Greeting cards are ready-made for photocrafting; there are so many ways to include one or several photos in a card. Now is an especially good time for holiday greeting cards — Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s, to name a few. Here are a some ideas to get you started.
Start by thinking about how many photos you would like to include (say 1-8) and how much time you want to spend creating the card. I’ve found that the most difficult part typically is selecting your photos and choosing the ‘look’ you want to achieve. Following are three categories I’ve used over the years. A single photo is always the fastest and easiest. Using multiple photos in a structured template takes a bit more time but is also fairly straight-forward. Finally, a freestyle card allows you the most flexibility but can consume the most time because the layout is entirely up to you and you need to know more about the app itself.
Single Photo: Although I started incorporating photos into my holiday letters as early as 1993, my first holiday photo card was in 2009. Using Snapfish, I picked a template that I liked; I thought the green card with the Christmas tree added a bit of pizzaz. I then uploaded my photo into the template and added a line of my own text. Snapfish shipped the cards and blank envelopes to me so I could add the addresses and postage. Choosing a single photo to use and a simple template made the project as easy as possible.
Multiple Photos: Usually I can’t stick to a single photo for a holiday greeting card. Over the last 10 years, I’ve used a variety of sites and templates. The method for multiple photos is just like a single photo except that you have to spend more time picking out your photos, placing them, and usually writing more text.
I wanted a special card to send to my hiking companions so I selected several waterfall pictures from our hikes. I found a template I liked on Shutterfly, uploaded the photos, altered and added text, and previewed the result. Wahoo — I was finished and ready to order!
Freestyle: My favorite, but certainly the most time-consuming, photo cards are those that start with a blank card (“design/create your own”.) You pick the photos, lay them out as you wish (often adding “art” objects that the site provides.) Using PIcaboo, I just used a single photo for the front and another for an area on the back. Inside, I scattered a few photos on both the top and bottom, leaving plenty of room for my own handwritten comments.
In another freestyle card, I used Heritage Makers and actually started with a template rather than a blank card. However, Heritage Makers allows manipulating the template itself so that provided a nice basis for my own layout rather than a constrained structure. The decorative elements are provided by Heritage Makers; I added photos and text. For fun, I also added two barcodes on the back to link to videos.
In addition to selecting photos and text, you need to decide which photocrafting site to use. I strongly encourage you to find one or two sites that you like and stick with them. Each process is just a little different than any other and it’s time-consuming to learn the tricks and capabilities of each. Here are some features and choices to consider:
- Are there a variety of templates and styles from which to choose?
- Is there a blank card option for creating your own layout with both text and images?
- How flexible are the ways for manipulating text and image boxes? (e.g. can you rotate the text)
- Is additional artwork provided?
- Can you upload images other than JPEG? (e.g. PNG image files allow a cut-out so the background shows through)
- Can you print the resulting object at home? (Understandably, most sites require printing with them.)
- Is there a way to add your address book so that mailing gets done directly?
I most often use Heritage Makers for photocrafting cards because it has incredible flexibility in manipulating the text and images and clip art , it produces high quality products, and there is an option for direct mailing to an address book. Both Shutterfly and Snapfish are reliable and straight-forward; I’ve used Picaboo and Collage as well. Zazzle offers a wide variety, not only of cards but of other products you’ll see presented in our posts over time. Costco and Walgreens offer solid options and provide local store pick-up as an option to shipping.
Reviews of online sites for photo cards can give you further ideas. TopTenReview’s Best Photo Cards of 2019 is an excellent site with extensive testing not only of the capabilities for photocrafting but further details such as paper type and picture output quality. Another, tom’s guide on Best Photo Cards 2019, offers similar pros and cons for the ten sites it rates. wirecutter’s The Best Custom Photo Card Service is a year old and simply lists a top pick, a budget pick, and a pick for same-day pickup. Almost all photo sites are frequently offering discounts so look for something that works for you.
* P.S. I want to show you photocraft projects that I’ve made myself. However, when the images include family and friends, I like to protect their privacy as much as possible. Many thanks to Unsplash and photographers Omar Lope and Kevin Delvecchio for providing two of the photos in cards shown above.