Five Favorites: Involving Kids with Photocrafting

Everyone’s home now and that Includes kids of all ages. Seems like a good time to think about how the younger ones especially might get involved in photocrafting? Maybe make something for them; maybe help them create something to give to someone else (it’s hard not to see friends and family in person!); maybe use their artwork as the photo! We’ll list five of our favorite ideas, some new and some based on photo projects we’ve already shown you. Hope you’ll add some ideas of your own in our Comments or on our Facebook page Photocrafting Fun.

Pinhole Press offers wonderful photocrafting opportunities and resulting products for hours of entertainment.
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Easter, a Game, and Photocrafting

Easter, a Game, and Photocrafting

I wanted to find something fun as an add-on to my nephew’s Easter basket. Of course, I see this as an excuse for photocrafting so was happy to find an Easter egg themed Memory Match game at the Personalization Mall. A Memory Match Game requires players to spot the identical pairs in a set of cards. The cards are placed face down and turned over two at a time with the goal of matching pairs together with the help of your memory. These rules below are for a 2-person game.

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Holiday Greeting Cards

Holiday Greeting Cards

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.

An example of the easiest one-photo photocraft card.
This is an easy photocrafting Christmas card.

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.

An example of a freestyle card (front, back, and inside) with multiple photos and unstructured layout.
Starting with a blank card, you can place pictures and text as you choose.

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.

An example of a complex freestyle card (front, back, and inside) that incorporates multiple photos, text, artwork, and barcodes.
A complex freestyle card allows manipulation of graphical elements along with the photos and text.

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.

Getting Started with Photocrafting

Getting Started with Photocrafting

I love to make things for friends, especially if we’ve shared some experience (the wackier the better.)  However, I do best when I can put things together instead of depending entirely on my own imagination and creativity.  Photocrafting (yep, that’s just crafting with photos) is for me!  I just need a photo or two, and I’m ready to go.

One of the easiest projects is a Touchnote postcard.  I like to use them as thank you notes, using pictures that I take of the gifts I receive.  They’re also a great way to send a greeting when you’re away from home. Here are a couple of thank you notes I’ve created with Touchnote:

The image shows a photo of wrapped packages for the front of the postcard and a picture of text and address space for the back of the postcard.
The image shows a photo of a person reading a book and munching on chocolates for the front of the postcard and a picture of a thank you note and address space for the back of the postcard.

Touchnote runs on your computer, your tablet, your smartphone.  Create an account, log on, start a postcard (the simplest), choose the image you want for the front, type a note on the back, and you’re ready to go! You can pay as you go or buy a package of credits. A postcard is 1 credit, about $3 (though less if you buy several at once.)

The best part – if you’re out of the country but have a wi-fi connection, you can send a postcard without finding a local post office and it might arrive before you get home!

The image shows a photo of Havana's skyline for the front of the postcard and a picture of a note and address space for the back of the postcard.

Photocrafting is about your pictures combined with your own stories for making gifts and keepsakes that are personal to you.  I’ll share some of my creations and favorite apps; I hope you’ll do the same.  Cards, books, and calendars are just a start …

I said I like to personalize projects.  But really there’s more to it.  Photocrafting also gives me a fun way to save and share family stories and memories.  (Stay tuned; I’m just starting to go through some old family pictures and recipes.)  And honestly?  Crafting is an escape for me.  When I need a break, I can lose myself for hours.  Hope you’ll join me!