Category Review

Get those photos off your phone and onto your walls

Color Services are the official print lab for Hipstamatic art which means they specialise in square shaped photos and wall art, including Instagram.

I love both Hipstamatic and Instagram and with my growing photo stream of over 700 photos I needed to get some printed.

Canvas is the in thing at the moment and I don’t think that will change in a hurry, why? Canvas is so easy, it is ready to hang straight away, you don’t have to worry about cleaning or breaking glass, and the quality and texture gives it a unique look.


Canvas close up

Canvas Art hanging

10×10 Canvas Print

I think it looks fantastic on the wall, the color is really vibrant and spot on to what it appears on the screen. There are two sizes of the canvas prints, 10×10 or 20×20 you can also select from two different frame depths depending on how far you want it to sit out from the wall.

I must add that my husband took the above photo, he is quite proud of that one.

Metal Prints

Metal prints are a fairly new option for photos and I am not aware of many photographers in my area that offer them, but they look fantastic.

They are printed onto aluminium, and in any of the white on your image you can see the aluminium shine through.

Metal wall print

12X12 Metal Print

It is mounted onto timber so it sits out from the wall about 5mm. It is ready to hang via the block mount.

Metal wall print side view

No sharp edges, as the aluminium has rounded corners.

Boo Boxes 

Boo Boxes are  a shadow-box frame made from Bamboo, they are also ready to hang and come in two different sizes and shades of colour.

Bamboo Box Mount

7X7 Boo Box


They are recessed into the wood, and I must say, the wood smells delicious.  You probably think I am strange but I could not stop smelling them.  The image is printed onto quality matte paper, and they look fantastic.

Bamboo mounts

4×4 Boo Box, 7×7 Boo Box, 4×4 Bamboo Mount

Bamboo Mount  These also look fabulous and I could see these hanging in an art gallery. The image is right to the edge of the timber and ready to hang.  They also stand  up by themselves without the need to hang. Again luscious paper and printing.

Bamboo block mount

Metallic Prints  This is not ordinary photo paper, this paper is luminescent.  You really have to see it to believe it.  It has a pearly shiny look to it. These 10×10 prints look amazing.

Metallic paper prints

Just to show you the difference in size we have the 10×10 canvas next to the 20×20 Metallic Print.  I did not think that iphone images could be printed this big, but I was wrong!  The quality is still great at 20×20.

20X20 Instagram print

Now I need to find homes for them all.


Color Services have generously offered readers of my blog a 15% discount on any products from the Hipstamatic Art section of their website.

Coupon code: HASTINGS15

Valid now through to May 31st, 2012.


Disclaimer:  I was not paid for this post but I was sent these products for editorial review.  All reviews are truthful and of my own opinion.

Cahoots Photo Book Service

In my quest to find some quality photo book products within Australia, I came across Cahoots.  Cahoots was started in 2007 by  Catherine Bate and Suzanne McGrechan.  Photographers themselves they started the photo book company business where they saw a lack in providing a quality product  with extra help and support whilst making your photo book.

Cahoots  provide the service to make the book for you or they run workshops to learn how to create the books with their software.

I downloaded the software which was very straight forward, and began to create my book.  As usual I didn’t read the comprehensive help guide but chose to work it out on my own.

I selected to make the 30×30 Luxurious 40 page book with a leather look cover and off I went.

The program had the ability to sort my photos by filename which was great as I chose to create a book from a wedding I attended and all the photos were in a number order.  The auto feature was great, although I like to design things myself so I changed it around anyway.

It was easy to select background colours, there were heaps of page layout options with the ability to sort the templates by how many photos you wanted on a page.

I could also edit photos within the software itself which I found very helpful if I needed to do that extra crop I may have missed beforehand.  The only distracting thing I noticed that even though I started with the auto feature, it gave me a warning that all the pages were too close to the centre, so I had to go and adjust them, even though that is where the program put them.

I also kept going to move the photo within the frame but ended up moving the whole frame.  Habit from using other programs but this feature would be handy, although there are other ways to move and place your photo.

You can add text, frames, and coloured backgrounds, I added some text to the front page but that was it.  More font and background colour options would be great as there was only a small selection to choose from.

I could also upgrade the album cover from a leather look to a photo cover at an extra cost, but I actually wanted to see the quality and look and feel of the leather look, so I went with that.  In choosing the leather look, the barcode that would normally be printed on the back page of the cover (if a photo cover had been chosen) would now be printed on the last photo page.  Something to consider when placing your last photo.

The whole process was easy and I had fun putting the album together.  Sending off the saved file was a simple process also, it took about 20 mins to upload the book.  I had to email Suzanne a few times with a couple of questions and I received a very quick and friendly response.  The service was fantastic.  It takes the albums between 10-15 days to be completed so now I had to wait.

It took a little longer to receive my book as I was informed the ladies were very busy completing orders, not surprising at this time of year, but it was worth the wait.

I opened up the parcel to find a handwritten note, which was lovely.  I love the cover, I think it gives the album a classic look.

I am firstly impressed by the page of vellum covering the text I had printed on the first screen.  I don’t recall reading about the vellum page so that was a nice surprise.


The images look fantastic, they are true to the colours on my screen, they look great presented in an album nice and big.  I struggled and squinted to see the printing dots which is great, as I don’t want to see them!

The layouts look great, and I love my double page spread.  The paper is nice and thick to turn, and the pages have a nice shine to them but still are somewhat matt.

Last page

The only issue I came across is with the pages I have selected to have a black background, there are visible marks, perhaps roller lines I assume from the printing process.  It is only on the pages that are black, the white and other colours are fine, and the actual image itself is fine, just the background I noticed.  Which is a shame as I really wanted to give this book a 10/10!

Other than that, the whole process from start to finish was simple, enjoyable and I received a lovely book.

Prices for Cahoots books start from $49 for a small 21×21, from $55 for a 21×30 Classic Landscape, from $75 for a 30×30 Large Luxurious, and from $95 for a 30×42 Large Landscape.

I would definitely recommend  Cahoots products and personalised service.


UPDATE:  27/1/2012  The couple I gave this wonderful photo book too called me and said their book had stuck together.  Unfortunately they had left it wrapped in the plastic over summer and the book melted.  I contacted Cahoots and they very quickly offered to re-print the book.  I cannot fault their service.  So please don’t leave your printed books wrapped in plastic, or in a hot place like a car, any books should be stored upright, and with plenty of air ventilation.  Consider purchasing a box to store your book in, as long as it is made from acid free materials.

**Disclaimer In return for this blog post I received a voucher to test and try the product and service. All opinions expressed are purely my own personal and honest opinion.

Albumworks Photo Book Review

Disclaimer:  I received a voucher to try an A4 Landscape 40 page  book with customised cover from Albumworks in return for this review.  All opinions expressed are my honest and personal opinion.

I have been in search of a more local option for photo books that is comparable to the product I reviewed from Blurb, there seem to be an immense amount of options for making photo books, Albumworks seemed like a comparable option.

Firstly I began with downloading the book making software, an easy task which didn’t take long.  When I clicked  to view photobooks they were all displayed vertically and It made me think that I couldn’t select landscape, once I clicked on a book design type  I then had the option of choosing the orientation, so don’t be fooled like me.

The software was easy to use, I find if I have to read instructions to learn how to use it then it isn’t user friendly enough.  If I can begin to use it straight away then I am happy.  I am more of a learn by doing person.

Albumworks has the ability to import your photos from Facebook and Flickr  you are able to view your photo stream or import from sets, so make sure you have all the photos you want sorted into sets as you could be looking for a while if they are not.

Once you have chosen the photo book product you want, you then go on to choosing the Theme for your project.  There are 9 different themes, but you can also start from scratch if you don’t like the designs.  I chose the Film Strip theme and altered it as I went.

I notice once having selected the theme you couldn’t change it.  You can alter many options within the theme but not select a different one once loaded.  If there was a way to change it I couldn’t find it.

Images can then be inserted automatically or can be placed in the page yourself.

It was very easy to alter the page designs, choose layouts, and select colours (once I found where to click!)  simple click and drag is used.

When I finished my project and saved it, it took about 15 mins to upload, and it was ordered.  I also was able to share my creation with an online version provided after the order was submitted.  I ordered my book at 10pm on the 10/11/2011.

I received my book only a few days later, on the 16th. The turnaround time  was excellent.
Albumworks Review

The first thing I noticed is the lovely glossy photo cover, it has a lovely shine to it, the photo is lovely and clear.

Albumworks Review

The binding is great quality, well put together.

The paper is lovely and glossy and at 170 GSM it is thicker than Blurb (their standard is 135 GSM).
Albumworks Review

The photos look great, I know I had issues with the clarity of my blurb book, the printing on some pictures were noticeable. This book seems clearer, you can’t really notice the dots at all, only if you zoom in like this.

A zoomed in cropped image of the printing.

Albumworks Review

Albumworks Review

Albumworks Review

Albumworks Review
You will get a barcode printed on the last back page.

Albumworks Review

I am really impressed with the quality of the whole book.

Albumworks 40 page, A4 Landscape $69.95 with photocover with Overnight air express $9.95

Pricing is dearer than Blurb but you are dealing with a company within Australia, and I do think the paper quality and finish is better.

Albumworks also have hand made presentation boxes that can go with your books for an extra cost.

Overall the process of creating, ordering and receiving a quality photo book was fantastic and I would highly recommend these products.

Please check out my other book reviews Blurb and Cahoots