We have some exciting news to share about how our business is growing and transforming! We are changing the way we get people their prints! And it is so exciting, a bit intimidating, and a good sized investment! But this is going to be a fun journey. I’ll try not to get into too many boring if you’re not a photographer details, but just give you an idea of the thought process behind how we deliver photos. As you may know, we are a boutique business and only take on a limited number of clients a year. We do this because we are passionate about love and want every single one of our couples to know that our hearts are in the right place and that we are there for them! Every aspect of our studio has a purpose behind what we do, both of us are very intentional people. We take the time to get to know each of our clients, their stories, their chemistry and we have an attention to detail and always want the best for our couples. Our goal is to provide an experience that you can’t just get anywhere else, that even boils down to the prints we sell.
We have a philosophy of making prints affordable to everyone
We have a philosiphy of making prints affordable to everyone. We will admit that it is not something that we make a ton of money off of. We truly just want to get these prints in people’s hands and on their walls. When was the last time everyone was dressed up nicely and had a photo taken of them? Most of the time it’s at someone’s wedding. But how often do people ever see these photos? Well we have solutions to this problem. At every wedding reception, we make our rounds to all of tables taking pictures of couples and families and we pass around an iPad collecting email addresses. This isn’t to spam you or to sell your address to some questionable company. We just merely do it to send guests a link to the online gallery and keep them updated on that wedding’s blog or gallery going live. It has been a wonderful solution to wedding guests missing out on photos.
It’s better than the alternative of forgetting about them in the digital abyss
We can get a bit passionate about the topic of printing your photos, because it is actually a tangible object that can be passed on for generations to come. So, today we are going to talk about the differences between all sorts of print labs, from the cheapest big box retailers to high end pro labs. Stay tuned till the end of the blog for an interesting twist. Now this isn’t a post to shame anyone because of where they print. Honestly we are just happy that people have access to get their prints quickly and cheaply, it’s better than the alternative of forgetting about them in the digital abyss. So here is the test result for what we have come up with. I promised we wouldn’t get into too many boring details but we we do have just a few. And hey, that’s why you hire professional photographers right?!? An eye for detail.
Some of the results are pretty easy to guess and some even surprised us
We have chosen 6 different labs and one set of photos printed off our own pro-grade printer, so 7 sets of photos in total, woah! We went through and picked out a total of 14 photos that ranged in lighting situations, skin tones, and details to cover all of our bases. We ended up with a bunch of prints sitting around the office and kind looked like crazy people trying to be detectives solving a mystery. lol. Our cat Hazel enjoyed all of the boxes and packing supplies to play in. I don’t even know why we buy her toys when a cardboard box will totally suffice. Here is who we chose for these test prints: Walmart 1-hour, Walgreens 1-hour, Mpix (online), Shutterfly (online), Richard Photo Lab (Pro Lab online, through our website), WHCC (Pro Lab Online) and our very own Canon Pixma Pro-100 (home). Every one has it’s pros and cons. Some of the results are pretty easy to guess and some even surprised us.
You might be wondering, how in the heck do you compare prints?
Where do you even begin and what did we look for? First off and most importantly we looked at color accuracy, then sheen (finishing), sharpness, paper feel, and delivery times.
- Budget Print Labs: Walmart and Walgreens easily won this topic, no surprise there. But at what cost? First off the noticeable high gloss from Walgreens reflects every light source around and has been overly sharpened or compressed. See the gif comparison further down in the blog to see what I’m talking about. It was by far the worst print you could possibly get, just avoid this print if you can. Walmart does ok, the semi gloss is not our fave and the colors aren’t quite right. Again the instant gratification is nice, but there are way better options if you just have some patience and want your photos look good and last year after year.
- The online consumer labs: There are two big players here. Shutterfly is practically has become kind of a household name for prints, simple photo books, invitations, etc. A “do all” for everything prints. But another big player out there is MPIX. For finishes Shutterfly had a basic lustre coating but MPIX has a special semi-gloss coating called “e-surface”. That coating is going to make your prints last way longer than you or I… easily. Techincal jargon aside it’s an extremely good print. We highly recommend them to anyone who asks us where they should print their personal photos. MPIX prints are what made us question our whole approach to this topic, they are that good! Probably because they are owned by Miller’s Lab, a very well respected pro-lab in the photography community which explains their quality.
- Pro Print Labs: WHCC and Richard Photo Lab are both contenders here and well respected in the industry. We have a long history using both labs and have been very satisfied with them and recommend them to other professionals. Both of these labs we can use in conjunction with our online galleries seamlessly. First off we ordered from WHCC and while their colors were very close to what we want, lustre coating was decent, we just didn’t like the feel of the paper. It just felt thin and floppy, not what we want as a boutique. Richard Photo Lab has been our default printer for several years now and we have been very pleased with their quality and service. They also take care of our developing our film and do a great job at that. The default prints we typically get through Richard Photo Lab are a special paper called “deep matte”. A unique print that has literally zero glare to it, it’s so beautiful but during this comparison we noticed that it it lost some contrast, which consequently has us reconsidering this paper because it doesn’t fit with our light and airy style. That being said, we still think it’s so pretty and know a lot of photographers they would fit better!
- Pro Grade Home Printing: Recently I had become very upset at how our cheap home office printer is always giving me issues. Like “why can I not print a black & white shipping label if it is out of yellow ink?!?” I finally broke down and purchased a professional grade photo printer after the last ordeal, that then wanted me to replace magenta directly after making the trip to the store for the previously mentioned yellow ink 🤦🏻♂️. We researched all sorts of printers and landed on a Canon Pixma Pro-100. A very highly rated printer that fellow photographers were saying out did a lot of pro labs. They weren’t kidding…it was better than all of the other prints and has thrown us a pleasant and unexpected curve ball for our thoughts on print fulfillment. As a test, I laid all of the photos out on a large piece of cardboard in a random order and had Priscilla choose her favorite based on the criteria listed above. Her favorite print, was off of our own printer!
Something that we had never pondered but it made sense once we said it out loud
As we sat there in astonishment the thought came across our minds, why don’t we just do our own print fulfillment? Something that we had never pondered but it made sense once we said it out loud. We are a boutique wedding photography studio, why don’t we treat our prints that way too? Our couples deserve prints that you can’t just get anywhere, something unique and intentional. Both of us prefer to do things manually and done right the first time, so it is quite fitting. As a boutique studio we take great pride in your investment of printing. That is why all of our normal sized prints purchased have been done in our home office with professional grade papers and printer. Yes you heard that correctly, for the remainder of this year and 2019, we will be handling the most common print sizes ourselves (4×6, 5×7, 8×10, and 11×14) . We have full quality control, and package them all ourselves with paper proudly made in the USA. For the time being, larger prints and canvas will be outsourced to Miller’s Lab (MPIX’s parent company) and we 100% trust their quality and customer service. Maybe in the future we will invest in a large format printer, but for now the majority of our prints will be proudly handcrafted here in our hometown of Jerome, Arizona.
Handcrafted here in our hometown of Jerome, Arizona
Krysten and Will are going to be the first #copperhillcouples that will be getting this new and exciting print service, and we can’t wait. In fact they have already gotten their hands on our very first 8×10 Fine Art print and will be getting an 11×14 soon too! Yay!
|Walgreens ||1 hour|
|Walgreens ||High gloss|
And for our fellow photographer friends we would love to hear your thoughts on this subject!
Have you considered moving from only provided digitals? What print labs have you used and what did you like about them? How have you shown the importance of prints to your couples? We can’t wait to hear what you have to say!