Reviews: Bags of Love
Bags of Love, part of Contrado, is a photofinishing service that allows you to personalise all kinds of different products with your own photographs. At the time of writing this short review, Bags of Love can print your photos onto the following range of items:
- photo bags
- photo handbags
- photo clutch bags
- photo pouch purses
- photo washbags
- photo leather handbags
- photo leather holdalls
- photo books
- photo albums
- photo canvas
- photo blinds
If you've ever used my favourite online print service Photobox, then you will be interested to know that their bags and canvas prints are actually supplied by Bags of Love. The service that Bags of Love provides is aimed at general consumers (both digital and film users) who are looking for more interesting ways to use their own photos. They also specialize in restoring old family photos. I will state up-front that Bags of Love donated a prize in the last PhotographyBLOG Competition, but in order to check that the quality of their products would meet PhotographyBLOG's usual high standards, I decided to order one of their products for myself. And besides, I was about to move into a new flat in Paris which needed brightening up with some of my photography!
I've always been intrigued to see what a canvas print was like, so I decided to order the standard-sized 80 x 50cm Canvas Print with 2cm deep framing. This cost £99, inclusive of VAT and fittings, plus £9 postage, which Bags of Love describes as an average type of order.
The first thing to do is choose a photo, which isn't actually as easy as it sounds. Bags of Love offer the following advice for choosing an appropriate photos for a canvas print:
"When you choose your photo, make sure the subject is clear and fits the shape of your order dimensions or we will need to crop. Please take into account that the printed image gets wrapped around to the reverse of the stretcher bar frame. This means approximately 2-3cm of your image (on all four sides) will not be visible 'head on' when looking at the finished piece or (4-5cm on deeper frame). Please be sure to avoid any key subject at the very edge of the photo. We do our very best to avoid losing any key features on the edge, but it is worth noting this point at the stage of choosing your photo."
With this in mind, I chose one of my all-time-favourite photos, "Notting Hill Carnival Dancer" (pictured), which didn't have any important elements at the edges. It's also quite an abstract image without any fine detail, which I thought would suit a canvas print.
Having chosen a photo, the next stage was to prepare and upload it onto the Bags of Love website. You can upload either jpg or tiff files with no limit on the file size. Alternatively, there is an option to send your original photos on CD in the post. The online ordering process was straightforward and secure, with my photo taking about 15 minutes to upload on a 512Kb broadband connection.
Delivery was also quick and easy - it took Bags of Love 5 days to prepare my canvas print and a couple of days for it to be delivered via City Link. It arrived securely wrapped in bubble-wrap and wasn't damaged in any way by the courier process.
The canvas print itself is very impressive, with colours that are true to the original photograph, a quality finish to the print and the framing, and good attention to detail even on the rear of the picture where it is fixed to the frame. The 2cm deep frame adds a certain depth to the image that you don't get with a standard print, because if you look at it from the side, the impression of depth is created by the canvas being stretched around and behind the frame. The canvas surface also adds a "painterly" feel to the image, which suited my abstract photograph very well. All in all, full marks for presentation and finish.
(out of 5 stars)
This is as much a review of the overall Bags of Love service as of the large canvas print that now hangs on my living-room wall. From start to finish the whole experience was an enjoyable one, with an easy to use online ordering service and helpful advice, quick and efficient processing of the order and delivery, and at the end something that adds that little bit extra to your home. With Christmas coming up, a Bags of Love product could be just the thing for the photographer in your life, and if you are a photographer yourself, it's time to start dropping heavy hints to friends and family alike! I'm sure that the winner of the last PhotographyBLOG Competition will be as happy with their prize as I was with my canvas print.