Tips for perfect holiday photos

‘Tis the season for food, family – and photos! (Okay, presents too, but that ruins the alliteration we were going for…)

This holiday season, we want to make sure you take the best photos possible. Of course, this might be a little self-serving (we’d love for your best photos to wind up on Collage.com photo products), but there’s no better time than the holidays to get photos with distant friends and family you don’t see often.

Our top holiday photo tip? Get close! Nothing ruins a photo (especially when you’re going to print it) more than digital zooms on smartphone cameras. Use your feet to get close to whatever you want a photo of instead of zooming in. You might need to take a few more steps, but it’ll be worth it. And besides, what better time to get close to your family and friends (literally) than the holiday season?

Take a lot of photos. Now that the cost of taking a photo is basically free, given digital cameras that don’t use film, there’s no reason not to take a bunch of photos at a time. That way, if one shot doesn’t work out, you have other options to choose from. No, you don’t need to make everyone wait around to take them all. Try using your camera’s “burst mode” if it has one to take multiple photos at a time. (On an iPhone, just hold down the shutter button in the camera app).

Turn on a light! Make sure your photos are well-lit – and if they’re not, turn on a light (so long as it isn’t behind your subject, which will result in a backlit silhouette-type shot). Photos taken in low light typically look bad, and there’s not much you can do after the fact to brighten them without losing quality.

Edit with Collage.com. Our website offers a full suite of photo editing tools that are free, easy to use and don’t require any software installation. You can do everything with our tools from adjusting contrast/brightness/saturation to removing red eye to adding cool visual effects. Here’s a guide with more info on how to edit your photos with Collage.com.

We hope you have a fun, safe, and photo-filled holiday season with your family and friends!

Make DIY gift cards for last minute gifts

DIY Collage.com gift cardSo you forgot to buy a present for Aunt Ethel. For Lisa in accounting. For your nephew. For cousin David (twice removed).

It happens. We’ve been there. And we have the answer:

Introducing, the printable DIY Collage.com Gift Voucher — a cute, tangible token of good things to come, courtesy of you. Just log onto the site, purchase a voucher for a product of your choice, and get printing. All you need is some ink and some tape and it’s like you’ve been planning this since July.

In fact, gift cards are a great gift even if you legitimately have been planning since July. Who doesn’t want to design their own photo collage and have it printed on a blanket/pillow/shower curtain for free? No one.  Perfect for (almost) everyone; extra-perfect for crafty people, pet-obsessed people, recent newlyweds, parents of newborns, and people who already have everything.

We’d say “don’t delay!,” but…well, the whole point of these things is that you can delay (and delay and delay) and still have something physical to hand over at Christmas. So, you know, take your time, I guess? But if you did want to get a jump start, you can shop ’em and print ’em right now.

Order gift vouchers for fleece photo blankets, gallery wrap canvases, photo mugs, metal photo prints, photo books, custom ornaments, or photo gift wrap.

Make your own Halloween trick-or-treat bags

As if the shorter evenings, leaves starting to change color, and start of football season weren’t reminders enough, we’ll be direct: October is here. And that means Halloween isn’t far off!

We’re big fans of Halloween at Collage.com – and especially love using our custom products and design tools to make it even more fun.

Our basic tote bag is one of the best products to customize for Halloween.

Halloween tote bag

Custom tote bags work perfectly as bags for candy, or for carrying extra costume supplies or anything else you might need while trick or treating.

Halloween tote bag

Of course, you can customize more than just our tote bags for Halloween. Why not make a Halloween blanket, or some jack ‘o lantern indoor-outdoor pillows for your front porch? We can’t wait to see whatever you create!

New: photo prints from Collage.com

Free your photos from your phone or camera. Order our new archival photo prints to share and cherish for years instead!

Photo prints in multiple sizes

Our photo prints come are available in six sizes: 4″ x 4″, 4″ x 6″, 5″ x 5″, 5″ x 7″, 8″ x 8″, and 8″ x 10″ prints. You can order our prints with either a matte or glossy finish.

No matter which size and finish you choose, your prints will be on premium Fuji Crystal Archive paper which ensures vivid colors for years to come.

What are you waiting for? Order some of our new prints today!

 

Summer entertaining tips from Collage.com

Are you entertaining guests outside this summer? Here are some of our favorite summer entertaining tips – and a favorite cocktail recipe!

Outdoor photo pillows

Outdoor pillows are perfect conversation starters. We’ve loved entertaining all summer with our new outdoor throw pillows. These water-resistant pillows are great to leave around your deck, porch, or pool area. You can easily customize each one to feature favorite photos or patterns. Use our outdoor pillows to easily create a theme for an outdoor summer party – you can even use them as party favors for guests to bring home!

New custom aprons from Collage.com

Grilling? Don’t forget your custom photo apron! Are you grilling on the deck for friends and family? Don’t forget your Collage.com custom photo apron – and the charcoal and lighter fluid! Custom aprons are a great way to protect your clothes when cooking outside while making a statement, since you can customize them any way you’d like.

Strawberry rhubarb crisp

Don’t forget dessert. Everybody knows the best part of every meal is dessert. Summer lends itself to using fresh fruit like locally-grown strawberries and blueberries. (As a Michigan-based company, we’re especially partial to anything grown in the Great Lakes State!) Pictured above is a strawberry rhubarb crisp our photography director Thayer made for a summer party.

Coasters and cocktails

People love cocktails. This might come as a shock to you, but: party guests like cocktails. They’ll like them even more with our custom photo coasters. Whether you’re throwing an outdoor party to celebrate a summer wedding anniversary like the coasters above, or just gathering with family and friends for a relaxing Sunday, you can’t go wrong with our coasters.

Looking for a great cocktail recipe to enjoy this summer? Check out one of our favorites: Ladera rum punch (from the Hungry with Children blog)

3 easy tips for great fireworks photos

Independence Day is just around the corner, and that means fireworks!

Fireworks can be tricky to photograph, but not if you plan ahead and keep a few things in mind while you’re shooting:

Steady! A tripod is the best way to make sure your fireworks photos turn out great, since your camera needs to be still for a longer period of time to take a nice picture in low light. If you don’t have a tripod or monopod, you can try setting your camera on a flat, steady surface and using its self-timer or remote function so you won’t need to touch your phone.

Blurry Detroit fireworks
Here’s what handheld fireworks photos look like – not very good!
Detroit fireworks
The same vantage point as the shot above, except the camera is placed on a ledge and fired via self-timer

Turn HDR on your iPhone/Android camera: If you’re using a smartphone like an iPhone to take your fireworks photos, we suggest turning HDR (high dynamic range) on your phone. This takes a few photos with different exposures at once, then combines them into one photo. HDR can be a good way to capture vivid fireworks displays against the dark night sky.

Don’t wait for the grand finale: Everyone loves the grand finale of fireworks (“ooh! aah!”) – but they’re usually not the best time to take photos. Why? Your photos will show the smoke from the entire fireworks show, which will be more noticeable on camera than in real life. Don’t believe us? Check out the photo below!

GrandFinale
This would be an amazing photo of the fireworks grand finale… if it wasn’t for all the smoke!

Of course, you can get more advanced with your fireworks photos. Adjusting your shutter speed and aperture and ISO levels can really pay off, but for casual photographers, these tips will help out this Independence Day weekend. Don’t forget to take more photos than you think you might need, since it’s easier to review them once you’re home after the big show!

Wherever you enjoy fireworks this year, show off your best photos after the event on one of our new outdoor photo pillows, gallery wrap canvases, fleece photo blankets, or one of our other printed-to-order photo products.

All of us at Collage.com wish you a safe and happy Independence Day weekend!

New custom pet beds for your dog or cat

Last week, we announced our new custom wall tapestries and dog and cat bowls.

This week, we’re excited to announce new custom pet beds – perfect for your dog or cat! These oversized 40″ x 30″ pillows are perfect for dog beds and cat beds. Our pet beds feature your photos or designs printed in sharp detail on the plush fleece pillow top with a tan-colored natural weave backing.

Pet bed opening

All pet owners know their dog or cat sometimes means a little extra cleaning. That’s why our custom pet beds feature a removable, machine-washable cover. Whether you’re just trying to quickly clean up dog hair or – some other unspeakable mess – our pet bed’s cover will hold up in the wash!

It’s way past time for you to throw out that old, ratty dog or cat bed and replace it with a stylish pet bed your cat or dog will love. Design one of our new custom pet beds today! 

 

Add color to any wall with new custom photo tapestries

We’re really excited to announce our newest product: custom photo tapestries!

Custom photo tapestries

Custom tapestries are the best way to add vibrant color to any wall. They print in vibrant, sharp detail and come in two sizes: a large 51″ x 60″ tapestry, and a humongous 60″ x 60″ size to add even more excitement to your walls.

Tapestry hanging hook

Because our tapestries are made out of a lightweight polyester material, they’re easy to hang however you’d like. We like using push pins or clips, but feel free to get creative with hanging your tapestries!

Tapestry detailYou can easily customize each tapestry with images from your phone, computer, camera, Facebook, or Instagram. We also offer a historical photo archive, which is perfect for decorating your walls with vintage prints or illustrations.

We know you’ll love our new tapestries – so design one today! 

Make one of our new custom dog and cat bowls today

We love pets at Collage.com, which is why we’re so excited to announce our two newest products: custom dog bowls and cat bowls.

Custom cat bowl

Made out of durable, heavyweight ceramic, our dog bowls and cat bowls can be easily customized with your favorite photos, text, or backgrounds. Our tools make it so easy to import photos from your phone, computer, Facebook, or Instagram account to feature around the edge of your bowl.

Photo dog bowl

 

Our custom dog bowl is available in two sizes – perfect for dogs from a chihuahua all the way up to a Great Dane! Our custom cat bowls are available in one size that should be perfect for nearly any cat. Both bowls feature a weighted bottom to ensure they won’t tip over.