Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Where Should I Print My Photos?

Where do you print your photos?

I stumbled across this really good read at Zemya Photography and her illustrations/photos are very great to show the difference of each print lab. Please, do take the time to read this and consider printing from your photographer's lab!

You might be scratching your head thinking "Well, why does it matter? Does it matter?" The short answer? Yes! Printing service providers span the gamut on quality. This is why professional photographers are so picky about where the prints they deliver to you are done. They ask to handle the printin

However you shouldn't have to compromise on quality even for your own personal photos. The pictures of your last vacation, or child's first birthday party should actually display the detail that you captured. You should be picky about where you print your photos, discriminating not only against value, but also quality.

The question as to where I recommend people to print their photos has come up now a few times. So... I did what any normal, data junkie would do: I performed my own test. My mission was to test out several local, as well as, online photography printing services. My goal: find the best quality and value.

I discovered two main things: 1) a printing place won’t make a bad photo great, but boy, can they make a great photo look bad, and 2) you can get some exceptional prints in surprising places.

I checked out several places, comparing them not only against each other, but also against the original photograph I had created. I looked at a professional lab, a couple of popular online services, a local camera store, and a few general stores. I didn’t do an exhaustive print with every place in my locale because I: 1) don't have an unlimited budget (sad); 2) didn’t want to overwhelm myself. So I picked 7 victims: WHCC (the professional lab where I print your photos), MPIX and Shutterfly (representing online printing services), Ritz (in the Hillsdale Shopping Center, representing the local camera printing service), Costco (Foster City), Target (Foster City) and Walgreens (El Camino & Ralston in Belmont) for the general stores.

The results? Well… see for yourself:


Let me add a few disclaimers at this point:
1) I am not paid by any of the above establishments.

2) The images above are a photo of a photo. I tried to be as honest as possible and did NOT muck with color. So there is a bit of a muted/blurry feeling to the non-originals as a result. I will be very happy to bring these print samples for you to see in person if we are to meet. (Just please ask me to)

3) I did NOT calibrate my color space for any of the paper for any of these services. I wanted, like you would if you were to print with them, to get an idea of what an average print would look like.

4) The prices listed below indicates price per 5x7 photo after tax, shipping and handling fees. That's why there's a little * by it.

So what did I learn:

I learned that I will NOT be getting any prints done at my local Target or Walgreens. They only offered printing on glossy paper. Their colors were way off, and the printer killed any detail in the shadows and darker portions of the photograph. Worse still, they were the most expensive! Cost per photograph (5x7): $1.62* @ Target, $1.72* @ Walgreens. Time to receive order: a few hours, but that didn't make up for the poor consumer choices, bad quality, and high cost. Overall grade: F.

Let me justify that grade a little more. Here is a close-up of Target's print compared to the original. First off, the skin tones were bad, it looked like M was competing against George Hamilton for craziest tan. Do you want to look orange? Or purple? Or blue? I hope not!
Second, examine the lack of detail in the hair. Now consider what a photo you took camping at dusk might look like: black. Or a pretty sunset: bland.
Target detail print test by Zemya Photography
Original file by Zemya Photography

Walgreens performance was even worse.

I'm feeling a bit luke-warm on Ritz. While I think the overall quality of the image is pretty decent, they only gave me the option to print on glossy paper. I don't like glossy, and being able to choose paper type is important to me. Time to receive order: a few hours. Cost per photograph (5x7): $1.07*. Overall grade: C+ (on account of the limited paper options).
Update: I've been told that Ritz does offer matte paper. It's just a really hard to find option in their interface. Accordingly I'll raise their grade to a B.

I was a little surprised to see Shutterfly's end product, to be honest. I'd been a long time customer, and had been (in general) pleased with the results, and with their customer service. However, compared with others Shutterfly was blurrier than I expected, and the color balance just didn't do it for me. This, by the way, is Shutterfly's mail-out service. Not their "pick up in a store" option. Time to receive order: a few days. Cost per photograph (5x7): $1.44. Overall grade: C+

However, I was quite impressed with MPix. Minor loss of detail, good color. In some ways this is not surprising, because MPix is the consumer arm of Miller's Professional Imaging. Miller's is another very well known professional photography printing lab. Many pros use it. Clearly the quality (and from what I hear customer service) is reflected for the consumer option. All you need is to sign up for an account with them, which is free. Time to receive order: a few days. Cost per photograph (5x7): $1.59. Overall grade: A.
MPix detail print test by Zemya Photography

Then there's Costco. The level of detail is good (granted not as perfect as MPix and WHCC), but close, and certainly better than Shutterfly. Time to receive order: a few hours. Cost per photograph (5x7): $0.39*. That's right! Not only is this a good print, it was an excellent value as well. Overall grade: A.
Costco detail print test by Zemya Photography

Of course, WHCC is awesome. For your professional prints, I would recommend them hands down.Time to receive order: 1-2 days. Cost per photograph (5x7): $2.81. Yes, it's the most expensive option, but their performance in prints of various sizes is consistent. Overall grade: A.

WHCC detail print test by Zemya Photography

So what is my final recommendation? Go with Costco. Good quality; great value. If you don't have a Costco membership, but can afford to wait 2-3 days, choose MPix. You will not be disappointed. If you can't afford to wait for Mpix, go with Ritz.

If you're having your photos professionally taken, though, use your photographer's lab for prints, especially for anything 8x10 or larger. The quality is noticeable and the colors won't fade over time.

I hope this helps you out, the next time you're wondering where to have the contents of your digital camera printed.

Happy printing!

All Girl-Miss Mackenzie

Mackenzie was one of my teen volunteers to give me more teenagers for my portfolio. We trekked all through Downtown Wylie stopping against buildings, in front of store fronts and even asking random strangers to borrow their cowboy hats! It was a fun yet windy day and I am proud to show off these photos.

Some interesting facts about Miss Mackenzie are that she is double jointed in her thumbs and shoulders, she was never part of the "Myspace" era, she is homeschooled, and she is ALL girl!!!!

I wasn't really sure which ones to pose being as they are all my favorites so here are a collage of a few!

*Just a note....I am not liking how this blog is compressing my photos. Bleh*

Friday, September 2, 2011

11 Week old Speckles

Speckles is an 11 week old Border Collie/Blue Heeler/Catahoula mix. She is a beast! She is also similar to a 2 year old hyped up on pixie sticks (straw like things of pure sugar). We are so happy she is a part of our family and she just melts your heart. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

NICU Grad Photo Shoot-Daxton

Daxton (Dax) was born at 34 weeks and was only in the NICU for a short 16 days, although to the parents, I am sure that time crawled. He hasn't been home for very long before I received an email to do a photo session with this wonderful family.

I was welcomed into their home and shown around to get an idea for their lifestyle so we can start their session. The session was styled as a "lifestyle" photo shoot so as that the family was more comfortable doing what they do in their every day lives instead of worrying about posing and getting cheesy shots that may or may not turn out due to a fussing or hungry baby.

Many emotions come from a parent while their child is in the NICU. Dax's mother stated "....fear, anxiety, worry, love, pain, hope (at times) and hopeless (at other times)." were her emotions through all this but since posting some sneak peeks, she has stated how in love with the photos she is and how timeless they are and how she will cherish them. The photos definitely capture not just a mother's love for her baby but also the family connection as well as the strength in that child's eyes.

I hope to continue to watch Dax grow through many follow up photo sessions.

I was and am still very honored to be able to step into the lives of these wonderful, caring and very sweet people. Thank you Preemie Prints for introducing me to them!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Baby Monreau

Monreau came into my studio earlier this week as a product model. She mainly modeled some headbands and flower clips I had from A Tutu For Any Little Princess. Monreau is 10 weeks old and was such a doll. She put up with me waking her up to change her position every time she fell asleep.

New Charm Sets from Signs By LC-Product Photography

I am in love with these new charms Signs By LC received lately. I am a big "Vampire Diaries" fan so I love the vampire teeth, cherries are very yummy fruits, and the music notes...OMG... I was in choir most my life so music IS my life

Lamp Glass from Signs By LC-Product Photography

I had the priveledge to shoot some of Signs By LC's products yet again. She is an awesome vendor and I get that feeling like it is Christmas every time I get a package from her.

These are some gorgeous lamp glass sets as well as some more charms (will post in another blog) she just received.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Aidan's 5 Year Portraits

Yesterday, my lil man turned 5 and it breaks my heart every time I say that I have a 5 yr old.

Today, a day later, I decide to do some photos of my newly turned 5 yr old.

First he didn't want to get out of his Iron Man pajama pants to get dressed in the outfit I wanted him in but when I got him changed, he decided to roll on the floor. But eventually he made his way onto the studio flooring. Then he gave me the "I'm miserable" look. But eventually I got some that looked decent enough to frame.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Photographer's Family

For Father's Day, I decided to gather my clan together and ATTEMPT portraits. I was mainly hoping for some of just the boys separate, the boys together and the boys with daddy. That didn't quite go as planned because there is a rule to be a photographer must not raise the child with a camera in his/her face or else you will get pouty faces and "I never ever want to take pictures ever again"!

Either way, I did get some great shots and I even got a decent family photo that many seem to want.

And I must share this one in black and white as I am deeply in love with it

I have a few of my son and I but will add those later!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Signs by LC Earrings-Product Photography

I had bought these earrings from a great vendor Signs by LC not long ago and I am just now getting around to editing the photos I took of them and posting them online.

They are made from Tibetan Silver and are so great you won't stop getting compliments on them.

300 Fan Giveaway!!!! Over $100 in Prizes

This giveaway is not associated with or sponsored by Facebook. Liking any of the below Facebook pages does not constitute immediate entry into this giveaway. The off site (blog) entry must be completed to enter OR you MUST comment on a photo you would like to win in the album on the Facebook Fan Page....not "like" but comment!!!! 

This "journey" I have taken as a photographer has been, at times, frustrating yet rewarding! I have been very grateful to meet so many wonderful people; clients, vendors and other photographers. You all have been so support and shown me on Facebook that you like me. So, therefore, I am ready to YOU how much I appreciate it by putting together this awesome giveaway just in time to reach 300 fans! 300 may not seem like many to some of you but for me that is a goal I have tried so hard for the last month to reach and I am excited to have reached that big number.

If you are ready, I will introduce to you the great (and talented) sponsors!

Mai Prop Creations ~Newborn Bear Hat, Diaper Cover, Ball Tail Combo
Facebook Page

Mai Prop Creations sells beautifully, hand crocheted props for newborns/children of all ages. She sells them to photographers and/or parents! Mai Prop Creations has generously donated a teddy bear hat along with a diaper cover worth $25. This is a newborn sized hat/diaper cover.

Heather Maries Bows ~Independence Day InfantTutu
Facebook Page

Heather Maries Bows creates much more than just bows. She also creates hair bow holders, decorative hair clips, crocheted blankets, fleece tie blankets as well as tutus. These make for great photography props if not just to have your little one dress up around the house. Heather Maries Bows has donated this beautifully made 4th of July tutu (worth $25) just in time for the glorious holiday. The tutu is 14-20 inches wide in the waist and 8 1/2 inches long. Great for infants!

SewInspired ~Zebra Print Checkbook Cover
Facebook Page
Etsy Shop

SewInspired has some beautifully sewn products such as Cosmetic cases, coasters, purses/tote bags, Ipod cases as well as check book covers. She is pretty new to the industry and looking for this business to help profit her way through school. She has generously donated this zebra print check book cover with your choice of Red, Blue or Pink ribbon worth $8. This would be a great gift for yourself, your mother, your aunt, your grandmother, or any woman in your life! It is also great because with this cover, you are sure to never lose your checkbook in your purse or car ever again!

Signs by LC ~Tibetan Silver Wings Earrings
Facebook Page
Etsy Shop

Signs by LC custom makes signs, leather items, dresses, aprons, as well as necklaces from guitar picks, dominoes and scrabble tiles. She also makes earrings with many different charms. I am a huge fan of Signs by LC as I have a couple pairs of her earrings and I get a lot of great comments and compliments on them. She is very easy to work with as well if you would like anything custom made with photos of loved ones, favorite bands, etc and no 2 pieces will ever be the same. Signs by LC's earrings/charms are made of Tibetan silver and are great quality! I have already bought several from her! I had the privilege of choosing which earrings would go into this giveaway and I chose the Small Wings Earrings because I, for one, am in love with these as they are beautifully crafted and because I also have a pair and get lots of compliments on them.

Eternally Hooked (Crocheted Hats, Photo Props and More!) ~$10 Gift Card
Facebook Page
Etsy Shop

Eternally Hooked has handcrafted hats, beanies, newborn photo props and much much more. Everything is made to order so if you do not see anything you like in her shop, let her know and she will make it right up for you. Therefore, she will not leave you disappointed. Eternally Hooked is offering up a $10 gift card towards anything in her shop! You won't want to miss out on this chance as she has some darling products!

Sugar Baby Crochet ~Crocheted Headband
Facebook Page

Sugar Baby Crochet crochets custom made headbands, hats as well as blankets. She is still pretty new to the Facebook world but has some great products. She has donated a headband worth about $8. Sugar Baby Crochet made this headband just for this giveaway so the winner will be very lucky to receive this. It is beautifully crafted with gorgeous colors.

A tutu for any little princess ~Red Crochet Headband with Red/Zebra Flower
Facebook Page
Etsy Shop

A Tutu For Any Little Princess sells much more than tutus! Because every princess deserves a tutu, A Tutu For Any Little Princess custom makes any and all tutus as well as fairy wings and headbands. They have all sorts of headbands ranging from the skinny newborn headbands to the crocheted headbands and all come with or without a flower clip of your choice. A Tutu For Any Little Princess is offering up this beautiful Red Crochet Headband with a Red/Zebra Print Flower Clip. The clip is removable so you can put whatever flower you want on your headband if you already have more flower clips or you could purchase more from her. I, as a photographer, have already ordered about 4 or so of these headbands and clips and I like the range and style of them. Typically these are on auction on her Facebook or she has them for sale at $5. They are greatly priced but you could have this for free!

SaraLili Creations ~Hot Pink Bow/Blk &Blue Hair Clips
Facebook Page

Saralili Creations is super brand new to the Facebook world. Saralili Creations started out making hair bows for her cousins and thought it great to start up shop. I am so glad she decided to be a sponsor in this giveaway and I hope she has great success in the future with her shop! Saralili Creations has so sweetly offered to giveaway a hairbow as well as some small bow clips. These are worth around $12 together and are super-dee-duper cute (yes, I just pulled a "Barney")

Mingling with Beads ~Patriotic Ring
Facebook Page
Etsy Shop

Mingling with Beads makes a wide variety of jewelry for all different price ranges. She is generously donating this patriotic ring in honor of the 4ht of July coming up! Mingling with Beads jewelry is mostly wire-worked and very rare which makes it so unique and beautiful. She also makes jewelry for men as well as children. Also, if you do not see anything that is your liking, contact her and she will be more than happy to custom make something for you. This ring is adjustable in size but can be made to fit larger and is worth close to $8.

So, I bet you are now wondering how you could possibly win all these fabulous gifts?!?!

Mandatory Entry:
Please go through the list and "like" all the following Facebook pages with your personal page:
1. Photography By Teresa
2. Mai Prop Creations
3. Heather Maries Bows
4. SewInspired
5. Signs by LC
6. Eternally Hooked (Crocheted Hats, Photo Props and More!)
7. Sugar Baby Crochet
8. A Tutu For Any Little Princess
9. Saralili Creations
10. Mingling with Beads

Please "heart" the following Etsy shops
1. SewInspired
2. Signs by LC
3. Eternally Hooked (Crocheted Hats, Photo Props and More!)
4. A Tutu For Any Little Princess
5. Mingling With Beads

After you have become a fan of all these wonderful vendors, leave a comment with the following information (all in just one comment please!):
1. A statement confirming your likes!
2. Your name as seen on Facebook
3. Your Etsy username
4. Your email address.

Now you are entered for a chance to win one of these great prizes!!!

BUT....if you prefer not to do all the commenting, go "like" each of these vendors and tag me on their wall as well as comment under the photo of your choice that you would love to win for a chance to win that product! (only one comment per photo please)

This giveaway will end June 26, 2011 at midnight. (edited so that vendors/sponsors can ship their items in time for July 4th)

The winner will be selected at random on the following day. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email/facebook status regarding the win or another winner will be selected.

That's all there is to it. Have fun and good luck and thank you all for being a fan of Photography By Teresa!