Yesterday I got a message from a client. She had just received her photos on a disc, but when she opened the file, it was a washed out version of the photo previews she had seen on Facebook. She was obviously concerned and apologized for any inconvenience…which she was not AT ALL! My goal as a photographer is not just to capture great shots for you, but to get you quality photos that you will love and RETAIN you as a customer that comes back for all their photo needs…every year!
Thankfully, there is an easy explanation for this. And thankfully, I had printed directly from her disc at random at a 1 hour photo to check color and the check the disc, from my last batch of photos, as I do every set of photos I hand to a client because I don’t always trust technology. I would try and call it quality control, but really I just wanted to make sure the files were there and showing on the selection screen the way I processed them! I knew nothing was wrong with the photos, or the disc, so I easily set her mind at ease. (Im about to contradict myself on the 1 hour photo thing!)
Here is the deal. I edit all my photos in Lightroom and Photoshop on a high-graphics computer. Windows viewers (in particular) do not always properly read the files colors and will show a washed out photo. It will NOT print that way! Its just your computers ability to preview the colors.
Now, having said that it will NOT print that way…it CAN print that way. I know that may make no sense, but let me explain. If you have ever gone to, say….SEARS (heaven forbid) for photos- it takes two weeks or more to get your photos back. Why don’t they print them in the store?! Well…because the photo printers in places like target, Walmart, Walgreens and even by online printers like snapfish.com, shutterfly.com are NOT REAL photo printers AND they compress the files when you upload them, loosing both color integrity and a lot of the processing I have done. Its like writing a paper for college and leaving the summary, but not including the details your professor asked you for. You can feel AND see the difference in the paper your photos come on and the quality difference is pretty astounding. The ink is different, the rate the ink absorbs, the time it takes to print, the printing “paper” is all completely NOT the real deal. Its not entirely the printers fault though. Lots of online “printers” download the file, as mentioned earlier without all of the data of the photo, shooting your photo in its proverbial phoot (see what I did there!) before it even went to the printer! There is a reason instant prints are so popular. People want what they want, when they want it. And thats fine, but not at the compromise of a completely crystal clear image that you are disappointed in! There is nothing worse than having a great photo that you are excited to share, rush off to the store and you get either a washed out version or your face looks digitized because of the above issues in printing! Its enough to make you loose your sanity!
So what do you do with your photos? You love them, but you don’t want to print out less than quality photos. If you have access to a camera shop like Ritz Camera or another local photo store- go there. Camera stores usually have the capability to give you the real deal prints. Don’t have access to a store like that? There are a few options on line to save the day. I have personally printed from www.mpix.com and had a good experience with the quality of the photos and integrity of how I formatted the photos still being part of the photo! They also have good options for Christmas photos collages for Christmas cards or whatever special photo needs you have outside of individual prints. Always make sure if you use an online printer that you UN-CHECK the option for “color correction” or you may end up unhappy with your results as it will override any color corrections I have done to your photos during processing.
Here is a great link with a diagram of some online printing options and how they rate. http://improvephotography.com/7756/test-results-best-online-print-lab/
I hope this post helps to clarify any questions you may have about printing your photos. If you EVER have any problems with your photos, your disc or just need some clarification on ANY of this, please DO NOT EVER hesitate to contact me!