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Photo Printing is done for various reasons (if done at all) depending on who is taking the photos, why the photos have been taken and what the photos are being used for.
For many who don’t consider themselves photographers, chances are you won’t be printing them full stop, as computer folders and social network sites gradually take over how we store and share the average photo album snap.
For those that do carry the title of “photographer” there are various reasons. You might be studying photography and have a presentation or exhibition approaching to grade your work. You may be a professional photographer who is printing a photo for corporate use. Or you may have just took a photo you liked so much you want it professionally printed to hang from the wall like a fisherman would do his best catch.
Photo Licensed under Creative Commons – Charlietphoto
Whatever category you put yourself in let me tell you now; everyone should print their photos! I’m not saying this as a photographer, an artist, a businessman or any other reason you could associate with above, but as a person with memories! Have you ever had a hard drive crash and all your files erased? Or somehow had a social networking account deleted by admin for whatever reason? If so I’m sure you’re more than aware to what I’m talking about.
Printing your photos is another source of back up and you can never have enough copies of something valuable, whether it’s a prized piece of planned out photography or a slightly blurred yet memorable family snap. Yes, physical copies are not immune to damage and they can still get lost or destroyed, but for the most part it’s a fairly solid backup – plus you can touch it – and that’s one sense of connection a digital photo can not give.
So when it comes to printing photographs I have 3 must-do items on my checklist. All three are easy for anyone to carry out and involve no more effort than double checking your camera setting or having a little bit of intuition.
While it might be trivial these days as camera technologies improve, my first tip would start right at the beginning, with taking the photo itself and more specifically the camera quality settings. Not long ago I came across some old photos from one of the first camera phones I had and the resolution was around 300px wide at its highest setting, and even then the megapixels were so low it looked awful!
Just less than ten years later and everything digital has got smaller in size, but larger than imaginable in memory. An 8GB or 16GB memory card will store hundreds of photos over 2000px in size and won’t set you back too much either. By doing this you’ll be sure that if one of your holiday snaps turns out so good you decide to have it blown up on a canvas, it’ll be the right resolution and look fantastic when printed.
Cropping, dimensions and formats are also a huge factor to consider when printing photographs. Many printing services come with set dimensions, sizes and shapes, especially when getting into more niche printing options like mouse mats, badges, T-shirts and all the various services printing establishments offer. With this in consideration, never send your image(s) off for printing based on the assumption the printer will know what you want.
If you do happen to do this the better printing companies who offer good customer service will hopefully contact you to explain the situation, discuss a way around the issue or make you resubmit the correct format/size, which is extra hassle for bother parties.
Worse still, the ones who don’t care will just do the job and send you back a poor product that is pixelated or cropped badly (headless family members anyone!?). Chances are if they care so little for their final product, they probably care less to refund you or do the job again for free too.
Most quality printing places will outlay the guidelines of what they need from you either on site or on enquiry, including file format, resolution and even photo editing templates to check dimensions. Always read these instructions and adhere to them as close as possible for the best results. If using a printing business which doesn’t offer such guidelines make sure you ask or double check with them yourself, and if they still don’t offer much information it may be worth taking your custom elsewhere.
And my final piece of advice is to look for the best deals! Printing a photo is about quality, but it’s a competitive business too. If you have a place in mind that you already know does a good job it’s still worth shopping around and bartering for a better deal. Always check for bulk deals too, sometimes it’s better to hold out for your next batch of snaps and get ‘X number of prints’ for ‘X amount of money’ to make a saving, rather than printing every time you take a have a new set of photographs. However, it’s important to note that the best deal for your wallet may not produce the best results so make sure you’re checking reviews from other shoppers!
Do you print your photos? If so what’s your standard print size? Do you hang them on your wall or store them in a book? Or maybe I’ve changed your mind about only using digital storage? Let me know in the comments below!
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