Originally created 10/10/05

Mini photo album puts your pictures in your pocket



WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - I'm preparing for my 30th high school reunion. Do I color the hair to hide the flecks of gray? Trim the beard? Don a sharkskin suit?

Nah.

But I do want to take along some pictures, a few choice images of the wife and kids, since my wife opted to forgo this particular walk down memory lane.

So, how does one tastefully port photos now that we're waist-deep in the digital age? On a cell phone? A color PDA screen?

Whipping out the wallet simply won't do any more. Not for a middle-aged sophisticate. And a standard photo album: way too egotistic.

I have the answer of course: A three-inch square album containing 12 photos that I create myself and can slip into the inside pocket of my blue blazer.

Into the picture steps Doug Rowan, the former CEO of Corbis Corp., the digital image archive. The week before the reunion, at a tech show, he shows me ZoomAlbum and gives me the product to try out.

Rowan is chief executive of the startup and it's easy to see what excites him about ZoomAlbum.

The software arranges the digital photos you drag and drop into its template, so when you print out the photos (Windows-based PC and color inkjet printer are required) on a letter-sized sheet of special glossy-faced paper your work is all but done.

Easy-to-follow instructions on the back of the sheet walk you through a folding routine that produces, with the help of forgiving adhesive backing, a five-page booklet with images comprising both sides of each page and one on each inside cover.

The hardest and most time-consuming part is deciding on the 12 images.

The software is simple and you can insert text captions, rotate, flip and crop photos. The only problem I had was with captions. I wrote some too long and while they appeared fine in the software, the entire caption didn't print out on the photo sheet.

The images, printed at best quality on an Epson Stylus Photo RX620 printer, were terrific.

ZoomAlbum kits will sell for $19.99 and be available at all Michael's craft stores in the United States on Nov. 1, says Rowan. They're also available online for $24.95.

Each kit allows you to make three albums. You can choose from solid color album covers or print your own covers.

My little family album was a nice conversation piece at the reunion, though it couldn't compare with the receding hairlines, sagging waistlines and divorce stories.

On the Net:

http://www.zoomalbum.com