How to choose a professional printer and why I love mine!
Having your photograph printed, isn't as easy as we expect it to be.
There are so many professional printing labs out there and hence I will try and give you a few hints, on how to find a printer, that will make your prints look as good as possible. I am sure there are quite a few of you, who have had photos printed and they looked nothing like they did on your screen at home.
Hint 1 - Make sure your computer screen is calibrated, so there is a higher chance that your prints match your display. Here is a link to quite a good review on the options you have for calibrating your screen. I won't bore you with the details. Calibrate your monitor
Hint 2 - When you have done your research on the most reputable printers in your area and are ready to first engage a printer, you must put your files on a USB stick and visit them in person. Using a cheap shopping centre printing service, where you just hand over the USB stick or uploading your files to an online service, can give you very disappointing results.
If you want your printer to produce the correct colour, exposure and detail you need to go to the printer. Do have a chat to him/her and look at your shot on their screen. If there are discrepancies, do accept though, that it is quite possible that there is a problem at your end if you are engaging a reputable printer.
Hint 3 - Saving money by trying to source the cheapest possible printing service is also not a wise idea.
Think of your prints as a Gucci handbag or for the male readers a Porsche! Whether you want your print for your personal use or one you want to sell/gift to someone else, doesn't really matter. Everyone can recognise a high quality item. It leaves a lasting impression. The first canvas and metal prints I received from a quite well known on line printer in Malaysia, were truly hideous compared to what I received locally. I have kept that canvas all this time, just to remind me to never compromise on quality.
Hint 4 - Develop a relationship with your printer
The first time I contacted one of my lovely printers 3 years ago, I was very surprised to hear him request a short consultation with me. It all sounded a bit over the top, but boy am I glad, that I did agree to swing by in person. My images looked quite different on his screen and I would not have been happy with the result, had he just gone ahead with the print, as I had asked him to. He also showed me all sorts of different papers, that could suit my shots and being a very proud printer, he was happy to answer all of my questions in detail.
It is so important that you are happy with your printer on a professional and also personal level. I now have 4 printers which I use all the time for my different products. I enjoy visiting them regularly. I could just have everything couriered to me, but I really love our chats and the connection we have now.
I have learned so much from them and they have freely given me suggestions and advice, which has helped me grow. Their positive input has also allowed some of my creative ideas to become reality.
Over the years, all of them have given me the occasional faulty prints and sometimes there were delays in getting jobs ready. Yet I always knew that these were genuine mistakes, made by genuine and very caring people, who only want the best for me and my business. Trust is so precious.
Funnily enough the printer I use for my metal prints, could quite easily also do my canvas and paper prints. I am sure they would match or even give me a lower price, if I asked them too. Yet I feel so loyal and grateful to my original printers of those products, that I couldn't take that (potentially time saving and profitable) step.
It is all about connection and even if you are just printing 2 or 3 pieces you do need to find a printer that you feel comfortable with.
Hint 5 - Edit your images to suit the material you are going to use. You will need to seek advice from your printer for each individual image. I have one image that I print on metal and photographic paper. I have edited it very differently for the different materials. Originally I sent the version I already had for the paper prints to be printed on metal. I was feeling confident that it would be just fine and would look fab. Well it didn't. Lesson learned - ask for even more advice from your printer, then change things as needed and print again. That's how you learn and improve.
Hint 6 - Please discuss copyright with your chosen printer right from the start. You may be a world famous photographer one day ( hey you never know, so don't just say "yeah right..." ) and you want to make sure, that your printer fully respects and upholds his professional responsibility. Too many people have been burned. Don't be one of them. This is another reason why I like knowing my printers well and feeling connected to them.
So I hope you will go out and find your perfect printer match. Then bring your images to life, free them from the computer screen, print them BIG and let them add happiness to your or someone else's home! I believe photographs are meant to be printed !!!
If you liked my hints and /or found them helpful please spare a few seconds of your time and comment below. THANK YOU xx
Such great advice as always. You have such a 'human' approach to everything you do which I love. So often, particularly with a field such a photography, those that are 'in-the-know' are apt to bamboozle novices with the technical stuff. You show how the newbie can learn from the experts by creating genuine connections. Thanks Sandra :)
MARIA van Dort(non-registered)
Great article Sandra. Finding a good printer is on my list and I found all your tips very helpful.
Really useful advice. Thank you.
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