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Printing Tips

Tips for Printing Your Photos

When you receive the electronic files that represent your photographs, I strongly recommend that you make a 4" x 6" print for every file that I provide. Digital files are stored using technologies that sometimes fail. Therefore, the best insurance for your most important photographs is to make a physical print of each photograph and store those photographs somewhere safe—even if that safe location is in a shoe box on the top shelf of your closet.

Tips for Printing Your Photographs

When printing your photographs, choosing the best printing solution can sometimes be daunting. In fact, it would take a novel to share the many things you might want to consider when making photographic prints. However, since you most likely don't have the time or interest to learn about such things, I'll instead offer some basic advice.

Labs

When you print your photographs, you'll first need to choose where you want to have your photos printed. Photographic labs are offered at retailers like Wal-mart or Walgreens, via online photo processing services like Snapfish or Shutterfly, at local big box stores like Sam's Club and Costco. And of course there are professional labs that only cater to professional photographers. Since you won't have access to a professional lab, I typically recommend Costco as a good choice; they typically offer a solid balance of convenience, value, and quality in reference to what they can provide a typical consumer. Although the quality of Costco prints won't be as good as the photographs you'll receive from a professional photographer's lab, the quality of Costco prints is typically good enough for most general applications. If you don't have a Costco membership or if you'd prefer to use an online retailer, I typically recommend Mpix.

Finishes

When order prints, you'll be asked to select a photo finish. The three most common finishes are matte, glossy, and luster (sometimes referred to as pearl). Glossy is typically the finishing method for most public labs. Glossy photos are shiny and they typically make the color and contrast "pop" in an image. On a glossy print, imperfections (like fingerprints) are highly noticeable and glare can be an issue under many light sources. Matte is a dull looking finish that is often used for fine art prints. In most cases, matte prints are best viewed under special bright lighting. The greatest advantage to matte prints is that light doesn't typically reflect off a matte print and thus you won't see much if any glare on a matte print.

The third common choice is luster. Luster is my own personal favorite for almost all of my own photographs. Luster is not as shiny as glossy but it's not as dull as matte. It looks great under most light sources and it doesn't easily show fingerprints.

Bigger Is Better

For my style of photography, subjects are sometimes presented in a relatively small area of the photograph. You'll see lots of photos like this in my portfolio. First of all, my intent and hope when capturing those kinds of photographs is that you'll one print them at larger sizes where your features and expressions are more recognizable than they might be when viewed on smaller monitors or when printed at smaller sizes like 4" x 6" I typically recommend that you make 8" x 12" or larger prints for those kinds of photographs to realize the best from them. Alternative, if the background or framing that I used isn't as important to you as your faces or details in the image, since I capture images that feature large file sizes, you can often crop the images quite a bit, in some cases removing up to 50% of the image, and still have enough information in the file to make a sharp 8" x 10" print. Bigger is typically better so print those photographs as large as you dare!

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