It’s incredible that the technology for printing photos on all kinds of materials – wood, glass, metal, or canvas – is so widely available and affordable these days.
I have a lot of standard framed family photos, and I wanted something new and different that could add a modern but warm tone to my walls. I loved the idea of modern art on canvas, but modern art is not very personal. When I started exploring the possibilities with photos, I was blown away. I am never putting a photo in a traditional frame again.
I started with 4 different options. I decided to pick one for now, but I eventually would love to try them all, whether for my own home or as gifts.
- Woodsnap – Photos on Wood
- Costco – Photos on Metal
- Fracture – Photos on Glass
- Shutterfly – Photos on Canvas
Photos on Wood
There are quite a few online services in this area now, including Woodsnap, Photo Barn, Prints on Wood, and even Shutterfly. These are really popular options for wedding gifts and anniversary gifts. After reviewing all of these sites, it was difficult to tell a difference in terms of product selection and quality. I don’t know whether they are all using the same method to transfer the photos to wood, but they do look like a really nice end product to display in your home.
Photos on Metal
Thin metal prints with a glossy coating would also be a nice modern twist for a photo hanging in your home. The lack of a frame and the use of rounded edges gives them a distinct modern look. There are several online vendors for metal prints, including Costco, Shutterfly, Mpix, and even Walgreens. When it comes to larger sized prints, these are more affordable than wood or glass prints. As with wood prints, selecting photos with a light colored background allows the subtle metal color to shine through.
Photos on Glass
Glass prints are a niche segment, with the Florida-based company Fracture being the key player. Fracture actually prints your photos directly on a thin sheet of glass, which is then mounted on a solid foam backing. While this seems perfect for very colorful, contemporary photos like wedding or anniversary photos, I don’t know if it’s the best option for older family photos or black and white photos that tend to be lower resolution. Still, I love the low profile look of these glass prints that are nearly flush with the wall. As you might expect, they are much more expensive than wood prints or metal prints.
Photos on Canvas
After spending hours looking at beautiful photos printed on wood, metal, and glass, it was a bit underwhelming to look at the options for photos printed on canvas. Maybe I am just used to canvas as a material for art rather than photos. Maybe I was seduced by the low profile of the metal and glass prints. Then I checked the prices and that was the final straw. There’s no way I’m paying a premium for a canvas print when the other options are more attractive.
After much agonizing, I eventually decided on Woodsnap because I liked the unique look of the wood grains coming through in the image, the visual layouts on their website, and the periodic discounts offered on the site that allowed me to afford multiple prints.
It took a long time to decide which photos I wanted to print. Because you can’t just swap it out for another photo down the road, I really had to think hard about what photos were really timeless. I ended up choosing old family photos that I know will be just as interesting to look at 20 years from now as they are today.
Now it’s easy to upload any recent photo from Instagram or Facebook to print on wood, but for these old family photos, I had to take the time to scan the physical photo and make sure the quality was good enough for printing. I was a little worried that the resolution wouldn’t be good enough, and it was hard to tell on the screen whether they would be blurry or not once they were printed. I decided to chose a smaller piece of wood (8×8) thinking that it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch for a low resolution photo.
Overall, the results were great! I am really pleased with how all of the prints turned out.
But I did learn a few things:
- It’s better to pick a photo with lighter colors so that you can still seen the wood grain in the background when it’s printed. One of the photos I submitted had a dark backdrop, which covered up all signs of the wood so it might as well have been printed on a board.
- One of my lower resolution photos did not turn out as well as the rest. It was an old childhood photo that wasn’t the sharpest to start out with, so I knew I was taking a chance. I will still hang it up on the wall and enjoy it, but I would not order another print with that kind of photo again.
- Plan ahead of time what the layout of your wall is going to look like. It can be tricky if you are ordering prints of different sizes to organize them on the wall afterwards.
Have you found a unique photo printing service that you’d recommend? Let us know here!