photography for the nostalgic 

The Journal

4 Things to Know when DIY Photo Printing

My favorite thing after photographing my clients are seeing their beautiful photographs printed. Proofs, large prints, luxury hand-made books; you name it, I get all heart-eyed over printed heirlooms. Most of my clients order several options with me after their portraits are delivered, which completely makes me heart so full. But here’s the thing, most of my clients choose to also have printing rights included in their collection, which means that at some point they’ll be printing on their own. I inevitably get an email asking “Where can I print? How large can I print? What images should I print?” and it’s understandable, because there are soo many options out there; this is my best advice:

  • First, if you want anything larger than a 11×14″ print, do it through your professional photographer. Their labs have specific requirements and we process our images to meet those requirements so they look true to their original color. You are usually safe printing up to 8×10″s on your own – so print to your heart’s content. Just know that going larger starts to get more risky.


  • If you really want to print larger than a 11×14″ on your own, know that we as professionals, can’t guarantee print quality from a third-party lab. Between compression uploads/downloads, printing labs having their own calibration specifications and even the type of paper and inks used, it’s pretty impossible for us to say “print here – you’ll get a print that will be the same quality as you would receive through me.”


  • I have a ton of clients that want to print off a ton of small 4×6″ or even smaller (think fun Polaroid style) images to include in thank you cards, but aren’t sure which one would work well. And I also get clients that ask if a certain image would be obnoxious in a 30×40″ print size. The answer: it all depends on the image! The smaller the people in the portrait, the larger you can typically order. The larger the people in the portrait, the more likely you want to keep to a nice 11×14″ or smaller. Of course, it all depends the portrait, the subject matter and the content of the image – but you can usually follow that advice as a general rule. The reason being is that if you have small print, the people will be even smaller. And if you have a large print, the subjects will be even larger (think about how it would look to have your eyeball the size of your head — on your wall)!


  • Lastly, Where should I print? I personally like to have my iPhone snap shots and other random photos printed through Artifact Uprising. They can sometimes be hit or miss, but I generally like their little books and fun prints. For photo cards (because Lord knows I love sending holiday cards!), I use Minted for their paper and address labeling options. But, buyer beware – remember that cards are press-printed, meaning the image is printed as dots of ink and our eyes ‘blend’ the dots together forming an image (pointillism). They aren’t printed on photographic paper and the ink isn’t actually blended, so your holiday card will never have that professional, photo-print look.

Many photographers are more than happy to do an ordering consultation with you and help guide you through the ordering process. I highly suggest taking advantage of it and having them help you with ordering those special heirlooms.


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