After you make a large investment in having your photos taken, it makes sense that you may want to save some money on prints by using the cheapest photo printer. I totally get it. I’m always down for saving money! However, printing photos is not an area in which I want to sacrifice quality. If you want your professional photos to look good when they are printed, you should buy them from your photographer. I know it sounds like I’m trying to get you to pay me and more money, but I really just want you to have high quality prints that are true to color. In fact, I price my prints to be affordable so that you can get high quality prints at a low cost.
Here are my top three reasons to buy prints from your photographer:
At retail labs, the machines aren’t calibrated and the technicians aren’t trained to make consistent professional prints with correct color. You might see anywhere from a slight to drastic quality difference between the images you see on your screen and the prints you receive from them. When you buy prints from your photographer, you are ordering from a professional lab that consistently prints photos that are true to color.
If you have a problem with your print order from your photographer, you can contact them to fix it. For example, one of my customers placed an order recently and the mail delivery service bent the photos. She contacted me and I contacted the lab to reprint her photos. Problem solved!
I deliver my photos in an online gallery that is connected to a professional printing lab. If you order from a different lab, you have to download your photos from your gallery, then upload it to the printer of your choice and order. If you order from your online gallery, all you have to do is click the photo and start your order. It saves you time and the hassle of having to download the photos and upload them yourself.
To show you the difference in print quality, I did a little experiment. I ordered the same two photos from six different printers – Amazon, Shutterfly, Target, Walmart, Walgreens, and Pass Gallery (where you order prints from me). All the orders were placed on the same date, so I also tested how long it would take for the photos to arrive from each printer. The only problem with my little experiment is that my scanner added a slight blue tint to all the photos, so it is difficult to do a true comparison with the digital file. The blue tint is especially noticeable on the wedding photo. In each of my examples below, I have the digital file on the left and the scanned print on the right.
Print cost: $0.12 each
Shipping cost: Free with Amazon Prime
Estimated delivery: 10/8 – 10/11
Amazon’s prints were the most disappointing. Contrast and shadows were added during the printing process.
Print cost: $1.50
Shipping cost: $4.99
Estimated delivery 10/18
Pass Gallery is where you order professional prints through your online gallery. The prints are almost an exact match to the digital file.
Print cost: $0.18 each
Shipping cost: $1.99
Estimated delivery 10/9 – 10/12
Shutterfly was surprisingly not terrible. I have ordered from them in the past and prints have definitely improved.
Print cost: $0.39
Shipping cost: $3.59
Estimated delivery 9-12 business days
Target was actually the second most accurate behind Pass Gallery. Unfortunately, they took the longest to arrive and I paid more for the prints and shipping than with the other retail labs.
Print cost: $0.34
Shipping cost: $1.99
Estimated delivery 10/14
Walgreens added an orange tint and cropped the photos!
Print cost: $0.09
Shipping cost: $4.00
Estimated delivery 10/15
Walmart also added an orange tint, cropped the photos, and added more contrast.
Can you pick out which print belongs to which lab?
Based on the results from my experiment, I think it’s safe for the iPhone photos to be printed from any retail printer. However, I would always print your wedding and session photos from your photographer’s professional lab for the best quality.
Tell me your thoughts in the comments!