Anniversary gifts by year — and how to customize them!

You’ve probably heard of traditional anniversary gifts, which match a milestone year (say, 5) with a prescribed material (like wood). But sometimes the obvious gift doesn’t best represent the years spent together. To wit: A wooden cutting board.

For a fresh spin, use a traditional gift material while still allowing the happy twosome’s relationship to take center stage. To get your ideas flowing, we’ve matched up our Photo Gift offerings with a few landmark anniversary years.



Year 1: Paper

A Photo Book captures the year’s many firsts. First pet, first home, first fight (okay, maybe leave that one out). Cover a minimum of 15 pages with pictures, including those quickly snapped yet meaningful images stored on Instagram or Facebook.

Year 5: Wood

Elevate this anniversary’s material — plain ol’ wood — with a wooden Keepsake Box topped with a picture of the happy couple. For those gifting a spouse, fill it with a jewelry item or a gadget. Budget-conscious partners can make a touching gesture by dropping in small mementos from years past.

Year 10: Tin

Yep, it’s one of the odder anniversary materials. But don’t try to come up with a clever use for canned food just yet. Photo by Walgreens can print your pics directly on metal with Metal Panels or a Fancy Metal Easel. It’s an especially enjoyable gift for a photo-wall enthusiast or an artful arranger of photographs.

Year 15: Glass

We’ll skip suggesting the Frosted Stein (still awesome) and offer a more elegant way of integrating the material. Glass Prints feature images directly printed on a piece of polished glass — great for displaying in the home or creating a bragging point in the office.

Have any creative ways to integrate traditional anniversary materials? Do tell!

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Take Your Photography to the Next Level: Top Photo Hacks

Photography is all about creativity, and there are certain tricks that can help make a good photo great. If you’re looking to get a little more out of your photography experience, give a few of these top photo hacks a try — you might be surprised at how much they’ll liven up your images.

Example of Rule of Thirds

Use the Rule of Thirds

It’s easy to forget that not every subject needs to be in the center of the frame. Painters, photographers and other artists have been using the rule of thirds for hundreds of years to make images more interesting. Divide your viewfinder up into a tic-tac-toe board of nine squares; some cameras will even overlay such a grid on the screen for you. Put your subject on one of the crosses where the lines intersect and let the use of negative space tell as much of the story as the subject itself.

Make a Homemade Flash Diffuser

On-camera flashes sometimes make a picture worse instead of better, particularly through red-eye and unflattering shadows. Diffusing the light from the flash makes the light less harsh and reduces red-eye and hard shadows. To make your own diffuser, cut a translucent white plastic bottle, such as a milk jug or similar, to fit over your camera’s built-in flash. It will spread the light out and give your photos a softer, more pleasing look.

Seeing Stars and Other Shapes

Bokeh is the term for the quality of blur in the out-of-focus parts of a photograph. Typically, bokeh is the same shape as the aperture of the lens, usually a rounded octagon or hexagon. If you’re handy with a hobby knife and some cardboard, however, you can make your own bokeh any shape you want. Cut a shape, such as a heart or a star, out of some cardboard, then tape the cardboard to the front of your lens. Any out-of-focus light sources in the photo will now be the shape you cut out.

Use these hacks to help make your pictures more interesting. Experimenting with your camera is a great way to learn its capabilities. Got a few favorite photo hacks of your own? Tell us all about them in the comments below.

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Image source: Andy Warycka

Newborn photography tips: Get great photos of your baby!

Congrats, you’ve just welcomed a very special person into the world! One who’s beautiful, sweet, miraculous … squirmy, fussy and bossy. Take heart! We asked longtime baby photographer Sher Sussman how to photograph your newborn’s giggles, new expressions and smiles — while avoiding wriggling and waterworks. Here are her top five tips.

1. To cut down on fussiness, choose the best time for your baby.
Adding something new into a baby’s routine can lead to hours of fussiness — not to mention, bad photos. For best results Sher says, “Don’t shoot during naptime, it’s inconvenient for parents. Right after naptime and feed is usually best.” If need be, “Try an extra feed or a few cheerios to calm them down.”


2. Start with your top priority, and shoot fast.
“Start with the pose you’re most excited about,” Sher advises. “With babies, if it’s not happening in 20 minutes, it’s not happening! If a baby is doing well, a good shoot lasts 20 minutes to half an hour.” For best results, limit costume changes in a single shoot. “Young ones hate being changed, undressed and dressed.”


3. For an interesting perspective, get down to your baby’s level.
To snap an intimate shot, Sher will “actually lay on my stomach so I’m right there next to a baby on the floor; I get to eye level.” Another one of her favorite images to capture: “Even just a glimpse of a parent is nice — a shoulder, a hand.” To get great face shots, Sher recommends shooting downward from above.

4. Always have a catch light.
“If you don’t have catch lights, that’s a problem,” Sher says. Catch lights are the sparkle in a photo subject’s eye, created by a reflecting light source. To get a good catch light, “shoot by a window and use available light. Face the subject toward the light. For a dark day, use the external flash and bounce it off the brightest part of the room.”

5. Use sounds to make them laugh and smile.
How to capture a good facial expression? “Noises, lots of good noises!” proclaims Sher. “They like the kissy noise. Blow raspberries at them. Make a clicking noise. They get a really cute expression that says, ‘What’s that noise?’”


And don’t forget, always feel free to cancel a photo session if you or your baby aren’t up to performing. If crankiness or illness occurs, even a professional photographer should be happy to reschedule for another day — one more worthy of a Photo Card or Canvas Print.

If your tot is over a year old, stay tuned for a post later this month, where Sher helps us conquer kid photography.

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Family Reunion Photography Tips

Family Reunion Photo Ideas

Have an upcoming family reunion? Here are a few tips for taking group photos that won’t land you and your kin on the Wall of Shame:

  • Attire: Give everyone plenty of advance notice regarding the dress code. Suggesting tones will provide a coordinated feel while allowing each person flexibility in their wardrobe. A mixture of light and dark provides a crisp contrast in black and white photography, and soft beiges and pastels photograph beautifully together.
  • Props: Don’t be afraid to let everyone’s personality shine through! Include fun props for a mixture of serious and silly snaps, and to help keep the mood light. These can also include decorative cards with last names and numbers to help group family members by generation or grandchildren by order of birth.
  • Scheduling: Timing is everything. Aim to shoot in the morning or late afternoon to evening. If the sun is overhead, there will be a lot of squinting going on.
  • Positioning: Rather than group everyone across, which results in a horizontal line of heads, use a combination of seated and standing poses to create a soft pyramid shape. This will also ensure everyone’s lovely face makes it into the photo!

Above all, have fun making these memories and don’t be too rigid. Sometimes the best photographs are spontaneous ones. After the event is over, mail out Collage Prints of the top group shots. The snail mail surprise will extend the feeling of togetherness long after the reunion ends.

Have any other tips? Leave them in the comments below!

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Top 5 Camera Phone Tips

Top 5 Camera Phone Tips

Let’s face it, most of our photos aren’t shot by a full-frame 35mm camera — they’re snapped by our phone. So why not make the most of it? Perfect those camera-phone skills with a few easy tips from our crew here at “Snaps!” You might not be a pro overnight, but we’re guessing you’ll settle for much-improved selfies.


1. Hold it like a camera

Drastically enhance your photos with a simple action — hold your phone horizontally instead of vertically in the palm of your hand. So obvious in retrospect, right? Bonus: On iPhones, the volume control doubles as a convenient shutter button.


2. Stabilize your phone

Camera shake creates blurry images, especially with low light levels present. The easy solution: Steady the phone by pulling your elbows in and stabilizing them against your torso. Now exhale and click away.


3. Try a camera app

Standard camera phones don’t always feature important tools, like manual exposure or rule-of-thirds grid lines. But there’s an app (or two) for that. Score more editing features by using the camera function found in photo apps such as Instagram, which rolled out 10 new tools in an update early this month.


4. Shoot quickly and often

When I photograph my grandfather, he always shouts, “Stop wasting your film!” Sorry Gramps, extra shots no longer cost a dime. By experimenting with lighting, angles and distance, you’ll come up with a few additional interesting pics. Plus, you’ll perfect your skills for the next snap.


5. Edit photos later
To get a better photograph, sometimes you need to just put down the camera phone. Photo by Walgreens enables you to edit your images by removing red eye, correcting color, cropping and more. Who knows? What looks like a mediocre snap might be edited to perfection.


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Photogenic Beauty Tips

Photo Makeup Tips

Friend’s wedding, date night, family holiday, selfie party. You looked amazing—until you looked back. Nothing can ruin your memories like a makeup blunder caught on camera.


Here are the top seven makeup-to-photo faux pas—and the tricks to fix ‘em that no one tells you.



Is your face appearing much lighter than your natural skin tone? Your foundation may be your winter color. Yet, the more likely culprit is your foundation’s SPF—more specifically, the zinc in the SPF—which reflects light in a ghostly fashion. Avoid makeup with sun protection when prepping for a shoot.


Grease Lightning

There’s nothing wrong with oily skin. It’s actually quite beautiful. But if you’re looking like you had a coconut oil treatment in your pics, then be sure to dab your skin with blotting papers (or paper towels or TP in a pinch). Applying pressed powder to correct the situation not only pushes excess oils into the face, but can have the opposite effect of making your skin look artificial.



Matte is not classy. Sorry. This trend is long gone, so stick with foundations and powders that look like real skin. Can’t live without your powder? Then try applying it with a brush instead of a pad. Still resistant? Then mist your face with water or a setting spray to dampen the makeup into looking more real.


Batty Eyes

Faux lashes are everything in photographs. Yet, the wrong application can look staged. Be sure to apply lashes as closely to your lash lines as possible. And the real tip is to use black glue, which minimizes the gaudy reflective appearance of the adhesive when closing your lids.


Pumpkin Head

Pics looking a little Halloween-ish? In daylight, your foundation should match—never look darker—than your actual skin tone. It should also complement the warmth (yellow) or coolness (pink) of your skin. It matches, you say? Throughout the day, oxidization of minerals and fats in foundations cause pigments to darken, which may be the real offender. If that’s the case, ditch your base for one better suited for your skin type (often with less oil) or try a primer.



Concealer can be a godsend. But the wrong concealer in a photo can make you look like a porcelain doll. Be sure to use a concealer only one shade lighter than your natural skin tone. And blend, blend, blend. Still see it? Then your “translucent” powder is showing up in flash photography. Set the concealer by pressing it thoroughly with your fingertips (not powder) next time.



Groomed brows are lovely. Made-up brows are even lovelier. Just be sure to pick the right color in pencil or powder so it doesn’t look like magic marker revenge. Black hair? Go dark brown. Brown hair? Go light brown. You get the picture.


Rescued from a makeup/photo nightmare? Share your tips and tricks with us!


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Photo Embellishments: Tell Your Picture’s Story

My mom and sister are both very creative and crafty people. When it comes to gifts, I’m half inspired and half intimidated by how they always manage to put a personal touch on everything. So when Photo by Walgreens added our new Embellishments clip art for Photo Books, the wheels in my head started turning. Before I proceed, maybe I should explain that Embellishments are all the fun of scrapbooking, but without any of the mess and with no need for storage (because yours truly is already short on closet space).

Photo Emebllishments

It’s hard for my sister and I to believe, but our niece will soon turn 3, and being the first grandchild, our parents have approximately 1.8 million photos of her. Plenty to choose from for a Photo Book! As for Embellishments, I added lots of hearts and customized text to make notes of all her milestones. I wanted a really authentic scrapbook look and feel, so I chose different kinds of washi tape to make it look like the photos were taped to each page. I know my family will love it, and it will be the perfect keepsake for my niece when she’s older.

But there’s another baby on the way, too! My family could not be more excited for my sister’s first pregnancy. I’ve been collecting snaps of her growing belly to pair with a number Embellishment, marking each month. Since she’s been craving ice cream, I added an ice cream cone for the perfect personal touch. One of my favorite things about Embellishments is that you can jump around between themes and really get creative!

Be forewarned: This is slightly addicting. I’m already planning the Photo Book for our family vacation …

For more ideas, check out our Memory Books, where there is a book for every occasion!

How do you use Embellishments? Tell us in the comments below!

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Photo Tip of the Week: Photographing in Direct Light


Summer’s warm weather means one thing: getting back to the great outdoors. But the direct light of the sun can make photography a little tricky. In this week’s quick photo tip, discover how to snap perfect pictures – even beneath the sun’s bright rays.

Direct light can cast strong shadows on your subjects, making mid-day photography on a sunny day particularly difficult. It’s best to find a shady place for your photo shoot, but if that’s not possible, enable your camera’s flash. This will compensate for the dark shadows, balancing them with the rest of your shot.

Another trick? Bring an umbrella! As funny as it seems to tote rain gear on a dry day, an umbrella serves a secret purpose: creating your own shade. Prop it above the object you’re photographing, and it will block the sun’s direct light.

Have any tips to add? Let us know in the comments!


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What to Write in a Coworker’s Birthday Card

Coworkers Birthday Cards


Here’s a common scenario: The office passes around a group birthday card for a colleague, it comes to you and … you draw a blank. Such pressure to compose a witty-yet-sincere message — and stat! To help, we’ve prepared examples of birthday card wording befitting a colleague, whether praiseworthy employee or prankster cubicle mate.

The happiest of birthdays to the best of coworkers.

Hope your day is as inspiring and full of laughter as you are.

Thanks for one more year of great work! Happy birthday!

Wishing you few emails, magically filled-in spreadsheets and a long lunch on your birthday.

It’s your birthday! Put down the quarterly report and celebrate!

On your birthday, may your break be longer and more cake filled.

Here’s to another year with the best coworker ever — me! Just kidding, you!

What comes up but never comes down? Your salary! (Fingers crossed!)

One year closer to retirement! Congrats!
Just add one of these messages and slap on your signature. Now go enjoy cake in the break room.


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Roadside Oddities & Attractions: 5 Photo-Worthy Destinations


Is summer travel calling your name? Throw on your Out-of-Office, load up the car and bring our list of must-snap roadside attractions. From a giant elephant to a cheese castle, we’ve got ideas for photo-worthy destinations you have to see to believe.

  1. Lucy the Elephant: If your vacation plans take you along the east coast, schedule a stop in Margate, New Jersey, to visit Lucy the Elephant, whose claim to fame is being “the world’s largest elephant.” Not actually an elephant, this six-story building welcomes visitors to explore inside. After climbing a spiral staircase to the very top, sightseers are treated to an incredible view – Lucy overlooks a quaint stretch of ocean beach!
  2. The Rocky Statue: While you’re in the area, be sure to visit Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for a quick photo shoot with the city’s famous Rocky Balboa statue. The bronze landmark represents the beloved fictional boxer, played by Sylvester Stallone in the Rocky movie franchise. The statue – commissioned by Stallone in 1980 for use in Rocky III – stands alongside the Philadelphia Museum of Art, symbolic of an iconic scene in which Rocky triumphantly climbs the museum stairs.
  3. South of the Border: If I-95 is your travel route, you’ll likely encounter billboard after billboard teasing the South of the Border highway oasis. Situated at the state line between North Carolina and South Carolina, South of the Border provides plenty of roadside entertainment. From the Sombrero Observation Tower that gives visitors sky-high views of the countryside to Pedroland Park with amusement rides and games, you’ll find plenty of brag-worthy photo ops.
  4. Mars Cheese Castle: If your travel plans take you along I-94, plan a stop in Kenosha, Wisconsin, to behold the cheesy goodness of the Mars Cheese Castle. The name doesn’t disappoint – the building looks just like a castle, and it’s filled with – you guessed it – cheese, glorious cheese. From aged cheddars and goudas galore to sausages, hot sauces and beer, Mars is a must-stop. Plus, its quirky building and supersized store sign are seriously snap-worthy.
  5. The Museum of Hoaxes: Do you love urban legends and conspiracy theories? Uncover the stories behind both historical and modern-day hoaxes at the Museum of Hoaxes off of I-5 in San Diego, California. From an exhibit starring mythical creatures (like the Jackalope!) to an archive of April Fool’s Day pranks, this place tackles the weirdest of the weird.

Tell us about the strangest roadside attraction you’ve seen. Let us know in the comments, or share your road trip pics using #strangesnaps.

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