The cheap prices that online photo print websites and supermarkets offer are very enticing so I often get asked to supply digital files only. But in my experience, you get what you pay for. There’s a big difference between the products you can buy as a consumer and the ones I’ve got access to as a professional photographer, and then there’s the time and expertise needed to design them properly. If you’re having trouble convincing your other half to spend the extra cash, here are six reasons for getting your photographer to produce your products for you:
1. Professional photographic labs produce better quality results
The professional photographic labs I use print on thicker photographic paper than a consumer lab I tested. They also colour correct which means that a human being checks the file and make sure the colours print as they should. And on the rare occasion that the colours aren’t how I want them, I will get them to reprint. Consumer labs tend to print what they’re given and the results aren’t always consistent.
2. Archival inks last longer
The inks used for my printed products are all archival quality which means they should last for many years without fading. If you’re printing at home particularly, make sure you’re using archival quality inks too – the ink in cheap refill cartridges will often fade within a few years.
3. Not all canvasses are the same
The canvasses I’ve chosen have a hard back to protect them, more vibrant colour reproduction than I’ve seen on cheap consumer canvasses and a protective coating. The edges are finished beautifully too, which all helps to make your canvas last longer. They’re not just a piece of material roughly stapled on to a frame.
4. Not all frames and mounts are the same either
My frames come from specialist photographic framers who offer a better range of mount styles than I’ve been able to find for consumers. As well as showing off your photos well, the mounts are cut from a top quality mount board. I think it’s sad to see your beautiful prints spoilt by a mount that’s started to go yellow round the edges after only a year or two, which is what happened with some of the frames I tested from household chain stores.
5. Larger prints need more editing
The larger you print, the more obvious any tiny flaws in the image are. E.g. That spec of dust on the collar of your wedding suit that doesn’t show up on a 6 x 4 inch print will potentially stand out like a sore thumb on a 40 inch canvas. So whenever you order a product from me, I go over the image file in detail, editing out any flaws and making sure that it’s perfectly sharpened to give a great result when it’s printed.
6. It saves you time
For example, it takes hours to design an album to make sure all the images are correctly sized, aligned and work together tonally. It’s a big job and not everyone is good at designing albums or finding the time to do it. I’ve lost count of the times people have told me that they haven’t got round to making their wedding album yet – often they’ve been married for 5 or more years. I don’t just save you time on designing and ordering: when your product is ready to be delivered, I get all the hassle of waiting in for the courier and quality checking your product. So when it arrives with smashed glass, like the frame I received today, I’ll be the one liaising with the supplier to get it rectified. When I am happy that your product is perfect, we’ll agree a proper appointment time for me to deliver it to you so you aren’t having to hang around all day.
I hope that helps to explain the time and care that goes into producing canvasses, frames, albums and prints. I’d love to hear your experiences of ordering printed photographic products so feel free to share in a comment below.