A couple weeks ago I reviewed 5 Online Wedding Photo Book Apps and my favorite choice was Pinhole Press. I got some really great tips and feedback from some of you, and a couple of you mentioned Artifact Uprising. So before I created my book, I took some time to play with Artifact Uprising, and really liked their app. However, I still went with Pinhole Press, and I thought I’d share my findings and what ultimately swayed my opinion.

I set out to design my photo book on both systems at the same time. This way I would see exactly how the products differ and if one had more problems in one area over another. Practically right away I encountered a HUGE problem with Artifact Uprising. They would not allow me to upload any photos larger than 12MB. Yes, 12MB is a very large file size for upload, but Pinhole Press didn’t have this road block. They allowed me to upload as  many huge files as I wanted and the upload time was pretty fast. So I was forced to resize my photos if I wanted to use them on Artifact. Now, I know how to do this because I know photoshop really well, but I would wager to guess that the average user does not know how to downsize their pictures, and would give up at this step. Please tell me if I’m wrong.

Going through photoshop to downsize photos not only takes a long time, but also might compromise the quality of your pictures. For print, you always want to use the highest quality, largest files possible. So obviously it made me nervous to downsize my precious photos (saved as copies of course) not knowing how the print might turn out.

As far as features and general usability, the two systems are very similar. The Pinhole product is lovely white and minimal which I like, and the Artifact layout is a dark interface and has a lot more buttons, weird double click edit tools that I found slightly cumbersome. Overall, they’re pretty similar, and I did like the font choices Artifact gives you.

Major problem #2 was the ability to have a photo span a 2 page spread. This creates a visually stunning layout and was something I was adamant about having in my book. But alas, Artifact Uprising doesn’t allow you to do this. At Pinhole Press, you have to choose the “Panoramic Book“, which gives you a flat inseam on the binding. It’s a bit more expensive, but definitely worth it to me. We had so many beautiful, wide photos I wanted to show off. This is when I stopped using Artifact Uprising, and finished my project with Pinhole Press.

Now, if you don’t care about the 2 page photo spread, and you don’t have super large photos over 12MB, then I really think Artifact Uprising is a great tool—probably better because of the different color cloth bindings, the interesting book jackets, and the font choices. Also, they’re slighly cheaper.

An 8.75 x 8.75 inch photo book with 61 pictures at Pinhole Press is $84.99.

An 8.5 x 8.5 inch photo book with 50 pages at Artifact Uprising is $69 with the ability to add a pages for $1 each.

For those of you who don’t know, I actually get hired to design these kinds of complex creation tools, so it was really interesting for me to dig deep into the usability of these 2 great products. And, I actually know what I’m talking about when I rate them!

I hope this helps you choose the right product for making your next book project. Photo products like the ones Pinhole and Artifact offer are amazing holiday gifts, and as you may have guessed from my timing, that’s exactly what I used them for! But no more, or else I’ll ruin the surprise…

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Now that we have all our wonderful wedding photos I really want to design a photo book. Being a designer, I could do this myself, but that involves lots of time and the money I save designing it myself, I’ll for sure spend in printing and binding costs. So I’ve been looking for an online solution and I thought I’d share what I found.

Here are the 5 online photo book design apps that I compared: Blurb, Mixbook, Wedding Paper Divas, iPhoto and Pinhole Press. Scroll down to see my thoughts and ratings.

Top: Wedding Paper Divas   //   Bottom Left: Pinhole Press   //   Bottom Right: Mixbook

1. Blurb // I have heard a lot about blurb over the years and was excited to finally have a book project to try them out. Unfortunately I was pretty disappointed with what I found.

Pros:

– You can connect your account to Flickr, Picasa, Facebook and Instagram allowing you to have access to ALL your photos.

– I’ve seen the print quality and it’s really great.

Cons:

– They don’t tell you the prices upfront. At least, I couldn’t find it. You can choose a style and a template, but without knowing how much it’s going to cost, all my hard work might be for nothing!

– They let you choose 4 styles, but they’re all very limited. Basically, do you want a white background, black background, color background or no background? Well what if I want a combination? Couldn’t figure that out.

– Once I was in the interface I couldn’t even upload my photos. It kept giving me an error message, and by this time I was ready to find a different solution

Overall Rating: 1 out of 5

 

2. Mixbook // I had never heard of this company before I started looking. Unlike all the other apps on this list, Mixbook only does photo books, so you’d think they would do it the best… wrong!

Pros:

– The template designs they make you choose from have a lot of photos per page. This could also be a con if like me you prefer simplicity and follow the less is more philosophy.

– Tied for cheapest price: $30 gets you a square hardbound book with 20 pages (10 sheets)

Cons:

– Designs are kinda cheesy… not the worst I’ve seen, but not the best. This kind of fancy script and lots of flourishes just looks cheap to me.

– Worst of all, they don’t let you play around in the software before registering! So annoying. I moved on at this point.

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5

 

3. Wedding Paper Divas powered by Shutterfly // This company has wonderful templates for wedding stationery, so I was hopeful their photo books would be just as good. Again, I was disappointed.

Pros:

– Connect to Facebook and Instagram to access all your photos, and obviously Shutterfly.

– Gives you lots of photos per page like Mixbook

– Offers large text spaces if you wanted to write more of a story to go along with your photos.

– Average priced: $45 for 8×11 hard photo cover with 20 pages (10 sheets)

Cons:

– These templates weren’t as bad, but they weren’t all great.

– The interface didn’t load the thumbnails of my images! So the only way to know which ones were uploaded was to look at the file name. Obviously this wasn’t going to work for me. Not sure if this is a bug on their end, or something went wrong with my upload.

Overall rating: 3 out of 5

 

4. Apple iPhoto // They started it all way back when. Unfortunately I don’t have iphoto anymore, but what I’ve seen looks pretty great.

Pros:

– You can design on your ipad which is pretty awesome.

– Tied for cheapest at $30 for 8.5×11 20 page book (not sure if this is hardbound)

– Templates aren’t too cheesy… only slightly.

– The app is super easy to use, and if you’re already storing your photos there, that makes it all the easier

Cons:

– Costs 4.99 to download from the app store

Overall rating: 4 out of 5

 

5. Pinhole Press // A great site for all kinds of custom photo products.

Pros:

– By far the best user interface I tried. Fast, simple, and easy to use.

– Templates are really simple and beautiful. Just photos on a white background which lets your beautiful images shine.

– Cloth spine detail elevates this to a real keepsake.

– I’ve ordered other products from them before and the quality is wonderful.

Cons:

– Limited fonts and colors. I wish I could select a slightly brighter color for the spine that would match my wedding colors. Also they have 2 fonts to choose from: their “Classic” serif and a super round sans-serif they call their “Modern” style. I don’t really like either. I wish I could choose not to have text so I could upload my own design.

– Most expensive: $85 for 8.75” square with 30 pages and 61 photos

Overall rating: 5 out of 5

 

Before I start designing my photo book with Pinhole Press, I think I will purchase the iPhoto app just to give it a try. Even if I don’t end up using it for this project, it’s a great tool to organize my photos and I’ve missed not having it.

Do you have experience with any of these apps? Or is there one I missed? I’d love to hear!

Happy October! It’s finally starting to feel like fall around here… sorta. Still in the 80s this week, but the air has a bit of a crispness to it. I hope you’re starting to enjoy the season.

I took this photo on film a couple years ago when we went to a pumpkin patch in Michigan. Download this wallpaper.

Sep 19, 2013

A new mix tape in tribute to the summer that won’t quit. With songs like “Too Darn Hot” and “Cruel Summer” this playlist will help you work out all those complicated love/hate feelings about the end of summer and beginning of fall. Enjoy!

Go listen on Spotify!

(photo taken by me when I used to work on Abbot Kinney in Venice)

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You guys! Our amazing photographer Jasmine of Let’s Frolic Together posted some of our wedding photos on her blog yesterday. All work stopped for a few minutes as I devoured every single picture and shared the link around the internet. I am so incredibly happy with all the photos and so thankful to Jasmine for her vision and hard work.

So in light of this, I put together some tips that helped us find our photographer soul mate and will hopefully help you too.

(one of my favorites!)

5 Tips to Finding the Perfect Wedding Photographer

1. Style // M isn’t very comfortable in front of the camera… he would rather be behind it. So it was VERY important that we found a photographer who had a more photo journalistic, candid style. We didn’t want to get super “posey”—it’s just not us. We wanted someone who would capture us how we really are, not tell us how to be and look. However, that might be a more comfortable setting for you! You might want to capture specific photos and poses. Think about this ahead of time and as you look through photographer portfolios, notice how the subjects are arranged.

2. Editing // This is another part of style. With Lightroom and Photoshop, photographers have A LOT of control over how they edit their photos. They can create really stylized effects, or a vintage look. This is totally fine if that’s what you want. I don’t mind some of this, but M was really cautious about having our photos look super dated in a few years if the editing style used was too “trendy”. Just another thing to keep in mind as you sort through portfolios.

3. Price // At the beginning of your planning you’ll be putting together a budget and that will help you figure out how much you want to spend on photography. For most people, this is a high priority. This is one of the only things you’ll have forever to remember your special day. It’s important, and therefore, you should be prepared to spend more for it. Take the 2 points above into consideration first, and then find a photographer you love who also matches your price range. And be prepared to put about 50% down as a deposit to secure your photographer for your date.

4. Extras // We choose Jasmine who was based in San Diego (about 2 hours south of Los Angeles). We anticipated paying a bit more because she would have to travel. We also asked that she shoot some film as well as digital because we love film photography (she even shot medium format!). This was another extra cost. A lot of photographers include an engagement shoot with their wedding photography package too. So explore these options and see how they effect your bottom line. We had some other friends shoot our engagement photos, so Jasmine deducted this cost from our total.

5. Trust // This is a big one, and might be over looked. You need to have 100% confidence in whoever you hire. They will be documenting one of the most important events of your life. If they loose their SD card, or get distracted and miss your “kiss the bride” moment, just think of how devastating that would be! Some things you can’t control, but I would advise you to talk face to face (or skype) with your photographer (not their agency), and really analyze their personal portfolio and blog. Most likely you’ll be fine, but I have a friend who went through an agency, and never spoke to her photographer before the wedding and she was really disappointed in her photos. So sad!

Needless to say, we were beyond impressed with Jasmine. She is sweet and calm under pressure (“the sun is setting in 5 minutes… so let’s just do a few more”) and I’m blown away by our photos. Check them out on her blog, and read about our big day!

I’ve written before about why we decided to go on a road trip to Portland right after our wedding and delay our big honeymoon until next year. So I won’t get into all that again. Suffice it to say, it was a great idea and we loved our week long trip up and down the west coast. I wanted to share how we did it and a few of our highlights.

Map It Out // The little pink dots on the map above are a pretty accurate portrayal of our route. I made a custom map in Google Maps with our starting point and all our stops along the way. If you’ve never done this before it’s really easy. Go to maps.google.com and click “My Places” then hit “Create Map”. You insert your addresses and move your route as you wish. You can also share the map with others and if you have the Google Maps app on your phone, you can access all that info anywhere. Pretty nifty.

Big Sur // M had never been to Big Sur. He had never actually been past San Francisco, and when he went there he either flew or took “the 5″ the whole way up. Well, if you’re like him, you are missing some amazing views. Sure, head up the highway most of the way, but cut over to Big Sur so you won’t miss one of the country’s most beautiful sights. We were so glad we did. While you’re at it, make a dinner reservation for the Restaurant at Ventana. Their $70 per person seasonal menu was one of our favorite meals.

Mount Shasta // A charming mountain community, Mount Shasta is right at the border of California and Oregon which makes it a perfect stop. I loved that our drive that day took us from the ocean, through the heartland and up into the mountains. Fun fact: Mount Shasta is an active volcano!

Portland // We loved our 3 days in this vibrant city. I’ll post a full PDX recap later, but some of our highlights were a rooftop movie night showing of Bill & Ted’s Most Excellent Adventure, a Soap Box Derby down a mountain, and M getting “inked” with my initial on his wedding ring finger. When in Portland… get a tattoo? I guess so!

Photos taken from my very active Instagram

Ok by now you’ve realized Google Reader is no more. Say hello to your new best friend: Feedly. I was VERY reluctant to give up my Google Reader. I only started looking for a replacement last month. First I tried BlogLovin, and never got the hang of it. They sent me emails at night, after I had already read all my blogs, and the layout seemed disorganized. I couldn’t figure it out (and that’s saying something since interface design is kinda my thing). So I looked at Feedly. Immediately they import all your feeds from Google—seamless! And they let you choose how you want to view your posts—Title view, Magazine view, Card view or Article view. It remembers how you like to read different blogs, so they automatically show up the way you like them. They have a “back to the top” button that’s great when you decide a post has gotten too long, and a “mark all as read” which is also handy. I have to say, I think Feedly is better than Google Reader, and I’m so glad I made the switch.

The West is experiencing a heat wave. Thank god we have air conditioning. It’s been running 24/7 just to keep up. Our house has no insulation, so in the morning it feels fine, but come in the evening when it’s pleasant outside, it’s still sweltering inside. We spent all weekend at my parent’s pool. Their AC gave up and quit working, but at least they have a lukewarm body of water to dip in. I hope we get a break soon, but it’s only July 1st, so I really doubt it. Looks like we’re in for a hot HOT summer.

Maya Angelou is one of my favorite people (not to mention authors) in the world. I’ve decided to pick up her autobiography again. I read the first book, I know Why The Caged Bird Sings a couple years ago and it’s now one of my favorite books. Not sure why I didn’t continue with the series then. Probably because I didn’t own the next book, Gather Together In My Name, so I’m reading it now. I highly suggest any of her works if you’re looking for a book this summer.

Well hello there Friday, what the heck happened? I had a major case of laziness this week after a thrilling girl’s weekend. What can I say? I’m not as young as I once was… The Bachelorette was a blast, and this week has flown by. Thanks for sticking in there, and have a fabulous weekend! Back to our regularly scheduled programming on Monday, promise.

via

Jun 21, 2013

Oh man am I glad it’s Friday. This week has been a doozy… I’ve learned some painful, yet valuable business lessons and I’m ready to go wine tasting with my girlfriends. Nothing a few bottles of wine, a pool and laughter with good friends can’t cure. I hope you all will be enjoying the first official weekend of summer as well. XO

photo

Jun 18, 2013

It’s felt like summer for quite a while here in LA, but it officially starts on Friday. The kids are out of school and hanging around our apartment complex during the day, we went through 2 boxes of popsicles this weekend, and I got sunburned on Sunday, so it’s officially summer in my book. Here are some tunes to get you outside and enjoying the sunshine.

Subscribe to the Summer Daze playlist here or by clicking below.

photo by me

Just for fun, check out last year’s Summer Lovin’ Mix Tape! It’s still pretty good if I do say so myself…

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