog Legs Tumblr was an awesome Internet sensation that swept 2013, but we’re still going to rock it as summer 2014 comes to a close. To emulate the Tumblr page — and entertain yourself on a leisurely day at the beach or pool —  take a pic of your legs, from thigh to bended knee, glistening in the sun. We’ve also seen it done at baseball games with two legitimate franks (or so we think).

Hot Dog Legs

Want to preserve your warm-weather memories? Print ‘em out on the go with Photo by Walgreens’ new Instagram features. Oh, summer, we miss you already.

 

Share Life’s Happy,

Madeline

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Turn Instagram Snaps Into Rustic Photo Blocks

They’re creative and cool, but they’re also cooped up inside your smartphone. Your best Instagram shots don’t have to stay digital. You can turn them into fabulous Square Prints to share with friends. And because the photos are square, they actually work perfectly on photo blocks. These frameless blocks of wood are a chic way to show off some of your best snaps. Here’s how to create a photo block using your favorite Instagram photos.

Create a photo block to display your Instagram photos

  1. Download the free Walgreens Mobile App to your smartphone. Click on the photo icon, connect your Instagram account and choose which pictures to print. The app will send the images to your favorite store, where you can pick up 4×4 or 8×8 Square Prints.
  2. Pick out wood blocks to use for this DIY project. You can find them at craft stores and big-box home improvement stores. To feature the 4×4 Square Prints, choose 5×5 blocks. For bigger prints, 10×10 blocks work best.
  3. Sand the front surface of each wooden block to rough up the wood. Next, add a layer of craft glue using an old paintbrush. Stick a photo to the middle of each block.
  4. Paint the back, sides and edges of the blocks. Pick a vibrant paint to coordinate with the colors in the images or the room in which you’ll display the photo blocks. Overlap some of the paint onto the edges of the pictures to give them a rustic, artsy feel. Let the blocks dry.
  5. Finish by painting the surfaces of the photos with Mod Podge to seal and protect the images. This glue-like substance appears white and cloudy during application but dries clear to make your picture visible again.

That’s all there is to it. You can make a crafty photo block to decorate a bookshelf, desk, child’s bedroom or even give as a gift. Have you been crafty with your Instagram snapshots lately? Comment below to tell us how you’ve been displaying your pictures.

Share Life’s Happy,

Angela Tague

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Image source: Angela Tague

3 Engagement Photo Poses That Will Make You Smile

Professional engagement photos are a popular modern trend that lets couples share the joy of the occasion with family and friends. The photos tend to be less formal than wedding pics, so it’s an opportunity to get creative and have some fun. Here are some tips on how to decide on the best engagement poses and photos for you and your other half.

Creative engagement poses can focus on more than a couple

1. Formal or Casual

Talk with your partner about what kind of photos you want. Would you prefer posed formal shots in a studio or a more casual shoot in an outdoor location?

Casual photos offer more variety, and you can really go for something different. They also open up a range of options for save-the-date Photo Cards. For these cards, you can think outside the box. The above image is a great example of a unique photo that shows a couple’s interests and personalities, yet still conveys the connection and love they feel.

Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from having a combination of formal and informal engagement pictures. The formal shots can be used in a newspaper announcement, and the less formal shots can be posted on social media and given to family.

2. Inside or Outside

Engagement poses in a studio setting are beautiful, but you can also consider having a photo shoot in your own living room, on your favorite sofa or even on a porch swing. Outdoor settings make for stunning shots. Visit a botanical garden where you can walk toward the camera among colorful spring blooms, or stroll through a park packed with bright fall foliage and leaves falling around you. Another idea is to revisit special places, such as the spot you first met or had your first date. Choose places that involve your shared interests as a couple.

3. Get Close

Couples photography is about showing the connection between two people. Don’t be afraid to get close: Hold hands, caress a cheek or walk arm in arm. For casual engagement poses, lie on your bellies side by side and prop your upper bodies up on your elbows. Another fun angle is to lie on your backs with your heads side by side and feet pointing in opposite directions. Have the photographer shoot you from above for a fresh twist.

Pick the poses and locations that best show your personality. Let loose, and it will shine through in your photos.

Share Life’s Happy,

Kristin Emery

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Image source: Wikimedia Commons