Merry in a Snap: Last-Minute Holiday Gifts

Ho … ho … oh, no! Did you forget to pick out a holiday gift for a very important person on your list? No worries. You can still create a meaningful, memorable keepsake he or she will treasure forever. Read on for a mini gift guide featuring Same Day Pickup Photo Gifts you can create and pick up today. From family history buffs to art lovers, we’ve got everyone covered.

For the Family Historian

A Photo Book with a year-in-review or family history design template is a perfect gift for the genealogy buff in your brood. Gather the year’s best pics or the family’s most beloved old photos, and create a book that maps out the memories.sand_1

For the Timekeeper

Shopping for an organized friend or family member who loves to plan? A personalized Photo Calendar is a practical present he or she will use the whole year through. Select favorite photos for every month, and customize important dates like anniversaries and birthdays. Thoughtful details like these will ensure your recipient starts each day with a smile.

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For the Artist

A gallery-wrapped Canvas Print makes an eye-pleasing present for the art lover on your list. Go big on one snapshot or arrange a collage of photos. Up the ante even further and create a series of coordinating Canvas Prints so your recipient can hang a gallery wall that’s sure to complement an enviable art collection.

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For the Kids

If you need a quick gift for the little ones, create a Designer Poster featuring a colorful design template, like a growth chart they can use to track how tall they’re getting. For the older kids, a calendar design or a family photo collage will be a picture-perfect addition to a bedroom or dorm room.

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Phew! Now that your gifting crisis is solved, put on some holiday tunes, kick up your feet and enjoy the best things this season brings — family, friends and lots of yummy cookies. :)

Share Life’s Happy,

Marie

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Personalized Ways to Welcome Holiday Houseguests

As you play host to family and friends this holiday season, make them feel right at home with décor and gifts featuring favorite photos. From the living room to the kitchen, discover how to add personal touches your guests will notice — and appreciate!

The Living Room

Create a comfy, cozy vibe in your living room with Sherpa Fleece Blankets featuring treasured family photos. Partner the throws with Photo Books stacked on the coffee table for a snuggly scene that’s just perfect for lazy afternoons spent reliving holiday memories from years past.

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The Guest Room

When setting up bedrooms for out-of-town family, place personalized Reusable Shopping Bags in each room and fill them with travel essentials like toothbrushes and cotton swabs. Guests are bound to forget something and will breathe a sigh of relief when they realize you have them covered!

2The Halls

Take stock of the photos you have hanging on walls, displayed on tables and propped on the mantel. Is everyone in the family represented? From a cousin’s new fiancé to a niece’s new baby, there may be some recent additions you’re missing. Print photos that feature these new family members and add them to the mix so they feel included.

3The Kitchen

If a hot cup of coffee or cocoa brings your family together during the holidays, plan ahead and create Photo Mugs for each guest. This personalized surprise will instantly put them at ease, ensuring a smile with every sip.

4How are you making holiday guests feel welcome in your home this season? Give us your best tips in the comments.

Share Life’s Happy,

Marie

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Holiday Card Wording

The most wonderful time of the year is here — and that means you’ll be sending Holiday Cards to all of the special people you hold dear. Finding the right words can be tough sometimes, but we’re here to make it easy. From warm and fuzzy to sweet and sincere, read on to find suitable sentiments for nearly any recipient on your nice list. Go ahead, copy them word for word. (We won’t tell!)

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· May your days be merry and bright.
· Happy holidays to you and yours.
· No matter how you celebrate, may your holiday season be filled with happiness!

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· May the spirit of the season stay with you the whole year through.
· Rejoice and be glad this Christmas season!
· May your blessings be plentiful during the Christmas season and always.

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· Wishing you peace and light as you celebrate Hanukkah.
· May this season of miracles bring you peace and light.
· Shine bright this Hanukkah. 

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· As you light the kinara this Kwanzaa, may your home be filled with peace and love.
· May you feel joy as you celebrate family, community and culture this Kwanzaa.
· Sending you love at Kwanzaa.

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· Here’s to fresh starts and happy hearts as you welcome the new year.
· Wishing you a 2015 filled with love and laughter.
· Cheers to the new year!

All you need now is a pen (or two … or three) and a sweet treat to enjoy while you write! Do you have any wording suggestions to share? Leave us a comment!

Share Life’s Happy,

Marie

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3 Tips for Photographing Kids with Pets

Documenting your children growing up can be extra special when you capture them with their furry friends. But working with kids and animals can be difficult — they don’t pose when you want them to, they can be emotional and getting them to sit still is a challenge. But there are ways to make photographing kids and animals less painful. Try these tips to help capture photos that you’ll cherish.

Tips for Photographing Kids with Pets

1. Get on the Ground

Photographing kids and animals is so much easier if you get on their level. Get low for a “dog’s eye view” of your pet. The best shots at ground level can use anything from a tripod to an angled viewfinder, so you’re not stuck craning your neck for a pet that’s already onto your game. You’d be surprised at the great, discreet shots you can get from getting down on the ground.

2. Take Loads of Photos

Assuming you intend to create Prints from these shots, you should take as many pictures as you like. Yes, you’ll need to spend hours picking through the duds, but that beats framing up each shot and losing the light before you get what you want. You’ll still need to think about your camera settings, angles and lighting, but you won’t need to panic if your subjects get cranky because you’re taking too long to set up a perfect photo.

3. Use Props

Children and animals do not work for free. Entice them with props to get their attention and their cooperation. A new toy can get siblings to play together long enough to capture them in the same frame. Animals (like some grown-ups) are more food-motivated, so pay that puppy in treats to stick around for your shot.

Follow these tips for photographing kids and animals, and you’re bound to get the perfect shot.

Share Life’s Happy,

Shanell Mouland

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Photo source: Flickr

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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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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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