Why print at all?
Perhaps the first question to address is why would you want prints at all, when most of us tend to carry high quality displays around with us all the time and most images are viewed online. Why do some people like to have paintings on display in their home? Because they look beautiful, or they compliment the space, or tell some story that is important to them. All the same reasons apply to having photographic prints for display. The image conveys something of importance to us and so we want to make it a part of our living or working space.
Another, less appreciated, reasons is the security of the image. Having digital backs-ups is one thing, but drives can get lost or corrupted, and image formats change over time. And so if you want to be sure of having an image for now and posterity, there is still nothing more secure and long lived than a high quality archival print.
The price of a good print
Now, on the question of buying your prints. No doubt you’ve noticed that what a good professional photographer charges for prints is rather different than what you’d pay at Boots or any other regular high street printers. For anyone used to paying a few quid for a print, that may come as a shock.
So what are you getting with a print from your professional portrait or event photographer? You’d hope quality, attention to detail and consistency of course. But you’re also paying for the service of saving you time, by them carefully optimizing the image for print and knowing the best printers available for the job. Last but not least, you’re paying for use of the image itself, not only the printing and service costs. The photographer makes their living from selling images. And when you order a print you’re buying the image they’ve created for you (for personal use as a print).
At this point you might be thinking, especially if you’ve been happy with online or high street prints in the past, why not just buy digital images from the photographer (providing they will supply digital images) and go with a cheap(er) printing service? That’s absolutely an option. (Unless your photographer refuses to sell high resolution digital files – do check that before booking.) Just bare in mind some of the pitfalls of most consumer printing services:
Inconsistent colours, including colour shifts in prints, over sharpening, questionable auto image ‘enhancement’, lower quality photo papers, slightly fuzzy print quality, unwanted cropping, inflexibility with print sizes and more. And many of these issue also apply to printing from home on consumer inkjet printers.
You’ve already gone to the trouble and expense of having professional portraits or event photography done. So why make such a compromise at the last point?
Print type and display considerations
Let’s say you’ve decided on ordering your prints from your photographer. At this stage you need to consider where you’ll be displaying the images and what size prints you’d like. You can then select the type of print, a particular type of paper, canvas or metal and any framing or presentation album options you require. Details like the colour of the walls or how the print will be lit in the room can affect the best choice for print type, colour finishing and framing.
Consider, for example, that the displayed print will have a large window to its side. Here a gloss finish might not be ideal since it will have a stronger reflection of the window in it. A matte paper or canvas print could work better in that space. On the other hand, where lighting will be more indirect, then a gloss or metallic print can subtly enhance the vibrancy and definition of an image.
Speaking of my own service, if there’s any kind of print you’d like which isn’t listed, don’t be afraid to ask and I’ll do my best to make it possible. I’m also here to help you choose the best print type and display options for the space you’ll be showing your images in.