November 29th, 2016

Giving Gifts They’ll Actually Love

Hint: It’s not the thought, it’s the personalization that counts!

We all know that one person who seems to always give the perfect, thoughtful and most unique Christmas gifts. How do they do it? Our Photolab Experts have the secret, and it’s easier than you think. It’s all about personalization. Adding a personal touch, like a photo or custom text, will give your gifts a unique quality that your loved ones will cherish. Our Photolab has virtually endless possibilities to customize your gifts for friends, family, colleagues and anyone else on your holiday shopping list.

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Greeting Cards – Whether it’s your family’s annual Christmas card, or individual cards to give out to family, friends and colleagues, spreading the holiday cheer starts here.  Rather than picking out a set of generic cards to send, why not create unique holiday cards with personal photos? Our Photolab can now customize Greeting Cards using a wide variety of themed templates on 6 new premium card stocks: linen, natural white, matte soft white, shimmer silver and shimmer soft gold. We are the only local Photolab to use these premium card stocks, so your greeting cards are guaranteed to be entirely unique.

 

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Photographic Albums – Give a truly thoughtful and personal gift by curating a collection of special photos and creating a personalized photographic album for loved ones. The book’s photos are printed on thick photographic paper that will brilliantly display cherished memories in a high quality format. Share photos of a recent trip together, a collection of photos taken over the past year, or even old childhood and family photos.

 

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Personalized Large Fleece Blankets – Brand new to the London Drugs Photolab, this is the ultimate cozy Christmas gift. Got a hockey player in the family? Customize a fleece blanket with a photo of their team, and parents can use it to show support and to keep warm at their next game. Grandparents would love a personalized blanket with a photo of their grandchildren, and a dog lover would be over the moon to see their prized pup immortalized on a super-soft fleece.

 

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Photo Crystals – Choose a meaningful photo to share with your loved ones and gift it to them in the form of a crystal. Our new expanded selection of shapes includes heart, teardrop, moon, wave and rectangle-shaped crystal blocks, which can transform your photo into a unique, eye-catching Christmas gift. This would make a great personalized hostess gift for any of your upcoming holiday parties.

 

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Express Books – Need to whip together a quick and easy Christmas gift, and need it right away? The 8×8 photographic Express Books can be made within 24 hours at any London Drugs location. Just choose your photos, and we’ll create a sleek photographic book complete with black leatherette cover. So if you forgot one last person on your list, or if you received an unexpected gift from your neighbour or colleague, don’t fret: we can take care of that.

 

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Instagram Books – This small personalized Instagram Book makes the perfect stocking stuffer gift! Simply select your favourite square Instagram photos from your feed, and our Photolab will turn them into a beautiful square photo book you can easily pop into someone’s stocking. This is a great gift for hard to buy for tweens and teens and for hobby photographers who showcase their work on Instagram.

 

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Photo Calendars – Have a few people on your shopping list that you’re just not sure what to get them? Our photo calendars are easily customized, which make them the perfect gift for almost anyone this Christmas. For family, feature images of your kids growing up, or for co-workers, perhaps feature some of your favourite landscape photos. It is useful all year round.

 

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Personalized Mugs – Whether they’re a coffee person or a tea person, you can’t go wrong with gifting a personalized photo mug. Pick a colour, design, and then choose your photo: it’s as simple as that. You can even choose our Magic Mug that reveals your hidden photo when hot liquid is added. These personalized mugs make great stocking stuffer gifts, as well as gifts for colleagues or your kids’ teachers.

 

Order any of these gifts at our new Photolab website or by visiting any London Drugs location.

 

Holiday Order Deadlines

A great selection of products are available for same day or next day pickup, up to Saturday, December 24 including Enlargements, Canvas Gallery Wraps, Express Books, Photographic Calendars and Mugs. See a photolab expert for details.

Be sure to place your orders for the below products before the listed dates to ensure Christmas delivery:

Photobooks, Calendars and Traditional Greeting Cards: Wednesday, December 14

Creative Products: Wednesday, December 14

Crystals: Tuesday, December 13

Crystallize-it 3D Photo Crystals: Tuesday, December 13

Bobbleheads: Monday, November 14

Yes Video: Friday, November 25

Click here for information about order deadlines.

 



November 28th, 2016

Photo gifts—direct from your mobile phone!

Check-out these How to Videos

These days, something in the neighbourhood of 50% of all online retail purchases are made using mobile devices. In fact, it may even be more than that when you consider that I don’t like doing research about retail sales statistics and therefore didn’t bother looking up more recent data. But it’s absolutely plausible; more and more people are only using their computers at the office and their phones everywhere else. Whatever the actual statistics, the ever-proactive Photolab people are aware of them and have built a mobile site that’s easy to use and fast/stable enough to create and order anything from their entire catalog of photo products while you’re waiting for the barista to steam your latte.

With the holidays fast approaching, this feels like the perfect time to demonstrate exactly how easy it is to create and order a photo gift item (in this case, a holiday-themed printed beer stein) on a smartphone. How easy? Well, the video demo I created is a mere seven minutes from start to finish—which includes the time I take to (over) explain everything. As I usually do with my video demos, I pre-loaded all my photos and albums to save time, but of course that’s a very simple process as well. You can review it with this post if you need. Then, grab your smartphone and give it a try yourself, and see how simple holiday shopping can be. And once again, my sincerest apologies for sounding like a Simpsons character.

Instagram Easy Photo Books!

From your social networks to your favourite prints in a snap.

As we’ve mentioned many times here on the ol’ Photoblog, no one loves Instagram more than the Photolab. Well, the Photolab also loves Facebook and Twitter, plus any other social media that’s helped make photography such an essential part of the way we communicate and express ourselves in daily life. However, I’ve never asked but I’d bet Instagram is still the consensus favourite simply because of its emphasis on photography.

In fact, the Photolab has made it possible for people to engage via Instagram outside of the digital world with the new, specially-created Instagram photobook. It’s a simple 20-page booklet that can be either 4×4” or 6×6”—square formats that are perfect for Instagram photos. Simply choose your finish (glossy or pearl) and your binding edge (top or side), load your Instagram account into your London Drugs photo album and build your book. And as you can see from the video demonstration, it takes only a few minutes to create and order. These booklets have a very instantaneous, in-the-moment quality to them, and they exist to be shared with others—almost a kind of tactile version Instagram—yet made for actual life!

Have a quick look at the video. Then, start by taking what you consider to be the best images in your Instagram account and print your very own Instagram’s Greatest Hits photobook. And as you watch, keep this in mind—my tongue isn’t actually fused to the roof of my mouth with a wad of peanut butter. It only sounds that way.

Your phone: the instant personalized photo greeting card maker.

Perhaps you’ve never made a personalized greeting card for anyone. Perhaps it’s because you believe it’s going to take too much time, and therefore it’s easier to just buy a pre-printed set from the store. Let’s set the record straight once and for all; this is a holiday myth—and it’s a bigger downer than the myth about getting coal in your stocking. The fact is, it’s always been quick & easy to make a personalized greeting card from the Photolab. It was easy back in the days of the Photolab home software, and it became even quicker & easier with the launch of the current Photolab website.

Also, since the new site is all responsive and adapts to mobile phone web browsers, you can create a personalized card from your photo album anywhere you take your phone. Do you happen to be somewhere with a nice outdoor light display? Snap a picture and make it into a holiday card, right on the spot in a matter of minutes. This short video demonstration shows you how. Actually, it serves more as proof that you can do it, because the process is so simple that you really don’t need a tutorial.

Have a look at the video, then try making a personalized card yourself. The recipient will certainly appreciate you spent the time—however little time you actually needed to take. And I apologize for having a voice that sounds like a failed audition for the pre-recorded Skytrain announcer.



November 24th, 2016

Nostalgia and personalization top holiday decor trends for 2016

The holidays are all about enjoying the company of friends and family, and if you’re celebrating together from the comfort of your own home, there are a few creative ways to make your home feel even more festive and inviting. Spread holiday cheer from the moment your guests walk in the door with unique and personalized holiday décor items from London Drugs Photolab.

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Christmas Ornaments – Christmas Ornaments are what make every Christmas tree unique. Often, ornaments are passed down through the generations, and many tell our family stories, from ‘First Year Married’ to ‘Baby’s First Christmas’. You can customize your very own Christmas ornaments to share your favourite memories. Choose from our extensive selection of ornaments, made from aluminum, pewter, crystal and ceramic – all of which come in a wide variety of shapes. Add a personal photo and some text to create a special keepsake you can hang on the tree for years to come.

 

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Canvas Gallery Wraps & Aluminum Panels – Just as you change the pillows and other décor in your home for the holidays, why not switch up your artwork, too? Get creative and have your own personal holiday photos printed on a Canvas Gallery Wrap or Aluminum Panel. Deck the halls with a fine art print of your family’s annual Christmas photo, or if you consider yourself skilled with a camera, why not take one of your own wintery landscape photos and have it printed?

Our Canvas Gallery Wraps are hand stretched onto deep wooden frames for easily placement or hanging, and are printed using specialty pigmented inks with archival qualities, so your holiday photos can be displayed as works of art.

We now also offer our high-gloss Aluminum Panels in a larger format, up to 40 x 60, which makes them great for creating your very own holiday wall décor. Thanks to their mounting, the vivid images appear almost three-dimensional, seemingly jumping off the wall.

 

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Personalized Placemats – A lot of time during the holidays is spent around the dinner table, so why not add your own personal holiday touches to your tablespace? Customize placemats using our Photolab to match your Christmas theme: our experts recommend using a photo of last year’s Christmas tree, the gingerbread house your kids made, or even a snapshot of the snowman you built. You can even personalize with text (a simple ‘Merry Christmas’ works great).

 

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Photo Coasters – If you’re planning on entertaining, it’s the details that will really impress your guests. Instead of pulling out your usual old coasters for guests to use, customize your own holiday coasters with some personal photos and the help of our Photolab. Make them all the more festive with some text: “Eat, Drink and be Merry!”, for example.

Get started with any of these fun and festive décor ideas at our new Photolab website or by visiting any London Drugs location.

 

Holiday Order Deadlines

A great selection of products are available for same day or next day pickup, up to Saturday, December 24 including Enlargements, Canvas Gallery Wraps, Express Books, Photographic Calendars and Mugs. See a photolab expert for details.

Be sure to place your orders for the below products before the listed dates to ensure Christmas delivery:

Photobooks, Calendars and Traditional Greeting Cards: Wednesday, December 14

Creative Products: Wednesday, December 14

Crystals: Tuesday, December 13

Crystallize-it 3D Photo Crystals: Tuesday, December 13

Bobbleheads: Monday, November 14

Yes Video: Friday, November 25

 

Click here for information about order deadlines.



January 6th, 2015

Should Old Photos Be Forgotten?

Because that’s what will happen in 2015 to all those great photos you’ve taken during the holidays if you leave them on your hard drive or sock them away in the cloud. Sure, you’ll share them on your InstaTwitFace account, where they will accumulate Likes and warm & fuzzy comments, but within a few days your followers’ collective short-lived attention span will flitter elsewhere and your wonderful holiday photos will fade away into obscurity.

Don’t relegate your holiday photos to the cloud. Print them out using one of our many options and display them throughout the year.

Don’t relegate your holiday photos to the cloud. Print them out using one of our many options and display them throughout the year.

OR…

You could actually, you know, do something with them. Like turn them into actual physical keepsakes. The kind that people are able to see in perpetuity. And every time they cast their eyes on it they will remember that specific moment or event. After all, isn’t that why we photograph these moments in the first place? Not so that they can remain a bunch of digital information packets that we archive indefinitely in cyberspace.

The specific kind of physical product you should create is entirely up to you. You can go for something traditional and classic, or choose a piece with a funkier, more modern edge, or maybe warm & fuzzy is more your thing. And yes, you can even opt for something purposefully tacky if the photo calls for it.

If you’re not familiar with the Photolab’s photo printing products, I’ve reviewed a few of the more popular ones below.

Enlargements and Awesome Prints

The holidays are the time of the year when typically the whole family gets together. The whole gang of friends, too. At the workplace, the annual holiday party is the one of the few times where everyone is gathered in one place—and the marketing department actually gets dressed up! All of which are reasons why this tends to be the best time of year for taking photos, and why holiday photos often make the best ones to put on display. The Photolab offers a great selection of enlargements and art prints to suit any photo, occasion, or décor.

Enlargements— To begin with, there’s always the simple, tried and true photo enlargements. The Photolab can print sizes from 7 x 7” all the way up to 44 x 66” — the latter being the ideal size if a co-worker is photographed in a Christmas sweater so hideous it simply begs to be on display in the lunchroom all year.

A simple enlargement is a great option for a desk photo, or if you’ve already got a frame you really like. Hey, some people are frame fans. I get it.

Gallery wrap— If you managed to capture some amazing shots of the kids, or your winter vacation to the ski resort yielded some breathtaking scenic panoramas, a gallery wrap can provide a stunning reproduction of either.

Using specially pigmented inks, the image is stretched on a fine art canvas, which requires no frame (although you can still add one for aesthetic purposes if you wish.) The canvas wrap adds tremendous depth and dimension to the image, giving it the presence of a gallery piece. This post provides more detail about gallery wraps.

Metal Prints— If you really want to make a bold statement, a metal print is a state-of-the-art way to display a photo. This method infuses dyes onto specially coated aluminum sheets, providing vibrant colour reproduction and incredibly crisp detail. These shimmering, glass-like prints are an eye-catching way to bring life to an accent wall. I’ve written more extensively about metal prints in a previous post.

The Photolab offers quite a variety of art prints, which I encourage you to explore. You’re bound to find the ideal option to suit both your photo and your home or office.

 



December 15th, 2014

Photo gifts are the new black

Guest post from Vancouver Fashion Blogger, Vancouver Vogue

The best way to give a Christmas gift that’s truly unique is to personalize it! I was recently looking for a fun way to personalize gifts for a few of my fellow beauty vloggers, and thought custom photo ornaments would be perfect. They also make great stocking stuffers too, but I planned to use them as decorative name tags for their gifts.

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December 21st, 2013

Lighting for Christmas photos

By Angela Ford

It’s the Christmas paradox: the family is together and happy, but the Canadian December does not provide a lot of natural light for nice portraits. Does this mean you are consigned to pop-up-flash snapshots, with flat lighting and harsh shadows? Absolutely not.

Here are some creative ‘work arounds’ for the Christmas light problem—easy ways you can light your holiday images beautifully.

Go outside

But it’s cold, you say! Yes, but a quick trip outdoors will give you a much needed breath of fresh air, and you can take some lovely pictures at the same time. Get everyone into coats, hats, and mittens, and trundle outside during the daylight hours. The winter sun comes at such an angle, even mid-day light will be interesting. For playful families, this can be a fun outing, perfect for candid shots. For the less adventurous, set up your tripod and get everything ready first, then get everyone outside for a brief photo shoot.

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To avoid harsh shadows on a very sunny day, use your flash. This extra puff of light brightens up the areas that are not directly lit (notice how the child’s face in the red hat is well exposed, even though he is in the shadow of the other kids).

Find a window

For better Christmas morning photos, try opening gifts near a window in a room with plenty natural light. A window creates a soft, diffuse light from the side, which is very flattering.

If you just can’t move the action to a window, take your family members there, one by one, for a mini portrait with a new gift. Sometimes a few well thought out images capture the spirit more than dozens of random snapshots (I am always swallowing a mouthful of hot coffee in those candid shots. I crop myself out a lot).

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The gentle light from the window is angled from the side, which makes faces look lovely.

Get an external flash

Quick, there’s still time! An external flash is the single most important camera accessory, in my opinion, transforming your indoor and low light photos. A good quality external flash will be able to tilt and swivel, so you can bounce the light. Tilt the flash up and your subjects will be lit softly from above. Tilt it toward a white wall, and you will get similar lighting to a window.

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The flash is angled up to the ceiling in this shot. Notice that the light comes from above, and it is diffuse so it doesn’t cast harsh shadows.

Get another one!

I’m serious, if you already have an external flash, consider getting a second. Today’s external flashes work wirelessly together so they will fire simultaneously. With two flashes, you can place one at a more flattering 45 degree angle, or behind the subjects to backlight, or anywhere. Adding compatible flashes multiplies your creative options exponentially.

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The Nikon Speedlight SB-700 works nicely with other Nikon flash units, tripping them wirelessly for easy and versatile lighting.

Print them up!

Creating a Christmas photobook is a wonderful way to memorialize your special holiday. Take advantage of the post-Christmas quiet to organize your holiday pictures and put them into a photobook. Softcover photobooks start at $9.99, and they are a wonderful way for everyone to have a keepsake of a happy holiday.



December 19th, 2013

The Right Way to Take Pictures at the Christmas Table

By Angela Ford, Photo Blogger

You have your Christmas plate full, you take the first bite, and there is a camera in your face: “Smile!” Everyone looks around panicked, cheeks stuffed, trying to contort their faces into a smile without showing a mouthful of half-chewed turkey.

If you are the person holding the camera, no! Stop! Do not do this, and here’s why:

  • People do not look good while they are eating. Google ‘supermodels eating’ and see for yourself. If they look horrible, so will Aunt Edna.
  • People are ravenous, they have smelled that gorgeous bird cooking for hours, finally the toasts are over, and… then you want to take a picture? This is not a recipe for relaxed and happy subjects.
  • Food only looks good if it hasn’t been touched. Take a look at your half-finished plate and ask yourself, if I took a picture of this right now, could I fool my friends into thinking this is my dog’s plate? Yes, the answer is always yes. Not a pretty backdrop for a photo.

But, you say, sharing a holiday meal captures the spirit of the holidays! Here I completely agree, but there are ways to take awesome photos of the family enjoying the meal without actually photographing the family enjoying the meal.

Take your posed pictures early in the day

I think people are tempted to take pictures at the table because finally, everyone is in one place. Instead, set aside a half hour earlier in the day (natural light!) to take a proper portrait, so you will not feel the compulsion of photographing people at their most gluttonous.

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Don’t these people look happy? Just a few minutes early in the day will save you the panic of getting the dreaded family table shot.

Photograph the prep

As an avid cook, my favourite meal of the year is Christmas dinner. It takes me several days, and like many other cooks, the bustle of the kitchen before the meal represents a gift I am giving to my family.

Take pictures of the gravy-making, the turkey carving, the chatter of everyone packed into the kitchen—this is the essence of Christmas.

Although their kitchen is much more orderly than mine, this action shot captures the camaraderie of preparing the Christmas meal.

Although their kitchen is much more orderly than mine, this action shot captures the camaraderie of preparing the Christmas meal.

Shoot the final product

Whether you serve your meal at the table or buffet style, there is a perfect moment when the meal is finished, it looks beautiful and appetizing, and no one has taken a serving. Take a picture of this, perhaps with the cooks, to preserve this small, beautiful moment.

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Capture the cook’s handiwork by taking a picture before everyone digs in.

Take your table picture before everyone starts

You REALLY want to take a table picture, I can tell. Here are the rules. Announce to your guests that you want to take a photo of the toast. Before you serve the meal, pour the wine glasses, and have everyone sit down around the beautiful table. I like to set up a tripod, so everyone is in the photo, and set my camera timer (practice this before, so you won’t waste valuable eating time).

Now everyone is smiling with a drink, raising it up (which stretches the neck and torso and looks more flattering), and you have your table photo.

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All right, you’ve got your table picture! Now put it away, fill your tummy, enjoy the company, and wait for the plates to be cleared before you get your camera out again.

Print it up!

Taking beautiful Christmas pictures (that don’t capture people eating) is something to share! When you order your prints, you can tell the London Drugs counter to ‘Book it’ when you pick them up. The lab technicians can make you an instant photobook to share with your friends and family.



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