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Where to print professional photos?

Brittany Mccoy , Jun 15, 2010; 01:03 p.m.

Hello! I am a aspiring photographer and I have started picking up customers! My question is where is a good place to have your pictures printed from after you shoot & edit. I haven't got involved in processing negatives etc. I am not sure of high quality yet price friendly printing vendors. I used snapfish and shutterfly and was really disappointed with the quality they printed out. Using a d90 & d5000 the faces were very pixelated and you couldnt indentify people. Any ideas on good places to print? I am interested in wallets, 4x6, 5x7, 8x10, 11x14 and also canvas prints if available.
Thanks in advance for all your help!


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Steve Henry , Jun 15, 2010; 01:29 p.m.

From this and your other post it looks like you need more help at the beginning of the process. First you should shoot in RAW or the largest JPEG your camera will handle. Then check with the printing service to find out what size and file format the image should be for the size print you want. You should learn to resize them yourself. For starters if you're near one, send them to Costco - they do a nice job for an attractive price with a quick turnaround; you can pick them up or have the prints mailed. If you send folks good files you'll get good prints back.

Steve Henry , Jun 15, 2010; 01:30 p.m.

inadvertent duplicate.

Brittany Mccoy , Jun 15, 2010; 01:34 p.m.

Thanks Steve. Well the reason I ask id because the photographer I had at my wedding used a d90. She upload the pics to a online gallery for me and sent me a CD copy. When I tried to send them out to be printed from snapfish they came back looking horrible however the images on the files she sent me looks nothing like that one the computer. Forgive me for my lack of know how regarding this subject... I am trying to become a aspiring photographer and I want to be able to offer quality pictures but am not sure how. I am good with taking the pictures and editing but printing I'm not really sure where to start.

Luc Welch , Jun 15, 2010; 02:54 p.m.

Haley, you say you are an aspiring photographer and want to offer good quality pictures. Good quality pics starts with the photographer and his/her skills. Once your skills have improved, then consider your equipment. You said you have a D90 and D5000. Both are excellent cameras quite capable of producing the quality pictures that you want. I use a D5000 myself.

If your pictures are not up to quality, then backtrack and see what the problem is. Are you shooting at your highest quality settings? If so, then backtrack again, determine what you're doing wrong as a photographer. Learn from it and improve your skills.

THEN, at the end, worry about a high quality "professional" print lab. To be honest, at this stage I would suggest just taking your pics down to the local WalMart or Target and have them printed there. It'll save you money as you learn your skills, and there's nothing wrong with the quality. If you can get your pics to look great there, then you can start to think about a "pro-lab" and services to offer to people on a professional level.

But it all starts with you. No offense here, but if you put crap in, you're going to get crap out. There's no "magic button" that a pro-lab will press to make your pictures look amazing. You've got to get there on your own first.

Brittany Mccoy , Jun 15, 2010; 02:57 p.m.

I think you might of confused what I said... I didnt take the pic that were bad quality. The photographer I had at my wedding did with her d90 and a friend of mine took a picture with her d5000. Bothe pics from two different ppl and camera were printed horrible through Snapfish which made me believe it was them. Hence why I'm worried about where to print pics from it snapfish will print them all messed up. I completely understand about garbage in garbage out. I personallyhave a d5000 as well but havent had the time to print and see how they turn out...only have online versions.

Luc Welch , Jun 15, 2010; 02:58 p.m.

Also, you need to learn about proper resolution for printing images if you don't already. What size were the pictures that were given to you? If they are low-res images they will not print well. If they are large files, high-res, then they should have printed fine, but the heavy pixelation you mentioned sounds like they had small files to work with. Did you convert them to a smaller size before uploading them to print?

For online printing you could try MPIX, a lot of photographers use them. I've used Pro Pic Express before. Or like I said, just try WalMart or Target

Brittany Mccoy , Jun 15, 2010; 03:03 p.m.

To be honest not sure now... I knwo it was a few months ago and I was pretty upset because I couldnt figure it out. I would of thought the pictures the photographer sent to me would of been ok to send right to the printer. Which leads me to ask the question...on my D5000 is the best mode to shoot in RAW? If so and I shoot a pic in RAW will it be able to send striaght to the printer?

Again apologies for my lack of know how lol.... just trying to learn.

Luc Welch , Jun 15, 2010; 03:12 p.m.

To answer your question, yes and no. Shooting in raw format is generally considered the best option for the highest quality. However, you cannot print a raw file. That is why it's called raw, it's "unprocessed" because it needs to be opened in a program like Photoshop that can convert your raw file into a printable file, like a JPEG. The advantage is you can make numerous edits to the raw file without losing quality. After everything is done, save to a JPEG file as your final step. That will be your printable file.

Everytime you open and re-save a JPEG file, you will lose some quality. So you don't want to re-edit a JPEG file. With that said, I've only shot using JPEG so far and I have no problems with quality, but my camera is set on the highest quality JPEG setting. I plan to start using raw soon, but if you do that make sure you have a program that will open your raw files first.

Homer Arment , Jun 15, 2010; 03:16 p.m.

My guess is that your problem with the prints from SmugMug and SnapFish stems from the quality of the images your photographer put on the disk she gave you. I'll bet those are highly compressed JPG images and are only about 150K in size. They are barely adequate for looking at on your monitor but I doubt there is any custom lab that can provide acceptable images from them. I've used both SmugMug and SnapFish and I always thought I got very good prints for the price they charge.


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