It’s the time of year to make and give gifts! As a photographer, every Christmas one of my favorite things to give to family and friends are photographs.

Why? Because more often than not, the photographs that document our daily lives are forever hidden to the world on our phones or on our computers, unlikely to ever be printed and hung up in our own homes. Everyone appreciates a photo gift. Here is my personal gift guide with my top four options to give photo gifts for 2015.

1. Chatbooks

I discovered Chatbooks only recently. I ordered my first book yesterday, and even though I haven’t received the book in the mail yet, I have to admit, I’m pretty smitten with the concept and the interface (it’s an app for your phone).

Through Chatbooks you can assemble a series of books from your social media accounts (instagram and facebook) or your camera roll on your phone. The program produces books in 60-page volumes. Each of these books is only $8 (add $5 if you want a hardcover). This is great if you’ve been on instagram for a while and never made a book! Suddenly you can have all your photos in volume by volume editions!

I have already been making instagram books by year, actually the last I printed was 2012, so I’m a little behind. I created a custom book in the app and chose all my instagram photos from a year. I was done in 5 mins from start to end. Custom books start at $8 for 30 pages, then +$1 for each set of 10 pages added, and an additional $5 for hardcover.

You can also create a book from a hashtag. For example, if you wanted a book of just photos you’ve taken of your dog and posted on instagram, and you always use the same hashtag of #myfavoritedog, you would type that in when making a custom book. Poof. You have a book of just the photos with that hashtag!

The company also sells gift certificates, which would be great to gift someone you know who’s posting lots of photos on instagram or facebook!

*You’ll want to order by Dec. 14 for orders to arrive by Christmas.

gift guide

2. Artifact Uprising

Artifact Uprising is both an app and a website where you can print numerous photo related things: gifts, cards, prints, wall art, and even albums. I haven’t ordered anything yet, but after shopping around, a few friends and family will likely get some custom photo gifts from Artifact Uprising this year. If you create and edit through the app you have a few less options of gifts to create. The Artifact Uprising Mobile app lets you pull images from instagram, dropbox, your photo library, and your VSCO library.

*You’ll want to order by Dec. 14 for orders to arrive by Christmas.

My two favorites for gifts: the Wood Calendar ($29.99) & Wood Block + Prints ($23.99)

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3. Tree Ornaments

This has become a tradition of mine. Every year I head to Michael’s Craft Store and buy photo frame ornaments (approximately $5 each). Every year the selection changes. Some end up being kinda cheesy, but there’s always enough that are a bit simpler and more classic. I give these as a yearly gift to my close friends and always make one for our tree as well. I love taking them out every year as we decorate the tree and remember the past years. It’s a tradition I plan on continuing as long as I can.

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4. A classic – framed photo print

And the classic staple. A framed (or more modern, mounted) print large and proud, ready to be hung on a wall. I always suggest this gift, but make sure your recipient has wall space or is ready to switch out some wall art with some new photos before you hit BUY. No doubt these can be a bit more expensive, but they are worth every cent.

As far as where to buy prints from, I know everyone has a different budget out there, but if it’s a professional photo you had taken, I strongly recommend purchasing through the photographer. Most photographers have a preferred print lab that their computers are calibrated to and produce the best results in the end. Nothing’s worse than ordering a large print, opening it up and seeing that the skintones look nothing like the original photo. Grandma won’t be happy if her skin is looking a bit green.

Wondering what size photo to order for grandma? Here’s a handy guide to help you decide.

Photo Size Comparison - gift guide

Looking back

Growing up my mom took photos all the time. And each one was printed out and put in a photo album. Photo albums upon photo albums grew until the digital camera world took over. We now have an entire dresser full of photo albums at my mom’s house that I still love to flip through every time I go home. The special photographs were printed larger and displayed with pride throughout our house.

But what will my stepdaughter look at when she’s older and wants to remember her childhood in photos? Will she go dig up my old facebook profile to flip through photos? Maybe, if facebook is still around. Will she sift through terabytes of photos on old harddrives? Probably not. But that’s where all the photos live. I’ve made it a point to make books of my instagram photos; year by year editions that I love to flip through. Other than instagram though, I have to admit I’ve slacked on printing photos. I want that to change. I’ll start by giving memories to family and friends so they too remember that photos need to live on in print.

 

I hope this gift guide has helped you. Leave me a comment with some of your photo gift choices for 2015!