“Why should I order photo prints from you when I get good prints from Walmart?”
This is a question I’ve been asked from time to time.
Studio Orange includes a disc of digital image files with all photography packages. Along with this comes the permission to use the prints for personal use, which includes printing. This allows clients to easily obtain prints from a wide variety of vendors, including inexpensive options such as Walmart and Walgreens.
Even so, Studio Orange also offers print products and encourages clients to consider that option.
One point I want to make is that many of the inexpensive options out there actually give you pretty decent prints. They generally use good photographic quality papers and high quality printers. For an average size print, framed and displayed on a wall, most people won’t notice a huge difference between a Walmart print and a higher-end photo print. However, it should be understood that the inexpensive options do create some limitations.
With film photography, the process of making a print required using chemicals to transfer the image from the negative onto photographic paper. This wasn’t so much a “printing” process. A better way to think of it was that it “embedded” the image onto the paper and it created a relatively durable, semi-waterproof result. For example, you can clean an old photo by very carefully using a slightly damp cloth.*
Inexpensive photo “labs” don’t follow this process. They actually print your image onto photo paper using an ink jet printer not entirely unlike the one you maybe have at home. Granted, the printers used at the labs are much higher quality, but the fact remains that the process is the same. If you’ve ever had a drop of water fall onto a printout you’ve made, then you’d know exactly what would happen if one of your Walmart prints got dirty and you tried to clean it.
So with that said, here are 4 advantages to ordering prints through your photographer, versus going a less expensive route:
Advantage #1: Real Photo Prints.
The photo lab that Studio Orange uses actually has a process to create a digital negative from digital image files and chemically develop this onto the photo paper. In other words, the prints are made nearly just as if they were from a film source. No ink jet printing involved. The result is a much more accurate and durable print.
Advantage #2: Experience.
Companies such as Walmart and Walgreens simply don’t have the need to hire photographers or imaging specialists for their photo departments.
Their employees merely need to be trained to operate the machines and handle the orders. If there is a problem with the way an image prints (the color is way off, for example) it’s not likely that these employees will know how to solve the problem.
This is why I very much value the relationship Studio Orange has with the print lab. They actually do have imaging specialists on staff and they review every file for potential problems. If they see issues, they can communicate this to make sure that every print looks as amazing as possible.
Advantage #3: Variety of Products.
Inexpensive labs sometimes offer additional products. They can fairly easily assemble your photos into a simple calendar, for example. However, they simply can’t offer very high-end photo products like canvas prints, multiple paper options, press printed albums, or even specialty or extremely large sizes.
Advantage #4: Any Photo Can Be Printed.
There are just some images that inexpensive labs won’t print. If a boudoir package is ordered, for example, many inexpensive labs will reject making any prints of risque photographs. In fairness to them, their reasoning makes sense: they can’t really control whether or not other customers will see the prints as they are being made.
So there you have it. While Studio Orange happily accommodates clients’ desires for inexpensive prints, there are some valid reason why more professional options should sometimes be considered.
* Note: Water can damage any photo. The point is that real photographic prints are much more durable and resistant to water damage that inkjet prints (even those claiming to use “waterproof” inks).