Prints and Enlargements
After people have had profession photography of their family or even done they often want to know the best way to display those images.
Two questions that I often get asked as a photographer are:
1. How big can I enlarge my photos?
2. Where is the best/cheapest/easiest/local place to get my prints done?
It's important to consider these questions together.
Before you upload your photos onto Vista Print or Walmart Photo Centre there are a few important questions to consider.
I have been in more than one home where I have seen another talented photographer's work printed too large on cheap canvas. Almost any printing company (even Walmart photo centre) should provide a warning if you are enlarging an image beyond it's capacity but there is a big difference between acceptable quality and the way I would choose to have my work displayed. Which relates to the WHERE you should have your photos printed because not all photo paper/canvas etc. are created equally.
Let's start with size.
How BIG can you make your enlargements?
Especially in the day of online order canvases this has become a bigger question than ever. Most people do not go through their photographer for these products anymore they prefer to order them more cheaply from direct sellers.
When printing your photos you need to consider two main things the resolution of the image (different from the dimensions) and the megapixels (the number of pixels per square inch).
I found this lovely little chart online that I frequently share with clients as guide for enlarging images.
When you pull up the image in the Finder on your computer, under the title and date of the image it should tell you the size and resolution. In the case of the image below that is 6.1 MB and 240x240 so it will look best enlarged to 11x14" but could safely be made into a 20x30" print without blurring the little boy who is the subject of the image.
I would always choose to have my images printed at at "Better" to "Superb" quality. So, according to our chart this photo.
As you can see, even a "lower resolution" image taken with a good quality full-frame camera can be enlarged fairly big.
I do not usually provide clients with the high resolution version of photos to clients unless hey have specifically asked for them. I have them available, and make sure my customers know they can access them if they want them, but I don't give them to people if they don't ask for for the.
I do this for a few reasons:
a) they take up a lot of space (on your computer or on a USB drive), so most people don't want to store them
b) most people don't need them. I have few clients that enlarge their photos bigger than 11x14
c) I take them in a RAW format and edit them separately. Instead of editing 60-1000 high res images I edit the lower res ones which is much faster. If someone wants to have a poster size image they usually only want a few of them so then I will just edit those.
Where to get your prints and enlargements done?
(My website is not sponsored, nor is this post. These are my own opinions based on my personal experience.)
My number one recommendation for having images printed in Alberta is McBain Camera. This is professional level quality. I have had consistently excellent service from all their locations over the past 10+ years that I have been buying/renting equipment from them and having images printed. I will be honest that I do not have a lot of my personal prints here because I don't find the system as easy to use as some and the quality is reflected in the price.
2. London Drugs
I probably use them the most for my own printing, because I feel it is a decent product for a fair price. I have purchased a variety of photography products from them including canvases, enlargements and cards and always been satisfied with the quality.
3. Vista Print
I like using them for business products like business cards, post cards etc. because the price is always the best if you have the time to wait for it to ship. I've had good experience with their customer service department and orders almost always arrive slightly ahead of schedule. I've had some posters printed here and for the price be fine with the quality.
Walmart Photo Centre
Walmart gets points for convenience and low price. You get what you pay for though. The quality is low, prints are often late as they no longer print in house and the customer service is hit and miss. (I'm still waiting for my Christmas Cards and it's now January and they're nothing to write home about in terms of style)
I've heard good things about Costco Photo Centre but it's a pain in the butt to use in my experience and the one time I had my passport photo taken there the picture made me look like a drug mule...which has made me weary of trying their other services.
I'd love to hear about your experiences getting prints done! Please feel free to share in the comments below.
Michelle J. Falk
Shares stories from behind the scenes and tips to improve your photo sessions.