Vacation Photo Tips: Don’t Leave Home Without These

If your last set of vacation photos put everyone to sleep when you tried to show them off, don’t worry. Follow these vacation photo tips and your friends and family won’t be able to get enough of your photos, no matter where your travels take you.

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Do Your Homework: If you’ve never been there, research your destination before you leave home. Locate some interesting spots to take photos, whether on or off the beaten track. Also, make sure you know your camera inside and out before you go — watching the sun sink below the horizon while trying to get a silhouette of the Eiffel Tower is not the time to discover you don’t know how to change your metering mode.

Avoid Postcard Shots: Speaking of the Eiffel Tower, anyone can buy a postcard of it and bring it home. Don’t take the same photo as thousands before you. Change it up; try different compositions and cropping. Make your own photos, don’t copy someone else’s.

Be a People Person: Include people in your pictures, whether they’re friends, family or candids of perfect strangers. The human element adds scale to landmarks and shows local color and custom.

Worth a Thousand Words: Try to take photos that weave together to tell the story of your vacation. Your friends and family should be able to figure out what you did on your travels without you having to spell it out for them. This kind of travelogue is perfect for making into Photo Books, too.

Skip the Selfies: Sure, it’s okay to put yourself in the photos to prove you were there. But rather than put yourself in every photo, try using a toy, stuffed animal or other object in your shots of famous and not-so-famous landmarks to put your personal touch on the image.

Travel Light: If you’re a DSLR shooter, pick one lens and use it all day instead of carrying your whole kit around — your back will thank you later. Worried you won’t have enough zoom? That’s what your feet are for.

Thanks for the Memory (Cards): Bring more storage than you think you need. Extra memory cards or a laptop or tablet to store your images will ensure that you won’t run out of space.

Avoid Power Outages: Don’t forget to bring your battery charger and a spare battery. Charge your batteries each night. Don’t miss a shot because you’re out of juice.

Know When to Say When: If you spend your whole vacation photographing, are you really relaxing and soaking in the experience? It’s okay to put the camera down for a while and enjoy what’s going on around you.

The best part about these vacation photo tips is that they work for any destination, from a safari to a visit to a theme park or a weekend camping trip. Now every vacation you take will be a photographic adventure.

Share Life’s Happy,

Andy Warycka

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Image source: Andy Warycka

Cute Photo Props for Babies

Cute Props for Babies

In the world of photography, there’s probably nothing cuter than baby photos. While the only thing you really need to snap amazing baby pics is a sweet subject, some natural lighting and a camera, there are a lot of ways to create unique images that you’ll cherish always.

Using cute props for your baby photos is a fun way to add a little something extra to your shoot. Here are a few simple ideas that are safe for baby and budget-friendly for parents:

Hats and Headwear

Make or buy knitted or crocheted baby hats to create a holiday-specific ambiance for your photos. For example, a red Santa hat works for Christmas, or a pumpkin hat for the fall. You can even find hats with animal ears, just because they’re adorable.

Furniture

Search yard sales and thrift shops for vintage chairs, wagons or wooden crates for baby to curl up on. Drape a knit blanket or other fabric for comfort and style. Always be sure to have a pair of helping hands nearby as you snap your photos to ensure sure that baby is happy and safe.

Hammock

You can create a cozy hammock for baby to cuddle up in for the photo shoot. Gauzy materials work wonderfully for this, and babies love to be snuggled up just like they’re in a sling. For safety, always have a pillow or other plush surface (you could do this right over a bed) underneath and a spotter on the side.

Bunting

Hang a simple banner or bunting on the wall behind your little one. You can make or buy a paper or fabric bunting, which can be reused for party or bedroom décor later on.

Wooden Letters and Blocks

Search your local craft store or thrift shop for wooden letters to spell out baby’s name or another message. Arrange them around your little one for the photos.

There are lots of simple ways to create a special scene for your baby photos, including working on a budget or using things you already have around the house. Once you’ve edited your photos, you can even create a Photo Calendar or Photo Book to give as gifts to family and friends. Which prop are you most excited to try?

Share Life’s Happy,
Amy Bellgardt

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Creative Ways to Enhance Your Photos

In this digital age, we have so many opportunities to take photos. Here are a few ways to turn those photos into keepsakes you’ll want to display in your home for years to come. You can even get the kids involved with these fun art projects. Time to bring your photography out of the digital world and into your home.

Creative Ways to Enhance Your Photos

Embroidery

One of my favorite ways to embellish photos is by embroidering patterns with a needle and embroidery floss. Create borders with the thread, spell out words or create designs using different stitches and colors. This is especially fun if you print your images in black and white and use colored thread to create a fun vintage look.

Sharpies

Permanent markers, such as Sharpies, are available in a rainbow of colors and metallics, and are easy to use on photos. Regardless of whether your Prints are a matte or glossy finish, you should have no problem adding text, designs or a funky border around the edge. Be sure to set your photos aside to dry completely so you don’t have to worry about smudging your works of art.

Stickers

Kids love stickers and, frankly, so do a lot of parents. Pick up some stickers to add to your printed photos, and you’ll rekindle your love for the sticky collectibles. You can use sparkly gem stickers, words, lettering, holiday themes or anything else that appeals to you. The scrapbooking section of the dollar store can be a great source for inexpensive stickers.

Stamps

Just like stickers, stamps are great for decorating your photos. You should only use stamp and inks on photos that are printed on regular printer paper, not photo paper, so the ink won’t smudge off on your fingers.

Pick up a few simple art supplies, and get creative with your photography this summer. Your kids are going to love these projects — and so will you.

Share Life’s Happy,
Amy Bellgardt

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Photo Book Embellishments: Learn the Basics

For those of us dabbling in the occasional Photo Book project, Embellishments seem like a new concept. In truth, Embellishments — those little designs and letters you can add into your book — are not much different than the buttons, brads, photo corners and colored tape we once added to homemade scrapbooks. (So addictive, remember?) If you still need an introduction to digital Embellishments, we’ll happily break it down for you in super-simple terms. Read on …

Photo Embellishments

What are Embellishments?

Photo by Walgreens launched the Embellishments function this past spring. Embellishments are pre-designed shapes, labels, frames, sayings and doodles you can add to your Photo Book. They allow you to further personalize your story with graphic elements ranging in theme from wedding and family to Spring and Halloween.

Are Embellishments easy to use?

You don’t need to be a professional graphic artist to customize your book with Embellishments. (Whew.) But a few simple guidelines will help you streamline the process. Start by culling through and choosing your Embellishments in the style or colors of your book — sort of like an artist picks out a color palette before beginning a painting. To choose your Photo by Walgreens Embellishments, go to the Personalize Book function; click “get more” to add Embellishments to the left menu. If you change your mind, you can always add additional Embellishments at any time.

What do Embellishments look like?

Photo by Walgreens’ Embellishments print in the same high-resolution quality as your photographs. So they appear bright, crisp and seamlessly integrated on a page. You can place Embellishments to the side of your photos, on top of your photos or even partially behind them to create a layered effect. You can also rotate, resize, move and align Embellishments until you get the desired effect.

Can you show me an example?

Sure! Above you’ll find a page from a family history Photo Book and some of our favorite Embellishments. For more inspiration, check out these ideas for travel Photo Books and seasonal Photo Books.

Have any tips for Photo Books? Tell us!

 

Share Life’s Happy,

Madeline

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Four Ultimate Poses for Fun Family Photos

Family photo shoots are a great way to capture your life each year. More than just the customary group shot on Christmas or Thanksgiving, photo shoots are a way to create fun family photos that look more professional and capture everyone at their best. They become special family events of their own, and produce photos that are perfect for hanging over the mantelpiece or the wall along the stairs.

There

But family photo shoots don’t have to be boring or traditional. Here are four unique poses for fun family photos:

The Anti-Pose

Sometimes the best pose isn’t a pose at all. The warmest, most genuine photos show families interacting with one another naturally, so relax and smile at each other instead of the camera. Give your spouse a hug. Tickle the kids. It may take longer to get the shot, but the result will be that much more memorable.

Lying Down

How much do you admire the shapes your child’s school marching band can make on the field at halftime?

Though not the quickest or easiest of arrangements, the result is fantastic. For this more calculated shot, get the family lying down in a circle with everyone’s head pointing toward the center. Then pull out the ladder and capture the star they make from your view at a higher height. Out of the house? Get everyone lying together on a picnic blanket, and snap the photo from directly overhead.

Taking a Walk

Stiff standing poses take all the fun out of family photos. Try snapping the picture while in motion — it’s a great way to keep the family looking natural. In a location with great scenery, have the group walk toward the camera. Let your child swing between the arms of two other family members, or sit on Dad’s shoulders for a goofier shot. For a more artistic version, capture the family as they walk away from the camera and toward the sun; this will create a silhouetted image.

The Jump Shot

A quick look at Facebook indicates that the jump shot is seriously trending among social photographers. Whether it’s under a basketball hoop or off a diving board, timing is everything, so don’t attempt it with kids too young to jump on cue. Figure out what everyone will do in advance, so it doesn’t look messy. Then: “One, two, three, jump!”

The warm weather is full of inspiration, so get out there and try something new!

Share Life’s Happy,

Suzanne

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Image source: Flickr

Lighten Up: When to Use Artificial Light for Photos

Light is what makes photography possible. Digital camera sensors, like film before them, create an image by recording the differing amounts of light reflected off the subject. Nature has been kind enough to provide a great source of light — the sun — but sometimes it just isn’t enough or creates awkward shadows. It is important in those situations to know how and when to use artificial light for your photos.

Knowing when to use artificial light in your photographs can make the difference between a snapshot and professional-looking results.

When There Isn’t Enough Light

The most obvious reason to use artificial light is because there isn’t enough available light to get the photo you want. Low light can result in a number of consequences. For example, if the light level is too low, your camera’s shutter speed may become so slow that moving subjects appear blurry; blur from camera shake can also be a problem. Your camera may try to compensate for the lack of light by increasing the ISO, or sensitivity, but this can result in noisy or grainy images. Finally, it may just be so dark that the camera is unable to capture an image at all.

Avoid Harsh Shadows

Sometimes it’s a good idea to use artificial light even when there’s more than enough available light to take the photograph. Often, when photographing people outdoors, direct sun can leave harsh, unflattering shadows on one side of the face or under the eyes and nose. They won’t produce the sort of results you’d want to use for family portraits or Photo Cards that you plan to send to family and friends. Adding a little light by using a flash, reflector or any other light source can soften those shadows for more pleasant portraits.

Take Control of Your Light

With some experience, you can use artificial light to take total control of your exposures. For instance, you can avoid pale, blown-out skies by setting your camera to expose for the sky and the flash to expose your subject correctly. You can use artificial light to create dramatic shadows on and around your subject. You can even use a flashlight or other handheld light source to “paint” with light at night or in a darkened room. Once you have the basics down, only your creativity will limit what you can do with artificial light in your photography.

Share Life’s Happy,

Andy Warycka

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Image source: Andy Warycka

Four Tips for Better Beach Photos

There’s nothing like a day at the beach. The combination of water, sun and fun means you can capture some great photos of friends and family. Here are four tips that will help you take your beach photos to the next level.

1. Use Early Morning or Late Evening Light

During the middle of the day, the direct sunlight can affect the quality of your images. However, if you shoot your pictures in the golden hour, you’ll capture great natural light that will add a softness to your photos. The golden hour is that period in the early morning (just after sunrise) and early evening (two or three hours before sunset) when the sun is traveling through the atmosphere at a much lower angle, meaning the light isn’t as harsh. You’ll be treated to much more vivid colors, and you won’t get that washed-out effect from direct sunlight. Shooting during these periods also gives you a chance to play with the long shadows cast by palm trees, sand dunes and rocks.

Waves breaking on the sand

2. Don’t Shoot the Horizon Straight On

It’s tempting to point your camera directly at the ocean, but the problem with shooting the horizon is that you rarely get a straight view. It’s also such a standard photo look that it’s becoming boring, particularly when all you’re showing is sand and water. Instead, try shooting the shoreline at an angle to capture the majesty of the waves breaking on the sand. Experiment with interesting and different compositions to capture that fabulous photo that will look especially great when showcased on a Canvas Print.

3. Use Flash to Eliminate Shadows

When you’re shooting people on the beach, use a flash. It may seem odd to use a flash in full sunlight, but the “fill flash” effect will eliminate face-obscuring shadows and ensure the smiles you capture come out bright and clear. This is helpful when the people you’re photographing are wearing caps and hats, or are in the shade of an umbrella or beach tent.

4. Use a Tripod and Leveler

It’s hard to get a steady shot when you’re standing on the sand, especially if you’re on a dune or rock formation. Using a tripod with a leveler will help you capture steady shots no matter what the terrain is like. Even if you’re just using your phone’s camera, there are plenty of inexpensive tripod options available.

You don’t need to be a professional to take great beach photos. Use these simple tips to capture some beautiful images during your next trip to the ocean.

Share Life’s Happy,

Amanda Kondolojy

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Image source: Flickr

How to Make Sun Prints in Your Backyard

You don’t need a camera to make pictures this summer. Head outside, harness the power of nature and highlight objects found in the yard with some artistic sun prints.

Sun print

These papers are coated in a special film that reacts to UV light, according to UC Berkeley. Because there are no chemicals or expensive photography gear involved, the kids can help, too. Let’s get crafty.

1. Collect Nature Objects

Look for leaves, blooms, grasses and other items that have an intriguing shape. The best choices lie flat and have a lot of detail. For example, try holly leaves with rough edges or a flower blossom complete with petals, stamen, pistil and stalk.

2. Prepare a Rinse

Fill a shallow baking pan with cool water and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. You will dip each print in this solution to set the images, similar to the method for developing photographic prints in a darkroom.

3. Set Up a Work Station

Lay a flat piece of sturdy cardboard on an even surface outside in direct sunlight. Use a few rocks to secure the corners if there’s a breeze. This will be where you create the prints.

4. Prepare the Paper

Use light sensitive sun print paper from a craft or hobby shop. This is different from darkroom printing paper for photos. Open the outer package, then open the inner resealable plastic bag containing the paper. Don’t let the paper get exposed to direct sunlight until you’re ready to make your first print.

5. Make a Picture

Remove one sheet of the light sensitive paper from the pouch. Reseal the package. Place the paper with the blue side facing up on the cardboard. Quickly — in just a few seconds — lay the nature objects onto the paper. Cover the items with a piece of clear plastic or glass. Most packages of sun print paper include a piece of heavy, clean plastic to use for this purpose.

6. Expose the Sun Print

The sun creates the image in a minute or two. To your kids, it looks like magic. When the paper turns very light blue, almost white, the print is ready to move. Remove the plastic and nature objects, and quickly submerge the paper in the rinse. Let the print sit for one minute, then remove the paper and place it on a towel to air dry.

7. Flatten the Artwork

After the print is dry, remove the wrinkles by placing it in a protective clear sleeve and flattening it beneath a heavy book for a few hours. Then, let your creativity go wild. You can work with the image much like a photograph.

Have you ever made sun prints? What objects did you expose? Tell us about them in the comments below.

Share Life’s Happy,
Angela Tague

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Photo Source: Angela Tague

12 Days of Summer Instagram Sweepstakes  #HHSummerSweeps

We’re celebrating Summer 2014 with our Instagram fans by hosting 12 days of photo challenges starting on July 28 and running through August 9. Everyone who participates will have a chance to win a daily prize. On the last day of the contest, we will also choose three Instagram fans to win our grand prizes!

Intro

 

How to Enter

Your challenge is to post a photo using the hashtag #HHSummerSweeps based on the day’s theme, shown below. Each theme is open to your interpretation, so let’s see your creativity shine!

7/28 – Summer Fruits

7/29 – Music

7/30 – Summer Fun

7/31 – Something Pink

8/1 – Summer Sun

8/2 – Treat

8/3 – Splash

8/4 – Something Yellow

8/5 – Workout

8/6 – Summer Selfie

8/7 – Smile

8/8 – Summer Style

Each day of the contest, we will review all the photos that are submitted using hashtag #HHSummerSweeps and choose our favorite. We’ll announce each day’s winner and notify them via direct message on Instagram. The winners will receive free photo prints to best capture their summer memories—and also see their photos shared on the Walgreens Instagram page!

On the last day of the contest, we will choose three grand-prize winners. Each will have a chance at a $250, $50 or $25 gift card from Walgreens! We’ll direct message winners and announce their photos on the Walgreens Instagram page.

Remember to use the hashtag #HHSummerSweeps and participate as often as you can. We’re excited to see your best pics of summer on Instagram!

Click here for official contest rules.

How to Take Fantastic Flower Photos

Flowers are a popular photo subject because they’re inherently pretty, and they’re easy to make look beautiful in a photo. If you’re looking to take your flower photos to the next level and turn them into works of art for your wall, check out these eight tips for fabulous flower photos.

Turn flowers into art with these tips for fantastic flower photos.

  • Get close: Flowers have lots of interesting, intricate details that you aren’t going to see unless you get up close and personal. Use your camera’s macro setting, if it has one, or combine zooming in with getting as physically close as you can.
  • Use a tripod: When you’re zoomed in all the way or extremely close to the flower, the slightest movement may cause blur or adversely affect your composition. Use a tripod or other support for crisper flower photos.
  • Crop creatively: Keep the rule of thirds in mind — you don’t have to center everything in the middle of the frame. Use petals as leading lines to invite the viewer’s eye to move across the photo or to create interesting negative space.
  • Focus selectively: Get close to the flower and use a large aperture to create a very shallow depth of field and focus on one small part of the bloom. The rest will become a beautifully abstracted blur, which lets the viewer concentrate on the portion that’s in focus.
  • Let your light shine: Sunlight is the best light source, but it isn’t always shining in the direction you’d like. Use your flash or a reflector to fill in shadows. A reflector can be as simple and cheap as a sheet of white poster board, or use gold to add warmth to the photo. Reflectors can also double as a windbreak, keeping the flower from blowing around.
  • Boost saturation: Flowers are colorful things, so show off that color. Increase the color saturation either by changing your camera’s saturation setting or by using a photo editing program on your computer after you’ve taken the shot.
  • Try black and white: On the opposite end of the spectrum, try something different: Convert your flower photos to black and white and let the shapes, lines and forms showcase their beauty without the distraction of color.
  • Add dew drops: Professional photographers don’t wait for that perfect morning dew to shoot flowers; they make their own. Bring a spray bottle filled with water and spray it on the petals to create perfect dew drops any time of day. For bigger drops, mix a little glycerin with the water.

Almost any of these tips can be combined together to make spectacular images and even better one-of-a-kind wall decor. Try a close crop with selective focus and boosted saturation for a knockout abstract image. You are limited only by your own creativity. Before you know it, you will be the envy of all your green-thumbed friends.

Share Life’s Happy,

Andy Warycka

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Image source: Andy Warycka