We wanted to send out really nice, high-quality birth announcements that featured multiple pictures of our newborn daughter, Amelia. But we couldn’t find the “perfect” birth announcement design from various online stores—so we decided to do it ourselves.
- Digital camera (four megapixel or better recommended)
- Portable lights (we used two portable halogen work lamps from the garage)
- A Macintosh computer running Mac OS X
- Apple iLife suite (namely, iPhoto)
- Illustration and image processing software (I used Adobe’s Illustrator and Photoshop, but there are lots of inexpensive alternatives)
- Online photo-printing site (we tried Apple’s iPhoto, Shutterfly, and Walmart Photo)
- Size A7 (5 1/4 by 7 1/4 inch) envelopes for 5 by 7 inch photos (we ordered ours from EnvelopeMall.com)
How We Did It
A close friend of ours—who happens to be a serious amatuer photographer—was kind enough to come over to the house a couple months after Amelia was born and do a mini photo shoot for us, using our little Canon digital camera. For the photo shoot, we had a couple little outfits to dress Amelia in, and used different comforters and bedsheets to use as “drops” to provide good backgrounds in the pictures. We draped the comforters and sheets on a couch so we could put Amelia in different poses, and used different combinations of lights (including the ceiling light in the room, plus a couple of small work lights from Home Depot that we had laying around) to get the feeling we wanted in the pictures.
We ended up with lots of pictures to choose from, so I loaded them all into Apple iPhoto so we could use its full-screen photo review mode and quick picture rating tools (use the number keys, Command-1 through Command-5, to quickly assign ratings, and use the left and right arrow keys to move through the photos without leaving the keyboard) to narrow them down to a small set of candidates. In the end, we picked out the photos for the announcement to have a full body shot, a close-up of Amelia’s face, and then one picture each with Geitra and Neil holding Amelia’s hand or foot.
After we selected the pictures, the announcement was laid out using Adobe Illustrator, then rasterized using Adobe Photoshop to get a high-quality, low-compression JPEG image. We tried out a couple different ways of printing the announcement, including custom greeting cards from both Apple’s iPhoto service and from Shutterfly, but we ended up going with glossy 5 by 7 inch photo prints from Walmart (nice prints, and quite cheap–about 60 cents a print–if we were willing to wait a day or two), sent out in high-quality pink envelopes from EnvelopeMall.com. One thing to note is that most of these services have a dots-per-inch (dpi) or filesize limitation on the uploaded files; I did all the rasterized versions as 1200dpi, but the Walmart photo site seemed to only like a 600dpi version.
All told, designing, printing, and sending out the announcements like this was pretty economical, and we had total control over the design. The final cost per announcement was about 85 cents each, plus postage. From various online services we investigated, prices seemed to range from $1.15 to $2.00 per announcement.
Here’s a screen-sized version of the announcement so you can see the final result: