Deal 9: Hacking Photography mega-deal
I’m Benjamin and am a hitchhiking photographer. In my travels I quickly realized a need to make my own postcards for my friends and family.
I wanted unique and personal postcards at a cheap price. Here is the result of that quest. This is a post for those whom aren’t familiar with Photoshop and editing their photographs. You should be able to make postcards that are one-of-a-kind and appealing at less than the cost of buying a postcard.
Read on and when you are finished, please share this post with others, whom would benefit from it. Also, check out my journey hitchhiking around the USA, sharing stories of the Goodness of People at my blog, Create Our World.
Here we Go!!!
Make Your Own Postcard (here is a photograph I took of my friend, Nai, in Austin, Texas)
I love to photograph people. I love to remember places by the people I am with, so my postcards are of friends, either new or old. What do you want to remember about the place or what do you want to share? Be personal and be yourself. And take that shot and upload it to your own laptop or upload it at a computer lab.
If you are a Photoshop expert, you can skip this page and just do what you do. Or if you don’t care about jazzing your photograph up a bit, then skip it as well. But with a few clicks, you can really improve how your image looks and trick your granny into thinking you are a professional photographer.
Open up your photo editor. I use iPhoto for my Mac. I have also used Picasa by Google, which is a free download and is easy to use. You can also do this in Picnik, which I am going to explain in the next step.
Here are two easy steps you can take to making the photograph look more vibrant. One increase the contrast of the photograph. Usually there is a little pointer that you can just drag. Contrast makes the darks darker and the lights lighter. The second step is to increase or decrease the color saturation. You can make the colors a little richer to improve the photograph or sometimes by lessening the colors, it will catch the eye more. Fool around with these two settings until you have a photograph that you are happy with.
Picnik is an online photograph editor. Picnik is free for the basic edits and it has a lot of options to use. Sign up for a free account and follow the instructions to upload your photograph.
Here we are going to jazz our photograph up a bit more, add borders, and add our message. (Picnik has lots of options, so feel free to add any options that you want)
A. Open up the CREATE tab along the top of the border.
B. Click on the LOMO Filter under EFFECTS. (This simulates how a LOMO camera would take a photograph, which is toy camera.)
This increases the saturation of the photograph, adds a vignette (a dark shadow around the border), and blurs the outside of the photograph. Mess around with the settings until your photograph looks as you want.
C. Add the Border in Frames.
Every good postcard has a border. Choose a color for the border that goes well with the photograph. Go with black, if you can’t decide. Then, make it look like a postcard, by increasing thickness of the OUTER COLOR and leave the INNER COLOR alone. In my photograph of Nai, I decide on a Dark Orange and Black (University of Texas colors). Finally, increase the CORNER RADIUS too to give it an interesting look.
D. Go back to EFFECTS and chose the 1960’s effect.
I love the look of old film photographs. This adds a slight reddish tint to the photograph and also curves the outside edges. Tweak these settings again, till you like the look of your postcard.
E. Add Your Personalized Message in the TEXT tab.
Here is where you add your message. Anything you like works. “I love Mom!” or “Wish you were here!” are good. I am a huge fan of the “Greetings from…” postcard series that was popular a long time ago. There is a host of different fonts to chose from, so chose one or more that fit your style. For my photograph, I chose PANHEAD for “Austin, TX”, which is a western-looking font and then a bold font, IMPACT for the “Greetings from…” I keep my color theme similar as with the border colors.
F. SAVE your photograph & SHARE it.
Now you can save it to your computer or Zip Drive, share it on Facebook or email it.
Save your postcard on something that is portable. I bought a Zip Drive for 15$ and I upload my postcards to this and head to a local store with a photograph kiosk. Walmart, CVS, Rite-Aid are very common options. However, more and more stores have a place that you can print your digital photographs on location.
Upload your postcards to the kiosk and chose the quantity, before hitting PRINT!
NOTE: Make sure your postcard fits and the border will not be cut off. Sometimes, I will lose my border by how the machine cuts the photograph, so you may have to make little edits at the machine.
Print off your new postcards!
Write on the back like any postcard and send it off with a stamp in the top right corner. Your Mom and Granny will love you and tell all their friends!
Finished! Enjoy making your postcards and share this post with your friends. I will be blogging from all over the USA on my hitchhiking journey. I usually write about the people I meet and about the goodness of people, but I also share budget travel advice on my website, Create Our World.
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February 18, 2013 11:10 pm
Thanx.It's very useful...How to create a square line where we can fix the stamp..
You can comment on my website:
July 25, 2012 10:42 pm
Just one question, is a normal photocard sturdy enough to survive the whole mailing process? Does it require some extra support like another carboard backing or something? because postcards look more sturdy for sure.
March 23, 2012 03:47 pm
Neat idea. You get an A for that!
December 16, 2011 08:38 pm
Zip drive? You mean flash drive? Cheaper and smaller!
July 22, 2010 12:15 pm
@Hamish, what a bummer! I wonder if there's any chance of it arriving at all (maybe it is taking the long way home...lol). I hope so.
I use Snapfish for all my printing needs. I find them really good; although, the whole monitor calibration thing can be a pain when using an online printing service (as opposed to using one of the machines to print your photos yourself where you can alter darkness, colour, etc). I just had some very high contrast photos printed, but the darks were too dark which spoilt the print. I only wish that places like Snapfish would take a look at the prints first to see if they have printed ok, but I suppose it's entirely automated, therefore, we don't get a human eye making the necessary adjustments. Oh well.
July 22, 2010 03:47 am
Costco wil print very nice folded greeting cards with your photos on the cover and text inside, with white envelopes for about $8.00/dozen, plus shipping. It's not the cheapest perhaps, but can be done online, mailed to your home and sent out as personalized "multi-purpose" cards (from "thanks" to "condolences") with a unique touch. The cards I've sent have received very warm and positive responses from delighted recipients.
March 24, 2010 07:04 am
I didn't see this until there now when I searched for this page because I was feeling bad about what I put. I've sent an apology email to Benjamin too and I hope he gets it.
I'm sure you won't see this but anyway I am sorry for that above.
March 23, 2010 09:06 am
Well Wayne B and Michaela...
Unfortunately NZ Post has let me down immensely. I created and posted (via the NZ Post Online Service) my very first personalised postcard on Tuesday 8th March.
By the 16th! I finally received an email from them to say they had received my order, printed my postcard and posted it......wow....8 days to tell me that??....
Today, 23rd March - it still hasn't arrived! TO ME. I sent a postcard to myself to see the quality of postcard before spending more money on creating others to send around the world.
Their policy was; delivered in 3-5 working days. IT"S NOW BEEN 15 days (9 of which have been 'Working Days)...and it still hasn't arrived! I Live in the same country!!!
I rung and spoke with NZ Post. They declined to assist - stating 'we can't catch mail thieves you know!...There's nothing we can do. Not even refund the $3.00 it cost to produce and mail the card to you....'
My call will continue...I will not let NZ Post get away with this lack of service....
Sorry for venting everyone! :) Maybe creating my own postcards might be done at home. In person. Instead :)
So, don't use NZ Post for their online Postcard service (for those of NZ) ....Maybe Snapfish might be my next option....I need to find a new postal service in NZ too.
March 22, 2010 01:26 pm
If you aren't trying for the least expensive option, Snapfish provides a postcard service that prints on card stock, adds your printed message on the back, adds postage, and mails to your selected address list. But I like this idea as a quick and least-expense method, and I'm encouraged by the reports that regular prints go through the mail OK; plus hand-written cards are more personal.
March 11, 2010 01:57 am
On this topic...does anyone know who will make up folded cards for 'thank you' notes or just blank cards etc. Then package them nicely and in packs of a dozen or so? And cheap, of course. Thanks.
March 9, 2010 09:37 am
I have sent "postcards" for years using printed photos. Back when I used a film camera, I would always get "doubles" because they were only about a dollar more to print doubles than singles. So many times I would use a favorite photo as a postcard to mail. Never had one destroyed or ruined. It's a great idea, and people do appreciate receiving a "postcard" that is so personal. Also, when we would visit our grandkids in TN, we would always take a picture of them and order many prints to send as postcards to the people at the nursing home where we visited weekly back home. The old people LOVED getting photos of our grandkids and us and we always found them posted on their bulletin boards when we returned home. As far as the negativity on Ben's post, people should just take what is good and ignore what they don't like about it. No negative comments needed. I salute Ben for posting!
March 8, 2010 10:24 am
To Michaela. A Gissy girl! Wicked. There'd be some primo photos from around there! Auckland's abit of a challenge photographically. More abstract and street photography than landscape. Check out my wee portfolio if you're keen.
March 8, 2010 07:04 am
@Hamish, hey, I'm sure it will receive great feedback! I mean, for someone to go to the effort of personalising their own postcard...well, that deserves appreciation in itself, doesn't it. :o) I see you're in Auckland. I was born there, but moved to Gisborne at 11 and have stayed here ever since. Love it. Cheers you.
March 8, 2010 06:31 am
Hi Michaela - great to see another kiwi on here :) I'm about to attempt to send my first postcard this week! :P Hope the feedback's good lol
March 8, 2010 04:27 am
Thanks for the neat tutorial. From reading all the comments, I have found several options that I'm trying--printyourlife.com and their iPhone app and the USPS option, cardstore.com. Also will look into the stickyback postcard backs. I often want to send postcards, but I never seem to have the stamp.
March 7, 2010 08:15 pm
Thanks for the idea, Benjamin! It was a very useful one.
Yes, I'm from NZ, Hamish. Thanks for the link.
To all the negatives....well, we all know that what people like this say reveals character flaws of their own and has little to do with the person they're writing (badly) about.
Thanks again, Benjamin. Cheers.
March 7, 2010 03:31 pm
What a bunch of losers you critics are...Feel free to click the X button to the right of your browser you Keyboard Gladiators if the topic is too mundane for you and pull up something else you are a complete noob at...
March 7, 2010 08:27 am
Nice post.... ignore all those who are trying to feel smart by picking up one word in the whole post.....
March 6, 2010 07:01 pm
I am happy that some found this post useful!
In response to some of the comments above,
@Omar & Chris: I was referring to a USB Pen drive. Not a Zip drive. My mistake.
@Brandon: I have sent out many and all have held up in the mail, although it is flimsier material.
Others whom can print them off yourself, I would do that. I can't currently, but that is an even cheaper option that could probably allow for more personalization.
@Brittany: Thanks for sharing your site, I am going to check that out and share it with my readers.
All the best!
March 6, 2010 05:56 pm
Seems like a good idea - if, as people point out, the prints survive the posting. Surely an opening here for shops to offer a printing service on *postcard* stock. In fact Benjamin may have invented a whole new mini-lab service, Postcards R Us! [ Someone please tidy up his grammar for him though to spare his blushes. The top is just weird: he means "who", not "whom" (twice); and later, "choose" (present) not "chose" (past tense) - but it seems no-one under the age of about 30 can get that right (or lose/loose).
March 6, 2010 02:17 pm
I have not bought a greeting card or post card in ten years. I have always made my own when I got my first computer and printer. Photographs made in WalMart or other stores are thick enough to send through the mail. I take a blank sheet of 20 pound paper and cut it in the shape of the 4 x 6 photo, use a glue stick to paste it to the back of the photo, write my greetings and mail. I make my own greeting cards my self and they are easy to make.
March 6, 2010 01:25 am
I wonder what is in store now that picnik has been acquired by google!?
Will they incorporate the features of picnik into the picasa web albums? Sure hope so!
March 5, 2010 10:52 pm
Thanks Benjamin! Please ignore the above negative comments because your post helped me alot! :D It's attractive!
March 5, 2010 12:35 pm
Fun idea! Thanks :0
Some of you guys sure are real smarty pants! (I'm being polite)
March 5, 2010 11:34 am
Wow, and I thought photogs in general were more upbeat than many posts here. I read an article or tutorial in hopes of picking up new ideas and if you look for something positive you will find something useful. Even if I don't come away with a new idea or perspective someone will. This is what makes sharing important. Thanks and keep up the good work.
March 5, 2010 11:14 am
Good news for those who like this idea - post cards cost only 28 cents to mail! From USPS.com:
Postcards - $0.28
Minimum: 3-1/2 inches high by 5 inches long by 0.007 inch thick
Maximum: 6 inches long by 4-1/4 inches high
Additional postage required for larger postcards
March 5, 2010 09:07 am
This is a great way to make postcards! I create my 'cards' in Picnik then upload them to my national post carrier - who creates and sends the postcards for me - yes at a cost - but worth it - they create 21cm x 12cm cards! Great size.
Anyone from New Zealand??? create your postcard in Picnik, then upload them to New Zealand Post (NZPost) who will print and send them to the address you want.
Here's their address;
March 5, 2010 09:00 am
I just noticed all of the demeaning and negative comments on here! Why is there always a bunch of jerks out there just waiting to let the air out of someone's balloon. Maybe it's because they couldn't come up with a good idea on their own if their life depended on it.. The drives are called "zip", "pen", "flash", "portable", "USB", and a host of other names, you losers,
March 5, 2010 08:49 am
This was a great article. I always wondered how I could do this, but never investigated enough to figure it out for myself. You gave good directions, and I hope to do this soon!
March 5, 2010 07:24 am
I don't have any travels planned but thanks for introducing me to Picnik. I want something that's simple and cheap (read free!) and this has some nice features that Picasa doesn't. Thanks.
And guys how does that old saying go "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all....."!
March 5, 2010 07:12 am
Phoey, I would rather read an article about d-pants on Tim and Eric.
March 5, 2010 05:47 am
Good job Benjamin, Thanks for the ideas. And for all the negative people, my mother always said "If you can't say something nice don't say anything at all." Maybe some of you should think about that advice.
March 5, 2010 05:04 am
Very well explained..I always had this inclination for making the postcards when I travel but never made an attempt to try one. Now after reading this, I am making one on my next trip for the Labor day weekend..
Good luck with your hitchhiking Ben!
March 5, 2010 04:26 am
VERY inspiring. Thanks so much. My husband is retiring next week and you have inspired me to do a postcard with the two of us and the view from our condo (that we're retiring to) in the background. We'll send it out as a change of address and notification of retirement. Great article. Thanks so much.
March 5, 2010 04:25 am
Benjamin, happy travels to you! Thanks for the fun post. Nice easy lesson to follow, I enjoyed being reminded of something crafty I can do myself that I cast aside :) I've also seen at the dollar stores packages of post card "backs" that are pre-sticky, you can just attach your photograph to, they're great! Your web site is cool! So many interesting people and places you've met and seen, I'm envious! Enjoy!
March 5, 2010 04:23 am
Thanks Benjamin, for a great idea. We have older parents that can Skype video us, but they can't open their emails. A postcard would be great fun for them.
And even if we don't use your exact method, we can always learn of options in the comments (the real ones, not the nasty, critical ones). I checked out printyourlife.com, and that's a cool option! Only for the US so far, though.
Thanks for being brave enough to share an idea on this potentially sadly negative forum!
March 5, 2010 04:12 am
What a fun idea. Thanks so much for helpin make travel more fun and a way to include those we've left at home in our travels.
As for the pundits, consider the source.
March 5, 2010 03:17 am
Very clever and fun.
March 5, 2010 03:09 am
Yes great travels and I would love to receive a postcard from you!!!
March 5, 2010 03:05 am
You travel with an inkjet printer? It's a POSTCARD you send when you travel..... get it?
March 5, 2010 02:55 am
Wow! I was going to say the same thing that smn554 said. Simmer down people, I don't see you writing anything! I think the idea is great, thanks for posting it and ignore the haters that seem to have come out of the woodwork!
March 5, 2010 02:39 am
@af - I love people who criticize grammar, while using poor grammar. Look up your punctuation rules, and then get a life!
March 5, 2010 02:38 am
@Wesley Acheson - Aren't you a friggin' hater! What made you such a mean person? Where is your non-joke post? It's apparently not on your absolutely lame website that contains amateurish pictures in random sizes and has no style.
Doesn't feel all that great, does it?
I for one appreciate Benjamin's post, even if just for inspiration. A physical postcard, especially a handmade, personalized one, will always make more of an impression than any digital format. This could even be smart business marketing campaign.
March 1, 2010 10:26 am
Good gracious people, lighten up. Shouldn't people put their energy into something other than criticizing others? I thought it was a rather nifty idea and if I was traveling I would probably give it a try. So I commend the author and you just keep on making postcards!
March 1, 2010 08:46 am
Yes, do learn to write. "Whom" is the objective case. You want "who", the subjective case.
March 1, 2010 06:19 am
http://www.ipernity.com do have Piknic in build...as well
February 28, 2010 04:15 pm
Why are some people so rude? This is a site for beginners. If you have something to write, I am sure you would be welcome to share. If not, please be kind.
February 28, 2010 05:49 am
Get some Avery 8383 stock, go to microsoft publisher and create a back and front format, use whatever program you have to resize your photo to 5.5 x 4.25 and add it. Print, write, send. No zip drive required. There's nothing difficult about postcards.
February 28, 2010 04:45 am
Thanks for sharing your idea. Now I would like to share one of my ideas with you, go back to school and immediately enroll in a writing class.
February 27, 2010 10:39 pm
Benjamin, I hope you have a great experience on your hitchhiking trip. Your postcard Idea looks like a lot of fun. My wife and I send postcards to our grandchildren when we travel, they always get a kick out of receiving real mail!
Looking forward to giving it a try.
February 27, 2010 03:32 pm
Zip drives? I thought they became extinct a few years ago....
February 27, 2010 07:42 am
Wow, I think some people are grumpy today!
This is a fun idea. If you don't want to do it, then don't. You can move on without tearing someone to shreds. Apparently some people didn't read that the author is hitchhiking around the USA. I'm doubting very much that he's got an ink jet printer and a can of spray mount in his pack (not to mention what happens to ink jet prints when THEY get wet!).
He found a fun and inexpensive way to keep in touch with his friends and family which he kindly shared with the rest of us.
Thanks Benjamin, enjoy the rest of your travels!!
February 27, 2010 07:29 am
ZIP drives.... I think acouple of them in a drawer next to acouple old Jazz drives...
February 27, 2010 06:15 am
For comments about the zip drive, I'm sure the author was referring to the standard USB thumb, pen, jump, or whatever drive. I've heard them called zip drives too (as apposed to zip disk). The tutorial could seriously use some help, but the idea is sound if you are on vacation (where you would probably be sendi g a postcard from) and don't have access to your usual software/printer.
February 27, 2010 06:08 am
This is a a great posting. I'll give it a try. I've got several photos from travels and I live in the San Francisco area, so there are many opportunities for travel postcards. As for the Zip drive, I think Benjamin meant a USB drive, not an actual ZIP drive. The comments made me think about the various USB drives I have (that I haven't lost or given away at least!) as well as an actual Iomega ZIP drive that I have among my piles of old "gadgets.". So I put a quick shot together with a few of them including the ZIP (complete with 100M cartridge).[eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/jljfoto/4389892059/' title='ZipDrive1' url='http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2794/4389892059_4d5d793587.jpg']
February 27, 2010 04:06 am
Thanks for this post, I found it full of new ideas and really helpful, I think I use it to make postsecret postcards! Ignore the downers in the comments, it's as it some people want nothing more than to make someone else feel badly! :) I say LOVE LOVE LOVE!
February 27, 2010 03:54 am
I think this is a really fun idea! There are few things as fun as snail mail!
And ignore the bums who are calling you out on the zip drive, they must have missed the "anything portable" phrase. I swear half the (negative) comments here come from people who didn't read the whole post.
February 27, 2010 02:48 am
I'm wondering the same thing as brandon. I know you mail a lot of things (including bananas), but I'm wondering what happens if this thing gets wet. And photo paper is not very stiff.
February 27, 2010 01:23 am
Print it on an inkjet
Spray mount it to a piece of card stock - trim
voila. You stayed home.
February 27, 2010 01:12 am
So basically. Let me see if I get this right.
1 design post card.
2 bring it to a store.
3 print it.
Is this a joke. I'm left unsure where Picnik fits in at all when you have image editing software???
February 27, 2010 01:07 am
If you just print this postcard on picture paper at the kiosk, does it hold up in the mailing process? (as opposed to heavier card stock usually used for postcards)
February 27, 2010 12:53 am
i know this is a digital photog site and all... buuuuuut i just use my old polaroid that shoots peel apart packfilm and send those as postcards.. and it's a lot fewer steps than this. :)
February 27, 2010 12:53 am
Nice post. This process seems much easier than any other printing services available. Thank you for the nice simple, uncomplicated approach to making postcards from photos.
February 27, 2010 12:43 am
Once your photo is edited, you can also upload it to sites such as www.printyourlife.com, where they will print and mail your postcard for you, without you having to go out to a Walmart, or CVS, or, most importantly, the post office!
February 27, 2010 12:19 am
People still use zip drives? I would have thought a USB Pen drive would have been more appropriate.
How old is this tutorial?
February 27, 2010 12:17 am
Wait... this is 2010, right? People still use Zip drives?
February 27, 2010 12:17 am
great idea! i've always wanted to make postcards. it's a pity you couldn't get photos printed on a type of card instead of photo paper at those kiosks though!
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