October 19th, 2016

Don’t wait! Make your photo gifts now

Welcome to our annual Don’t Wait! blog post, 2016 edition.  It seems every year we here at the Photoblog encourage you, dear readers, to rise up during the month of October and get a jump on your holiday gifting. We are happy to continue doing this year after year even though it might be construed as nagging. Why? Because the Photolab keeps making it easier to create astounding and memorable personalized photo gifts, leaving you with ever fewer reasons to procrastinate. That’s why. Hey, I get it: you keep getting busier and busier. Luckily, creating awesome photo gifts from the Photolab just keeps getting easier and easier. The Photolab in-store kiosks and website make it incredibly simple to not only to aggregate and manage your online photos and keep them handy for photo prints at a moment’s notice; it’s also a great resource for original, personalized products that make perfect gifts. The process is intuitive, fast, stable and robust with no downloading necessary. Most importantly, they are extremely user-friendly and simple, as you’ll see in the video demonstrations provided below. Their purpose is not only to show you how to create some unique and meaningful gifts for the holidays, but also to show the doubters among you just how simple the process really is. Overcoming skepticism with a show of wonder and magic…now there’s a tried and true holiday theme!


Personalized Christmas Ornaments

Everyone loves personalized gift ornaments. Even those people who decorate their trees with uniform bulbs and lights, who stick to a predetermined colour palette throughout the entire tree with absolutely no exceptions. That is, until you present them with a photo ornament that brings a smile to their face. You’re darn right they will make an exception for that. Heck, they’ll probably hang it right in the centre of the tree so everyone can see it, colour palette be darned. Even though, as you can see in the video, you can create and order it in a matter of minutes.


Personalized Holiday Photo Mugs

By itself, the standard ceramic mug is one of the least exciting objects in all of human history. Therefore, you probably assume there’s not much you can do to customize, personalize, or make it interesting in any way.

Well, as this video demonstrates, if this indeed is your assumption, you are wrong. You can make a fun and totally give-able mug in minutes. Check it out.


Personalized Photo Greeting Cards

I may have mentioned this before in previous holiday posts, but there is an unspoken hierarchy of holiday cards that goes like this:

Lowest level: e-cards. Really. No matter what its message is. Honestly, why even bother?

Next level: printed store-bought greeting cards.

Second-highest level: homemade cards or ‘artisanal’ cards found on sites like etsy with wax paper snowflake collages glued on them or whatever.

Highest level: personalized photo greeting cards from the Photolab. This isn’t a case of bias here: personalized photos help greeting cards do what they were created to do: remind the recipients that they are part of your family or circle of friends, and that you value that relationship.

Note that this hierarchy doesn’t apply to price. Photolab-made cards are priced comparable to most regular store-bought cards, especially if you order higher quantities. And they’re a lot less than most fancy-shmancy etsy cards, probably because they’re much easier to create. No glue gun necessary…just watch the video!


Photo Books

Few holiday gifts are as appreciated as a photo book, especially for the price.  And the more thought you put into choosing the photos and customizing the style and layout, the more appreciated it will be. As this video demonstrates, the Photolab site and kiosk allow you to do as much of both as you wish.


A few other notes about the video:

  • Just for the sake of expediency, I pre-uploaded all the photos I would need for the demos and pre-sorted them into collections. Uploading is a very easy process, but if you need any reminders there’s this post for the website or this one for the kiosks.
  • Because of all the pre-uploading, I didn’t get a chance to mention as a reminder that you can also import your photos from Facebook and Instagram as collections.
  • One last reminder not mentioned in the video: remember you’ll need to register for a Photolab account or sign in before you can do any gift-making.


September 16th, 2016

Better photos = better calendar


The Photolab is here to help you create both
Many posts here on the Photoblog involve showing our readers how to create beautiful, quality products that are ultimately produced by the Photolab. Pretty much all that is required on your end is a little time and a few photos. However, whenever we show you how to create these things and describe how amazing the end product will look, we always make the same assumption: that you have at your disposal an array of quality digital photos that would look beautiful on any given Photolab print or product. And while I’d be willing to bet that is the case for most Photoblog readers, I’m sure there are also some of you who feel you are lacking enough quality photos to create certain products. There may even be some readers who lack the photography know-how to take the kind of photos you want. In fact, in certain cases I would even count myself among you! Truth be told, sometimes while writing these tutorial posts on how to create certain prints or products, I look through my own photo libraries and get frustrated by the lack of quality photos I can use when taking screenshots of the Photolab kiosk or website. Yup, I admit it: a great number of my photos are too crummy even for demonstration purposes.

Calendars are a good example of a product that can be both beautiful and easy to create via the Photolab tool of your choice, but finding the perfect photo for 12 different months can be challenging for anyone. That’s why we’ve resolved in this post to help make it a little easier for you to capture those ideal shots, in-season, right at the moment when the photo-op presents itself:

Introducing the Photolab Quick Advice Cards
12 seasonally appropriate tips for taking photos that can make your Photolab calendar (or any Photolab product for that matter) look more polished—even, dare I say—professional-calibre. Simply click the link to open the PDF, print it, cut on the dotted lines so they’ll fit neatly and conveniently into your camera bag, and use at will. Obvious advice: print them on card stock or by the London Drugs Photolab on Photo paper so they’re more durable. Just follow the advice on these cards and soon you’ll have a stockpile of images so incredible, so printable, you’ll wish there were 64 months in a year.

September 16th, 2016

Creating a customized Photolab calendar

Customized calendars are one of the most popular items the Photolab has to offer. And why not? Their merits—specifically their customizability and their immense sentimental value, especially as gifts but even for oneself—have been covered frequently in past Photoblog posts like these.
However, since the last post about them the Photolab has rolled out its magical new website and in-store kiosks, making their creation easier and even more customizable than ever before. And if you doubt this claim for even a moment, I invite you to read at your leisure the demonstration that follows—

How to create a customized photo calendar
using the Photolab in-store kiosk:


Begin by selecting Creative Orders, and then Agree to the Terms & Conditions on the next screen.


Then choose where you want to get your photos from. This time, I chose to log in and access the ones I’ve uploaded to my Photolab account.


Next I select Calendars from the Products page.


On the Calendar page you can choose your calendar type, your binding…you can even choose a single page or a desktop. I’ve selected the traditional style of calendar, because I happen to be a traditional guy.


In fact, I went even more traditional and selected the standard 8.5×11” calendar. As you can see, I’ve got nine styles available in this size to choose from.


From the menu on the left I can also choose to start my calendar in October, November or December, or I can just choose the full 2017 calendar year.


You can place your photos manually one-by-one, or you can select the autofill option. Usually when I post a demo like this, I choose the manual option so I can take you through it; but since I’ve gone that route so often, this time I’m going with autofill—you know, just to balance things out a bit.


When you select autofill, it pre-loads photos from your album into the calendar template, and then you can proceed to edit them.


From the top left of the screen you can choose your layout; you can also select whether you want to edit the calendar in page view, spread view or as a grid of thumbnails.


Not only can you edit or add text to your photos, but you can also add and edit text in each of the individual date boxes on each page, for every month. Now you can give Grandma’s birthday the same official recognition as a national holiday!



Once you’re finished with all your tweaks and edits, you can save the project to your account or add it to your shopping cart. As you can see, volume discounts are clearly pointed out. Then choose your shipping or in-store pickup preferences, and you’re done!

But the helpful advice doesn’t end there, dear readers! One thing the Photoblog hasn’t addressed much is the fact that however you want to make your Photolab calendar, great photos will make it that much better—except what do you do if you happen to have a dearth of quality photos? The solution is in this month’s companion post, which contains a helpful way to keep some handy DIY photography tips right close by whenever those perfect photo-ops present themselves.

September 15th, 2016

Preserve Old Photo Memories with the New Photo Scanning Box Available at All London Drugs Photolabs

Despite the fact that digital photography is now the norm, many people still have hundreds and thousands of original printed photos that are not backed up by a digital copy – childhood memories, family photos and historic images of ancestors that will be precious memories for future generations.

To help prevent devastating loss or damage to these cherished memories, we have launched a new service that allows customers to easily have these items scanned and digitized in bulk.

The new Photo Scanning Box is all about prevention, preservation and peace of mind. By allowing you to digitizing hundreds of photos at once, the process of backing up print photos is far quicker and painless compared to scanning the photos one-by-one at home.

Why It’s Important

Print photographs degrade due to environmental factors like light, heat, and humidity. Photos taken between 1936 and 1990 are particularly in danger of fading due to the processing used during that time. Digital restoration for these photos becomes more difficult with each passing year.

Moreover, without digital duplicates of printed photos, disasters such as a fire or flood can immediately erase a generation’s worth of irreplaceable photo memories – a devastating scenario many Fort McMurray fire victims were all too familiar with earlier this year.

Courtney Power lost hundreds of family print photos in the wildfire that destroyed approximately 2,400 homes and buildings and forced the largest wildfire evacuation in Albertan history. With only a few moments to pack up personal belongings before the evacuation, years of family albums were left behind.

“We lost so many photos in the Fort McMurray fire,” says Power. “I regret not digitizing them a long time ago: it would have saved us a lot of heartache. We would still have those photos today if we had had them scanned to keep in a safe place.”

Using the Photo Scanning Box

1. Pick up a FREE Photo Scanning Box from London Drugs, and bring it home to fill it with 800 photos and other precious documents.


2. Return the full box to your local London Drugs Photolab, prepay for the service, and our technicians will then digitize the photos at high resolution.


3. Your treasured photos will be returned to you along with all digital files on a USB flash drive.


Once the files are digitized, you should back up the photos using an online drive or storing them in multiple locations in the same way you should with other digital photos. This will ensure that, in case of disaster, the photos will still be accessible. Plus, once you have the print photos digitized, there are endless ways to share them or reprint using modern printing methods. Send copies to family members, and create calendars, photo books and more. In this way, photos that were once relegated to the basement or tucked away in shoeboxes in the closet, can really come back to life.

Precious documents such as birth certificates and wedding certificates can also be included in the Photo Scanning Box. The service costs $179.99 per box (approximately 22 cents per photo or document) and Photo Scanning Boxes can be picked up at any London Drugs location.

July 25th, 2016

Photolab App Review

The much-anticipated London Drugs Photolab app is available at last! Available for free on the iPhone and iPad (the Android phone/tablet version of the app is still in the works), it lets you upload photos or log in and select from your existing LD Photolab albums, choose the dimensions and finish of your print, and even order fine art prints like bamboo, canvas or metallic. Just like the new website, the app is stable, intuitive, and incredibly simple to use. Since most people these days keep most of their photos stored on their smartphone, developing an app was a pretty logical step. The main purpose of the app at this point, however, is to allow you to conveniently order prints and enlargements from anywhere, while the Photolab website and in-store kiosks allow you to create a wider variety of print products; gallery wraps, prints on aluminum, and non-traditional products like photo mugs, cards, photo books and calendars.

Anyway, rather than have this post be a lengthy, step-by-step written walkthrough with screenshots, I’ve decided to include the first ever video demonstration on the Photoblog. Ok, well… it’s the first video demo for a product created 100% by and for the Photolab.  On top of that, it’s the first video demo I’ve ever done for anything. Yes, I freely admit that as far as voiceovers go, Sir Richard Attenborough’s legacy is still quite safe; but hey, the app is the star of the video, not me, and this is the best way to showcase its many convenient features. Well, actually the best way is to download the app to your iPhone or iPad and try it out for yourself. Who knows? It may even inspire you to create your own Photolab app demo video.

Video correction: To clarify, the Photolab app can only access the photo albums located in the iOS Photos app, including those created by (or imported from) other apps like Instagram, Moldiv, VSCO or Snapseed. Apologies for the confusion.

Video correction #2: In the voiceover I also appear to mention that you can order metal prints; indeed, I should have said “metallic prints”. It’s the kind of spoken word error that Sir Richard Attenborough would have never made.

May 19th, 2016

LDFotocon 2016 is still on!

Great events to attend until June 11.

Photography Month 2016 may soon be coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop celebrating photography. London Drugs is going to keep the celebration going until June 11 with #LDFotocon events happening at select stores in Alberta and BC.

In case you’ve missed it so far, #LDFotocon is a series of in-store photography shows featuring representatives from top camera brands as well as London Drugs Photography Experts. In addition to showcasing the newest products and technology, they also offer tips and techniques to benefit photographers of all skill levels. Presentation topics include everything from an introduction to Parrot Drones to getting the most out of baby photography, while the seminars on travel and documentary photography are a perfect way to get your skills primed for a summer of adventure.

Still plenty of great presenters left

It may be down to the final few weekends, but the event schedule still has plenty of interesting topics lined up—not to mention presenters who are all kinds of awesome. I took a look at a number of presenters’ background info on the LDFotocon site and was thoroughly impressed. Here are a couple that stood out for me in particular:


Elizabeth Gadd

“Elizabeth Gadd is a 23 year old photographer based just outside of Vancouver, Canada. Having grown up in this beautiful area, she fell easily in love with exploring the surrounding forests, hills, mountains and ocean—all of which are heavily incorporated in her photography.  First picking up a camera 10 years ago, she immediately was drawn into the world of creating magical photographs involving nature and landscapes, eventually leading to the whimsical combination of landscapes with human portraiture (usually self-portraits) that she’s known for today. This special niche of Elizabeth’s photography has been described by others as fairytale-esque, dreamy, peaceful and full of wanderlust.”

At #LDFotocon, Elizabeth will be speaking about how to combine human portraiture with landscapes, seamlessly and beautifully. One visit to her amazing portfolio site and you won’t want to miss it.


Kate Siobhan Mulligan

“If you love travel and photography then join Kate Siobhan Mulligan as she shares her photography tips and skills as one of Canada’s top Travel and Portrait photographers. Just back from a workshop in Havana, Kate keeps no secrets as she teaches how to make great travel pictures, how to approach strangers on the street, and how she gives back to photography as Operations Manager of the group “The Giving Lens”. Published around the world and working for tourism groups around the world, join Kate and take your own travel photography to a higher level.”

It’s fair to say that travel photography is one of those things everyone would like to be good at. Even if you have no other interest in photography, at the very minimum you’d like to make your travel memories look memorable. Kate is just one of the pros presenting at #LDFotocon who can show you how.

While these two sort of jumped out at me, every presenter on the LDFotocon roster is an expert in their field with plenty of knowledge they’re happy to share. It’s a rare thing to have access to this kind of expertise—for free, nonetheless. Visit the #LDFotocon website to check out the remaining event schedule and read more about some of the outstanding presenters. These in-store shows are always free, but registration is recommended to ensure yourself a spot. You can view or download a complete list of subjects here. Even if you’re unable to make any of the remaining events, remember there are also plenty more in-store photography workshops available at every location as part of the London Drugs workshop series.


Kate Siobhan Mulligan is a freelance travel photographer from East Van and just one of the fascinating presenters featured at #LDFotocon. (Photo: katesiobhanphotography.com)

Kate Siobhan Mulligan is a freelance travel photographer from East Van and just one of the fascinating presenters featured at #LDFotocon. (Photo: katesiobhanphotography.com)

May 19th, 2016

Metal prints: Now bigger than ever!

metal-prints1For your consideration: the metal print (sometimes known as the aluminum print). A coated aluminum sheet infused with dyes that can make virtually any image come alive with vibrant colour. As durable as, well, metal, with little or no fading, these prints look great on any wall, under any kind of lighting. Also, as I’ve pointed in a previous blog or two, these prints have a glass-like luminous quality to them that is unlike any other type of print. It’s almost like if you were to somehow combine a stained glass window with the crisp detail of a full-resolution photo print. Its unique look pretty much guarantees that it will absolutely own any wall it’s hung on—especially at larger sizes.

Despite the fact that many people still aren’t aware of it, metal printing technology has been around for a few years now. It’s been available at the Photolab since around 2014, but only one location had the special type of press necessary to create the prints on-site. However, each of the gifting production labs now has one on-site—meaning that seven Photolab locations in total now have these presses available to serve you!

If your photos have immense, intricate detail, or have colours that pop like these, a metal print will bring them to life on your wall like nothing else.

If your photos have immense, intricate detail, or have colours that pop like these, a metal print will bring them to life on your wall like nothing else.

As you can imagine, six new presses will greatly reduce turnaround time, as six more locations are now producing them on-site as opposed to having to special order them from another location.

Even better news: along with new presses, larger sizes will soon be available as well. Metal prints are currently available from 6×6” – 16×20”; however, the Photolab will be adding sizes all the way up to 30×40”. I’ve seen how brilliant, how crisp and detailed, how ultimately real these prints look at smaller sizes, and I can only imagine what they’d look like so much larger with no loss in colour or clarity. This technology has the potential do for photo prints what LED has done for televisions.

If you’re reading this and still have no idea what I’m talking about—for goodness sake, drop by your local Photolab and ask to see a sample. If you’re looking for a premium way to showcase your finest photography, you’ll want to see for yourself what this technology has to offer.

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