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4 Easy Ways to Get Pics Off Your Phone and Into Your Life

Like most moms in this current time of iPhones and Instagram, I've taken about a million photos of my kids. And I have all of those photos... somewhere… sort of. They're on my computer, an external hard drive or maybe just buried in my Facebook feed. And while social media has made it easier to instantly save, store and share those photos online, I recently realized that the people I most want to share those photos with—my kids—don't really get to see and enjoy them.

But I want my kids to be surrounded by their stories. I want our family's photos in our lives, our real lives, not just online. Luckily, there are some very cool companies offering innovative and easy ways to do this beyond just ordering prints (which, as we all know, tend to get forgotten in boxes and closets.) Here are four of my favorite ways to get those memorable photos off of your devices and into your family's life.

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Instagram Poster

Social Print Studio is a small San Francisco-based company that creates a variety of unique products from your Instagram photos. They even have an app so you can do this right from your phone; it's very user-friendly (seriously, five stars on that score) but if you happen to have any trouble, they'll get you right through it, so five stars for customer service, too. They really embody small business values in the digital age. Not surprisingly, the quality of the products is just awesome. No weird uneven borders or coloring issues or crops or any other glitches like that—the pics may all come from devices but you can tell there's a human on the other end making your order look awesome.

I ordered a 20x38 poster and we love it—especially my kids. They look at it all the time and remember where we were when the photos were taken or ask me to tell them about when I was pregnant with them or whatever —it's really like a big celebration of our family's life in one classy, colorful grid. We hung it above our favorite big reading chair so it's a part of our daily lives. (Tip: Order it with the frame. I didn't and it cost me the same and an extra trip to get a custom frame done afterwards.)

Instagram Magnets

Social Print Studio also creates these little two-inch wonders. They're all over our fridge and they make me so happy every time I'm in the kitchen, which is a lot. My kids like to arrange them in patterns and to point out who we are, where we are, and so forth in the pictures. These would also make an awesome gift for grandparents.

Gallery Style Wall Art

Framing and hanging is an art unto itself, so if I can have the option to hang something as-is and have it look all the more amazing that way, I'm taking it. Bumblejax is a printing studio right here in Seattle (though they ship worldwide) turning out high end art prints from digital photographs on all kinds of cool mediums. I ordered a bamboo print from a photo I took of my now almost two-year-old on the morning he was born. The image was a jpeg from my phone taken with the VSCO cam app. It's printed on a 12x9 bamboo panel and looks beautiful. I love the look of the actual object on the wall, as well as the photo. We hung it right above our dining table and my little guy Otto points to it every day and says "Baby Otto!" Here's a pic of my big kid Kaspar hanging out beneath it.

Here's what the bamboo looks like from the side. I just love the organic coloring and all. By the way, this is an eco-friendly printing option.

We also ordered an acrylic block print from Bumblejax. It's a photo of Otto watching the otters at the aquarium when he was 15 months old. I shot this one with my DSLR camera so it had a higher resolution. On their website, Bumblejax describes the effect of the acrylic, which is polished to perfection, as creating a 3-D pop effect in the photos. It totally does.

This photo in particular has a hidden reflection of Otto's face that can only be seen in certain lights. We keep it on our mantle within our kids' daily sight but our of their reach. And when I put it on the windowsill? Boom. The pic of this here—seen below—isn't great but you can see how that reflection of Otto within the image itself, as well as all of the specks of light in water tank he's looking into, pop right out. It's just beautiful. Service and quality both get major thumbs up with this company as well.

Photo Book

I've been meaning to make photobooks for my kids for a long time and now I've finally done it and I don't plan to stop. Otto's about to turn two so I compiled some of my favorite shots from the last year and created a book at a mainstream website, Shutterfly. I did not find the process to be very user-friendly—it took a LONG time and was pretty confusing at times (although you can live-chat with customer service, which was helpful when the site wouldn't let me put my finished book into my cart in order to buy it,) but I like the book, and now that I've done it this'll be faster and easier in the future. I'm going to make a book for each of my kids' years from here on our, so they'll always get one on their birthday.

The quality's really nice and it's fun to be able to stick a ton of photos into one finished work. You can upload photos from your computer, and also import from social media sites when compiling the book, and you get lots of control in terms of layout and final look. Shutterfly frequently offers great deals on photobooks, too, so don't pay full price!

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If you like photo books but don't feel like you have the time/brainspace for making one like mine, you can also use a cool app called Groovebook to just order flipbooks of photos from your iPhone. Kids love these and they're simple, streamlined and affordable. I haven't made one myself yet but my friend swears by 'em.

What are your favorite ways to get your digital photos into your (real) world?

Images via Taylor Hengen Newman

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