June 3rd, 2015

Top 10 End of the School Year Gift Ideas

With the final days of school coming to an end for the summer, it may be time to start thinking about how you would like to document your school memories. For parents or students who are looking to thank their teachers or coaches with a year-end gift, photo gifts are a great way to document those memories. The London Drugs photolab has come up with some ideas to capture end of the school year moments for teacher mementos, sports teams, or even school fundraisers.


cookboook For those students who learned to cook and create their own recipes in home economics class, a class cookbook is a creative way to document your favourite class dishes. A year-end cookbook can be designed from a compilation of each student’s favourite recipe. Gift your teacher with a custom made cookbook, or create one for each student to take home. Don’t forget to create a customized place mat to go along with your favourite cookbook recipes!


scrapbooksFor students who may be transitioning from elementary school to high school or from high school to post secondary, memories of your past schooling can easily be documented in a scrapbook. These mini albums are perfect for sharing and will keep your memories safe for years to come.

Mouse pads

mouse padMouse pads are the perfect gift for teachers or coaches that love all things tech. Whether they are enjoying some down time on the computer, or researching the next topic to speak about in class, your teachers and coaches will be reminded of the great school memories through a personalized photograph printed on their office mouse pad.


clipboardPersonalized clipboards are the perfect gift for active coaches, teachers, instructors, and group leaders. Print a photo on one side and add a personal message near the top or bottom of the board. Or, add a diagram of a soccer pitch, football field, baseball diamond, or hockey rink, which is perfect for coaches who illustrate plays and strategies with dry-erase markers.

Trading cards

cardsDo you have team spirit? Show off your team’s skills by creating personalized trading cards for your teammates. Construct a 16 pack of trading cards to document your teammates stats, or create a 52 set of playing cards dedicated to each member of the team.


Wrap up the end of the school season with a personalized bookmark to capture your favourite memories. Collages of photos are a creative way to document the best moments from that year. For book club lovers, create a personalized bookmark for your favourite book buddy. Or, for an easier way to keep tabs on material in textbooks, think about gifting your teacher with a bookmark.


puzzlePhoto puzzles are fun gifts ideas that are perfect for a variety of occasions. Give your teacher or coach something entertaining to do this summer by gifting them with a customized puzzle. Constructing the puzzle pieces will keep them occupied on summer vacations or rainy days at the cabin while also reminiscing over the memories of the school year.

Jewellery Box

jewellry boxFor students that loved their ceramics class, why not give your teacher a personalized jewellery box to store all of their ceramics treasures? The interior of the jewellery box is lined with soft, white, felt and is perfect for safely storing rings, necklaces, and other treasured items. Choose a photograph to mount on top of the jewellery case – perhaps a picture of you and your teacher.


calendarIf keeping on track is a challenge for you, a calendar to keep tabs of school classes or school events might be a necessity. The photolab has a variety of calendar designs and sizes so you can easily fit your agenda in your purse or bag while on the go. You can even customize each month of the calendar with class photos and give it as a gift to your teacher at year end!

Thank you cards

thank you cardsFor those teachers or coaches that have made a lasting impression, send them a thank you for all their hard work. Make sure to document some of your best moments through a personalized photo on a custom-made greeting card, postcard or magnet.

To add to the Thank you card and a gift that takes no time but can be personalized as your teacher or coach wishes, consider a London Drugs gift card as thanks for all of their hard work over the year. The gift card can be used for polish and pampering in cosmetics, travel readiness in cameras and photography or work essentials in computers.

For more great gift ideas from photolab, make sure to visit the London Drugs photolab at your local London Drugs location, or online at photolab.londondrugs.com.

June 12th, 2013

Wedding photobooks: 3 Ways

Here is a short history of the wedding album, from the perspective of my family.

  • The shoebox: One set of my grandparents got married in 1934. They were from Saskatchewan farming families, with not a lot of money. They have no photos from their wedding at all, and all of their early family photos were kept in a shoebox.
  • The colourized portrait: My other set of grandparents was married in 1948. Having left their respective farms to work in the city, they had a little more money, and access to a photographer. They had about four posed shots done, each developed and hand-coloured. One made it into the family album.
  • The traditional album: My parents married in 1971, and they had several wedding photos: snapshots, as well as professional pictures. They have a dedicated calfskin wedding album with vellum between the thick black pages.
  • The professional album: I was married in 1995, and our photographer created a formal album for us. The prints were mounted and presented in a leather bound album.
  • The scrapbook: My sister was married in 2000. She made a scrapbook of her wedding photos, complete with fancy paper, ribbons, and other decorative doo-dads.
  • The photobook: My other sister was married in 2008, in the era of digital photos. She has photobooks of her wedding, full of professional and candid shots, all made by friends and family.

Each era reflects a certain time and look, and I’m sure nearly every Canadian family has representatives from each of these different albums.

July 20th, 2012

Get into Instagram: A Mini-Guide from app to print

I admit I’m a photo snob: I like my DSLR and I only use my camera phone as a last resort. With a few exceptions, my Photo Roll contains images of curtains, furniture, and other people’s gardens, like a visual notebook to terrify my husband. And then I discovered Instagram, and I am a complete convert to smartphone pictures.

March 19th, 2012

Electronic Scrapbooking: My New Obsession

Last month I wrote about approaching photobooks as you would a scrapbook. This got me thinking, just how much creative freedom do I have using Home Edition? So I tried this little experiment: using the same seven pictures, I set out to create three radically different looks.

It sounds like a simple enough plan. What I didn’t anticipate, however, is the addictive quality of digital scrapbooking. I started with the best intentions—to make three simple looks using the basic layout tools in Home Edition. What happened, however, was an explosion of ideas. Once I started tweaking, I discovered new layers and new possibilities. Before I knew it, three hours had gone by, I had seven different looks, and lots more ideas.

I had to close the program, or else this article would never get written.

Here’s what I came up with.

Taking Home Edition for a Spin

Before you see my pages, I want to be clear that I have no background at all in graphic design. I am not technologically savvy, either, so trust that the program is very simple to use. Take a look at the tool bar for Home Edition—it appears on the right hand side of the screen.

At the bottom you can see your major tool categories. Each category has many options that you drag-and-drop onto your page. Don’t like it? You can undo, or drag something else right on top. Super easy.

Using a Theme

For my first page, I chose the preset travel theme: faded maps on parchment paper. I then selected Page Layouts and chose the staggered three-photo layout and the four-photo layout with the text box. After dragging and dropping the photos into place, I added a pale blue border, chose my font, and added a little clipart—the sun on the upper left and the little sandy footprints on the right.

The result: this was very quick to do, and I like the subtle travel background. Since themes carry over from page to page, this would give a nice cohesive feel to a vacation photobook.

Playing with Photo Shapes

For the second book, I went more freestyle, browsing through the backgrounds until I found this one. The colours are bold and warm, and the flowers on the bottom are similar to one of my photos.

Then I discovered photo shapes. To give some digital interest, I used oval shapes on the right hand page, which I think balances nicely with the squares on the left. The result is a bold page that evokes the feeling of the hot Mexican beaches.
I was happy with this until I delved deeper into photo shapes. At the top right is a drop-down menu, containing even more shape options.

I used letter shapes on the landscape photo, so spell out the word MEXICO in saturated sunset. Then I discovered a tiling feature under ‘Geometric’ that added interest to the flower picture. With a new background of sandy footprints, the page is transformed.

Using a Photo as a Background

If you drag any photo onto your page, Home Edition will ask you if you want to use it as a background. For this page I used the landscape shot as the background. When I selected my Page Layouts, I opted for smaller picture sizes so you can still see the lovely landscape. With a subtle title and soft grey borders, this page came together nicely.

Then I discovered something cool. With any photo, you can apply a filter so it is displayed in black and white or sepia. Just to experiment, I used a sepia filter on the background photo. I think I love it even more than the colour background—the photos stand out and the page has a warm, nostalgic feel.

Playing with Photo Borders

I love a vintage album look, so for this page I started with a black background. I chose Page Layouts with text boxes. You can add a text box at any time, but these layouts included them. To stay with the vintage feel, I found a font called Monospaced, which looks like it was done on a typewriter.

Once my photos were placed, I got creative with photo borders. First I dragged a simple white border to each picture. Then I dragged a white and grey border, and selected ‘Add border’ when prompted. This double border created a matted look that I like very much. Finally, I chose ‘Corners’ from the drop-down menu, and added them to each picture.

It came out beautifully. I think this would be a gorgeous look for a whole book.

Mixing it all together

For my final look, I wanted to capture the same feel as my scrapbooks. I like the texture of handmade paper, and to add more texture I chose Page Layouts that have overlapping photos. To add visual interest, I added a sepia filter to the two focal points—the girl blowing bubbles and the family shot. The colours in the other photos accent the page. To finish it off, I added simple white borders.

These seven looks are just the tip of the iceberg. Given more pictures and more time, I could have played all day.

To get started on your own digital scrapbook, download the free Home Edition software, which works on both PC and Mac.

Angela Ford, Scrapbook Enthusiast

March 2nd, 2012

Electronic Scrapbooking – All of the fun, none of the mess

When the scrapbooking craze was at its height, I had a suitcase full of paper, stencils, corner clippers, and shape punchers. I spent hours cropping photos, arranging and rearranging page layouts, and sticking on letters and borders. Scrapbooking satisfied a creative need to present my images as a story.

My first foray into photobook creation was intimidating, to say the least. The options for layout, theme, photo borders, and text boxes seem endless, and I looked at my first blank page for ages.

After fiddling for a few minutes, it occurred to me that I know how to do this. I know how to scrapbook, therefore I know how to create a photobook. The media is different—menus instead of a suitcase of supplies—but the principles are the same.

Here is my scrapbook approach to building a photobook.

Defining your beginning and end 
The first step is to limit your scope. I have thousands of photos on my hard drive—where to start? For my first photobook I chose a time frame: the Ford Family in 2010. For another book, I did a compilation of photos from five years of an annual family vacation. Occasion books are easy to define: weddings, trips, reunions, and sports tournaments. Finding your limits will help you through every step of the creation process.

Choose your pictures 
You will need at least 20 photos for a 20 page book, so at this stage choose lots of possibilities. Vary the types of photos if you can—candids, portraits, landscapes, close-ups, action shots.

I suggest copying these images into one special folder. This one little step will save you time later on: you can see all the photos together and you can quickly select these images when you open Home Edition.

Plan your story in pages 
Each page of a scrapbook or photobook is a mini story. As you sort through your photos, the stories will emerge—fun on the beach, the big ball tournament, spring in the garden, any story that can be told in a handful of snapshots, or one or two beautiful photos. Each story will be a page or spread.

At this point, don’t worry how many photos you have for each story—you will edit as you go.

Here’s where the fun begins. Look at each group and determine your focal point: the one image that tells the story. Think about the relationship between that photo and the rest in the group. For a birthday party, for example, you could have one large picture of the birthday boy, surrounded by smaller snaps you took during the party. Play with sizes and relationships—digital scrapbooking means you can resize photos to fit your page.

Home Edition gives you a good assortment of layouts that are presented in a menu on the right hand side of the screen. You can switch layouts as you go, experimenting with different looks. Once your photos are placed, it’s easy to tweak the photo size and position (something that was tough to do when scrapbooking on paper!)

The Undo Button is Your friend 
Just as scrapbookers move pictures around the page and add borders, brads, shapes, and text, so you can with electronic scrapbooking. Nothing is permanent—try out everything until your pages are perfect.

Once you get started, digital scrapbooking is as engrossing as its paper predecessor. I like how mistakes can easily be fixed. With an email request to friends and family, I can include other people’s pictures. I can order multiple copies, so my kids will have a set of family albums when they leave home. I especially like how the end product looks like a professional job, no matter how many times I moved a photo around.

To download our free photobook software, Home Edition, click here and have fun!

By Angela Ford, Amateur Photographer and Scrapbooker

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