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December 1, 2010

Holiday Photos Made Easy

The other day I blogged with a funny Santa photo of my daughter, which I made into our holiday card that year. Even though my little one still has some fears of Santa, the vast majority of kids find him fun and fascinating. As you may have read in Lisa Sikora’s blog post last week, Windows and Southwest Airlines are partnering to bring you Holiday Photos on the Fly. This is a great opportunity to have your photo taken with Santa for free. Once your photo is taken, you’ll get a printed copy and later you can logon to to retrieve and share your photo. Southwest and Windows are offering this great opportunity in 26 airports, as well as kiosks located at Bryant Park in NYC and Skyline Park in Denver. If you can, make sure you take advantage of this great opportunity – who can beat free!

Now that covers fun with Santa, but I personally also strive for that great family photo to share out and I commonly face the familiar crisis I’m sure many parents also go through: It’s December 1st and I need a nice family photo for our holiday cards! Thankfully, this task has been made much easier with a few great inventions.

First, Windows Live Photo Gallery now provides a special touch of magic, enabling you to very quickly fix nearly any photo and create perfection. This includes the tool Photo Fuse, which allows you take several photos of the same group shot and merge them together to create the photo YOU want – you may have seen this in recent “To the Cloud” TV advertising and it seriously is that easy! Essentially, you can now have that perfect group or family photo without every person having to smile at the same time. I told you…just like magic. For any parent, taking that perfect picture can be very daunting. Photo Fuse has saved me time and money, as I now don’t have to pay for a professional photographer to capture everyone in the right pose. Once you have taken your group photos, simply open Photo Gallery, highlight the set of photos you want to fuse together and click Photos Fuse (under the create tab) and presto! For in depth tips and steps on how to do this, see my previous blog post on photo editing in Windows Live, which will show you how to use Retouch, Auto Adjust and Photo Fuse.

Second, there are a plethora of tools available to help you create fun holiday cards, whether you want to send yours electronically or pay for a professional service print and mail cards out for you. Additionally, advancements in photo printers have made it easier than ever to print your own photo cards at home. I like the Epson Artison 725 All In One printer, which is not only very affordable at just under $200, but also gives you hi-definition prints and is the world’s fastest 4” x 6” photo printer. Since I’m usually in a rush to get my cards and invitations out the door, I like to use online software to create my own masterpiece and then print them up myself at home, which guarantees I’ll get my cards out to friends and family before the New Year.

For more information on the Epson Artison 725 printer, my colleague Brandon will be doing a review of it on the Windows Experience Blog in the coming weeks.