I can never say enough about how important it is to use a reputable printer when developing your images. Most one-hour photo labs and the ever-popular mail order labs deal with amateur snapshots that have not been edited with programs such as Photoshop or Lightroom. Their computers and printers automatically have a default setting that edits the snapshots, and for the most part it improves most images taken straight from a camera. Unfortunately that same automatic default setting can wreak havoc on an image that has already been edited with a professional editing program. They often become over sharpened, oversaturated, and have odd coloring. I have tried Publix, CVS, Walgreens, Target, and Costco for fast images. Out of those, the only one I consistently go back to is Costco, and I can USUALLY get my prints to match my computer screen as long as I turn off the “auto correct” setting when I order. It is on the last screen when you click on printer settings.
My neighbor, Kerri, had me take her family holiday portraits for her this year. When she ordered the images from CVS her family looked like orange aliens, but the same images printed out perfectly from Costco with the auto correct off, (one of her pictures is the family below.) Kerri’s CVS experience is just one example of poor printing I have seen over the last month. I personally was even unhappy with my holiday cards from Costco, because when I ordered the cards, I could not change the computer generated “auto correct” option. I studied almost every holiday photo card that came to my house and my neighbors. Some were home-taken snapshots while others had professionally taken images. The printing was poor on most of them. A few had awesome printing. Tiny Prints, Snap Fish, and Smug Mug were hands down my favorite three printers for holiday cards.
Smug Mug is the company that hosts many other professional photographers’ websites, as well as mine. My friend Rosie Hernandez, one of the BEST photographers I know or know of, only orders from them. The good news is that images taken by Katherine Shamoun Photography can now be purchased directly from Smug Mug’s professional lab Bay Photo at very reasonable rates. Here is a little more about them:
Bay Photo, a professional lab located in Santa Cruz, California, has been catering to top pros since 1976. At Smug Mug, Bay Photo is available exclusively for Professional subscribers for prints and canvas.
A true pro lab, Bay Photo offers pricing that includes hand color correction of each print. Their experts will fuss over each order, ensuring superb color and consistency from print to print. All prints are carefully flat-packed — damage during shipment is almost unheard of. Bay Photo carries more sizes and papers, including panoramic sizes and Giclée watercolor prints. Smug Mug will continue to add products geared specifically towards Professional photographers.
I just ordered 5x7 New Year’s Cards. It was fast, easy, and you can even use PayPal. I LOVED the printing, and received them in four days! I also ordered several large prints and a canvas. The printing of every piece was fabulous. Below are the proofs of the cards.
I know I send customers a free disk of their images, so this is truthfully nothing to do with money. Getting poor prints at a cheap rate from, a cheap printer just isn’t worth it. Paying a tad more is worth it for getting consistently beautiful prints from a pro lab. ;)