One of the first questions my couples always ask me is if they are allowed to buy photo prints themselves if they book me as their photographer. I get it – why pay twice the cost for a 4×6 photo print when they could just go to Walgreens or Walmart? Yes, I do give my couples print releases along with their photos, but I cringe a little inside when I hear that. Here’s why:
Most local printers & online places won’t produce the correct colors. The results can be anywhere from desaturated or just “off” to straight-up green or orange! You can find numerous videos & blogs comparing the horrible photo print accuracy of Walmart, Walgreens, Shutterfly, and other common printer-to-consumer stores so you can see the difference.
Additionally, photographers calibrate their computer monitors to match the ink colors of their preferred lab, so they’re already seeing what the print will look like during the editing process. When you don’t order images through your photographer, it’s very likely that you’ll never truly see the image the way they were shot & edited. (Because remember, your phone or computer screen also has different colors & white balance…until you print it from your photographer, you may never see the photo in its true form!)
If you held paper from Walmart in one hand, and paper from an archival print lab in the other, you will instantly understand the difference. They feel different because the paper is made differently. These photo prints are made to outlast you! Not only are they acid-free so they won’t erode over time, but the finish and ink also slows sunlight from fading the colors and repels mold and mildew. Obviously, you need to store them correctly to stop all signs of age, but even in poor conditions 100 years from now your professional print will still remind you of how your wedding day looked & felt. Your Walmart print however will be disintegrated to dust.
Did know that you can order different types of paper, with different types of finishes? Or have them cut to custom sizes, matted in all kinds of colors, or even applied under acrylic or on top of wood or metal?
Working with your photographer ensures that each photo print can be printed on a material that best suits it. Many options like pebble finish or deep matte paper are totally suited to your taste, but sometimes you need to use material based on the photo. For instance, darker photos with lots of shadows typically shouldn’t be printed on a deep matte finish, because the end result will be dark and muddy, with a loss of detail in the shadows. Choosing a more textured paper with a lustr finish will retain the detail in the shadows and make the colors pop, and overall make the image brighter & truer to the way that it was shot. It’s way better to let your Photographer weigh in on this decision, or else you might receive prints that don’t look right.
Speaking of that, what happens if something goes awry? Professional photographers want you to have a great experience and a great product. And we take pride in the way our images look! So if we need to reprint, we will do it for you and it won’t cost you! But if you order from somewhere else and you get a batch of green 8x10s… there’s nothing we can do to help, and you’ve lost that money + the cost of a reprint.
Finally, ordering photo prints from your photographer means that you are continuing the luxury experience you booked. Why do more yourself when you can have the professional handle it for you? And why would you put all that money and trust in someone, only to risk the product, the photos? If you don’t get a quality print at the end of our service, it kinda feels like we didn’t do the job we were hired to do.
I still give all of my couples a print release, because I don’t want to keep family and friends from also being able to order prints if they want that. But hopefully, after considering some of these things, you will at least order your most important prints and wall pieces from your photographer so that you get the very best out of your photos!