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

seasonal-photo-tip-advice-sheet

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:

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

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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.

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Next I select Calendars from the Products page.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

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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.



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 6th, 2016

London Drugs Photolab Prints Fine Art for the 3rd Annual Capture Photography Festival

For the 3rd consecutive year, London Drugs is proud to be a sponsor of the Capture Photography Festival, celebrating local and international lens-based artistic talent in Vancouver. The festival is devoted to exhibiting challenging and thought-provoking photography at over 50 esteemed galleries and public installations.

This year, the London Drugs Photolab printed the works of several high profile Capture exhibits, including LA-based photographer Aline Smithson’s exhibit Self & Others: Portrait as Autobiography, and the News Photographers Association of Canada’s National Pictures of the Year awards exhibit.

Using the best in photofinishing equipment and innovative materials such as our Hahnemühle Fine Art Bamboo Paper, our passionate, experienced Photolab Technicians printed flawless fine art pieces hung in galleries across the city.

These fine art printing services aren’t just reserved for professionals, either. Amateurs, freelancers, and professionals alike can get museum-quality prints, using the London Drugs Photolab’s cutting-edge printing services.

Visit our Photolab in-store or online to find the right print for your photography project!



April 29th, 2016

Mother’s Day gift ideas – inspired by Photo Month

If ever there was a special day where personalized gifts were the absolutely perfect gift, it’s Mother’s Day. Yes, brunch is good. Serving mom a homemade breakfast in bed is also a tradition in many households. If you have young kids at home, having them make crafts for mom is a rite passage as well.

However, seeing as Mother’s Day takes place during Photo Month, it’s only natural that here on the Photoblog we’d tie these two special occasions together. After all, if you’re looking for a quality gift that will create a long-lasting memory but still has a D-I-Y or personalized element to it, the Photolab once again has you covered.

Here are three ways to create one-of-a-kind personalized Mother’s Day gifts:

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READ MORE



April 29th, 2016

Photo Month Workshops

If you’re a photographer, whether professional or hobbyist, the holiday season has arrived.

Well, maybe not the holiday season, but definitely a holiday season—because May is Photography Month. Sadly though, there are still a great many people who believe that May is for flowers and Mother’s Day and long weekends…who have absolutely no idea that it’s also about celebrating what is arguably the most influential and transformative art form in human history. This could be because the word is not getting out; it’s not like Photo Month is the lead story on The National or anything. Well, at least the Photolab is doing its part to share the celebration with as many London Drugs customers as possible. In fact, they’ll be doing it in the most meaningful way possible; by becoming a platform for education, helping photographers of all levels improve their skills and understanding of the medium through their ongoing series of informative workshops.

In case you weren’t aware, London Drugs regularly hosts a variety of free workshops for customers at each of their locations throughout Western Canada. These workshops are put on by each department, and the Cameras & Electronics department plus the Photolab will be hosting a number of them over the next few weeks as part of Photo Month. These workshops will include a variety of camera and photo printing subjects; many of them are hosted by subject matter experts in the local area, so the topics covered will vary by location. However, many will be hosted by local LD staff, and will feature topics like making a photo mug and using the child handprint station…in other words, things you’ll definitely need to know with Mother’s Day coming up!

And just to make sure you have no excuse to miss any of them, London Drugs has made it extremely easy to view upcoming workshops in your local area by creating this handy dedicated workshops page. Browse by department, by province, by city…finding the workshops that pique your interest couldn’t be easier, including past ones in case you’re curious. If you want to look up a particular topic, there’s even a very impressive instant search.

Whether you’re looking for creative Mother’s Day gift inspiration, the latest and greatest new camera or smartphone technology, or you’d like to learn more about drone photography, you’ll find workshops in your area that will inform and educate you. From technique to creative output, Photography Month at London Drugs is the best opportunity of the year to become better at what you love.

Happy Holidays!

workshops

Celebrate Photography Month by attending workshops. They’re free. They’re plentiful. They’re easy to find. Visit londondrugs.com/WorkshopList.html. And check out the ultra-fast search!



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