One of the top five questions I get asked is “Do we have to print through you, or can we print on our own?” My answer to that is that you can definitely print on your own — but with a major caveat — I can’t guarantee the print quality if you print on your own.
- The screen I edit your images on is specially calibrated to match the color profiles for the professional labs I partner with to ensure the best possible print experience for you. Professional labs have much better quality and color control, and publish color profiles for their photographer clients to match to make sure everything is as good as it can be, and as consistent as possible. Consumer-accessible labs like CVS, Walgreens, Costco, and Shutterfly don’t have that kind of control over their machines, and the results can be wildly inconsistent.
- Professional prints are produced with archival materials that help preserve your images for longer. We’ve all been there — digging through old family photos and you find a bunch that were up in the hot attic and all turned pink or orange over the decades they’d been sitting there. That’s because most consumer-accessible labs don’t use materials that stand the test of time. I’ve recently been doing a massive family photo organization project with my dad (labeling, scanning, properly storing) and it’s REALLY obvious which photos from 100 years ago were meant to last and which were considered cheap throw-aways — the photos printed on better materials are almost as good as new, while we’re having to do a lot of painstaking restoration work on the ones printed with cheaper but more disposable materials.
- If the worst should happen and the lab goofs? I have a relationship with them and can get your images reprinted properly. The teenager at the photo desk at your local pharmacy is unlikely to put in the extra time to make sure everything is right in the end. I’m there to make sure everything is right from the moment you inquire until your prints are in an album on your coffee table or in a frame on your wall. When you print through me, I’m a resource from album design and cropping advice to making sure everything is properly printed from the lab.
I wanted to show you the difference between professional prints and consumer-accessible labs. This first image was professionally printed, and the others (some too warm, too cool, or with too much contrast) are from several of the popular printing sites and my local pharmacies. If you ARE going to print on your own, the best of the consumer-accessible labs out there is mpix.com — they are definitely a notch above the rest.