10 Fun Family Christmas Photo Ideas

10 Fun Family Christmas Photo Ideas

‘Tis the season for holiday stress! When we open our mail in the coming months, we’ll receive dozens of photographs from family and friends that will — let’s be honest — all look the same. Instead of forcing your family into matching red and green-hued formalwear for a buttoned-up photoshoot, lighten the mood with these fun family Christmas photo ideas.

Unique Family Christmas Photoshoot Ideas

Fun Family Christmas Photo Ideas

1. Utilize Fun Props

Bring out your family’s playful side with a slew of fun props. You can find oversized candy canes, Christmas ornaments, Santa hats, or retro Christmas lights online and set up a fun photoshoot with your children in front of your fireplace or outside near an evergreen. Since Christmas photos need to be taken in the fall when it’s not “Christmas-y,” the props will add a festive feel without the garish holiday sweaters. Items like candy canes and ornaments will really pop when etched into a 3D Crystal.

Fun Family Christmas Photo Ideas

2. Include the Family Dog

Nothing makes a family portrait more spontaneous than letting your family dog participate. Whether it’s an indoor shoot or an outdoor one, the addition of a pet will automatically make the shoot feel more relaxed. The photographer is bound to capture your ‘best friend’ stealing some kisses from the kids. Remember your furry friend for decades to come in a 3D Crystal.

Fun Family Christmas Photo Ideas

3. Christmas Tree Farm

Take a laid-back outdoorsy photo at your local Christmas tree farm or Christmas tree vendor. Find a photographer that can meet you on-site. If the shoot is close enough to the holidays, you can capture your family Christmas tree shopping — a memory that you will want to preserve forever.

Fun Family Christmas Photo Ideas

4. Walking in a Winter Wonderland

When searching for a photographer, see if you can find a studio that has fake snow. You can take pictures of you and the kids blowing snow at the camera or playfully tossing it in the air. Another fantastic option for a “winter look” if you’re taking your Christmas photos in the early fall. Pair the snow with a steely gray background and anything you choose to wear — whether it’s your sunday best or sweaters and jeans — will pop against the backdrop.

Fun Family Christmas Photo Ideas

5. Baking Cookies

Rather than set up a formal shoot, consider bringing a photographer into the home to take pictures of your family partaking in a family tradition, like baking your holiday cookies. These candid shots can be more fun than a formal portrait session. Not only will you have the images for your Christmas cards, but you will be making an authentic family memory at the same time.

Fun Family Christmas Photo Ideas

6. Wrapping Paper

If you’re taking your family Christmas photos early this year, but don’t want to put your tree and holiday decorations up in October, consider purchasing some inexpensive wrapping paper and using it as a playful backdrop in your home. Keep it simple with some white or neutral outfits so your family doesn’t get lost in the busy background.

Fun Family Christmas Photo Ideas

7. Decorating the Tree

Many families start putting up their Christmas decorations up the day after Thanksgiving. Schedule a photographer to come to your home and capture candids of your family decorating the tree. Afterward, you can take some formal portrait photos next to your finished product. Turn your favorite photo into a family Christmas decoration that will be cherished for decades to come with a 3D Crystal with an illuminated light base.

Fun Family Christmas Photo Ideas

8. Holiday Market

Holiday markets and villages open as early as October in many towns and cities. Hire a photographer to follow you and your family as you wander through the market with cocoa in your hand and smiles on your faces. The festive crafty Christmas wares will make for an incredible backdrop. At night most markets are also lit up with Christmas lights, creating a magical ambiance for photos.

Fun Family Christmas Photo Ideas

9. Ugly Sweater Photo

Give the gift of a laugh this holiday season by dressing in your tackiest, ugliest Christmas sweater for your family portrait session. You and the kids will feel silly, allowing the photographer to capture genuine smiles and laughs.

Fun Family Christmas Photo Ideas

10. Hanging with Santa

This time of year it’s easy to find a Santa impersonator for hire. Spice up your at-home Christmas photoshoot with a surprise visit from the big guy. If the kids are older, you can stage hilarious photos of Santa ‘hanging out’ with the family — enjoying pizza and a movie night, playing video games, drinking a beer with dad by the grill. The photoshoot itself will become a fun family memory and the pictures are sure to elicit a smile from your friends and family.

Preserve these moments for a lifetime. Check out 3Dcrystal.com to learn more about 3D crystal etching and browse our products. For more ideas for making family memories, visit us at 3Dcrystal.com/blog.

Win at Holiday Gift Giving: The Perfect Gift for Everyone in Your Family

Personalized Holiday Gift Ideas

Some people have a natural knack for choosing the perfect holiday gift, making sure to incorporate the key interests of each individual person when selecting their gift and getting that much anticipated “you nailed it” smile. It may be a natural and easy process for those expert gift givers; however, for most of us, we need a little help. See below for some perfect holiday gift ideas that are sure to wow every member of your family.

 Personalized Holiday Gift Guide from 3D Crystal

For the Folks

Every parent will appreciate a device that will allow them to multi-task; the Amazon Echo will allow mom or dad to call or message anyone hands-free and play all their music just using their voice. It also answers questions, reads the news, reports traffic and weather, reads audiobooks from Audible, gives info on local businesses, provides sports scores and schedules. Oh and it controls lights, fans, TVs, switches, thermostats, garage doors, sprinklers and locks.  

1. A Hands-Free Lifesaver

Every parent will appreciate a device that will allow them to multi-task; the Amazon Echo will allow mom or dad to call or message anyone hands-free and play all their music just using their voice. It also answers questions, reads the news, reports traffic and weather, reads audiobooks from Audible, gives info on local businesses, provides sports scores and schedules. Oh and it controls lights, fans, TVs, switches, thermostats, garage doors, sprinklers and locks.  

Best Holiday Gift, Amazon Echo

2. Precious Parenting Memories in Crystal

Parents will find any opportunity to show off their kids whether that’s via a Facebook share or showing a stranger in the grocery store line, a picture of their little one on their iPhone. While every parent likely has a framed photo displayed proudly on their wall, desk or kitchen counter, give them something more unique this holiday with a crystal etched with one of their most precious parenting memories.

Best Holiday Gift for New Parents

3. Relaxing + Yummy Soap

Give the gift of luxurious bath soap to unwind after a long day of being well, a parent. These all-natural, handmade soaps from Uncommon Goods are infused with decadent cocoa powder and rich blends of essential oils.

Best Holiday Gift, Chocolate Soap

For the Grandparents

1. The Perfect Tea Maker

Surprise grandma or grandpa with an unexpected gift; an efficient and simple way to steep tea. Add tea, put the tea maker on their favorite mug and it will strain the tea right into your grandparent’s cup while keeping the leaves in the tea maker.

Best Holiday Gift, Teavana Steeper

2. The Sentimental Gift

Help your grandparents relive their timeless and enduring love with a photo of their beginning years together etched in crystal. Make sure to have tissues at the ready!

Best Holiday Gift, Preserve Old Photo 3D Crystal

3. A Personalized Family Tree Print

Wow your grandparents this year with a  beautiful personalised custom print of your family tree in the style of a vintage botanical illustration. This ancestral tree can hold up to 8 generations! Expect this gift to be talked about for years after this holiday season.  

Best Holiday Gift, Custom Family Tree Print

A Choosy Teenager

1. Something to Treasure

For the young lady in your life, this Blue Quartz 14k-Gold Fill Disc Necklace will be something they will treasure for years to come. This handmade necklace is crafted with two dainty wire-wrapped gemstones and one hand-stamped heart initial pendants. Plus, they can add additional charms to customize their necklace.

Best Holiday Gift, Custom Necklace

2. Commemorate their Favorites

Help your young adult flaunt their favorites; whether their best friend or dream car to the world. They can display it proudly it in their room or in their locker for all their friends to see!

Best Holiday Gift, Newlyweds

Best Holiday Gift, Dream Car

3. A Unicorn Phone Case

A unicorn phone case… need we say more? This ceramic unicorn creates a perfect tripod with any mobile device!

Best Holiday Gift, Unicorn Phone Case

The Pet Lover

1. An All-Natural Bath Line

There’s nothing better for a dog lover than a squeaky clean pup to cuddle.

BarkLogic is a line of non-toxic and plant & mineral derived grooming products; create a basket with shampoo, conditioner, paw cleansing wipes and coat spray. Choose from scents like citrus, lavender or mint.

Best Holiday Gift, Barklogic Logic Products

2. A Meaningful and Cherished Gift

Present a cherished memory of the gift receiver and their childhood pet in something unique and timeless. Allow them to relive that special moment they had with their best friend whenever they look at this work of art!  

Best Holiday Gift, 3D Crystal for Dog Lovers

3. Pet Lover’s Gift Basket

Delight dog-and-cat lovers with this handsome, reusable fabric-lined basket filled with gourmet treats by Harry and David. This beautiful wooden frame includes snack favorites like Moose Munch® Premium Popcorn, along with peanut butter cookies and a host of other sweet and savory treats. Yum!

Best Holiday Gift, Gift Basket for Dog Lovers

The holidays are quickly coming up, and we have a perfect stocking stuffer! Get your custom photo crystal keychain with your favorite photo inside. Send us ANY photo – we’ll beautifully laser-etch it in your keychain! Click here to learn more: https://keychains.3dcrystal.com/main-page

Best Holiday Gift, Keychain 3D Crystal

Absolute Best Halloween Costume Ideas for 2017

Best Halloween Costume Ideas for 2017

Believe it or not, Halloween is just around the corner. Not prepared for the spookiest day of the year? We’ve got you covered. Whether you’re trying to dream up a costume for yourself, you and your partner, or the whole family, we have an idea for everyone. These ideas are perfect for the Halloween enthusiast who likes to be current, cute, and a little bit scary. Don’t forget to take lots of pictures and preserve these moments for a lifetime.

Make Memories with 3D Crystal this Halloween 2017

Best Halloween Costume Ideas for Individuals

 Pennywise, Best Halloween Costume 2017

Pennywise from Stephen King’s IT.

Between all the clown mayhem in global media and the re-release of the classic horror flick  IT — based on Stephen King’s chilling bestselling novel — it’s no surprise that the creepy character Pennywise has surged in popularity as a truly horrifying Halloween costume.

Wonder Woman, Best Halloween Costume 2017

Wonder Woman

This is expected to be one of the most popular Halloween costumes among adults and children alike. With the incredible popularity of the blockbuster film Wonder Woman everyone wants the chance to be a superhero for the night.

Best Halloween Costume Ideas for Kids

Lego Batman, Best Kids Halloween Costume Idea 2017

Lego Batman

A popular twist on the classic Batman films, Lego Batman is a fun and playful rendition of one of our favorite superheros. If your kiddo wants to be more current than regular Batman, Lego Batman is sure to be a hit.

Moana Kids Halloween Costume 2017

Moana

Moana was released in November 2016, just missing Halloween. The movie has remained popular with kids and families throughout the year, and it’s likely that you’ll see a “Moana” or two trick-or-treating this season. Maybe your little one would like to pretend to be Disney’s most famous unprincess this year.

Best Halloween Costume Ideas for Couples

Trolls Halloween Couples Costume Idea 2017

Princess Poppy and Branch (Trolls)

Another retro idea that has come back into the mainstream are the once-popular Troll dolls thanks to a stroke of merchandising genius and the release of the movie Trolls. The film features peppy Princess Poppy and her gloomy friend Branch who go on a mission to save their kidnapped friends from a terrible fate.

Joker and Harley Quinn Couples Costume Halloween 2017

The Joker and Harley Quinn (Batman)

Clowns seem to be the most popular scary costume for 2017, but if you’re looking for a couple’s costume you can’t do much better than the Joker and Harley Quinn. Between Lego Batman and the recent release of Suicide Squad last year, this costume pairing is both classic and current.

Best Halloween Costume Ideas for Families

Justice League Family Halloween Costume Idea 2017

Form Your Own ‘Justice League’

Form your own ‘Justice League’ and have the whole family dress up as their favorite superheros. This will be fun for everyone and a guaranteed hit at every door you knock on throughout the night. This Halloween, make a memory that your children will cherish forever.

Scooby Doo Family Halloween Costume Idea 2017

Scooby Doo and the Gang

An oldie but a goodie. Scooby Doo is a classic family costume option that’s relatively easy to throw together and cost-effective because you don’t necessarily need to buy an actual costume for everyone (‘Shaggy’ just wears brown pants and a green T-shirt, for example).

Best Halloween Costume Ideas for Pets

Best Pet Halloween Costume, Star Wars 2017

Star Wars Characters

Not surprisingly, the top of the list for most popular pet costumes are various Star Wars characters. You can find hilarious and adorable costumes for Chewbacca, Ewoks, Yoda, Princess Leia, and even an incredibly involved Bantha Rider.

Best Pet Halloween Costume Ideas 2017

Action Heroes

Just like your friends and your kids, action heros like Batman and Wonder Woman are also topping sales in pet Halloween costumes in 2017. Take a picture of your favorite pooch in action on Halloween and save the moment forever.

Once Halloween has come and gone, take a moment to save your favorite photo in a 3D Crystal. Having the image you love come to life, etched within a genuine crystal, is a fun and beautiful way to remember your favorite moments. Add a lightbase to your custom crystal creation and it is instantly transformed into unique Halloween decor you can cherish for years to come.

Check out 3Dcrystal.com to learn more about 3D crystal etching and browse our products. For more photography tips and tricks, visit us at 3Dcrystal.com/blog.

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Best Fall Family Portrait Ideas

With October just around the corner, fall portrait season is already in full swing. Cozy sweaters, soft scarves, and fall colors creep into wardrobes and into our family pictures. In most places these days, it doesn’t start to get chilly well into October and unexpected heat waves have us donning shorts on Halloween.

Since these portraits are often sent out with our winter holiday cards, we’d like them to be a bit more festive to reflect the season. Instead of sweating through a photoshoot in September in a wool sweater, consider these locations to give the appearance of a brisk autumn — no matter what time of year you schedule your shoot.

Best Fall Family Portrait Ideas

6 Locations for Your Fall Family Portraits

1. Barn

Scheduling a shoot on a nearby farm will give the images a rustic fall appearance. Ask for permission from a local farm to shoot pictures on their property. This is easier if the farm is open to the public at specific times, say during a farmer’s market or for seasonal produce picking. When booking a photographer, ask them if this the kind of venue that they have access to our browse their portfolio to see the locations where they commonly shoot.

2. Orchard

It’s apple picking season and plenty of farms are open for business. Ask the proprietor for permission to bring a photographer and shoot your family picking apples. Candid photographs can be more interesting and dynamic than staged ones and, regardless, baskets of apples will make for a great fall prop — and a great pie!

3. Cornfield

This time of year the cornfields turn the most beautiful shades of gold, before the leaves begin to change color. If you’re taking your portraits early, consider a cornfield to get the fall colors and rustic feel you’re looking for, even if it’s too warm for fall sweaters and scarves.

4. Pumpkin Patch

We know what you’re thinking: of course a pumpkin patch. This is a great choice, particularly if you’re getting your photos out of the way earlier in the season. Jeans and long-sleeved shirts or layered leggings alongside the iconic fall pumpkins will give your photos a “cool” look despite warmer climates. Cherub-cheeked children playing in wheelbarrows and climbing hay bales make for beautiful candids.

5. In The Leaves

If you’re lucky enough to schedule your photo shoot during peak leaf season, be sure to get pictures of kiddos splashing around in piles of leaves. Another option is to seat your family under a large, turning tree. Get shots of the family strolling through a forest of autumn color. These classics will never go out of style.

6. At Home

Another growing trend for those who want to schedule their fall or holiday family portraits well ahead of the pricey busy season is to have the photographer shoot you in your home. Stage your home for the season regardless of the month. Make a fire in the fireplace, crank the the A/C, and don your fall sweaters. A few strategically placed gourdes and voila! Instant autumn — even in August. You could also include a candid photoshoot of the family baking a pie together or sipping cocoa on the couch. Anything that conveys the season.

Preserve these moments for a lifetime. Check out 3Dcrystal.com to learn more about 3D crystal etching and browse our products. For more ideas for making family memories, visit us at 3Dcrystal.com/blog.

Clean Out Your Smartphone on ‘National Save Your Photos Day’

Create Personalized Mementos on National Save Your Photos Day

Before 2017 comes to a close it has been conservatively estimated that one trillion photos will be taken using smartphones. That number is based on roughy 5 billion mobile phone users taking at least 3 pictures a day. Some estimates put the number closer to 14 trillion.

Regardless of how many trillions of photos are taken each day, one thing is certain: people have a tendency to build up an unorganized digital collection of photographs that might not easily be shared at a much later date.

Rather than scrolling endlessly through a catalog of images on your computer, the cloud, or social network to find pictures of your son’s first T-ball game fifteen years from now, the simple solution is to participate in National Save Your Photos Day on September 25.

It’s smart to have digital copies of all your pictures stored and catalogued for safekeeping, always. Especially those delicate heirloom photos that we have inherited from our grandparents and great-grandparents. However, having your best prints preserved in a photo album, hung in frames, or created into personalized mementos are tangible ways to share your favorite memories.

You don’t need to export five-thousand pictures from the cloud and print every one, but this day is a perfect reminder to save the photos you cherish. Here are a few ideas for photographs you will want to preserve for a lifetime:

Memories to Save on National Save Your Photos Day

6 Iconic Milestone Photographs to Cherish Forever

1. Getting to know you.

Whether you’re newly engaged or have been married for 30 years, digging up those precious photographs from when you were getting to know each other will bring up the same old flutters. These are images that deserve a spot in a photo album and on the mantel in the living room along with your wedding photos. You children will be able to look back on the first sparks ignited a family.

2. Puppy love.

For the pet-lovers, puppy’s first outing is just an important as baby’s first outing! Be sure to capture your new little furball’s first — often hilarious — interactions with the world. Curious paws treading grass for the first time, little noses sniffing new smells, and adorable trepidation during their first encounters with water. Capture all the kisses and curiosity. They grow up so fast!

3. Love at first sight.

‘Love at first sight’ has a whole new meaning after children. The first time a mother lays eyes on her newborn is priceless in every sense of the word. Professional newborn photographs from photoshoots are keepers as well, but there’s just something about the raw power of this moment that you’ll want to share with your kids at a later date. Nothing can match that instantaneous love.

4. Young at heart.

Digging up old photos of your grandparents back in their heyday are a beautiful way to remember them. Uncover pictures from high school and their youth and have them restored and preserved. Search for images that reflect memories they often mentioned to remind you of their stories and their wisdom.

5. Home sweet home.

Newlyweds should capture a picture of their first home and hold on to it. You will want to look back at the first place you started out as a couple or started a family. Decades from now this image will be a reminder of where you began, whether it’s an apartment rental the size of a shoebox or your ‘starter home’ in an up-and-coming neighborhood.

6. Big little milestones.

Candids tend to be more interesting than staged photographs. Beyond the first day of school, preserving moments from your child’s first spelling bee, first T-ball game, or first science fair creates a ‘trophy’ you can proudly display in your home. Celebrating these little milestones in your child’s life will instill in them a sense of pride and confidence.

Preserve these moments for a lifetime. Check out 3Dcrystal.com to learn more about 3D crystal etching and browse our products. For more ideas for making family memories, visit us at 3Dcrystal.com/blog.

Fun Ideas for Your Next Family Reunion

Ideas for Family Reunion Activities

It doesn’t matter how big or small your family is, when it’s time to get everyone together you want to be able to kick back, catch up, and make memories with the whole clan. Often the best family reunions are those that keep the day low-key with simple activities that everyone can enjoy. If activities are self-explanatory, no one will be stuck playing the “cruise director” role for the entire weekend. These are our picks for laid-back activities for your next family gathering.

7 Simple Activities for a Family Reunion

1. Create a family history timeline.

Buy a 24-inch X 150-foot roll of paper and stretch it out along a table (you don’t have to use the entire roll). Using a T-square, draw a straight line lengthwise across the middle and use a marker to annotate appropriate decades, leaving generous space in between. Provide buckets filled with colorful markers down the length of the paper.

Get the party started by writing in some major events like when grandma and grandpa got married. Leave the timeline out for the entire weekend and let people add their own important dates. By the end of the week, you’ll have an incredible keepsake.

2. Share memories.

Ask attendees to come to the reunion with extra prints or USB drives of family photos, interesting records, or old newspaper articles. Provide the headcount so no one is left out — everyone will want a picture of grandma being crowned homecoming queen! Display them all in a room so everyone can take one of each or take it upon yourself to pack each into gift bags for families to take home at the end of the day.

3. Build your own hotdog bar.

If your reunion is a one-day event, consider a build your own hotdog bar. You can get fancy with bratwurst, sausage, and different buns if you’d like, but this is an easy and inexpensive way to feed a crowd. Grill up the dogs and provide a table packed with condiments. Everything from ketchup and mustard to pickles, hot sauce, and chopped onion. Ask each attending family to bring either a side dish or dessert.

4. Corn hole or horseshoe tournament.

If your reunion is outdoors, consider setting up corn hole or horseshoes on the lawn. They are two games that are virtually effortless to arrange and all ages can play. You can either have people play casual games or initiate a sign-up and playing schedule to create a real competition with prizes.

5. Make your own T-shirt station.

Some families have commemorative T-shirts made for their reunions. An inexpensive, creative option is to purchase plain white T-shirts in bulk and set up fabric paint at a table outside. Have everyone create their own commemorative T-shirt. The children will especially love this one.

6. Cookie and recipe swap.

Have each family bring their favorite cookies with printouts of the recipe. Be sure to let people know how many to bring to participate in the swap. Bags are provided and everyone who participates takes the same amount of cookies home along with the recipes. This is a great way for families to share each other’s traditions and bond.

7. Have grandchildren interview grandparents.

Family reunions are a wonderful time for the youngest generations to benefit from the oral history of older generations. Grab a video camera and a tripod and set aside a time for grandma or grandpa to be interviewed by their grandchildren. If the kids get stumped with what to ask, you can come up with questions beforehand or put them in a hat for them to draw at random. The interactions will be priceless. Be sure to send everyone home with final copies of the video.

Preserve these moments for a lifetime. Check out 3Dcrystal.com to learn more about 3D crystal etching and browse our products. For more ideas for making family memories, visit us at 3Dcrystal.com/blog.

Overlooked Architectural Landmarks for Your Bucket List

Overlooked Architectural Landmarks for Your Bucket List

You don’t need to have an architect’s keen eye for detail or in-depth understanding of the design and construction of these architectural wonders to appreciate them. So many of these architectural bucket lists start off with the Sagrada Familia Basilica and usually end somewhere around the Taj Mahal, with St. Peter’s Basilica thrown in for good measure.

The architectural wonders below might be less familiar to culturally-curious travelers and may inspire a spontaneous trip to the structure’s home.

Top 5 Most Overlooked International Architectural Landmarks

Travel Photography Architecture Dancing House
The Dancing House, Prague, Czech Republic

1. The Dancing House

Prague, Czech Republic

Local residents refer to this now-office space as “Fred and Ginger,” since the curved lines of the structure make it appear to be dancing with itself. The building was constructed in 1996 and co-designed by Frank Gehry and Vlado Milunic. Gehry’s style, hard to define, is influenced by the 1960s California “funk” art movement, which is characterized by artists using inexpensive, found objects and transforming them into works of art. Today it is an office building, but the rooftop houses a restaurant that is open to the public, offering stunning river views.

travel photography architecture one bligh street
One Bligh Street, Sydney, Australia

2. One Bligh Street

Sydney, Australia

One Bligh Street overlooks Sydney Harbor and won the International Highrise Award in 2012. This office tower is not only a home to happy worker bees, it’s also a monument to environmentally friendly design. The building is equipped with a double skin with outer louvers to regulate temperature, solar panels to produce energy, and even its own basement sewage plant to recycle 90% of the building’s wastewater.

travel photography fatehpur sikri palace
Fatehpur Siri Palace, Fatehpur Sikri, India

3. Fatehpur Sikri Palace

Fatehpur Sikri, India

The construction of Fatehpur Sikri Palace was overseen by Abu’l-Fath Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar, also referred to as Akbar The Great, from 1572 to 1585. What makes Fatehpur such an architecturally unique and historic landmark is that the building’s design is a mixture of Hindu, Persian, and Indo-Muslim inspiration — essentially creating an entirely new Mughal style of architecture. It could be said that the palace design was a reflection of the multicultural Mughal empire he united and ruled, successfully tripling its size and significantly influencing Indian history.

travel photography Druzhba Holiday
Druzhba Holiday Center, Yalta, Ukraine

4. Druzhba Holiday Center

Yalta, Ukraine

This late Soviet-era structure was built in 1984 by Igor Vasilevsky in a once thriving-resort town. The building still functions as a hotel. The architect imagined the structure as a “social condenser.” Guests enter the property via a catwalk bridge and enjoy panoramic views of the Black Sea. The building’s core houses a cinema, dance hall, swimming pool, and cafe, effectively “condensing” social activities at its center.

travel photography the forbidden city
The Forbidden City, Beijing, China

5. The Forbidden City

Beijing, China

Rather than one building, the Forbidden City in Beijing is not only an architectural marvel for its the stunning, intricate designs but for its sheer size. It was constructed under the orders of Emperor Zhi Di in 1420 and contains no fewer than 980 buildings and ten thousand rooms and took fourteen years to construct. The most significant structures are placed in the center of the city along a north-south axis, which remains the central axis of Beijing.

If you’re considering taking a trip to indulge in some architectural tourism, preserve these memories for a lifetime. Check out 3Dcrystal.com to learn more about 3D crystal etching and browse our products.

For more ideas for making family memories, visit us at 3Dcrystal.com/blog.

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5 Fun Home Photography Projects to Try

Easy Home Photography Projects

Whether you’re a photography novice or if you’ve been practicing for decades, there is a lot to be learned by flexing your photography muscles at home. Regardless of your preferred subject, practicing your technique of photographic observation is necessary for your growth as an artist, hobbyist, or professional.

Attempting various photography exercises at home, especially those that are out of your comfort zone, will help you get better acquainted with your camera and learn new facets of light, composition, and photo editing.

Easy Home Photography Projects

Five Simple Photography Exercises

Example of Splash Photography

1. Splash Photography

What you’ll need:

  • Flashgun (remote fire)
  • Clear container, preferably glass
  • Colored background
  • Tripod

Fill the container with water and set it in front of the backdrop. Position the flash above the container. Secure your camera to the tripod and set to manual focus and exposure, f/8 ISO200. Adjust the settings to the fastest shutter speed that works in conjunction with your flash. Drop the object into the water and fire the shutter as it breaks the surface.

Keep a microfiber cloth handy to wipe the lense completely clean and dry after each take. Be patient. Given the unpredictable nature of the water and depending on the object you choose to drop, it may be hard initially to get the camera to focus. Make small adjustments until you achieve your desired effect.

Example of Smoke Art Photography

2. Smoke Art

What you’ll need:

  • Smoke images
  • Photoshop

Smoke images are a favorite among still life photographers. If still life isn’t your specialty, take the time to snap several dozen. To take smoke photos you will need a black backdrop, a reflector, an external flash, and incense. Place the incense on a burner about one foot in front of the backdrop. Adjust the power of the external flash to 1/16 to start, and begin photographing. Once you have a sufficient amount, import the images to Photoshop.

Open a blank document and place one of the smoke images into it. Set the blending mode to Screen and use Warp Transform to reshape it. Use this process to combine a range of smoke images until you create a new photo like the one above.

Example of Fine Art Food Photography

3. Fine Art Food

What you’ll need:

  • Fruit sliced paper-thin, preferably with a mandoline
  • Lightbox

Using a lightbox and a mandoline or very sharp knife, you can create some abstract art using fruit slices. First, slice the fruit as thinly and evenly as possible, then arrange the slices on the lightbox. With the camera positioned directly above, use Live View to focus manually on the details. Set an aperture of f/8 to give adequate depth of field, and dial in exposure compensation of +1 to +3 stops. The bright light can trick the camera’s meter into underexposure.

Example of Flowers in Ice Photography

4. Flowers in Ice

What you’ll need:

  • Flowers
  • Clear plastic container
  • Deionized water (find it in your local hardware or auto shop)
  • Flashgun

Fill the plastic containers with deionized water and place the flowers inside. The flowers will float to the surface. Weigh them down or fasten them in place so they freeze under the water. Once frozen, place the block of ice on top of a clear bowl or glass in on a white plate. This way, the light can bounce through the ice from below. Position the flashgun off to one side, angled down and towards the flowers. Shoot from the opposite side.

Examples of Abstract Oil Drop Photography

5. Abstracts in Oil

What you’ll need:

  • Cooking oil
  • Glass dish
  • A variety of colored and/or patterned paper
  • Anglepoise lamp or flashgun

Photographing oil suspended in water is a fantastic way to play with color, light, and composition — all while practicing on a subject that moves and shifts. The unpredictable nature of the water and the oil will keep you on your toes. This exercise leverages the refractive quality of oil and bubbles to accentuate and distort colors, creating striking abstract still lifes.

Place colored or patterned paper underneath the glass dish and fill with water. Place a few drops of cooking oil on the water’s surface. Make sure the dish is supported about 10 inches from the table top. Use the anglepoise lamp or flashgun to light the paper and shoot.

Preserve your photos for a lifetime. Check out 3Dcrystal.com to learn more about 3D crystal etching and browse our products. For more photography tips and tricks, visit us at 3Dcrystal.com/blog.

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6 Unique Ideas for Employee Recognition

Fun Ideas for Employee Recognition

Gathering in the conference room for stale bagels and coffee while mid-level management hands out “certificates of recognition” printed on sheets of office paper doesn’t cut it anymore. Employee recognition is not something management should take lightly. While public recognition for hard work doesn’t distract from the importance of benefits like vacation time and family leave, it is a critical aspect of management.

According to CareerBuilder.com:

  • 50% of employees believe increased recognition would reduce voluntary turnover.
  • 40% of employees who don’t feel meaningfully recognized will not go above their formal responsibilities.

The most important aspect of dishing out praise for your employees is making sure that the praise is genuine. A half-hearted “atta boy” is going to do more harm than good for employee morale. This is why it’s a good idea to explore a few different options for making recognition a part of your company culture, so that your efforts don’t ring false.

Creative Ideas to Show Your Employees You Care

1. Social Butterfly

Employee recognition doesn’t have to be big and flashy to be meaningful. Making a habit of regularly giving employees a fun shoutout on the company’s social media sites can go a long way to boosting morale. Highlight who they are, what they’ve done, and why the company appreciates them.

2. Personalized Gift Bag

Pick up a small gift bag or basket and fill it with treats you know the honored employee would enjoy and maybe a funny trinket or two if you share an inside joke. Finish it off with a handwritten note thanking them for going above and beyond. Leave it on their desk after they leave work so they can come into the office the next day to a nice, personalized surprise. Sometimes receiving recognition privately and quietly feels more sincere than big public shout-outs.

3. Lunch Drawing

Kudos from peers can often be more valuable to employees than recognition from management. We thought this was a great idea to start a peer-to-peer recognition program: employees enter a person’s name into a hat every time they recognize one of their colleagues. The more times an employee is recognized, the higher their chance of being chosen. At the end of each week, draw out two names from the hat and have those employees enjoy a meal on the company.

4. Send a Card

The lost art of snail mail. If you know an employee would find private recognition more encouraging, send the employee an old fashioned thank-you note. Consider a funny card and throw in something that would make them smile, like an Amazon gift card.

5. Summer Fridays

Employees who work in close-knit teams often don’t have the option of working from home, which is becoming a popular choice for many companies looking to offer their employees more flexibility and decrease turnover. Instead, consider instating “Summer Fridays” and let your employees work from home every Friday from the first week in June up until the first week of September. It’s a nice way to thank your entire team for working so hard and making sacrifices during peak productivity seasons.

6. And the Oscar goes to…

For the employees who love a good public awards ceremony — maybe an employee recognition day — you can’t go wrong with an actual award or trophy. Having a tasteful award created with their name and accomplishment engraved provides them with a constant reminder in their office that they are capable of great things. If you’re looking for inspiration, visit our site to see the beautiful, personalized awards you can create with 3D crystal etching.

Check out 3Dcrystal.com to learn more about 3D crystal etching and browse our products. For more personalized gift ideas, visit us at 3Dcrystal.com/blog.

Must-Have Wedding Photos for Your Big Day

Wedding Photography Shotlist

Searching for a wedding photographer is hard enough: you need to find one who fits your style and budget, coordinate availability, and iron out scheduling details. If you thought that the work was over after you signed the contract — we’re sorry to be the bearers of bad news!

Any photographer worth their salt is going to be communicating with you constantly (almost annoyingly so) to set expectations and get your input before the big day. The most professional photographers will ask you for a shot list and will explain how these lists work.

A shot list is a document that outlines the photos you want taken during your shoot. The list you hand your photographer to work with could be as detailed (excel spreadsheet with various locations, poses) or as simple as a short list on a piece of notepaper. It could be a list of five key photos you can’t live without or a list of thirty photo suggestions depending on how much input you’d like to have. To get you started, we’ve compiled our list of must-have wedding photos for your wedding day shot list that you may not have considered.

The Details

Your photographer will try to capture every last detail, every moment, that they possibly can. Providing the photographer with a short list of a few important details you’d like to capture can help narrow their focus. Are you and the groom wearing matching Chuck Taylors underneath your wedding formals? Was the watch he’s wearing from his grandfather? Is the lace on detail on your gown originally from your mother’s dress? Did you spend a lot of time on the wedding table decor? Point your photographer in the right direction.

The Intimate Moments

Be sure and let your photographer know if there are a few moments you’d like him to capture. Maybe you’d like prioritize interactions with your mother or sister over the bridesmaids when you’re getting ready. Here are a few to look out for:

  • Mom helping with the veil, applying makeup, laughing with the girls
  • Full-length shot of the bride checking herself out after putting on her gown
  • Groomsmen putting on their ties
  • Hug or moment between the groom and best man
  • Bride and groom separately making their way to the ceremony
  • Close up of the groom’s nervous face while waiting for his bride

The Ceremony

Most photos of the ceremony are head-on, so ask your photographer if they’d include different angles for some of the shots. Consider a wide-angle shot from the back of the venue or church of the ceremony in progress, with all eyes on you. If you can swing multiple photographers (a photographer plus an assistant, for example) ask to capture parents’ or grandparents’ faces and reactions during the ceremony.

The VIPs

This is critical for any wedding no matter the size: provide your photographer with the seating chart for the reception. Highlight and annotate guests who you would prefer they focus their attention. Your grandparents, for example. With so many opportunities for candid moments between guests, you want to make sure your photographer is focusing on the guests that mean the most to you — not your mother’s 2nd cousin’s date.

After the Party

Your wedding will be more hectic than you expect. Apart from the staged photos during your photography session, dances and cake cutting, the photographer might not have a lot of candid moments between you two — especially if you’re too busy catching up with each guest to sit down and enjoy your dinner (it happens!). If you can, ask your photographer to stick around until the party dies down, when you’re more likely to hit the dance floor or take a seat and enjoy a celebratory cocktail and each other’s company as man and wife. The most relaxed moments between you two will be at the end of the night.

Preserve these moments for a lifetime. Check out 3Dcrystal.com to learn more about 3D crystal etching and browse our products. For more ideas for making family memories, visit us at 3Dcrystal.com/blog.