Photos and Other Precious Memories
What You’ll Need
- Photo paper (various sizes and finishes, depending on the project)
- Basic photo-editing software (even your computer’s built-in program will do)
- Scanner (if scanning previously printed images)
Tips and Tricks
First, decide what you plan to do with your photos – this will steer you toward the right size and type of photo paper.
If you plan to use your photos in albums and scrapbooks…consider 4″x6″ or 5″x7″ paper in a glossy finish. These formats will easily fit the medium, and the gloss will help your pictures “pop” when set against a duller background, such as a scrapbook, a greeting card or photo-album paper.
If you plan to frame photos for posterity or send framed photo gifts…consider 8.5″x11″ photo paper in matte or semi-gloss finish: Either will help to ensure that your photo doesn’t get washed out against the reflective gloss of a frame’s glass or clear-plastic surface. You can go bigger, provided your printer can accommodate paper sizes such as 11″x17″ or 13″x19″, but unless you’re a studio photographer (or a serious calendar maker), you can avoid these sizes.
Tempting as it is to print your photos directly from a digital camera – a feat that’s incredibly easy given many modern cameras’ removable memory cards and USB connections – take time to ensure your photo looks great before sending them to the printer spool. You don’t need to be an expert, either – your computer’s built-in photo editor likely has some basic auto-correct and redeye-removal tools that can help get your pics out of amateur territory.
If you’re more technically savvy, consider investing in a more robust editor:
- Adobe Photoshop Elements ($79.99 after rebate; free trial available) is Adobe’s novice-friendly photo editor
- Adobe Photoshop ($699), of course, is the choice for professional-grade photo editing
- GIMP (free) is a surprisingly sophisticated open-source Adobe alternative (did we mention it’s free?)
- Paint.NET (free) is your Windows PC’s built-in Paint program on steroids
Okay, so you’ve removed your redeye, balanced your levels and adjusted the sharpness on your family photos – now it’s time to print. Remember that each paper type reacts differently, depending on your printer model and the type of ink (dye or pigment) used. So, even if you have a few duds at first, it may not be your computer or camera’s fault.
Similarly, the way your monitor is calibrated can result in the picture you see on screen looking rather different from the finished output, so use your monitor’s built-in calibration software or visit a free calibration site like this one from Photo Friday to ensure your photo is lined up correctly when it prints.