Your best deals at dotPhoto

Sooner or later, we all want prints.  We want to know that we’ve got copies somewhere for the day that the world runs out of power or we can’t read our CDs or whatever – it’s just nice to have printed copies.   

We observe that behavior in our customers.  People pile up digital images and then, every few months, print a bunch of photos.  Here are two secrets for printing at the lowest possible price. 

“Bulk” Printing
Years ago, dotPhoto invented “bulk” printing, which is now sometimes called “prepaid”.  You buy the rights to print a number of prints – usually 4x6s.  Many people ask whether the prints must be the same image:  no, you can print 500 different images or 250 doubles or whatever you want.  You can use some bulk credits now and some later;  you’ve got a year to use them up. 

As I write this, 500 bulk prints are selling for just $49.95 or about 10 cents each, but there are also packages and smaller monthly print plans that are real deals.  To check out current bulk prices, click here. 

The Secret Best Print Deal:  lower cost than loose prints!
The very least expensive way to print photos – and far and away the best – is in a photo book.  At today’s sale price, book prints work out to just 8.83 cents per image and include the book with stitched binding.  Even when the books are not on sale, the price per image is just 11.77 cents each – it’s like getting the best deal on prints plus a free photo album plus having someone put the prints in the album for you! 

Here’s how this works.  In a cloth book, choose the 12-photo-per-page layout.  You also get one larger photo on the title page for a total of 229 photos. 

Incremental pages are even less:  at 99 cents per page with 12 images, the next image is only 8.25 cents.   

For current photo book information and pricing, click here. 

The easiest way to produce a book is to start a new album and copy the photos and albums that you want to print into it.  It’s easy to put together the 229 images you want, order them by capture date and print a book. 

For information on how to print ANYTHING in a dotPhoto book, click here.

Uploading to dotPhoto

We have recently changed our uploading process to enable drop-and-drag and to make uploading more reliable.  However, we may be “hiding our light under a bushel.”  Here are a few tips to help explain the new process:  “Uploading” is called, through the initial stages of the process, “Add.”  You’ll see “Add” in the upper left corner of the screen: 

  • Click on the arrows next to “Add” to access the “Add photos” or “Add videos” function.  (“Add videos” is only available if you are a Pictavision or Video subscriber.

  • Click on the “Organize” arrow to access the “Create new album” function. 

 

You’ll be asked to click on an “Add your new photos” button, and, if this is your first time uploading, dotPhoto will attempt to install the upload tool.  At this point, Microsoft Windows requires that you approve the new tool.  Go toward the top of the screen, click on the yellow line, and follow the instructions to install the DPimageUploader tool.

 

Once you’re installed the upload tool, follow these three steps:

  1. Find the directory where your photos are stored.

  2. Choose the photos you want by selecting all or by dragging the ones you want to the lower section.

  3. Click on the “Upload” button.

   

Complete Uploading FAQ

Uploading from your camera phone to dotPhoto

There are two ways to upload photos from your camera phone to dotPhoto: 

  1. Set up your phone’s email address in your dotPhoto account information, and email photos directly to upload@dotphoto.com   (See more below.)

  2. Buy Pictavision 5 from your carrier.  The latest version of Pictavision is available in the U.S. on more advanced phones from Verizon Wireless, Alltel and Intellos.  It will be available on most BREW carriers soon, but the software manages every aspect of the phone including camera control, so it requires a fairly advanced phone.  Pictavision 5 also enables you to speak a voice caption with each photo that is saved on dotPhoto and becomes a part of your dotPhoto Shows.  If you subscribe to Pictavision, you automatically receive free video storage after the first time that you access your dotPhoto account from your phone.

    See the explanatory Pictavision 5 video.

More on uploading photos from your phonePhones from every major carrier should be able to upload photos and short videos to dotPhoto by emailing them.  If you don’t know your phone’s email address, try emailing a photo to your standard email address and look at the return address when the mail arrives; the return address is your phone’s email.  

I’ve made it easier to send emails to dotPhoto from my phone by setting up upload@dotphoto as AAA dotPhoto in my address book:  I don’t have to type in the address or scroll through my address book every time I take a photo. 

For more about camera phones at dotPhoto, click here

For the FAQ on uploading from your cell phone, click here.

Getting fast answers or help at dotPhoto

Getting help at dotPhoto

I’m happy to try to answer your questions about dotPhoto, but if you want an answer immediately, please try our support database.  We’ve spent a fortune with RightNow Technologies to make our FAQs searchable, and, if they don’t work for you, we’d like to hear about it!

Just enter any part of your question here, and we’ll show you the questions and answers that most other people have asked about that topic like this:

 

We also respond to emails at support@dotphoto.com and calls to 609/ 434-0340.  Our customer service manager is Charlene Devito.  She’s been with dotPhoto since almost the beginning and she really cares about our customers.

Printing ANYTHING in a dotPhoto book

The problem with online photo book printing is that most web sites lock you into specific layouts. We all try to compensate with multiple page designs, but, sooner or later, you want to show something that doesn’t fit into a rectangle. For instance, you might want to publish a book of poetry, a high school annual or just a few pages of text among your usual photo layouts.

With inexpensive desktop software tools, you can print anything you want in a dotPhoto photo book.  Fortunately, dotPhoto’s pages print all the way to the edge (“full bleed” in printer’s parlance), so you can design whatever you want on a full page using software that you already know on your own computer, convert your designs to a JPG, and upload that image as a page in your dotPhoto book.  Your page design could have a collage of photos, text and photos, all text – whatever you want.

Here’s a sample page that I designed for the custom album of a small high school.  It included two web graphics that were “upsized” to 300 dpi, a photo and text. The page was laid out in Adobe InDesign CS 2, and the final print product looked terrific. (This example is sized for the web because the 300 dpi version would be too big to display.)

This is great because it means that you can use Pagemaker, Adobe InDesign, Word, PowerPoint, Paint Shop Pro – whatever you already know that works for you.  You don’t have to learn a lot of new web software or work with the sometimes tedious online book interfaces. Just design your pages with what you know, convert to JPGs and upload your pages to dotPhoto.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • You’ll need software to convert your original designs to JPGs, which we’ll discuss below.  (You can try it for free.)

  • Convert to 300 dots per inch (dpi) for best printing and, at a minimum, 200 dpi.

  • The pages in the dotPhoto “Yearbook” product are 11.5 inches wide by 9.5 inches tall.  Try to output your pages to that size, or create a blank page of 11.5 by 9.5, and paste your date onto the new page.

Converting your software’s output to JPGs
The folks at 602Software have a pretty good JPG routine that allows you to “print” directly from your software to a JPG; in other words, you’re getting a new printer driver that you use when you want to make JPGs instead of paper prints. They’ve been honing this through five versions and it works well, too. The only problem I had was getting the output to be exactly 11.5” x 9.5”, but this can be solved by creating a new JPG to size and placing the old image in the middle of it.

You can try 602Print Pack 5 here for free, and it’s $39.95 if you decide to keep it.

Converting PDF files to JPGs
Programs like Adobe InDesign CS2 are perfect for page layout and poster design.  InDesign will even export JPGs, but even the maximum resolution allowed is too small to print.  The solution is to export to PDF files, which allow higher resolution, and to convert the PDFs to JPGs.  There are many utilities for this, but some simply don’t work as advertised.  We like the ABC Amber PDF to JPG product, which works well in the trial version (the trial version adds an advertisement at the bottom of your JPG.)  It’s cheap, too – just $19.95 – but the company takes a few hours to process your order and send the registration key.  Try the free download here.

Centering the first-page image in your book
dotPhoto Yearbooks include a “cut out” that is exactly 5 inches square that shows a portion of the image on your title page. Since a typical digital image ends up measuring about 8 and 3/8 inches by 6 inches, it’s a challenge to get a 5 x 5 image to show through the window, but you can get close by creating an 8.375” x 6” image blank image with the 5” x 5” image in the center.  Even better: allow for a quarter inch “slippage” around the square so that no white space shows around the box. 

Getting more out of dotPhoto

Since we started dotPhoto in December 1999, we've spent most of our time building, testing and using our service.  Some of what we've built really can't be done anywhere else.  Some we could probably explain better.  Much would be enhanced by your feedback.  And finally, people are starting to recognize that an east coast company can make interesting innovations, so we're starting this blog to address all of these goals and to share any good news that comes our way.

Let's start with some good news.  Top Ten Reviews, a web site that reviews all kinds of services, has named dotPhoto the Gold Standard in online photo sites:  

Full review here

Hosting images on dotPhoto for WordPress 

By the way, the image above is hosted at dotPhoto.  To plug photos and videos from dotPhoto into your WordPress blog, go to the image in dotPhoto, click on "Share" on the menu on left, choose "See links" and copy the "Tag" link that appears.  Go back to WordPress and choose the "HTML" button in the edit menu;  then paste dotPhoto's Tag link into your HTML.  You can adjust the display size of the image by changing these numbers at the end of the tag:  width="480" height="443";  for instance, 40% smaller would be width="288" height=266".

For more information on hosting images on dotPhoto for blogs, Ebay and web sites, click here.