Better Than a Print: 5 Unique Photo Gift Ideas for Your Valentine

Storing photos solely on a hard drive is just as bad as leaving that box of old film in a musty basement — not good. But just because photos deserve to exist as more than megabytes doesn’t mean you have to stick to the tried-and-true standard photo print. Creativity doesn’t stop when you finish up that edit — so we rounded up a few less traditional ways to memorialize your photos. Besides just making your walls (or coffee table) look awesome, unique prints also make great gift ideas (and Valentine’s Day is just around the corner). Here are our five favorite ways to print outside that usual matte or glossy paper.


Why not mix up that classic print with classic, natural materials? New printing technology makes prints on wood relatively affordable and the natural medium adds a unique feel to the image. When printing on wood, white areas of the image typically show the good grain instead of white ink, giving the image a unique, natural patina. Wood prints work well inside room designs that favor a more rustic, casual feel.

Try: Nations Photo Lab’s wood wraps or Photo Barn’s wood photo boards or pallets.

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Digital Photo Books

That old stand-by coffee table photo album isn’t going anywhere, but that doesn’t mean photo books have to look like your grandparent’s either. Digital photo books allow for more custom designs — and we’re not talking about that Walmart photo book either. For the biggest life events, leather-bound albums with thick pages help keep those images intact for years, without being prone to tearing and fading. For the smaller events that still need some memorialization, choosing a specialized photo lab still tends to get the best results.

Try: Miller’s Signature Albums, Picaboo’s prestige series or Nations Photo Lab’s Album99


There’s a reason photography galleries print on canvas. Canvas will memorialize a photo without putting it behind glass for a glare-free, detailed look of that shot. Images printed on canvas are ready-to-hang and an easy way to mount favorite shots. Canvas isn’t quite as UV protected as our next choice, but the traditional canvas wrap still certainly has it’s place. And because wrapped canvas doesn’t have a frame, this type works well with nearly any decor style.

Try: WhiteWall or WHCC and opt for the UV protection when available

Glass and Acrylics

Unlike canvas, sunlight doesn’t have the same fading effect on images printed on glass or acrylic. The smooth edges create a modern feel, while the medium also gives colors a bit more pop. Glass is often more expensive than canvas or wood and also tends to be heavier, but the medium is an excellent way to memorialize a great shot with a bit of a unique flair.

Try: WhiteWall for acrylics or Fracture.Me for glass


If the idea of printing on glass sounds a bit to fragile (if you are accident prone like myself), metal offers a similar color pop in a more durable medium that’s resistant to scratches and, of course, shattering like a piece of glass. Metal is another option that, like canvas, doesn’t require a frame and also doesn’t put the image behind glass. Getting an accurate color tends to me more difficult on metal and the image can trend towards the darker side, so metal isn’t for every photo, but creates an excellent, long-lasting piece for many shots.

Try: ProDPI metal prints

Printing technology hasn’t stalled — new advances in printing make it possible to print on a number of different materials without an over-the-top price tag. Printing on different materials like wood, glass and metal make it possible to keep the creativity going after the edit is finished.

Be our Valentine. 14 classes starting at $14. Find your perfect fit.

Hillary Grigonis FOLLOW >

Hillary K. Grigonis is a web content writer and lifestyle photographer from Michigan. After working as a photojournalist for several years, she made the leap and started her own business and now enjoys sharing tips and tricks with emerging photographers.