I am sure this topic has been covered before. I hope it has been covered well, because it’s something that irks me (and every other professional photographer in the world) on the daily. I will be kind yet straight forward. For the love of all the gorgeous colors in the world – please do not take your digital images to a non-dedicated photo printer. I will not name names, but several them begin with “W” and sell many other things besides photo products. Basically, anywhere you can buy groceries, cleaning supplies and clothing at the same time as getting your oil changed, is NOT a place to have your digital images turned into precious forever keepsakes.
One of the toughest things to hear as a professional is, “If I buy the USB, I can just take it down to [insert low-quality shop in town which also sells frozen pizzas by the dozen}.” There goes my work. There goes all chances for good representation of my art. If you purchase the digital rights to print and you plan on taking it “down the street” for quick printing, just don’t tell us about it. But I urge you, my friends, to put the time and effort into going one step further and getting a great product.
Just for fun earlier today, I googled “cheap photo prints” and over 20 websites popped up immediately. They are actually advertising using the word, “cheap.” What other items (which you want to be of good quality and last for years) do you search for using that term? Cheap jewelry, building supplies, dental work? Sure you can save money, but what’s the quality like? How long will they last?
In photography, as in life, you will get what you pay for. If you want a professional photographer with professional results, hire a professional. If you purchase your digital prints, understand that they are of professional quality, therefore using a cheap printing service or printing them out on your really great printer at home will only lessen the quality the photographer has worked so hard to deliver. Affordable is doable, but do some research to find a company which also offers the color and paper quality you need. Or just finish this article and I’ll go ahead and give them to you.
I’d venture to say most professional photographers utilize the top printing companies, and they take time to color calibrate their monitors to the printing company’s standards – I do. This ensures that what you see on the screen is what you get on paper (or canvas, metal, wood or album). Here’s the great news - several of those top companies have “daughter” companies which the public can use for quality printing!
Mpix, the daughter company of Miller Professional printing