first birthday party | polaroid tutorial

Since posting Ava’s birthday party photos back in March, I have received a handful of e-mails asking how I created the Polaroids used in the table scape. I have found myself typing the same e-mail over and over and thought it might be helpful to actually show a how-to. It was really easy to create the Polaroids and added such a fun touch to the party.

I have to admit that like any good idea these days, heavy perusing of Pinterest was involved. I was browsing for party ideas one afternoon and came across this blog post featuring a first birthday party. I loved lots of things about the party, but I kept coming back to the strings of Polaroids. It was such a cute idea, and since I only had a zillion photos of Ava’s first year, I figured a project like that was right up my alley. A few days later I saw this advent calendar on Pinterest and two great ideas merged into one.

The first part of creating my frames was choosing the photos. I scoured my personal photos from Ava’s first year and copied them into a folder of my favorites. I consolidated some of the steps below in order to be more efficient, but this is an outline of how I created each one.

1. Drag the photo into Photoshop. I do realize that not everyone has a copy of Photoshop. There might be another program that allows you to do the same thing in a different way, but PS was my go to.

2. Select the crop tool and crop your photo. Based on the standard size of a Polaroid, I cropped to 3 x 3.

3. Open a blank document to create the printable version of your photo. I wanted the layout to be exact so that there was no guess work during printing. The most inexpensive option for me was a 4 x 6.

4. Open another blank documents to create the white space of your Polaroid. Based on the standard size of a Polaroid, I modified my photo to 3.5 x 4.25

5. Using the dotted square tool (I have no idea what the real names of anything are!), I outlined the document that would become the white base of my Polaroid and created a thin stroke. You’ll see in a second how this helped provide a definite border to the Polaroid.

6. You can’t see the stroke line, but it is there. Using the pointer tool, I clicked on my image and dragged it onto the document that would become the white base of my Polaroid. I tried to get an even amount of white space around the top and sides, leaving extra white space at the bottom so that it had that “Polaroid” look to it.

7. I flattened the image (CTRL+E) and dragged the Polaroid onto the 4 x 6 canvas using the pointer tool.

8. I saved each 4 x 6 image as a .jpg file. All of my images printed like you see below, so the last step was to manually trim them with a scrapbook cutting board.

I found the wooden frames at Hobby Lobby during one of their 50% off sales. The miniature clothes pins came from there too. I super-glued jute/twine to the frame as my “clothesline” and covered the ends with pink buttons. After all of the trimming and gluing, it took me just about a whole day to complete this project. Of course, I meticulously measured every single aspect of the project, so if you aren’t super OCD like me, you could probably do it in less time. Or you can hang the Polaroids from the window like Chenin Boutwell did. That turned out super cute too!

I hope that helps! It is harder than you might think to screen capture and write a detailed tutorial, so if you are interested in this project and have any questions or notice that I left out an important detail, please let me know. Happy creating!


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katherine Hi Amanda, I love the birthday party decor! Would you share how you made the hanging decorations as well as the labels and juice box covers and banner in front of table? Thank you!!!July 24, 2014 – 10:59 pm

Laura Just like Trang, when I drag picture to the polaroid white page, it fills the whole page. What am I doing wrong?
ThanksApril 7, 2014 – 9:50 am

Nieves Solera Really love the tutorial!! I’m planning my daughters first birthday, and i’d really like to do something like this! Thank you for sharing! Regards from Spain!March 25, 2014 – 10:31 am

Trang I was able to follow your instruction up to step 5. When I tried to drag the picture to the “palaroid”, the picture didn’t show and when I let go of my cursor, part of the picture cover the whole “palaroid”. I’m not sure what I did wrong. Please help. Thanks. – TrangFebruary 26, 2014 – 1:37 am

Nicole Hi there!
Love this idea! Where did you get the banner? Can you make it yourself?January 18, 2014 – 9:23 pm

Danielle Amanda –
Thanks for responding about the font. I’m sorry to bug you again, but I was wondering if you could tell me what size those frames are? I just adore this idea:) Thank you!August 2, 2013 – 5:38 pm

Sean my wife saw your blog posting and made our own for our baby’s birthday. thank you.July 28, 2013 – 11:45 pm

Erin Hello,

I fell in love with your polaroid project…and have planned to do it for my daughter’s first birthday around the corner.

Be warned – I have no photoshop experience, but downloaded a 30 day trial in an effort to create this display! However, I’m having trouble printing – did you print them yourself or did you upload to a website?

I appreciate your help!

ErinJuly 14, 2013 – 3:10 pm

vicky Just wanted to say thank you, thank you, thank you for this tutorial! I thank god for bloggers that post such great tutorials!March 21, 2013 – 9:56 pm

Sylvia I love the decorations hanging from the ceiling; I have a 6 year grand-daugher (going on 16);she is a little diva; we are already planning her 7th birthday in November and I would totally want to surprise her with these awesome decorations; i don’t know if I missed the tutorial or what; can you please share…
thanks,July 1, 2012 – 3:30 pm

Jennifer Amanda- you are so creative! this is the most precious thing I have EVER seen! you are so talented! i love all the little details and of course the pink is great!June 2, 2012 – 8:57 pm

Linda Sexton Amanda how precious !! Can’t wait to use these ideas for our Grandaughter, Natalie, once she gets here!! Oh yeah that will be a year from this September !May 17, 2012 – 2:20 pm

katie o. This is fabulous! And I can’t wait to “recreate” this for Camden’s 1st birthday. Thank you so much for posting this how to. Now let’s hope I’m smart enough to do it on my own. :)
See you soon!May 15, 2012 – 1:05 pm

Ashley Price That is so cute! Thank you so much for sharing the steps. I was wondering myself. It would be cute to keep it up each year & just add a new pics from the year for her.May 15, 2012 – 8:41 am

Gail I LOVEEE this! So glad you posted this step by step tutorial!!!May 15, 2012 – 8:30 am

Kristen One of my favorite details of the day. Great post!May 15, 2012 – 8:30 am

Brooke I thought that was such a cute centerpiece! And something you’ll want to keep and update. Love it – thanks for the “how to.” :)May 15, 2012 – 7:54 am

Tina Love this! Pinning it as we speak:)May 15, 2012 – 7:09 am

Amy Creamer so sweet, it all looks so adorable, you did a great job!!May 15, 2012 – 12:25 am

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Making Polaroids | Louisville Lifestyle Photographer | Shutterboo Photography […] Amanda’s tutorial is the best; easy to follow, easy to understand and really did produce the most adorable Polaroid-like prints.  (If you’re not familiar with Amanda’s work, she’s a Birmingham photographer.  She has beautiful wedding and family work, but her labor and delivery slideshows are my favorite.  I always need a tissue.)  So I followed Amanda’s instructions step by step, ordered my prints and then waited for them to arrive.  They looked great.  I haven’t had the chance to print many of my clients’ images, but now I want to.  Seeing them on screen is one thing – the prints are just something else altogether.  But armed with the 4×6 pictures and their Polaroid outlines, I got to work. […]August 7, 2012 – 7:05 am