Personal Alphabet Art – Part I

On Saturday I revealed the easiest and most personal wedding gift I’ve ever given.


I created it at the last minute because Ms. Inspiration didn’t show up until the eleventh hour (apparently she’s as much of a procrastinator as I am), and I was worried. I was worried that they wouldn’t love it. I was worried that they’d be as unimpressed as The Hubster was.

But I bumped into the happy couple at church last night, and their reaction, their hugs, their comment that they were going to hang it over the piano in their home…well, I needn’t have worried. They did love it.

It wasn’t my awesome photography that pleased them (we all know my photography is mediocre at best) or the expensive custom framing (an off-the-shelf frame from WalMart is definitely not custom…or expensive). They loved it because it was personal. Each photo was taken at the church where they exchanged their vows so each photo has special meaning for them.

If you take just one thing away from this post, I hope it’s this…if at all possible, get photos that are personal. Go to the location where the couple is to be married. Go the place where they had their first date. Go to the place where he (or maybe she!) popped the big question. Go to their favorite park, or sports arena, or the home they share. Find a location that they feel is special to them, and the photos you take will be special to them. (Even if they’re mediocre photos like mine.)

So…you’ve thought of the perfect location. You’ll also need…

A Camera

As I’ve stated on multiple occasions, I’m not much of a photographer. Though I dream of a Nikon D90 equipped with a Nikkor 50mm 1.8 AF lens and about five thousand dollars worth of photography classes, my current photographic equipment consists of a Canon Power Shot A2000, my camera phone, and little to no knowledge of proper photography technique.

Software for Photo Editing

Some time ago I sprung for Adobe CS3 which contained Photoshop CS3 Extended as well as several other Adobe programs. At the time I was eligible for an academic discount so I saved beau coup bucks (note that I haven’t invested in the latest and greatest version). However, you don’t have to buy expensive software. Adobe Photoshop Elements is available from places like and for less than ninety dollars, and if you have to have it right now you can download it immediately from Adobe for around a hundred. If you’ve never used Photoshop Elements, you can download a fully functional copy and use it for thirty days for free.

Other free photo editing software is available as well. You might want to check out the following sources:

Printing Source

I printed at home, using my HP Photosmart D7260 and HP Premium Plus photo paper. I selected an 11×14 frame with a mat with an 8×10 opening so I could print at home (in a perfect, less procrastinating world, I’d have sent it out for printing, but my final result turned out beautifully).

Some great places to outsource your printing include:

  • Snapfish (8×10 for $2.99, 11×14 for $6.99)
  • Shutterfly (8×10 for $3.00, 11×14 for &7.99)
  • SmugMug (8×10 for $1.99, 11×14 for $5.49)
  • KodakGallery (8×10 $3.89, 11×14 for $7.99)
  • Walgreens (8×10 for $2.00, 11×14 for $9.99)
  • Sam’s Club (8×10 for $1.46, 11×14 for $2.87)
  • Costco (8×10 for $1.49, 11×14 for $2.99)

None of the above prices reflect shipping charges (most of these places offer store pick-up as well as shipping services), and they don’t take into account any specials, coupons, or discount codes that may be available at the time of your order.

I also only recommended those places I’ve used personally and had good experiences with. If it’s not on the list, it’s because (1) I’ve never tried them or (2) I’ve tried them and gotten lousy prints, lousy service or both.

A Frame

You’ll need a frame for your creation. I suggest finding a frame you love and that fits your budget first, so that when you create your art you’ll know exactly what dimensions you’ll have to work with.

Once you’ve got your frame, thought about your location, gotten your hands on some photo editing software, and decided who gets the honor of printing your masterpiece, check back here. Tomorrow I’ll be sharing some tips for finding and capturing unique and lovely little details.

Until then…


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