Why You Should Only Print at a Professional Lab


All professional photographers know that where you get your photos printed is just as important as who shoots your photographs in the first place.   That’s why many professional photographers do not offer CDs of their photo sessions. They know that most folks are just going to print those photos off at a local department store or drugstore.   When the clients then pick up their photos from the department stores or drugstores, they aren’t going to be the same spectacular photos they saw online.   This could actually hurt the photographer’s reputation, even though he or she did an amazing job, since people might wrongly equate the poorly printed photo with the work of the photographer.  The only way to ensure that this doesn’t happen is for the photographer to print the photographs out at their own professional lab and not offer CDs.

However, I know that people want options and want to have their very own copies of their precious photos for other uses such as sharing online, using as a screensaver on their computer, or just being able to view the photos whenever they choose.  So I like to offer my clients the option of having their photos on a CD.    In my photo release, it always states that I’m not responsible for photos that are printed by anyone else.  I also recommend they use a professional lab such a mpix.com or any other professional lab.   But ultimately, after I hand over the photo CD, it’s all in my clients’ hands.    And so that’s why I’d like to educate everyone about the huge difference in quality between a drugstore/department store and a professional photo lab.

I know it’s tempting to just have Walgreens or Walmart print out your photos for $0.12 a photo.  What a great deal, right?  Wrong.  If you’re going to go that route, you might as well save your $0.12 and just print them out at your own house.    Don’t get me wrong, Walgreens and Walmart are great places for lots of stuff – Walgreens is an excellent pharmacy and Walmart offers great a variety of products at a decent price. However, neither place (this applies to all drugstores and department stores, not just the aforementioned ones) knows ANYTHING about printing photos.  It’s just a regular worker who hits a few buttons on a computer and/or printer and lets the printer spit out the photos.  No one checks to make sure the printer’s colors are correct or even toned, that the photo is lined up, or that the photo is cropped correctly.   Most places use an inkjet photo to print, which just sprays the color on the paper.  My lab and most professional labs use a silver halide printer which embeds the color into the paper.

When you use a professional lab you have trained technicians with lots of experience who monitor the quality of the chemicals in their printers, analyze the color and density in the photographs, do regular maintenance on their machines, check the print quality and redo any problems before handing the final product over to you.

You’ve just invested in a professional photographer to take amazing photos of you and your family.  Make sure that those incredible photos you’ve seen in the online photo gallery are just as incredible when you bring them home.