Getting Quality Prints From Your Digital Files

Most people who purchase portrait sessions from me desire a lasting memory of an important life event or time spent together with family and friends. While we live in a largely digital world, many people still would like to print their memories to frame as art in their homes, give as gifts, or to create a photo book. This is a topic that always comes up when collaborating with clients to build their photo shoots, so I feel it needs addressing.

After my clients have gone through all of their unedited proofs & selected those they wish to keep, I can adjust the files to any height and width desired if the clients already know they will need them in a certain size to avoid stretching or cropped off parts from the printer. For the most part, my clients spend time after they have their files released to them, going through them all and picking their favorites. I keep archives of all of the digital files so if, at any point in the future, a client would like a file from their session either in a certain size (11×14 for example) or with an effect such as black & white, I am able to email them the updated files they need. All files are released in a JPEG format because it is the most versatile.

Picking a Print Shop:

Nowadays, all photo labs use a standardized printer with basically the same color array. All of the printers use either dye sub or silver halide processing which means that the overall turnout of images is comparable. This means that you can get perfectly great prints from Costco or Target or any other mainstream store. It is important to make sure that the paper they use is genuine light-sensitive, chemically-processed photo paper. It should say ‘Fuji,’ ‘Agfa’ or ‘Kodak’ on the back of the paper. Make sure that you are not just getting a fancy inkjet printout- the better photo printers do not use ink jet technology. Ink jet images are prone to discoloration, fading and tend to absorb the ink differently in different areas of the print. One of the most important things is to select ‘NO AUTO-CORRECTION’ on the order. Any decent lab should have this option. If you do not select this option for printing, the artistic effects, filters desired or other edits requested may be lost. I spend a lot of time going through my images and assuring that the color balance, white balance, exposure etc. is right. I use a properly calibrated mac with a retina display so the colors and brightness are accurate. If you wish for your images to appear as they are on the screen, you do not want any ‘correction’ in the printing process!

If you are looking for gallery quality prints, or larger prints than 11×14, then I would highly recommend going to a professional printing lab, not a mainstream store. Be wary of some store’s photo labs which print on good photo paper up to a certain size but not for the larger sizes. Ask how large they can print on real paper before they switch to inkjet. My favorite online Print Shop that gives a variety of products and professional quality prints is Nations Photo Lab. You can email them files and have them delivered to your address.

Displaying Your Art:

Finally, I love working with people to help create displays for their photo walls & design books with your special images. Framing, matting, color, & placement of art are all important for the desired effect. For photo books, websites, modeling portfolios or gifts; page layouts matter. There are shops & designers who specialize in all of these areas. Most craft stores, such as Micheal’s or Hobby Lobby, offer a cheaper alternative to professional framing if you are crafty enough to do it yourself. My favorite shop for getting pro quality frames is Micheal’s. In addition to selling all the do-it-yourself supplies, some locations also offer professional custom framing: Micheal’s Professional Framing. After our photo session, an open dialogue remains & I am only an email or text away! I am happy to work with you to either find a professional framing shop to suit your needs, help find a good photo lab or help you design the project you envisioned with the photo art.


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