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Printing is the Lost Art of Photography

Why are prints are so important?

Printing is a part of many photographers business or workflow that can be improved. Most of us don’t know how to print or even understand the basics of printing. Sure, the ease of going from one screen to another is often easy, while figuring out how to print at the right size and the right output can be daunting.

Why Print?

Printing can bring another level to your photography and client base. Prints obviously do not require hard drives, cloud storage, or a powered on device to view. A print is a tangible item that people can cherish for years. Photos are at the top of every list that people grab first when running out of the house that’s on fire.

It’s clear the value prints can have for your clients. I challenge you as a photographer to make an effort to learn how to print and to pass along this knowledge of the importance of printing to your clients.

The Dwindling Print Industry

The digital age of photography with our smartphones and social media has caused more people to take pictures. In fact even traditional photography is at an all-time high, but printing seems to be a lost art. Print labs are struggling with flat sales. This should be the exact opposite with how many more of us are taking pictures.

Why are prints suffering?

We can see pictures online, on our phones and its easy to share with a click of a button. However, its not the same as being able to hang a family heirloom on the wall. How can we as photographers teach our clients the meaning of printed art? How can we as photographers learn to utilize labs more efficiently and understand how to print?

Start Printing with Confidence

Photographers need to learn how to use labs (and their qualify staff). When I worked at a lab, we were fixing (or prepping) many of the images for the photographers to get them ready to print. Teaching photographers on how to get their images print ready was a daily part of the job. Here are three things you can work on to add value of printing to your business.

1. Understand color profiles.

Photoshop Print Settings 2015-05-11 21-51-28

Getting your prints to match what you see on your monitor is one of the biggest challenges you’ll face when dealing with printing your art. Its all a very important aspect on creating the best possible prints for you and your clients.

Many labs (and even personal printers) offer printer profiles that you can download to your computer. Once youve downloaded the profile you can access it through most photo editing software. If you are printing on your own printer you can download and use the profile your printer provides.

For example, in Photoshop:

To use a profile in Photoshop.

  1. Choose to File > Print
  2. From the pop-up menu at the top right of the resulting dialog box, choose Color Management. When you do, a Color Handling pop-up menu appears underneath.
  3. Choose Photoshop Manages Colors and then make a selection from the Printer Profile pop-up menu. I would also advise making sure your monitor is calibrated to achieve the best possible outcome.

Depending on the lab you print through will depend on color profile instructions that you will use. Each lab will have their own instructions for calibrating and/or supplying printer profiles.

2. Understanding crop factors.

I previously wrote an article about this here. Understanding crop factors happen before you even have your images in the computer. You need to make sure you are shooting with enough room especially in group shots. Many customers want 8 x 10s of groups and yet so many photographers do not allow enough room in their pictures to allow for an 8 x 10 because most are shooting on a aspect ratio that isn’t native for a 8 x 10 crop.

3. Knowing what sells and what looks good on walls.

This comes with experience and learning but you need to know what is going to look good on a wall. A family picture needs to be bigger than an 8 x 10. Visualize print sizes and use that to sell to your clients. Ive never had someone tell me they bought too big of a print but Ive had families saying they wished they went bigger. Truth be told, pinterest has some awesome ideas on print size guides for great visualizations. It’s inspired me to create a guide to show my own clients.

In addition, understand the types of paper out there. A Metallic print generally is not something you want your bride to be printed on however, metallic is going to look amazing for a southern Utah landscape with red rocks. Knowing the paper for your subject will allow you to wow your clients. Each lab will have a description of products, I highly recommend asking as many questions as possible. When it comes to printing, don’t be afraid to ask. Most all professional labs will even send you samples of their paper for you to learn and decide what you like.

Many people think they can print cheaper at their local big box store. Your local big box store does not have the best interests of your clients in mind. The employees aren’t photographers, they aren’t trained in printing and different types of paper, the ink will be inconsistent. You want to understand and learn that using a professional lab will allow your photography to look better and last longer. I can’t even tell you how many times Ive had to reprint images that were first printed at a local big box store. You want your art printed on paper that will last.

The Bottom Line

This may see like a lot of information to learn. Printing is such a wonderful aspect of your photography. Theres something pretty amazing about seeing your artwork hanging up. One of the best moments in life and in your business is watching your clients be amazed by seeing their pictures in print.

Learn how to print, teach your clients the value of print. Its a part of your business that can create a lasting impression for many years to come.

You can follow Pamela on & Instagram

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