Why your print lab matters!

With most photographers (myself included) headed towards all digital packages, some clients may be left wondering why we even sell prints and products. Let me tell you why. Not only are your gorgeous images meant to be displayed in your home (read: not saved on your computer or only uploaded to Facebook), but they should be displayed in their full glory, how they were intended to look. There is such an incredible difference in the products that we can get from our professional labs compared to a consumer or drug store lab. The quality is different, the color is different, the sharpness is different.

I have seen *so* many of these blog posts floating around (see here, here, here… you get the idea!) and thought it was time I finally do one of my own. Keep in mind this is completely unscientific, I just used my not-so-great scanner, but I think you can still see the difference. I ordered two images from a few different labs: my professional lab, Shutterfly, Walmart and Walgreens. Once I received them back, I scanned each one in, added the lab name (note: there is NO editing done to any of these) and posted them here.

One of the biggest differences here is the COLOR of each image. Shutterfly is overexposed with dull colors, Walgreens has an extremely green tint, Walmart looks yellow.

Pro Lab Comparison

In this image, we have more color issues, along with some obvious crop issues. My lab is the only one that didn’t crop Kimberly’s head off! I was not expecting that at all. Once again, Shutterfly shows some extremely dull and muted tones. Walgreens also looks a little dull to me, and Walmart has another yellow tint.

Pro Lab Comparison

The color differences are extremely noticeable in person, and still pretty clear here. My computer screen is color calibrated to my pro lab, so the image will print exactly how it is supposed to. Another note to add is that every consumer lab is different. My Walmart is going to produce much different prints than what your Walmart in another location might produce.

The main purpose of this post is just because I want you all to be educated before you make your decisions. I understand the convenience of these labs. They are great when you need some quick 4x6s printed for an album or school project. But, if you are going to be displaying larger prints in your home (and you SHOULD!), my recommendation is to contact me and go through my lab!

Hopefully this helps to give you a visual of why professionally printed products are so important! You’ve already invested time and money getting professional portraits done, be sure to follow through and get professional prints to match. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

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