Getting Your Digital Treasures in PRINT / by Angela Fortin Washington

Every time I give my clients their digital negatives, I give them instructions for how to get their images printed. I am often asked, "Where do you get your images printed?", or, "Where can I get an album or canvas print?" Well I am here to give you all the information that I know! If there are more questions that I do not answer, feel free to contact me with further questions.


First things first, I should give you a reason to print your pictures..

  1. Computers crash and cell phones die. Would it be the end of the world if this happened because you would lose all you pictures? This might be a sign to get some prints..
  2. Over time, certain files can get corrupted and become unusable..eeek
  3. It lets everyone who comes to your house enjoy them too!

Here is the how the process works:

First, figure out what the quality is your picture? If it is too small, and you get it blown up, it may look grainy, or pixelated..not cool. Here is an example of one of my phone pics and a detail shot of what it would like blown up...see how grainy it gets? If I were to print this, I would get either a wallet or a 4x6.


There is a way around this if you are looking to get a canvas print done, and that is by running it through a filter that makes it look more like a painting. I am sure if you Google painting filter, something would pop up, or if you have Photoshop it is called BrushStrokes. 

Next, see what dimensions your images are (most will be in 4x6 format) This is really important when you are ordering prints that are different than a 2:3 ratio (aka 5x7 or 8x10) It is very important that you get to crop these yourself, or else the printers will do it for you, and let me tell you, they don't care as much as you how it is cropped! I have had the problem of people's heads getting cut off before, no joke.. Here is an example of an original picture:

Now, the image on the left might be how a printer would crop, the one on the left, I cropped myself.

Now, you can crop one of two ways, either on your own computer in Iphoto or some other image editing software, or at the printers if they have the machines to order your prints. They usually have a crop tool in the editing option. Now, if you don't want anything to be cropped but you still want a 5x7 or something, when you finalize your order just tell them "no crop" this will give you your image as big as possible with white borders to fill in the space that was not taken up by your picture. This is what I normally do, but I know it is a personal preference.

Next is the lightness or darkness of your pictures. At the print labs, they auto correct what they think should be a perfectly exposed image. Here is the problem with that, sometimes, they get it wrong because the background is so light that they over correct the subject and it ends up being WAY to dark in some spots. This is a real life example of something that happened to me; I printed this picture of my dog Celia and when I got it, it looked like the one on the right...NOT pretty.. to avoid this, just tell them, Image (file name) has a bright  (or dark) background, and I don't want them to darken it. And if they mess it up anyway, which happens, tell them and most places will reprint it with the new instructions free of cost. DON'T BE AFRAID TO RETURN THEM!


When you pick up your prints, ALWAYS look at them before you leave to make sure you like what you see! 

The last thing I check before taking my photos home is coloring. This example below really happened to me as well and I had to get it reprinted. The top is the original image and the bottom is what it looked like after getting printed...see the magenta hue?


Sometimes this happens if there is a lot of one color in a picture, the auto corrector thinks it needs to compensate, and it results in a funky looking picture.

The last thing I check for before printing (without compromise) is getting matte finish on the prints, glossy always show flaws in skin and show glare in frames, not attractive all around! 

If you are looking to get an affordable canvas print done, Walgreens, I have found is the cheapest with a frame. If you are looking to get an inexpensive album made, Shutterfly I have heard, does a nice job. And lastly, if you are looking for a high quality print for a card or invite go to my favorite print site, I have seen these in real life and they paper quality is just beautiful! Places like vistaprint do a decent job, but the coloring/darkness/lightness is more frequently going to be off.

Hope this helps!