A client recently asked me an interesting question. The question was direct and to the point.
“Why should I buy prints from you, and not just get them printed myself?”
A completely valid question. Everyone owns a digital camera these days, and as a result, print labs are everywhere. They all use similar printers, and many of the home printers are more than capable of printing photos for you to use. So it begs the valid question, why not get photos printed yourself?
The biggest reason to have a photographer print your photos for you is quality control. I, and most other professional photographers have a screen calibrator. What this does, is make sure all the colors on your monitor(s) are exact and accurate with printer color calibrations. So this means, that a photo, should look exactly like it does, on the photographers monitor. This means, no surprise color shifts, and everything looks exactly as it should.
Another reason is color profiles. Do you know the difference between AdobeRGB and sRGB? Well, one is for printing, and one is for web. Often, photos are converted to sRGB so that the color is accurate when being viewed online. But, AdobeRGB has about 1/5th more colors available than sRGB, colors that many computer monitors cannot even display. This conversion process is a confusing one, and when done incorrectly, your photos can end up looking dull in color.
One of the most important reasons to have the photographer print the photos is satisfaction. Myself, and many other photographers I know have a Satisfaction Guarantee policy with our prints. If you’re not happy with how they look, we’re able to reorder the prints with no cost to you. Your local print shops often will not honor this without a legitimate reason other than you simple do not like them. Professional photographers are able to do this, because we use the best print labs in the world, and know that our client is going to be 100% happy with the photos we present them with.
If you’ve ordered prints from a local lab, such as a Walgreens or Walmart, you know how they arrive. Often, they’re simply put into a contact paper envelope and taped shut. If you want a CD, that will be extra. Lustre coating (A protective coating put onto prints to insure longevity) then you need to special order them. The overall presentation is bland, and gives you a general sense of discomfort. My images all come in boutique packaging, which makes for a beautiful box for storage, and insures your prints will not get bent, or ruined.
Whats to happen if you lose the digital copies of your photos? Most print labs will not be able to take a photo, and make copies without a digital file. The beauty of using a photographer to order prints is that they’re able to reorder prints for you at any time whatsoever, as they have backups of all the photos taken. This makes ordering and reordering a breeze, as you don’t need to go and try to work a machine to upload these photos to be printed. That’s all done for you.
Did you know its illegal to print photos that you do not own the copyright to? If you’ve gone to a store lately, you may have ran into this problem. Despite having the digital copy of thei mage, the copyright is still maintained by the photographer, and because of copyright law, you’re committing a crime by printing a photo that a photographer has taken, without his written consent. Often, you’ll be asked to show some sort of print release in order to be able to receive your prints from a print lab.