I was trying to figure out what to do for one of my best friend's 40th birthday. I knew I wanted to do something with photographs (I had soo many of them of him), and this man has everything, so it had to be original and personal. I happened upon some sites for photo mosaics, but quickly found that there a lot of companies that do them in a "fake" way. They just put all of the photos together, and then print the main photo on top of those photos, as opposed to arranging the photos according to color, etc, in order to form the shapes and shades of the photograph.
I finally came upon a company called Picture Mosaics. They do the real deal and honestly it's a fairly reasonable process. You have the choice of printing on photo paper or on canvas. I opted for photo paper and a 20" x 30" size. I found 400 photos and chose one photo to be the main one. It was a portrait I did of him when were on a trip together in New York and it was taken at the Bowery Hotel. It's a pic that he always said he loved. At first I was concerned that the image wouldn't be clear enough, but I found that this worked better than the close-up photographs the site recommended. It felt more like an art piece.
The only thing is that since I was using a vertical photo as the main image, they recommended that all of the photos going into this mosaic had to be vertical (although you can select all horizontal as well...you just have to choose one or the other). That meant cropping those 400 photos individually to ensure that the images worked. It took some time, but it was worth it. I was able to do all of it online. They sent me a proof, I made some changes, and by the 2nd try they had it right. There's a lot more than 400 images in this poster sized print so most of the photos were duplicated (click on the photo to see a close-up look).
I got it custom framed at Aaron Brothers in a beautiful, simple black frame with a simple thick white matte. They framed it with more space at the bottom of the frame to give it more of a gallery feel. Gorgeous.