Drugstore or Discount Store Prints: Low Quality You Likely Do Not Want

While it is convenient to utilize the photo services of local drugstore chains, discount stores, or high-volume online services, the price paid in quality is quite large. Many people believe that what they want from a photographer are the digital images so they can go and print  images themselves. “I want to be able to print anytime I want”, is a claim I hear often in my work. While many chain photography studios do this, you may find that more serious photographers do not. In my case, occasionally,I will provide digital images to clients who have already purchased a high quality print of  an image, so that I know that they understand what the image is  supposed to look like. But more often, I simply do not provide clients with digital images that they can print. For one, it is like a doctor telling a patient that there is no difference between an experienced surgeon and a first year medical student. For another, it is telling clients that I, as a professional, do not care what their images look like printed. Both are morally wrong in my opinion.

Here are a few more reasons digital images are not always the best value:

1. High Quality Prints Are Things of Beauty

Today, we are each bombarded by digital media daily. If you were to guess how many images you see online in a day, it is likely in the hundreds. In many cases, you are viewing product images, or silly memes. It is unlikely you are too concerned about how accurate the image is to the the way the photographer created it.

Yet when you go to a gallery, or a museum, you do not want to see digital images. You want to see real canvases, real photographs which are printed, framed and hung so they can be enjoyed and mused over.  When you think about it, we want the same thing for images we take of our friends and family. Maybe you do not want to hang every snapshot you every took, but surely, if you take the time to go to a professional portrait photographer, you would want to hang a high quality print or canvas of at least one of the images from the shoot.

2. Your Professional Photographer Made the Image a Certain Way

When you invest in a professional newborn or maternity studio shoot, or any shoot, you are paying good money for the photographer to create high quality images that you could not get yourself. That’s the point. So if your photographer makes an image to have a certain look, why take that image and allow it to be “ruined”  by a low quality print service? It defeats the entire point of hiring a professional photographer. Theoretically, you hired someone to make you, your baby, your son, daughter etc. “look spectacular”. So take the advice of your photographer and allow them to have a professional print lab print your images for you.

3. The Difference Between Professional Prints and “Discount” Prints is H U G E

To give my clients and readers an idea about what I am talking about, I took two images and had them professionally printed. Then I sent the exact same image to two Tujunga, CA area discount or drugstore photo services for them to print. To see the differences best, you likely need to be on your desktop computer. But even if you are on a mobile device, you can probably see a dramatic difference. There are 5  images below and the difference between the original image as I created it in camera, versus what was printed by non professional labs is astonishing.

Professional Print Newborn Aviator Hat

This image displays the colors as I intended them, as a professional photographer.

Non Professional Print Newborn Aviator Hat #1

Notice in this image, the baby has become orange. In fact the entire image is cast in a pumpkin-like glaze. Not at all what the baby looked like in real life, or what the camera captured.

Non Professional Print Aviator Newborn Hat #2

This image still casts the baby in an orange mist-like sludge. When I took this image “Orange Soda Baby” was not what I had in mind.

Professional Print Lab Newborn Chick Hat

These colors accurately portray the image as I created it.

Non Professional Print Newborn Chick Hat #2

This is a horrible quality print. The baby looks jaundiced, and the entire image as a yellowish tint-overlay. No where near the image I created for my clients.

We have been lulled into thinking that any kind of print service will do. But rest assured that there is a large difference between what your photographer made for you, and the image that will probably be printed by a less than top-notch service.