You book a family session with your favorite photographer, you spend time choosing the perfect outfits, getting ready the day of the session, and making sure your kids are fed and well rested. You get the photos back and they turned out amazing, you can’t wait to print them out and hang them on your wall. You go online to Walmart or Walgreens and spend time picking out the best photos and deciding what sizes to print. You wait while the images are processed and printed, but when you pick them up they aren’t what you expect. Your beautiful photos are blurry, way too dark, or the color just doesn’t look right.
Has the above scenario ever happened to you? I totally understand after making a large investment in your photographer that it’s only natural to want to save some money on prints. But you have so much time and money already invested, so why not spend a little extra to make sure your photos look exactly the way they are supposed to? What is the difference between Walmart’s lab and your photographer’s professional lab?
1. The Quality Is So Much Better
Different labs cater to different styles of photography edits, whether it’s light and airy or dark and moody. Your photographer has mostly likely done their research and chosen a lab that accurately represents their work and style. Most professional labs also have higher quality paper and more paper and product options to choose from.
2. Quality Control
Technicians at retail labs, like Walmart or Walgreens, don’t have the training to make consistently high-quality prints with the correct colors. Their machines aren’t calibrated, so you may see drastically different results from the images on your screen to the prints you receive. When you purchase products and prints from your photographer, your items come from a professional lab that your photographer works with all the time. Professional labs hold higher standards when it comes to paper quality and color correcting, and they even work directly with your photographer to make sure your artwork is just right.
3. Customer Service
When you order your photos through your photographer, they do all the hard work for you. Not only are your photos checked by the photographer’s lab, but they are also checked again by the photographer to make sure your artwork looks exactly as it is supposed to. If something is wrong, you can reach out to your photographer and they will go back to the lab and make sure the issue is corrected, no need to deal with the lab yourself.
Every online gallery I deliver is connected to my professional lab, providing the convenience of ordering your artwork directly from your gallery. Otherwise, you would have to download your favorite photos and upload them to the lab of your choice. You may even have to make an extra trip to the store and pick them up. From your gallery you can easily select your favorites, order prints on the spot, and have them shipped directly to you.
5. Design Service
Your photographer can help you choose what products will look best on your wall and even help you design a gallery wall. Let them help you determine the size and style of artwork that will fit best within your space. They may also be able to help you design your dream wedding album or seniors’ graduation cards.
I printed the same photos from 4 different labs just to see how they compare. The key is not to compare them to each other but to look at the original digital file and see how each lab differs from the file your photographer provided.
The prints from Walmart were way too saturated with green and yellow tones and looked dark compared to the edited digital image. The second one especially looks way too warm compared to the original photo.
Shutterfly did much better in terms of coloring, the image looks much more accurate but is still a little too saturated.
Again, the images from Walgreens look way too saturated and dark. On the top photo, there is a green hue over the entire image making her skin tone look sickly. The bottom one is not as bad but still not accurate to the original.
My Professional Print Lab
The photos from my lab are a little more saturated but the coloring and skin tones look basically the same as the original digital files.
If you are looking for a more cost-effective lab that is still high-quality, I recommend mpix.com, a sister company to the print lab that I use.
Do you have a gallery with me? Are you ready to purchase prints of your own? I would love to help you select quality prints and products that you will look back on for years to come! Contact me today to reopen your gallery.