Set your prints free

by Earl J Posted on April 15, 2010

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“Help, I’ve Been Left in This Shoebox!”

Your imprisoned prints are calling to you. They want to be set free. Some are in your shoebox, others are on your memory card. Either way, they deserve better. To encourage you to introduce these deserving images to the outside world, I offer the following tips.


I once attended a conference on improving picture-taking skills, and the last lecture has stuck with me.  The leader titled his talk “Celebrate Your Photography” and I (thanks to the help I get from Shutterfly) have been trying to “Celebrate” since that lecture.


One thing very clear to me is that, great as Shutterfly processes my 4×6 prints, the results are only as good as what you can see in that small size. Here’s an example:

Diane, my wife, took this scene on a visit to Apalachicola, an oyster fishing village in the Florida panhandle.  There’s a lot of detail here and, nice as it is, it kind of looks cluttered when you see it in the 4×6 size.

I had Shutterfly print an 11×14 enlargement of the same scene, and what a difference – truly a celebration of what Diane saw.  The photo you see above is a cropped version of how this section of the enlarged version would look, and you can see it becomes a powerful statement that makes you want to mat and frame it.  What a great way to “Celebrate Your Photography”.


Matting boards and glassed frames are easy to find and often on sale at hobby stores. The pictures above are a part of a “Photo Wall” in my office with 11×14 shots anchored by a single, mounted 16×20.  (You can check Shutterfly on-line to consider joining their prepaid print plan).

Free the prints trapped in your shoe box or in your memory card, and receive the thrills that come when you “Celebrate Your Photography”.

Earl Johnson

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Where's my photo?
  1. Joey Says:

    Earl this is a great article. I loved your first sentence; “Help I’ve Been Left In This Shoebox”! I have gone through several albums and boxes, scanned them in and made photobooks. So many photos that have been ‘left’! I really like your example of your wife’s photo – wow what a difference that makes! I love the photo wall too! Such a fun idea to put ones own photos on their wall as art! Now that I bought my first DSLR – maybe I’ll be able to have pictures that I can hang on the wall!
    Thanks for the great tips!

  2. curicogirl Says:

    oh Earl… I have a great big blank wall in my hallway that I want to get filled up with pictures!!! Your article has really inspired me to get on that. Now off to pick out my celebration pics! Thanks!

  3. BarbaraJ Says:

    Earl, I have been thinking about all our photos and prints that are just stored on either our computer or left in old boxes. Love this article. If we just take the time and do what you suggested, we could come up with some awesome wall art and/or photo books. Thank you for such a great article.

  4. AnnAbbott Says:

    You are so right Earl! Sometimes a bit of cropping here and there can make a boring picture and incredible photograph to display. I have really enjoyed taking photographs of my children at Disneyland with their favorite characters and cropping and blowing them up to 5×7’s or 8×10’s for pennies on the dollar compared to the Magic Kingdom’s prices. Then I head over to Wal-Mart and pick up simple frames for as little at a $1.50. The photos are displayed in the kid’s bedrooms!

  5. shannonr Says:

    Thanks for this great tip; each trip I tend to take pictures that once I view them on the computer look just as you mentioned “cluttered”, your tip to cropping to pictures was very nice and I am going to try on that on a few of mine and see if it does the trick :). Thanks again for the tip.

  6. ElleSnaps Says:

    Ohhh I love the idea of cropping in on the details. Great article and thank for the ideas Earl!!

  7. conniee4 Says:

    Love this info! I am like you and tend to crop down. Especially my hummingbirds. I always love to get in closer for the fine details! Thanks a bunch for sharing your experience with us!

more about Earl J

I'm a long-time film photographer, starting with a darkroom in my parents' fruit-cellar when a teen-ager. I fought the change to digital at first, but no longer. I've become a convert and Shutterfly has been my on-line provider since 2002. Since then I've placed (as I write this) 135 orders for prints, enlargements, calendars for every year and 42 photo books in different sizes. I'm very pleased with the top quality of all Shutterfly products.

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