Monthly Archives: December 2011

My favorite shots are in black & white

Full disclosure – I take a ton of pics. And I love color, don’t get me wrong. But I don’t know what it is, everything just seems more sophisticated somehow in black and white. Lately, I’ve been doing everything in B&W, including taking photos of my sister’s wedding. Wait until she sees these shots – I she looks striking in them.

Without further adieu, here are a few of my go-to subjects for the best black & white shots:

1. People

Taking photos of people in black & white brings out the most interesting aspects of their personality. Using subtle shadows and light allows you to get a rich shot that is striking, and if you’re lucky, a fun expression too.


2. Animals

My puppy loves when I take her picture. She hams it up every time. That’s because she knows if it’s a good shot it ends up on my photo wall. I have tons of pics of her doing things she shouldn’t (like chewing up my shoes.) She even looks innocent in black & white. Too bad she isn’t.

3. Nature

Landscapes can be breathtaking in black & white. The stark contrasts of black, white and gray make everything look dynamic and alive. Think about Ansel Adams and the amazing pics he took in black & white. Iconic.


4. Action Shots

Everything looks more action-packed in black & white. I think it’s because there’s a stillness to the shot and you can focus on the subject more. When done right, black & white photography can even make things look like they’re jumping off the page.


To master the art of black & white photography remember to:


  • Pay attention to composition
  • Concentrate on forms, shapes and textures
  • Make the photo engaging by creating points of interest
  • Consider how lighting, highlights and shadows will impact the shot


No matter what, have fun. Taking black and white shots is easy once you get the hang of it and best of all, it makes your pics look sophisticated and dynamic just a little bit of patience. Well, that’s my take anyway. Until next time…


What subjects most interest you when shooting in black and white?

The Perfect Christmas Card

Bruce and I have been dating for two years. Things are going great- in fact, this is the first holiday season that we have decided to send out Christmas cards and do all of the crazy family activities together. (His family loves forced get-togethers, uncomfortable silences, and watching the Bears – my fam does hot chocolate, couches and Scattegories) It’s safe to say I’m really excited to see how everything pans out. Then I got to thinking…

I want the best Christmas card of all time. The Best. Of. All time.

Today, I want to share with you the top five elements that I think go into making a fantastic Christmas card.

1) Pets are a must. I don’t care if it’s a golden retriever, a kitten, your pet turtle named Urkel- it doesn’t matter. Pets up the cute quotient by 100 percent.

2) Don’t wear matching sweaters. Something put together? Sure. Illuminant smiles and a cute pose? Absolutely. Matching socks? It’s worth a shot.

3) Think of a cute caption. “Happy Holidays” Yes, it’s straight forward. But what about something that speaks to the two of you as a couple? For example, “Happy Holidays from your favorite Chicago couple!”

4) Play to your audience. What’s the right salutation for: Mom and Dad, friends you talk to you once a year, second cousins or coworkers? That’ll determine if you should use:

  1. “Love, Bruce and Sarah”
  2. “May your holidays be filled with joy! Keep in touch! – Bruce and Sarah”
  3. “Best wishes – Bruce and Sarah”


  1. “It is a pleasure being around you professionally – Sarah” (ok, maybe don’t say this haha)

5) Most importantly, keep it fun and fresh. If all else fails, just remember that everyone loves a Christmas card. Unless you have matching sweaters.


Good luck and happy


-Sarah W

Have a Appy Holiday – get in the spirit with the NEW Walgreens iPad® app.

It’s that time of year again – time to get those holiday cards in the mail and off your mind. Make card season easier than ever with the NEW Walgreens iPad® app. Simply use the photos on your iPad® to make custom 5×7 photo cards with a personal holiday message. There’s no logging in, no uploading, it’s as easy as 1-2-3.

Download the Walgreens app for FREE; then choose from a collection of the season’s most popular card designs. You can create photo cards and pick them up at your local Walgreens in about an hour. If you prefer, your cards can also be shipped directly to your home. Once you place your order, you’ll receive an email confirming your card selection and giving you an estimated time for pick up, as well as a follow-up email letting you know when your order is complete.

Of course you can also use the Walgreens app to order prints for pick up the same day or to upload and share photos via email or Facebook.

Get the Walgreens iPad® app today and celebrate the season of smiles.

There is no charge to download the Walgreens app, but specified rates from your wireless provider and other fees as noted in your Walgreens account agreement(s) still apply.

Have you used the Walgreens iPad® app yet?

Tell us how apps make your life easier.

When was the last time you used an app on your iPad®?

Creating fun-filled photo greeting cards

Sending personalized photo greeting cards is an easy way to show friends and family that you care. When loved ones receive your custom cards, they’ll be excited to see personal photos and cherished memories along with a printed message or a handwritten note from you. Take a look at some of the occasions you may want to remember with a photo card.

Valentine’s Day

Tell friends and family that they have a special place in your heart; send them a personalized photo card. Add a picture of your family or just include the kids and make Valentine’s Day cuter than ever. You can even send your kids to school with flat cards that can be cut in half for a small Valentine that’s perfect for exchanging. Flat cards come in sets of 20 and include envelopes.

Mother’s Day

Show Mom some love with a 5×7 folded card featuring a favorite photo of you both. Or get your family to tell her how much she is appreciated with a card that includes them all. Folded cards are perfect for occasions when you want to celebrate someone in particular because they are sold individually with an envelope.

Thank You

Send a special note of thanks with a custom greeting card that lets friends and family know just how grateful you are. To send a thank you for holiday gifts, you may want to add some of your favorite pictures from a holiday gathering or to say thank you for a special favor, you could send a picture of you holding a beautiful bouquet.

Whether you already have a photo in mind or not, it’s easy to get started!

  • First, choose your occasion or holiday.
  • Select a card with a portrait or landscape orientation that complements or frames your photo well. You can also select a photo that works well with a postcard design that you like.
  • Narrow your search by style or sentiment.
  • Each custom photo card comes in a variety of sizes and can be printed on glossy or matte photo paper.

Always remember to edit your photos to remove red-eye and change color, size and brightness according to your preference. Different fonts can also help you add your own style to any card. When you’ve finished creating the perfect card, ordering is simple. Review your card and choose the quantity. It’s as simple as that. So, create your photo card now and make someone’s day tomorrow.


How have you used photo greeting cards? For what type of occasion?

Have you ever received photo cards from family members or friends?

What kinds of occasions have you used photo greeting cards? How have you chosen a photo to use?

A customized photo book for every season

Celebrate every occasion with a photo book that captures all of the fun. Custom photo books allow you to put a special touch on memories and organize them artfully at the same time. You can select a common theme or event or even group your photos by season or holiday. One relevant theme this time of year is the upcoming winter holiday season. Why not display family photos during your celebrations or give a photo book as a gift? There are so many moments to share–a child opening their first present, kids at a school play or a church choral concert. How about everyone decorating the tree or just peaceful, snow-filled landscapes?

Want thoughts of warmer times ahead? Thumb through your summer photos and make a story book that celebrates everything bright and sunny. You could re-live a summer vacation, a friend’s barbecue or an outdoor festival. For the kids in your life, you could include photos of lemonade stands, camp and time at the pool.

Fall and spring both lend themselves well to great signature books. There are always fun back-to-school photos, pics of Labor Day activities and fun Halloween costumes. Flowers beginning to bloom, Easter celebrations and more make Spring photo-worthy. So gather your shots and start customizing your photo book.

Got something to brag about? Make a brag book and highlight all of the fun things you’ve done for a particular event like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc… Have a new baby at home? Show off your bundle of joy with a book dedicated to all of his or her firsts. Been on the trip of a lifetime? Share your adventures with a brag book that will make everyone jealous.

No matter what kind of custom photo book you make, you will create a keepsake that lasts forever.

What are the big holidays in your family that could fill one or more custom photo albums?

What is your favorite season and what would you photograph to document it in a photo book?

Do you have a unique photo book that you are proud of? Tell us about it!

Can a smartphone really be a great camera?

The fact is that smartphone cameras are getting, well, smarter!  As an avid photographer, I own many different cameras, but over the last year or so I’ve found the iPhone 4 to be an awesome point and shoot camera- so much so that I’ve completely ditched my old point and shoot.

In all reality, the resolution (5 megapixels), the aperture (f2.8), the color saturation, the noise reduction, etc… in the iPhone 4 puts it on par with many great point and shoot cameras.  And now the iPhone 4S takes it up a notch adding 3 more megapixels and an extra half stop or so on the aperture.  This just means that more of us will soon be saying goodbye to our point and shoot cameras (good riddance).

Over the past year or so, I’ve carried my iPhone 4 with me just about everywhere and still do.  As a photographer, this has let me explore a new level of creativity because it means that wherever I see a photo opportunity, I have a great camera on me to take advantage of it.  The photo you see here in my post were taken with my iPhone 4, with no post editing.  I’m still blown away by the quality achieved with this multi-purpose tool.  It’s really going to change photography forever.

But what about enlargements?  I know that a lot of photographers out there are wondering if today’s best smartphones can take photos that have enough resolution and sharpness for 16”X20” and 24”X36” prints.  I can say without a doubt, “YES” you can make amazing enlargements with a smartphone.  Well, at least in my humble opinion. One of the primary reasons I take photos is to fill my home with memories that I’ve created.  And using Walgreens Photo, I’ve made multiple enlargements, including poster prints just from images that I’ve taken with my iPhone 4.  They look incredible, especially with a little matting and a glass frame.  Friends and family are shocked when I tell them that much of the art in my home was shot on an iPhone!  Even better, Walgreens is putting high-resolution poster printers in thousands of local stores across the country.  This means that I can get enlargements made in under an hour (and to think that I used to wait weeks for these to be printed). recently mentioned on their blog that 10% of the world’s photos were taken in just the last year!  That’s amazing considering that photography  has been around for over 185 years!  But, I believe it.  Since making the iPhone 4 my primary camera, I’ve take more pictures than at any other time in my life.  I suspect many of you too have experienced this same phenomenon.  So go big, enlarge those photos, and enjoy!

By: Ben Weiss


**Photographers Tip!

When you’re uploading photos to make sure you select full resolution in the upload settings.  This will ensure that the full resolution image gets sent to the store and that you get the most beautiful enlarged image possible.  If you choose to upload using the Walgreens app, your images will only be 1024x768px, enough resolution for a 4×6 print, but not adequate for any enlargements.  I encourage you to upload your photos on in full resolution for the best enlargements.