May 9th, 2017

Dear Dads: let the Photolab uncomplicate Mother’s Day

Dear dads,

Guess what? Mother’s Day will be upon us very soon. I’m sure your kids are well aware of this and may have alerted you already, but in case they haven’t you can thank me later; not just for the heads-up, but also for the gift solutions that this post will provide. Gift solutions that are convenient, unique, and require zero popsicle sticks, rubber bands, glue, cotton swabs or dreaded glitter (it’s ok to admit this…all parents dread glitter to some degree. At least when it’s used by children in the home).

As this post aims to demonstrate, personalized photo gifts are tailor-made for Mother’s Day. They require thoughtfulness and creativity, yet they are so simple to create using the Photolab website or in-store kiosks that even pre-school and kindie-age kids can put them together with minimal adult assistance. In fact, my own six-year old daughter has agreed to help me create a personalized photo mug. She’s quite computer savvy for her age (and all kids her age seem to be computer savvy) but it was her first time using the Photolab site, and she was able to do most of it by herself — especially when it came time to create and customize the design.

One reason Photolab gifts work so well for Mother’s Day is because you can make them into a modern-day variation of the handcrafted gift simply by using an uploaded child’s illustration instead of a photograph. Here I’ve scanned a picture my daughter drew for her mom.

In case it’s unclear, what you are looking at is a dragon showing love to its human ‘mommy’ (I do NOT let my kids watch Game of Thrones, I swear). Although she knew it was for a Mother’s Day gift, I’m not sure why she opted not to colour this one or choose another of her myriad full-colour drawings. But hey, it is not the place of mortals to question the artist’s muse. Anyway, after she drew it I scanned it and uploaded it to my Photolab account.

She chose the template and dragged-and-dropped her image into it — all I had to do was help her type the words (I suggested she use her impressive printing skills to print them herself on paper and upload the scan, but she insisted on using the keyboard — just like a big girl).

The video picks things up from the Occasions > Select a Product page. As you can see, while she needed a bit of instruction and assistance, she was able to use the site to bring her artistic vision to life.

I stopped it there so that you wouldn’t have to sit there and wait for her to slowly type out her greeting. The next video (below) picks things up again after she finished typing her message.

Yes indeed — she wanted to keep shopping! If I had allowed her to continue, every living family member probably would have received a personalized Mother’s Day photo gift. As with most kids, she is a quick study when it comes to technology, and I have no doubt that she will need little or no help the next time she is inspired to create a photo gift for someone.

So Dads, if you’re looking for an original Mother’s Day gift, think of how surprised Mom will be when she opens a photo gift that’s been personalized just for her with her children’s artwork or pictures they took themselves. It could be a mug, a collage, a shirt or blanket, or a simple greeting card. Or take the kids to a Photolab location and let them choose the gift themselves. Hey, as long as it’s made with love, that’s all Mom cares about…right?



May 9th, 2017

Dear moms: drop some hints for Mother’s Day

Dear moms,

I don’t suppose I have to tell you that Mother’s Day is coming up. And we both know that as I write this, your earnest and loving children — perhaps guided by their well-meaning father — are thinking about what kind of gifts will adequately show their love and appreciation for all that you do.

Well moms, as a token of my appreciation for all that you do, I’m writing this post to help you steer them in the right direction. The Photolab, in case you are not aware, offers an abundance of gift items that work perfectly for Mother’s Day:

  • they require creativity and thought, yet are simple to build using the Photolab website or in-store kiosks;
  • they are practical yet have lasting value in the memories they help share, and can be made to suit any and all personal tastes;
  • they are reasonably priced, with great gift ideas to fit any budget.

Best of all, they are gifts that kids of any age can create; with a little adult assistance, even the little ones can bring their gift ideas to life. That said, it never hurts to drop a few hints if there is something you’d prefer to receive. And that is really where this post comes in.

Below are some past Photoblog posts that feature some great Photolab gift ideas, most of which include a brief tutorial on how to create them. Feel free to have a quick read and share on the one(s) whose gifts you’d like to receive on Facebook, Pinterest, or whichever social media outlets are most likely to be seen by your kids, well-meaning fathers and it anyone else it may concern.

Photobooks:

Photobook, photo album, what’s the difference?

It’s Time To Build a New Photobook

 

Personalized greeting cards and mugs:

Make a Personalized Valentine’s Day card using the new in-store kiosks!

New Easter Templates for Cards and Mugs

 

Photo blankets:

Photo blankets are a real thing

 

Photo collages:

Make an awesome photo collage with the new Photolab website!

 

And here are a couple more great gift hints from the Photolab that haven’t been the subject of recent posts but are droppable all the same:

Smart phone & iPad cases

Crystals

Even better, while there is still time, browse the Photolab site yourself or stop by your local London Drugs and check out all the Mother’s Day gift ideas for yourself — and remember to share, share, share anything you like. After all, picking up subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) hints is also a life skill all kids should learn.

 



April 19th, 2017

National Pictures of the Year Award Nominations Printed at London Drugs: Exhibition Recognizes the Best in Canadian Photojournalism

 

London Drugs has been a proud supporter of the Capture Photography Festival in Vancouver since its inauguration in 2013. The festival features both local and international lens-based artistic talent through high-profile gallery exhibits throughout the city of Vancouver. For the second year in a row, London Drugs printed the festival’s entire National Pictures of the Year Awards exhibit, displayed at Vancouver’s Pendulum Gallery.

London Drugs Photolab Technicians worked closely with the News Photographers Association of Canada (NPAC) to print the exhibit, which features finalists for the largest photojournalism competition in Canada. Thirteen categories are represented, including news, sports and social issues.

Photo of Superhero window cleaners outside Kingston General Hospital by Lars Hagberg with The Canadian Press. Printed on Epson Professional Lustre paper by London Drugs Photolab Technicians.

London Drugs Photolab Technicians collaborated with NPAC and the 2016 National Pictures of the Year coordinator Ric Ernst to print each of the finalist’s photos in gallery quality, to each photographer’s specifications.

“This is our second year having the London Drugs Photolab print our exhibit for the Capture Photography Festival and once again the quality of our exhibition prints are superb. I have to admit, the first year I was somewhat skeptical about London Drugs printing our images but was blown away by the quality of work they produced for us. I had no doubts this year and was not disappointed,” says Ernst.

Among the photos printed by the London Drugs Photolab was an image of CrossFit athlete Lindsay Hilton, captured in her element by Canadian photographer Darren Calabrese, as part of a series he was working on for ESPN. The photo was selected as a Picture Story Feature finalist for the National Pictures of the Year Awards.

“The project with Lindsay Hilton began after I had seen a local story about one of her workout videos going viral. That story was a straightforward news item, but I was interested in learning more about her as a person rather than just an athlete,” explains Calabrese. “I shot the series over a span of five or six months. At first, I rarely shot any pictures. I would show up at the gym with just one body and a lens, but would just chat with her and the coach/gym owner. I would help with the weights sometimes and every once in a while I would jump in and try the same workout or exercise out of curiosity.”

Photo of CrossFit athlete Lindsay Hilton by Darren Calabrese. Printed on Epson Professional Lustre paper by London Drugs Photolab Technicians.

Ernst appreciates the trust that the photojournalists, including Calabrese, put in him and the London Drugs Photolab team to ensure the photos printed are as true to the original as possible. The goal is to maintain each personal art aesthetic which helps to convey the photo’s story.

“The most important part of printing our images is getting the tonal qualities and colour balance correct and as close to what the photographer achieved with the original file. The quality of the paper is important and the stock London Drugs Photolab used for our prints was premium,” says Ernst.

Ernst believes the Photolab Technicians’ own passion for photography is what makes working with London Drugs an exceptional experience. “They know what we expect and they speak the same language which makes it very easy to communicate our needs.”

Photo of Fort McMurray wildfires by Cole Burston with AFP. Printed on Epson Professional Lustre paper by London Drugs Photolab Technicians.

London Drugs Photolab Technician John Goldsmith, who worked with Ernst to print the exhibit, used London Drugs’ new Epson P-9000 printer for many of the finalists’ photos. Authentic Epson inks will provide a lifetime of enjoyment, with an archival stability of 200 years. These new printers can now be found in every London Drugs Photolab, and will be used to print customers’ photos in gallery-quality, whether it’s for an exhibit or to hang on their walls at home.



March 24th, 2017

Photobook, photo album, what’s the difference?

If you’ve browsed the Photolab website, you may have noticed that both are described as ‘books’. However, some products are actually photo albums, while others are books comprised of (your) photography. True, in many ways they are similar; but there are also some key differences between them.

Let’s begin with their similarities: You can customize both using the Photolab website and in-store kiosks, and both are printed at the highest quality possible by Photolab technicians. As for their differences, the biggest is the type of paper used in each. All photo albums are printed on high quality photo paper (usually pearl finish, but glossy is available for certain albums.) True photobooks meanwhile, are printed on archival bond paper, which lends them a contemporary and realistic book feel. You can curl the pages of a photobook, while the photo paper in albums is more stiff. However, because of the way they’re bound you can flat-lay the photo albums; photobooks, not so much.

Of course, I could just make it easy for you and list which is which:

Albums

 

Photobooks

 

You’ll notice that albums offer a wider range of products. Express books and Instagram books are great options to keep in a purse or in an office drawer; something you can pull out for quick and easy viewing. Photographic albums, meanwhile, can have some real heft to them and are perfectly suited as a wedding album or for documenting years of family history (as photo albums have traditionally done). Photobooks, meanwhile, are lightweight and lend themselves well to creative expression. They’re a great choice for when photos are only part of the story you want to tell, or if you’d like to be able to design the cover. If you’d really like to know which type of book is the best choice for any given situation, the best thing to do is discuss your options with the Photolab technican at your neighbourhood London Drugs. And if you’d like to know just how easy and convenient they are to create and customize, well, there are Photoblog posts that cover that—just check out a few of these.



March 20th, 2017

Make springtime the photobook making season

Photobooks let you re-live that luau all year long.

Maybe it’s me, but it seems there are a lot of people going away on sunny tropical vacations this spring break. Well, for the rest of us who aren’t quite so lucky, we may not be taking a ton of exciting new photos this spring, but we can do something to preserve all the great photos we’ve already taken—in a format that’s much more fun (not to mention more real) to browse through. I refer, of course, to photobooks.

Trust me…make at least one or two now, in the spring, before you get busy again. If you’re already up to your elbows in spring cleaning, you may as well grab all those ancient pre-digital photo albums and prints you have slowly decaying in boxes and bins (and yes, that’s actually what they’re doing), and organize them into a scan box for the Photolab technicians to turn into high-quality digital scans. Then, get creative and make a photobook or two that will truly do justice to those priceless photos of days gone by. It’s the best way to ensure they never get buried in storage again. You’ll be able to display them prominently on your coffee table, and share them with the friends and family who had undoubtedly forgotten they exist.

Or, if you’re a winter lover who is too busy lamenting the inevitable end of a memorable winter to start your spring cleaning, why not turn your favourite memories from this past winter into a photobook? Keep it on the coffee table all year as a reminder how awesome this winter was. It will set a high bar for you and your family to beat next winter. It will be a fun and convenient way to look back on over Easter or a rainy spring (for our west coast readers).

You can create and personalize one in a few minutes using your local Photolab’s in-store kiosk (I’ve posted a number of how-to’s here on the Photoblog this past year.) If you have your digital photos organized and earmarked it takes even less time; it also depends on the amount of editing you want to do, and of course, the more experience you gain as a photobook-maker, the quicker and easier it gets. And if you happen to be one of those lucky ones taking a spring vacation, remember you can use the Photolab website to create a photobook from your poolside lounger.



February 8th, 2017

Photobooks and Valentine’s Day photo cards

Sentiment and romance—they’re like the twin pillars of Valentine’s Day. And if your gift is lacking in one, you’d better hope it covers the other. Fortunately, the Photolab has been a solid go-to for occasions like Valentine’s Day for, well, I don’t even know how long. I guess all that matters is that the Photolab will be there for us again this Valentine’s Day, with a couple of simple gifts that score off the charts when it comes to sentiment and can also be as romantic as you want to make them.

To be a success, after all, a Valentine’s Day gift doesn’t need to be particularly expensive, but it does need to be thoughtful in nature (I suppose this is true of any gift, really).  And what could more thoughtful than browsing through old photos of you and your significant other (S.O.), looking for just-perfect photos to build a personalized card or photobook around? That, friends, is the very definition of sentimentality. In fact, the only way it could be more sentimental is if the card could also somehow play ‘your’ song as it’s opened (hmmm…note to the Photolab…)

As for romance, that, my friends, is up to you and photo-choosing skills. (And also, I suppose, your photo-taking skills—because you need to have romantic photos featuring your S.O. in order to choose romantic photos.) The Photolab kiosk and website have a selection of themes to cover any mood you want to create, from light & breezy to super-smooth romance. So provided you have the right photos—you know the ones; the tropical beach, the moonlight shot, the embrace, the one from that special night—a photo card or photobook can be as romantic as the ‘candlelight dinner + dozen roses + Barry White playlist’ triple crown.

This is usually the point in the post where I bust into the walkthrough showing how to create the gift item in question using the Photolab in-store kiosks and website, but in this case creating photobooks and greeting cards have been covered in detail:

Creating a photobook

Creating a personalized Valentine’s Day card

Do yourself a favour this V-Day: forget the clichés, forego dropping a fortune on extravagance, and stick with a simple testament to how well you know the special someone in your life and how fond you are of the memories you’ve created together. That, friends, is truly Valentine’s gold.

Just a sample of personalized greeting card Valentine’s Day themes available via the Photolab website and in-store kiosks.



February 8th, 2017

Photo blankets are a real thing

The London Drugs Photolab continues to expand its impressive line of photo gifts. This is very good news for people like me who are always struggling to find fresh and interesting gift ideas for occasions like Valentine’s Day.  You can only give the same person a photo mug or a fine art print so many times, after all. Regardless of the quality of the print or the perfection of the chosen photo, after a while the recipient is going to wonder why you never bother to think of something new. It’s ok. They don’t need to know that the Photolab is happy to do this kind of thinking for you.

For example, the Photolab now boasts a robust selection of textile print gift items including t-shirts, hoodies, aprons, pillowcases and blankets. Textile gifts are perfect for a range of occasions including bachelor(ette) parties and company picnics, but to me at least they seem especially appropriate for Valentine’s Day. Giving jewelry or a vacation is a little overkill and candy/roses/dinner is lame and cliché, but giving a personalized photo blanket ticks all the boxes: sentimental, thoughtful, affordable, original and uncommon. Most importantly, if you choose something like a beautiful vacation photo of the two of you, it’s also very romantic.

And, as always, creating a textile gift is as easy as ordering prints. Here is a short walkthrough of some of the steps for ordering a photo blanket at the Photolab in-store kiosk:

From the main screen, select Creative Orders and accept the terms.

 

Choose the source of your photos to upload, for example Wireless Transfer or Facebook.

 

Once you’ve gone through the steps to select your chosen picture for your blanket, you can choose the upload size. Blankets have a large surface area, so you should choose ‘Large’.

 

Once the upload is complete, you’ll see the Photolab homepage and from here you should select ‘Textiles’ followed by ‘Blankets’.

 

Choose either than landscape or portrait orientation…

 

Finally, whether you want it to be a full rectangular image or if you want to go Valentine’s Day to the Max and choose a heart print!

 

Nearly there! You can name your project and then get to work choosing and placing your image.
There’s a Toolbar along the bottom which you can use to edit your photo and add text.

 

Then, when you’re done, proceed to the Cart page and voila! Valentine’s Day all wrapped up in a personalized blanket.

 

Come to think of it, a personalized photo blanket makes arguably the best Photolab Valentine’s Day gift—because it’s the only personalized gift that two people can snuggle in.

 



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