You don’t have to be the Leslie Knope of gift giving to nail it this holiday season. Photo prints are arguably the easiest and most affordable gifts to give, especially for the people who have it all. Gifting prints for the holidays should ease your stress and I’m here to make it EXTRA simple for you and tell you how to choose the best photos to gift and some of my favorite places to buy them.

First, you’ll want to go with your gut. Flip through wedding and family albums or scroll your Google Photos. Find about five days or events from the past year that you’d like to focus on. In quarantine times, feel free to look back an extra year. If you find a series of very similar photos and you can’t decide which one to choose, ask yourself this:

  • Are everyone’s eyes open in the photo? Congratulations if you look amazing in the photo, but I can’t recommend gifting a photo print where someone’s eyes are closed unless it’s a candid and they aren’t looking directly at the camera.
  • Which photo in the series has the best lighting and contrast? This is especially important if the photo was taken outdoors.
  • In which photo does everyone look the most natural? Formal, posed photos are great, but so are memories that reflect how people actually are. Crying kid? Perfect. Sassy side-eye? Even better. Find the one that feels the most authentic.

Still not feeling sure of yourself? We have more tips and tricks on how to pick what photos to frame or hang on the blog last month!

Where to buy prints to gift

There are tons of places to buy photo prints, from CVS to Shutterfly and all the $0.05 deals in between but PLEASE for the LOVE of every photographer out there, including myself, do NOT buy your prints from the cheap-o options. Just because you’re buying a more affordable gift doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality. Here are a few of my favorite vendors for photo printing.

From your Photographer

Duh!  Your photographer will use specific galleries that make sure your prints come printed with colors that look exactly like they wanted them to on high quality paper.  They use professional print companies like White House Custom Color and Miller’s that do not sell to consumers directly.  By purchasing prints from your photographer (usually out of the gallery), you are ensuring that your colors are as intended and giving them a little bit of an extra tip and thank you after the session.

For prints and more: Mpix

For a direct to consumer experience, Mpix photo labs is the best place to print high-quality photos at reasonable prices. You can get 25% off your first order, plus they run discounts and sales throughout the holidays. They’re professional quality prints with lots of texture and finish options, including giclee. Check out their wood, acrylic, and metal print products for a unique look and feel.

Lake Tahoe Elopement Packages

For photo books: Artifact Uprising

If you’re looking for clean, contemporary photo books and want to design your own, Artifact Uprising is your place. They have plenty of hard cover, layflat, and soft cover photo books in leather, cloth, and matte wraps. Their photo books also have helpful, artsy templates if designing isn’t your jam. If you’re looking for something different, check out their trendy desk calendars. Typically, they offer 15% off first orders, and like most other places, they have good holiday deals.

For framed photos: Framebridge

Quality framed photos are a bit more expensive than other photo print options, but they give you an opportunity to add a little more personality. I love Framebridge for photo framing. Aside from the millions of frame and matting options, they have options to personalize frames with engraving and story pockets, so you can leave a little note. Gifting a framed photo is a great option for your friends with bare walls and also for those who love building gallery walls.

It’s a little late to get a photo session in for your holiday cards, but family photos make great gifts year-round. Reach out to book your family portrait session—fall and winter are beautiful seasons in Tahoe. I offer gift certificates for future use that have no expiration date. And don’t forget, I travel free!

Austin Family Photos