This is a subject near and dear to my heart. I will be honest with you, before my oldest daughter was born, I didn’t realize that where you printed your photos mattered. Before she was born, I was only printing snapshots of the flowers in my garden, friends and I being silly, and random co-workers. I was also using a stinky flip phone to take most of them, as well. So, it really didn’t matter.
Then I had my daughter. My beautiful precious daughter. I had a rough postpartum period with her, including recovering from H1N1 (yes, I was one of the lucky ones that contracted the Swine Flu while pregnant with my baby!) So, instead of taking photos myself, I went to one of those chain stores in the mall and had her photos taken. I was in such awe of my beautiful girl that I purchased their CD. (Again, I didn’t know much about printing, prints, quality products, etc. This was the beginning of my education.) I went and eagerly printed out her photos from a local pharmacy. I picked up the photos and thought to myself that they looked a little bit green. They still were beautiful – how could they not be? They were pictures of my precious baby! Over the next few months, I started my real education in photography. But again, while mastering my skill behind the lens, I didn’t give too much thought to printing. So, I continued to print at a local pharmacy (after all – they had awesome deals!) But each time, I was more and more disappointed, something just always looked slightly off. Shortly after, I switched to printing all of my photos at a professional lab. And I immediately noticed the difference. A year or so later I did my first comparison test – I printed the same photo twice – once through my pro lab and once at the local pharmacy. The difference side by side was astounding! (You can view it here: http://misszphotography.com/why-you-should-only-print-at-a-professional-lab/)
Fast forward to 4 years later. I now take photos for hundreds of people, babies, and families a year. My clients choose me for my skill, my style, and my quality. I really appreciate it. I want to make sure that my clients who spend the time, effort and money on gorgeous photos from me, get those same gorgeous photos hanging in their homes. If they plan to print my photos at a drugstore, chain store, etc, they are not only doing my photo(s) a disservice, but they are also short changing themselves. For each and every photo that is ordered through me, I sharpen it specifically for the size it will be printed at and for the medium it will be printed on – (canvas, photo paper, metal, etc.). All the photos are edited on my calibrated monitor (meaning that the colors on my monitor have been adjusted in order to display on screen an accurate representation of the colors that will be printed on paper) and my calibration matches up with my professional printing lab. When the photos arrive, I inspect each and every one to make sure they’re perfect. If they are not, I work with my lab to make them perfect before I deliver them to my clients.
On the flip side, if you take your photos to be printed at a drugstore or department store, you’re essentially handing over photos that have not been sharpened or scaled to size, and letting possibly a young teenager hit a button on an ink jet printer. This worker has no training on printing photos, outside of quick instructions from a manager on what buttons to hit, and how to change the ink cartridges. After they press the button and the photos come out, most do not even check over the photos to make sure they are cropped correctly or even lined up correctly. They simply put them in a envelope with your name on it and hand it over to you.
I decided to do another comparison test again. This time I did it with 2 different photos. Again, I sent them both to my professional lab and also to a local pharmacy. Check out these photos above and tell me which you would rather hang in your house to pass down from generation to generation.
Though, it may seem like a “bargain” to print your photos at a local pharmacy or department store, in the long run, it isn’t. So when you want photos that will last and look just as beautiful as they were taken, choose to purchase your prints and products through a professional photographer, like Miss Z Photography.