This summer brought together more families than arguably any other period of time in modern history. Heads of households became full-time teachers, activities directors and social media coordinators for small and large multi-generational families. This unexpected change in our daily lives made it more important for consumers to document and share their everyday adventures, preserving the best moments of summer.
These moments and events range from turning the kitchen into a high school chemistry lab to organizing family camping trips in the backyard. From everyday moments to momentous events, there was a poignant need to share and connect with family and friends remotely.
As photo retailers, you can offer “virtual” and online guidance to help your customers document the small and big moments of their lives this summer. If you don’t offer some of the sample photo products below, there are scores of companies that offer affiliate programs.
Preserving the Best Moments of Summer
Home School Memories
Faced with the challenge of helping their students with virtual learning, parents and grandparents alike had to look for unique and inspirational ways to teach and motivate younger children. They also had to provide the support needed to keep their older students on track.
Pinhole Press, headquartered in Troy, New York, offers a collection of spiral-bound custom board books for kids that use family photographs to create fun teaching tools for younger students. Designed specifically for little hands, the ultra-thick glossy pages are easy to turn; resistant to drool (according to the company); and come in different design templates to best fit the youngster’s story. The board books measure 5.25×5.25 inches and contain 20 to 40 pages, depending on the theme and number of pictures.
The PinHole Press Kids Collection includes a variety of learning themes, like an ABC board book, Healthy Habits, Names and Faces, Count with Me, and My First Cookbook. Furthermore, each book is fully customizable, with options to add your own photos and text.
PinHole also offers 3×3-inch Itty Bitty photo books plus soft- and hardcover layflat photo books in square and portrait formats.
For the Graduates
High school and college graduates will never forget the year their traditional baccalaureate ceremonies moved from auditoriums and football fields to outdoor movie theaters, televisions and Zoom. This makes it all the more important to save their memories of virtual learning, graduation and other summer activities in a meaningful way.
A high-quality photo book makes the ideal personal yearbook for students of all ages. Encourage parents to scroll through their smartphone pictures and choose photos of friends, family and moments from memorable activities. The books could include pictures of graduates, surrounded by family, celebrating their virtual ceremonies.
Parents can also incorporate non-copyrighted photos posted on the school’s website or social media. What’s more, high-resolution “screenshot” apps allow users to take quality captures of their computer, tablet or phone screens, producing images with the file size necessary for printing.
Whether consumers are creating a gift or helping a student create their own, encourage them to get creative. The Photo Managers, an educational community in the field of photo management, suggests parents “use the lyrics from a favorite song as text in a photo book for your teen. Use the lyrics to communicate a message and add random photos for a fast, fun way to celebrate your child.”
In addition, Social Print Studio, located in San Francisco, offers photo books in a variety of layouts and sizes—from 1.5×1.7-inch Tiny Books to 8×10-inch softcover photo books printed on 100% recycled paper. Resembling a book of matches, Tiny Books hold 72 Instagram photos; they also feature “super strong” magnets in the cover, so consumers can display them on a mini refrigerator or filing cabinet. The company also offers 3.5×2.4-inch, spiral-bound mini photo books with 50 images. Social Print Studio sells them in sets of two.
Games and Adventures
If your customers are looking for a little more action in their photo gifts, PinHole Press offers a set of nine finger puppets made from glossy, ultra-thick paper. Measuring 2.6×5.3 inches, each puppet has two finger holes at the bottom so children can take their family members and friends on imaginary adventures. What better way to encourage imaginative play than to create puppets of familiar faces? Youngsters can use crayons and construction paper to create sets of their favorite places and visit them whenever they feel adventurous.
PinHole Press also offers a photo memory game made up of 24 tiles, each printed with one of 12 photos, to produce a customized version of the classic memory game. Each tile measures approximately 3.4×3.4 inches and is printed with an elephant, gnome or llama design on one side and the customer’s photos on the other. It ships with a matching craft box for storage.
Don’t Forget the Keepsake Box
Small boxes can be used to store all kinds of important summertime souvenirs: photos; movie or theater tickets (kids can make their own for home shows); shell and rock collections; pet tags; and dozens of other trinkets to remind them of family adventures. Why not make them even more meaningful by adorning them with a favorite image?
Photogifts.com offers high-quality photo tile keepsake boxes, available in multiple sizes from 4.25×4.25 to 6×8 inches. Each is made of mahogany or cherry finished wood, a hinged lid with a printed photo tile, and felt lining. They can even be purchased in combination with another photo gift item, acrylic photo puzzles.
It’s a popular combination,” says Cindy Levinson, owner of Photogifts.com. “The box serves as the puzzle container and the photo tile is printed with the puzzle’s picture, so it’s an assembly guide,” she adds. “We’ve done it for bar and bat mitzvahs, engagement presents and other inventive ideas. One customer even ordered a puzzle to ask someone out on a date!”
The Florida-based company offers a wide variety of personalized photo gifts, including a photo boat tote to carry personal items, groceries or picnic supplies to the park, beach and other family outings. Levinson also promoted the bags for school photographers to use as unique thank-you gifts for clients with preschoolers and kindergarteners to carry their lunches and blankets.
The white polyester tote bag is soft and flexible; however, it holds its shape better than typical canvas bags. It features matching bottom trim and shoulder straps in several color options. The personalized photo is printed on a front pocket, which can hold phones, keys and wallets. The bags are available in two sizes, 16x12x5 and 23.5×15.5×5.5 inches.
Levinson, who’s operated Photogifts.com for14 years, says its most popular products are photo sculptures and cutouts. “There are so many ways you can display them,” she explains. “We cut out the subject and mount it on a base, which is particularly helpful when you have an unattractive background. Or, if the background helps the sculpture, we create a pop-out photo sculpture, which gives the photo more dimension. We can even remove the portion of the background that is too distracting and leave in a part that adds to the story in the picture.”
Photo sculpture cutouts are made by placing a photograph on a white acrylic base and laminating it with a clear acrylic cover. Instead of using templates, each sculpture is determined by the layout of the image; one of the company’s highly qualified artisans designs them. Once the sculpture is cut out, it’s mounted on a clear or colored acrylic base for tabletop display. Smaller sculptures create sculpture pins, keychains and photo ornaments.
The company uses a similar process to make its pop-out photo sculptures; however, the cutout is displayed against a full or partial background. The pieces fit together like a puzzle,” says Levinson. “We pop out the subject from the background and put braces behind it so it sits in front of the picture.”
Like their regular tabletop photo sculptures, the base of a pop-out sculpture can be black, white or clear acrylic. Customers can also order wall-mounted pop-out sculptures for a 3D effect.
“We encourage our customers to tell us their ideas for photo sculptures, but we frequently offer suggestions that improve upon their ideas,” she explains. “Nine times out of 10 they’ll say, ‘Oh, I didn’t even know you could do that!”
Creative Display & Enthusiasm
Levinson uses a pop-out sculpture she made for her daughter and son-in-law as an example of just how creative their layouts can be. The pictures are from an Elephant Day tour, during which participants spent a day feeding, bathing and bonding with an elephant.
The background print is from bath time, with her daughter and son-in-law standing on each side of the elephant. Artists cut the three figures out to make a single pop-out. Artists then made cutouts from two other photos, each with one of them riding an elephant, and placed them on either side of the pop-out. The final result combined three photos to tell one story.
“This is why I like to work with customers and come up with different layout ideas,” says Levinson. “It gives our artists an opportunity to come up with the most creative results.”
What’s more, Levinson’s enthusiasm for both her products and customers contribute to the company’s success. “I expect good customer service from the places I shop,” she continues, “just as I demand supreme customer service from my own company. If I or someone who works for me can’t offer supreme customer service, or if they fail to accommodate customers in a personable and fun way, they don’t belong working for us. We like happy people. We like making sure our customers are happy, so whatever the customer wants, we try to accomplish it.”