Where do you print your photos? You might be thinking “Well, why does it matter? Does it matter?” The short answer? Yes! Printing service providers vary on price AND quality.
Where do you print your photos?
You shouldn’t have to compromise on quality even for your own personal photos. The question as to where I recommend people to print their photos has come up now a few times. So I performed my own test. Do know a printing place won’t make a bad photo great, but boy, can they make a great photo look bad. I checked out several places, comparing them not only against each other, but also against the original photograph I had created. I looked at a professional lab, a couple of popular online services and a few general stores- Millers (the professional lab where I print your photos), MPIX and Shutterfly (representing online printing services), Costco, Target and Walmart for the general stores.
The results? Well… see for yourself:
Millers Pro Lab printed colors well compared to my edited file. Note I do calibrate my computer monitor to make sure my prints from this lab are accurate for all colors and temperatures (you will see me reference temperature in a moment)
MPix is the consumer arm of Miller’s Professional Imaging. Miller’s is a very well known professional photography printing lab. Many pros use it. Clearly the quality is reflected for the consumer option. All you need is to sign up for an account with them, which is free. Allow yourself 2-3 extra days for the prints to come back from the lab rather than rush down the street to your local store. Hey less errands and drive time for you busy mamas out there!
Costco is cheap and easy right? but look at how dark the print is… I cannot differentiate the color of this beautiful ladies hair vs her shirt and the detail on the man’s jacket is harder to see. Personally the colors of this print are too dark for me. Maybe you prefer darker colors but be aware of the detail you may miss by going this route.
Target’s print is on the opposite side of the color scale. This print is lacking color! All colors seem washed out and faded. Yes this type of print will fade over time but I do not want to see my work “faded” on first glance out of the print machine! Target is quick and easy yes I agree, hey get your shopping done while your prints are being processed.. yep you can do that or you can email in your order still go shop Target and get your mailed pictures with correct color on your doorstep in a few days. Option is yours.
Next up is Shutterfly. Looking at this image I see a bit of detail lost again by dark contrast colors and a bit of warmth on the image. By warmth I mean yellow. Look at the beautiful ladies sweater, there are subtle hits of yellow in her sweater that are not in the original file. Maybe you cannot see the warmth on your screen (again remember my monitor is color calibrated so I try to see the colors as close as I can) but you can see the darker colors right?
Final image is from Walmart. OK on this one you can see the ‘cold’ temperature right? By cold I mean blue tones. Again look at the ladies sweater. Temperature will show on the “whites” of an image. Can you see the blue hues? This image is my least favorite. I tend to love warm pictures. Warmth helps with skin color and makes me feel happy. Gosh not sure how to explain it but I dread cold images. yep true story.
So what knowledge should you walk away with?
Invest in your printed images as much as you invest in your photographer. These are your pieces of ART. Make sure you are considering the visual impact of the colors along with the beauty of the subjects in the artwork. If you’re having your photos professionally taken, though, use your photographer’s lab for prints, especially for anything 8×10 or larger. The quality is noticeable and the colors won’t fade over time. This is why professional photographers are so picky about where the prints they deliver to you are done. They ask to handle the printing, so that they can ensure that the final result has the best, longest lasting quality.
I hope this helps you out the next time you’re wondering where to have your digital camera printed. All right thats all now. Carry on with your lovely day!