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 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!

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!

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.

 

Make the most out of your Mother’s Day photos

We see (and take) a lot of photos at Collage.com, because we know how important it is to preserve memories for years to come.

That’s why we want to help you take the best Mother’s Day shots possible: not only will they look great in a Collage.com photo book or on a photo blanket, but they’ll also be so meaningful decades from now when you look back on them.

Here are some of our favorite tips for taking the best photos on Mother’s Day, or anytime:

  • Get close! It’s always better to “zoom with your feet” instead of using a zoom lens or digital zoom on your phone. Try to capture as much of your subject in the photo as possible instead of the wall behind them.
  • Lighting: very important. Okay, maybe this goes without saying, but good photos feature great lighting. You don’t need to set up fancy lights or anything. Just make sure your shots aren’t backlit (unless you really want a silhouette only). We’re big fans of photos taken outdoors in natural light.
  • Don’t center everything. It’s tempting to just center the subject of each photo, but in general, avoid doing this. Learn about the “rule of thirds” for taking more interesting photos.
  • Turn up the brightness on your phone’s screen! Keeping your phone screen’s brightness down is a great way to save battery life, but it can make it hard to compose and take great photos. We recommend turning up your screen brightness when taking photos.
  • Know your camera. Whatever you use to take photos – whether it’s an iPhone, Android phone, or an actual (gasp!) camera – brush up on how best to use it. Five minutes of research can really pay off. Google for your specific camera (e.g. search for iPhone photography tips) learn ins and outs for your particular model. For example, did you know you can take photos with your iPhone’s volume buttons, or your Apple headphones?
  • Use our editing tools to improve your photos. Collage.com offers a full suite of photo editing tools that are 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 great, photo-filled Mother’s Day!

Perfect last-minute (but still thoughtful!) Mother’s Day gifts

Mother’s Day is this Sunday! Are you ready?

A custom-made, personalized gift from Collage.com is so much better than something lame off the shelf.

Even though our Mother’s Day shipping deadlines have already passed, we’re still here to help.

Design a perfect Mother’s Day gift today, and then print off one of our Mother’s Day coupons below so you have something to wrap, and so your mom or grandma knows what to look forward to in the mail!

Even though your order won’t arrive by Mother’s Day, print off the coupons below so you have something to wrap – and so your mom knows what to look forward to. Don’t forget to place your order with the great deals below! 

Click here to order a fleece photo blanket for your mom for just $45, including free shipping – and then click the coupon below to print it off at full size.

A blanket for mom

Click here to order a gallery wrap canvas for your mom (save up to 76% off regular prices!) – and then click the coupon below to print it off at full size.

A photo canvas for mom

Click here to order a photo mug for your mom (save up to 50% off ) – and then click the coupon below to print it off at full size.

A mug for mom

Want to order a different product, or make your own coupon to wrap for your mom? Click the coupon below to print it off full size. (We have other great gift ideas for Mother’s Day in our gift guide!)

BlankCouponForMom

Celebrate American history with Collage.com

Our team at Collage.com is full of history geeks. That’s why we love using our historical photo archive to create cool custom products you can’t find in a store.

Harriet Tubman pillow

Are you excited over Harriet Tubman appearing on the front of the $20 bill next year? (We are!) You can easily use our historical photo archive to make a Harriet Tubman pillow, as featured above.

Fans of Old Hickory who also love hickory-accented summer barbecues might love an Andrew Jackson-themed custom apron, too:

Andrew Jackson apron

We can’t wait to see what you create with our historical photo archive!

Mother’s Day gift ideas for your grandma

Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 8) isn’t just about celebrating your mom. Don’t forget about the grandmothers in your life, too!

Collage.com has perfect gifts your grandmother will love for Mother’s Day in our gift guide. 

High-quality printing
Hint: your grandma would love a gallery wrap canvas with her grandchildren on it!

Here are some other ideas for Mother’s Day gifts for grandmothers:

We’ll keep sharing great Mother’s Day gift ideas on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest – just watch for our #30GiftsforMom hashtag.

Tag us in any great gifts you design for your mom and grandma, too – we can’t wait to see what you create!

 

In Honor of Primary Season, Why Not Hug a President?

Grover Cleveland is a welcome addition to any living room. Dwight D. Eisenhower looks great in the den. Order a John Quincy Adams for the bedroom, and you’ll never know how you managed without him. And what nursery is complete without an extra-large Jimmy Carter?

Once, they governed from the Oval Office. Now, they’re available for your home office. It’s an election year — what better way to get into the democratic spirit than a Presidential Pillow (or six) (or 44)?

Perfect for Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Federalists, Anti-Masons, and Whigs! (You won’t be called a Know-Nothing with one of these pillows!) Ideal for residents of all 50 states and the District of Columbia!

Order one, or assemble a crowd. Here, for example, is our cuddly 27th president, William Howard Taft:

Taft Pillow

  • Only president to subsequently join the Supreme Court
  • Lost 70 pounds after leaving office.
  • May or may not have ever gotten stuck in the White House bathtub.

Or maybe you prefer the classics. Perhaps what your sofa needs is a nice pair of George Washingtons:

Washington Pillow

John Tyler looks like he could use a hug:

John Taylor pillow

  • First president sworn in because of the death of his predecessor.
  • Annexed Texas.
  • “The most unpopular public man that had ever held any office in the United States.” (New York Times, 1862)

Or maybe you’ve been longing to lounge with Lincoln:

lincoln

  • First president to use the telegraph.
  • Wore a Brooks Brothers suit.
  • Lost his first bid for president.

As the old saying goes, those who do not recline upon history are doomed to repeat it. Check out our full presidential gallery here, and make some new friends in high places.