Now it’s time to choose a frame. If you want some advice, one of the site’s designers will suggest some mat-and-framing combinations (a free service), or you can choose your own frame and mat. Then you’ll see a preview of your framed art, along with the price. If you want to make changes to the mat and the photo size, you can do so from this page. Once you’re happy, you simply add the project to your shopping cart.
Shipping is where a lot of photo websites dent your wallet, but I was delighted to find that shipping through Framebridge was included in the price. It also makes you feel like you’re not being nickeled and dimed.
My gallery frame arrived at my doorstep nine days after I ordered it, faster than the delivery times of certain companies that only print photos. (If you want expedited shipping, it’s $15 to $40, depending on the size of your art.) I opened the package, which was well-padded, to find the image just as I had hoped it would be: in a crisp, white mat and a white wood frame, ready to be hung on the wall. My printed photo, a 14×18 frame, mat and shipping was $79, and worth every penny.
Another printing company, Artifact Uprising, based in Denver, offers a number of photo gifts through its app and website, where you begin by selecting your frame type such as a gallery frame (starting at $65), deep-set frame or float frame. Next, you pick a backing style (like paper or bend points) and the frame finish and size. Then you upload your desired image and — voilà — you’re done.
There is shipping and handling, which varies depending on the price of your order and how fast you want it. Shipping a 14×11, deep-set, $99 frame to New York ranged from $18.99 for the least expensive option to $41.99 for the most expensive.
Many popular photo printing sites also frame photos. Nations Photo Lab, for one, is a favorite of The Wirecutter, the gear-and-gadget recommendation site that is a New York Times company. In March, the Wirecutter wrote about online photo-printing services they tried and loved (and some they didn’t) and said that Nations offered “the best combination of quality, price, options, and service, delivering good-looking prints in secure packaging.” For framing, Nations offers a variety of frames and mats, and asks users to download ROES ordering software. That said this isn’t necessarily the right option for you, if, like me, you want as few steps as possible; a clean, uncluttered interface; and don’t want to download software.
But let’s say you don’t want a frame. On the other end of the photo-printing spectrum are small, cheap prints you don’t think twice about putting pushpins through. And there are plenty of places to get them.
Shutterfly is among the usual options. A dozen 4×6 prints were $1.80. Economy shipping (five to 10 days) was $2.67 and 40 cents tax for a total of $4.87.
That’s nearly $2 more than Printage, a website and app that’s offering unlimited free 4×4 and 4×6 prints. You pay only shipping and handling, which varies by how many photos you order. For instance, a dozen prints were $2.97; 85 prints were $9.95 for standard shipping (five to 13 days). Expedited shipping (four to eight days) was an additional 99 cents.
The app requires access to the photos on your phone, which may be a deal breaker for some. The desktop version allows you to drag an image onto the page so that Printage doesn’t have access to all your photos. You’ll have to sign up with an email address or through Facebook if you want to continue after that. A dozen 4×6 prints were $2.83 and 14 cents tax for a total of $2.97.
Yet even those low prices didn’t beat Amazon Prints, the retailer’s photo-printing service. A dozen 4×6 prints were 9 cents each for a total of $1.08. There was no tax and standard shipping (about two weeks) was free for Prime members, which is one of the best deals around: a dozen vacation prints for about a dollar.
Bottom line: Cheap, though not necessarily fast, prints are but a few taps away if you’re not a stickler for professional-quality images. If you want your vacation photos framed on your wall, give a printing and framing site a try. My framed photos take me right back to those special trips. Now I just need to get around to hammering some nails.