There are a few questions that I get asked on a fairly regular basis - so I thought it might be helpful to do a series of posts answering those questions. This first 'chapter' is going to cover prints, and the differences between the various products being offered out there.
So something like this is the usual question: "What's the difference between what you offer and what I can go get for less at 'XYZ' pharmacy/store?" I'm sure there's a lot more people out there wondering this exact same thing but just haven't asked. I don't blame you, when I got started in photography and began printing, I asked the exact same question. I ordered prints of the same image from various places and at first glance, most of them were alright, I thought. Then I did a side-by-side comparison of the prints that I currently offer... and wow, what a difference - I couldn't believe what I had been missing. Anyway... here's a brief explanation :)
So - what's different about my prints, you ask? There's a few things. First - the image itself. One of the major differences is that my prints are actual photographic prints - not inkjet copies of the image. Whenever you go to a one-hour stop or kiosk, and most of the places online offering discount prints, you're getting a copy printed on inkjet paper. With my prints, your image is exposed on light-sensitive paper which is processed similar to film - so it is an actual photo - not a copied image. Not only do these prints have deeper, truer colors.... they also stand up to the test of time - and look beautiful much longer than an inkjet copy.
Another difference is color correction. I tweak the colors, contrast and sharpness exactly how I want it, how it will look best. When I print the image, I know it's going to come out exactly as it should. And if for some reason it doesn't, I send it back and will continue to do so until it's right. The problem with taking it to an outside lab is that each place will color correct differently, and will print differently depending on the type of paper and machine they use, as well as the technician who calibrated it. I printed a copy of an image at a drugstore a couple weeks ago.. and it came out so washed out, it was almost grey. I couldn't believe it. I understand that this isn't always what happens... but it's a prime example of how you don't really know what you're getting at these places - it's a guessing game. When friends and family see your images, I want them to see it at it's best - I want you to look as amazing as you do in the original image... and when it's printed on mediocre paper with mediocre ink, it isn't being displayed at it's best. It does both you and the image a great disservice.
Another difference is coating. All of my prints are UV coated to ensure that they don't fade over time, and also so that they are more protected from damage (like scratches, dirt, etc) than a print without protective coating. Most (if not all) of the quickie labs do not offer coating of any kind.
Then there's enlargements (8x10 and larger). Those are even trickier. Whenever I receive an order for a large print - I do some extra processing on the image according to exactly the size you want. I ensure it's not going to be awkwardly cropped. I ensure the resolution remains high so the image is not pixellated. Probably the biggest issue with printing enlargements that haven't been specially processed as such is that they can come out grainy and/or pixellated... which I think we can all agree, is not ideal - and not something you'd really want to pay for with your hard-earned money.
Having a custom photography session is an investment. Not only an investment of your money, but also your time. I want it to be worth your while. I want you to get high quality images that you love, with
the highest quality prints and wall displays possible. I don't want you to have a generic, everybody-has-this-exact-same-bland-studio-photo experience. You work hard
for your money, and with our culture, we're getting busier by the minute and free time is becoming scarce - so you deserve something special, something you know
you'll value and cherish for years. Cost is one thing, but what it's actually
worth in the end is so much more.
I hope this sheds some light on the subject, and I freely welcome further comments or questions! I also hope you all have a wonderful week and are enjoying your summer as much as I am!