What do I do with my photos? Part 2 – Printing

Last week, in Part 1 of this series, we discussed some storage and sharing options on what to do with your digital photos.  This week, we want to focus on something we consider equally important and even more rewarding: printing your photos!

By now, you may know that we are quite fond of adventures, and there’s nothing more classic than the All-American Road Trip.  On one such trip, we found ourselves at Walden Pond in Massachusetts looking into the water and contemplating our lives, when two women walked behind us on the trail that follows the upper rim of the lake.  We overheard one woman lament to the other, “I miss dropping off a roll of film and receiving an envelope full of pictures that I can flip through with my family.” She went on to say that while she liked the convenience of taking photos with her phone, she never seemed to get around to printing them.

Although the days of dropping off film for processing followed by the excitement of seeing your shots for the first time are all but gone for most people, the experience of printing and enjoying physical photographs doesn’t have to be.  Photographs, whether taken personally or professionally, are made to be printed and enjoyed for years to come!

And for those that are worried about future proofing their images, we’d like to quickly mention that well-preserved, archival-grade prints on acid free paper are guaranteed last well over 100 years, and can be scanned or re-photographed for alternative means of preservation using high resolution technology to fit whatever format is available at the time.

So what options are available for printing?

As professional photographers, we have access to the very best print labs to produce top quality photographic prints, albums, and specialty prints on materials like canvas and metal.  When you book your wedding or portrait session with us, we’ll carefully guide you through the options to help you select the best way to display your images in your home. We want you to love you images in every form!

But what about consumer options?

First, let’s discuss some of the many print types available to consumers.  When reviewing these options, it’s important to think about not only what the photos will be used for, but also your personal style.

Photographic prints are often the most familiar and popular option. In this process, images are transferred via machine to a photo paper in an inkless process similar to a darkroom.  Different papers are often available and will give different looks to the photo, like high gloss (what you probably remember from the one-hour photo lab), matte (which is great for deep, rich colors without any shine), and lustre (a mix between the two, and a fantastic choice).  Also available are giclée prints, using an inkjet printer with extremely high color accuracy and a palette of 12 inks to produce prints of exceptionally high quality.  This is always a great option because it’s both economical and can be used in scrapbook albums, frames, and any number of funky DIY crafts you find on Pinterest.

Prints can also be professionally mounted to a backer, the most common option being foam core; however, it’s important to be make sure the backer is acid free (like on our Sintra mounted prints) to prevent discoloration and deterioration of the print in the long term, especially with exposure to UV light.  These are a very versatile option that can be hung on their own as a more contemporary piece, framed for a more traditional look, or put on an easel for a bit of artistic flair. This is one of our top recommendations to clients!

Canvas prints are another one of our favorite ways to display photos.  A large printer is used to print directly onto canvas, which can be stretched over various thicknesses of frames to produce a gallery wrap that will literally stand out.  We often recommend these as a more traditional option with a higher-end look.

On Easels: Mounted Canvas Print (Left); Sinta Backed Print (Right)

Other substrates, such as acrylic, metal, and glass, have become popular in recent years.  We often recommend these options for people who want a very modern or edgy look, or are utilizing the print in a certain kind of installation or display.  Typically, we find keeping it simple is best for most home display.

Let’s also not overlook one of our favorite ways to print photos: albums!  Photo albums are amazing because not only are they a fantastic way to have a collection of images that tells a story about your life, but it can also be a statement piece; something to leave on the coffee table or displayed prominently on an easel on the shelf and enjoy regularly with friends and family.

There are two main types of albums, slip-in and flush mount.  Slip-in albums allow you to print photos and easily insert them into the spaces available in the album, like the kind you can find at your local craft store.  In contrast, flush mount albums are fully designed prior to printing and the images are processed or printed directly onto the pages themselves.  Slip-in albums are a fantastic choice for people who want the simplicity and ease of use or who want to build an album slowly (for example, an album of a child’s school years).  Flush mount albums allow for much greater flexibility in design and are incredible at curating a powerful story; these are the types of albums we custom design for our clients.

Now onto the second question: where can I get my photos printed?

Of course, there are the aforementioned one-hour photo which are helpful in a pinch, but typically details like the sharpness and color of the prints tends to be lackluster.  Often, these printing machines undergo heavy use and aren’t calibrated as frequently as necessary to assure top quality.  Unless you live close to a dedicated professional printing lab (typically located in camera stores), we highly recommend turning to an online printing service.

A great example of one of our top recommendations is Mpix.  Mpix is the consumer arm of the Miller’s Lab professional print lab, and offer a wide selection of print sizes and printing materials utilizing the same machines as they use for professional photographers.  While convenience stores may offer cheaper prices, the cost is becomes negligible when you think about how long the print will last and the quality assurance you’ll get from a professional lab.

The same principle holds true for albums.  For top quality albums that will last for years, we recommend both Mpix and Artifact Uprising, both of whom offer tools to customize the spreads for your album as well as incredible satisfaction guarantees.

Lastly, for a fun way to get instant prints, check out instant printers.  The Fujifilm Instax Printer line is our favorite for three reasons: ease of editing (you can tweak photos on your phone and then print them); speed of development (less than 10 seconds to eject, and about 30 seconds to fully develop); and of course, the nostalgia factor of watching instant film develop right in your hands!  Fujifilm now offers two printers, one that utilizes mini rectangular instant film (seen in the example below), and one that utilizes square instant film more akin to the old Polaroid prints.  This is a fantastic way to quickly get photos off your phone (quickly!), share them at parties, or even decorate your wall.

The most important thing of all is that you find a way to enjoy your cherished photos!

Now over to you: What are your favorite ways to display and utilize your printed photos? We’d love to see some examples!

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