Fuss Free Framing

imagekind.jpgI typically am all about do-it-yourself crafts, but to artfully frame photos, I’ve experienced considerable frustration in the process of printing images, then finding frames that are the right style, have appropriately sized windows for your printed photos (sometimes resizing and reprinting photos is necessary), and aren’t dinged up from excessive handling at the store. Luckily, I now have a great solution. Read on for a review of the online framing service Imagekind, and also to learn how to win a $100 Imagekind gift card.

I take a lot of photos, and one of my favorite ways to display pictures is via a 3- or 4-window frame, where each window captures a different expression, or moment of a journey. But in the past, I have wasted far too much time on the framing problems described above. Anyone who has made multiple trips back and forth to the frame section (and return counter) at Target in search of a correctly sized, intact frame knows what I’m talking about.

I thus was thrilled to learn about Imagekind Story Frames. Once you’ve decided on the photos you want to use, you literally can create artfully framed photos in minutes. Just load digital files from your desktop (or import from flickr), select your frame window style (9 styles, varying from 2 to 6 windows), make any edits (reposition, crop, rotate, resize), choose from a dozen stylish frames and mats, and you're done. Prices range from $46.95 to $86.95 depending on frame window style.

I used Imagekind to frame a series of photos from our winter trip to San Francisco (momentous, given that it was our first air travel with Laurel) and the project rendered beautifully. Because the photos I wanted to use differed in natural orientation, I opted for the one style with square windows (17” square frame with four 4.8" x 4.8” windows; $68.95). The photo quality is excellent in color and contrast, and the frame and mat elegant and professional looking. Expertly packed, the frame was perfectly intact on arrival.

My only concerns about Imagekind relate to web usability. I realize that the process is dynamic, but I find it a little strange that price ranges aren’t available right up front (I confirmed the price ranges above with an Imagekind rep); instead, you have to first upload a photo for an initial price to show, and then the price adjusts depending on which frame style you opt for. It also would be helpful if the process of experimenting with different frame styles was more straightforward. I felt pretty committed to the 4-window frame due to said orientation issues and uploaded my four photos, but then wondered about including two additional photos for a 6-window frame. There was no obvious option to choose a different frame style (with the four already-loaded photos in a queue) so I went back to the original create page and it didn’t appear that my photos were saved. After re-uploading the first photo, I discovered that the four photos were, in fact, all stored, but the process just seemed a bit awkward.

These details aside, however, I am thrilled with the final result. Whether it’s for your own home or as a gift for the grandparents, Imagekind Story Frames offer an easy, beautiful way to preserve special family moments or fleeting baby expressions. From here on in, I'll opt for Imagekind for artful photo framing; I’d much rather spend my time actually hanging with my family and taking more photos, than driving around searching for frames.

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Now, want to win a $100 Imagekind gift card?

  • Visit the Imagekind Create Your Own Masterpiece section, then email contests@bostonmamas.com (with ‘Imagekind’ in the subject), and name one of Imagekind's Creative Options (other than Story Frames).

  • One entry permitted per person; US entrants welcome.

  • Entry period closes at midnight EST, Thursday, February 28, 2008.