Why I Use a Photo Printer

As a scrapbooker, there are few things more important than photos. How you choose and print your photos is just as personal as picking a color scheme for a layout.

I’ll take a step back and show you how I print my pictures at home and why it gives me more tools as a scrapbooker.

But first, meet my photo printer.

HP Photosmart 7350

Ahem, our photo printer.

The husband received this photo printer as a gift in 2002. That’s right, this baby is nine years old. Yes, it still prints fantastic pictures. I use this machine exclusively for photo printing and have a separate printer for everyday jobs. I print pictures for scrapbooking, crafts and picture frames. This photo printer was my true workhorse for my wedding crafts and favors.

It’s not the greatest at printing on 4×6 paper, but as you will find out, I rarely print that size. I use 8.5×11″ photo paper and fit pictures of various sizes on each page and then print and cut them out.

You may be asking yourself: aren’t ink and paper very expensive? True, ink isn’t cheap.  However, my photo printer can go for a long time without needing a cartridge change (anywhere from 8 months to a year).  I can’t say that’s true for other HP printers – I’ve had bad luck with constant ink cartridge replacement for my regular printer.  But this old photo printer is a trooper.  As for paper, my favorite brand is actually a store generic, which I’ll cover in a separate post.

My Photo Printer Makes Me Better at Scrapbooking

Printing my photos at home gives me great tools and helps me add variety to my pages.

Instant Gratification – I only print what I need when I need it.  When I need it, I can print things immediately.  If I decide I want to work on a page, I don’t have to order prints.  We had a dinner party a couple weeks ago and I wanted to change out one of the frames in the living room and add a picture from our recent vacation.  30 minutes before guests arrived, I printed the photo and had it in the frame.

Size Variety – I can print a picture any size, large or small.  This gives me an insane amount of choices when designing layouts.  I can be in the middle of a layout, sense that something is missing, and size and print a picture to fill the exact space I was grappling with.  I can also buy picture frames in odd sizes and I don’t have a problem printing pictures suited for them.

Photo Strips & Collages – This is one of my favorites.  I don’t need special software to design and print photo strips.  I have my choice between printing a strip or printing several small photos and arranging them in a strip on patterned paper (depending on what I want the look to be).  One of my favorite tricks is to print several small photos and arrange them down the side or along the bottom of a page, such as I did with my bowl game layout (below).

The Statement Picture – I can print any size up to 8×10″ at home.  Sometimes I’ll take a striking photo, blow it up, and arrange other elements in the layout to compliment it.  It’s a nice break if my album has lots of smaller pictures and can be very striking.  Stay tuned next week for a great example of this in a layout.

Control – This may be the most important.  I have absolute control over my pictures and how they come out.  I can crop and touch-up a photo and see instantly if I like it.  I can re-do something and not have to wait a few days for it to come in the mail.  I don’t have to decide in advance which pictures I want to use on a scrapbook page and can change my mind midstream (although it can get sort of unhealthy to do this).

An Added Bonus: Craft Projects – I make cards, print photos for frames around the house, designed a calendar and made countless things for my wedding.  When I say the printer was the workhorse for my wedding, I mean it.  It printed program covers, part of our wedding favors, parent gifts, table decorations and escort cards.

Photo printer hard at work making wedding favors.

Now, I don’t advocate running to the store and buying a new photo printer immediately, but this is what works for me.  If you really consider how you approach layouts and if some of my points resonate, this could be a good step for you!  I’ll be dedicating a few more posts in the future to getting the most out of your photo printer and showing the supplies I use.  Stay tuned!

Do you already use a photo printer or want one?  I would love to hear about your method and ideas!


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