Hey everyone! I thought I would share a bit about my photo ordering process today. I've had some questions on Instagram, and maybe some here on my blog or thru emails, so I promised I would do a blog post about it for anyone interested.
When it comes to creating layouts, my go-to method of photo printing is to print them myself on my photo printer. It's easier for me to print as needed, when it comes to layouts, since I never know what size/orientation I'll want my photos until I'm ready to create a page. Or I'll decide to use a photo collage, which means individual little photos would be of no use to me.
However, when it comes to working on my Project Life albums, I go the other route and order my photos. Back in the day, I would use Costco for quick photo orders, since it's super close and convenient. But about a year and a half ago, I learned of the FreePrints app, and have been using them ever since. More on that below.
I use my iPhone for 95% of my photo taking these days. It's easy and it's always with me, and often times, it actually takes better photos than my DSLR camera. I also edit my photos on my phone, using the PicTapGo app. I am pretty good about editing photos as I take them, and I'm also pretty good at deleting any photos I don't need on a daily basis. My phone doesn't have a ton of storage on it (one big regret was not getting one with more storage), so I don't keep 14 photos of something, when I only need 1-2 photos of that same thing.
So what I've been doing for the last year and three months or so (basically since I started back up doing PL) is ordering my photos at the end of each month. I don't try and print photos on a weekly basis for Project Life, or even work on it on a weekly basis. I wait till the end of the month, and then do one big photo order. This is also when I ask both my girls to send me any photos they have for the month, so I can add those into my order as well.
The first thing I do, when I'm getting ready to do an order, is go thru and check for any photos that still need to be edited. Usually, this just involves brightening them up a bit or making the colors a bit more crisp.
Then I turn to the Project Life app on my phone. When working with the app, you can pull photos from your phone, from photos you've uploaded to Dropbox, or from the Cloud (which I will not even pretend to understand or know anything about!). Dropbox is a great way to get photos either from your computer to your phone, or from your phone to your computer (if you're not wanting to plug it in, that is). If I have any photos I've taken with my DSLR that I want to order, I upload them to Dropbox on my desktop, and then grab them from the Dropbox app on my phone.
The main thing that I use the Project Life app for, when doing my photo orders, is using the 4x6" template that allows you to put two 3x4" photos on one 4x6" print. It's super easy to use, and I can whip them out in no time. This is something that I also do in Photoshop a lot, when working with photos that are on my computer.
Now, when I worked on my Project Life album last year (2016), I was working with all sorts of different page protector configurations. So I used a lot of 4x4" photos, in addition to the 3x4" and 4x6" sizes. Oftentimes, since I wasn't sure what size I would want each photo, I would just order most of my photos in a variety of sizes. That way, I had options, as to how the pages ended up looking. It also meant I had TONS of leftover photos.
This year, I'm working with an actual 9x12" album, with true to size 9x12" pocket page protectors. These hold 3x3", 3x4" and 4x6" photos. I haven't even attempted to work any of the 3x3" pocket protectors in yet, and I think that's because to get that size photos, I would have to print them myself, sizing them in Photoshop. Which I can totally do. But working with just the 3x4" and a few 4x6" has worked out really well so far, so I'm sticking with those two sizes for now.
I will often use the Project Life app to crop my 4x6" photos as well. I actually take the majority of my pictures on my phone as squares. I'm not totally sure why, and sometimes I do regret it. Maybe it's because it's easier for me to visualize the shot, knowing that I'm going to post a photo to Instagram in the square format.
Anyways. The photo above was a square photo (although I did take landscape oriented photos that day as well), and I knew I wanted it printed as a 4x6" pic. Bringing it into the Project Life app, and using the 4x6" template is a quick way to save it cropped exactly as I'd like it to be. You can also use the templates in the app to put multiple 2x2" pics on a print, or a variety of other configurations.
I mentioned that I've been using the FreePrints app to order photos for almost a year and a half now. I've blogged a bit about them before, but I'm going to give you the scoop on them again, for anyone new here.
I had tried a few different app/sites, as far as ordering photos straight from my phone. I was most happy with the FreePrints app. You can get up to 85 prints a month for free, and all you pay is shipping. The shipping isn't super cheap (it never goes above $9.99, even if you add on more photos - which btw, are only 10 cents each and a great deal!), but it still worked out to less than I would pay for those prints if ordering from Costco. Plus, it was super easy to use and it's a great way to get those photos off your phone and printed.
You can pick them from your camera roll, or even off your Instagram account, Facebook, and/or Dropbox account. The photo above, on the left, shows photos that I had uploaded to Dropbox from my computer. These are photos that I worked on for a daycare album project I'm doing, so they include lots of 4x6" prints with two photos on each.
I usually use up my free 85 prints just ordering my photos from the month. But since additional photos are only 10 cents each (and the shipping doesn't increase at all after the $9.99), I like to try and add on some extra pics for other album projects I have going on. I've never tried ordering photos straight from my Instagram (shown on the right), but I'm sure it's a great way to do it too.
Once you pick your photos from your camera roll, Dropbox, etc, you'll be able to go thru all the photos in your order and double check them for any changes. The screenshots above show a few of my 4x6" photos with the two 3x4" pics on each.
One reason I liked this app over the others that I tried relates to square photos. If anyone other than myself takes lots of square photos from their phone, that is ;) This could also come in handy if you're ordering straight from your Instagram as well. If you upload a square photo, it keeps it square. In other apps I tried, it forced it into a 4x6" image. I loved that this app kept them square! Then you simply trim off the sides once you get the photos. I love using 4x4" photos on layouts, and they can come in handy for some pocket pages as well, so it's an easy way to get them printed.
I mentioned that I'm really only using 3x4" and 4x6" photos in my Project Life album, so the majority of my photos from each month are set up as 3x4" pics in the Project Life app for printing. But I still go in and order all of my photos, since I might want them for other projects, layouts, or albums. Basically, I will end up with lots of duplicates, but that just means that if a photo gets used in my Project Life album, the chances are really good that I have another copy - maybe in a different size - to work with for other projects.
If you've ordered any regular photos - meaning vertical shots or horizontal shots - you will want to double check the cropping on each one. Especially if they're phone camera photos, since those are sized differently. A different ratio. Whatever it's called ;)
Long story short, each month I pretty much order any photos I took that month. I even order some of the photos I take of scrapping projects, since I have been known to use them here and there. A large majority of the photos I order, I order in at least two sizes - mostly 3x4 and 4x6, but also 4x4 for any photos that were taken as squares. Quite honestly, my order can get confusing. My camera roll can get confusing. Pulling in photos from the girls, all of the edited versions and Project Life app versions. But I'd rather have extra photos, than missing photos. I definitely pull from those extra photos for layouts and other projects all the time.
Once my order arrives (usually, in less than a week), I cut apart the prints with two photos on them, and trim the edges off the square pics. Then I use my phone as a guide to separate them out into the 4-5 different weeks of the month (depending on how the month falls, sometimes I order the first week of the next month as well). The phone tells you when the photos were taken, so it makes the sorting process easy. I have 4-5 envelopes that I use over and over, and just stick the photos for each week in one of them until I'm ready to slip them into the pocket pages.
And this is just part of my process. Once I sort out the photos, I then move all of the photos from the month over to my laptop and delete them from my phone. Unless there's a photo that I really want to have handy, then I'll keep it. Most of the photos I take end up on Instagram, so if I'm wanting to show a photo to someone, I can simply pull it up there. Like I said, I don't have a ton of storage on my phone, so I've just gotten in the habit of moving my photos off it every month.
I feel like I made that all sound like more work than it is. I promise, there's a method to my madness ;)