Sometimes, all you want to do with your digital photos is share them online, or maybe just print them out one by one and slip them into an album. If you aspire to create something a bit more refined, though, you might need some help. Enter MyPhotoCreations: this free app can help you design and create polished photo albums, books, cards, calendars, and more. While the software itself is free, have to pay for the finished product, whether you print it at home or opt to send it to DigiLabs, the company behind MyPhotoCreations, for production.
MyPhotoCreations is simple to use: You select your photo project, choose which photos to include, and select from the dozens of available layouts. The software does all the work for you, inserting your photos into a virtual mock-up of the album, book, or calendar you selected.
Once the photos inserted into the project, you're free to change them, edit the layout and photo size, and make any necessary alterations. That's a good thing, since MyPhotoCreations doesn't always suggest the ideal layout: Often it squeezes photos that are packed with content into small spaces, while suggesting that pictures with minimal content fit into larger slots. The resulting layout can look a bit odd. The editing tools are easy to use for the most part, though, so fine-tuning the layout isn't too difficult. I do wish they offered more control though, as accomplishing some tasks--such as moving a photo from one page of a photo book to the next--can be tricky. And fine-tuning the layout for an entire photo book will definitely take some time if you vary too far from the layout suggested by MyPhotoCreations.
Once your project is complete, MyPhotoCreations offers a few options for creating the actual product. If you're creating something small and relatively simple, such as a greeting card or a small calendar, you can opt to print your product right at home. Printing anything beyond a few samples requires the purchase of a $40 software key, however. If your project is more complex, such as a hardcover book or a spiral-bound calendar, you can send it to DigiLabs (the company behind the software) for production. You can expect to pay anywhere from less than $10 for a calendar to $20 for a photo book, while more complex photo albums can cost $200 or more. The prices for the finished products are comparable to what you'd pay when ordering similar products from services like Kodak Gallery, where you might pay anywhere from $20 to $150 for a photo book, depending on its length.
I printed a few cards on my older inkjet printer and wasn't terribly impressed with the results, especially when compared with photo cards I'd ordered from professional printers, but I was wowed by the quality of a photo book that I ordered from and had printed by DigiLabs. The book's cover, binding, and pages were all high quality--even more so than similar books I've seen from services like KodakGallery. And, perhaps most important, my pictures looked great. I created a book of travel photos and used the suggested travel page background; I had worried the printed design would look cheesy on the pages, but that was not so. Instead, the design looked subtle and sophisticated.
I'd opt to print my products at home only if there were no fees involved. But MyPhotoCreations is easy to use and it's free, and I like how much control it gives you in creating your own photo projects. And if you'd rather leave the actual printing to the pros, you're in good hands with MyPhotoCreations.