LET’S FACE IT, most of us are guilty of the same crime:
The countless images we capture daily on our phones and cameras, of happy memories or beautiful scenes, are most likely sitting inside our computers, phones, or on the USB we insisted on purchasing from our family photographer. In many cases, this is where our images will live and die.
We spend so much of our time (and money) documenting our lives, and our children’s lives through photography, and yet we make very little effort to preserve those memories by printing our images. I get it – it’s overwhelming. Where do you even begin? Sorting, organizing, narrowing down, selecting which images, and in which sizes? Which paper is best? Where is the best place to print? It seems like a chore, and probably one that you feel you have little time for. Have no fear – I’ll share with you an easy way to manage your personal photos, and also will share the different choices you have when deciding how to print your images, whether personal or taken by a professional.
Let’s start with what will apply to pretty much everyone: phone images. Nowadays, our little cellphones come with pretty amazing little cameras built inside, so its no wonder we spend so much time taking pictures. Here’s my process for culling (sorting), organizing, and printing personal phone camera pictures:
- In-Camera Culling: To keep things simple, I like to keep my camera roll as clean as possible. For instance, if I took multiple shots of a particular scene I keep one and delete the rest.
- Load the images on your computer: This can be done a multitude of ways, but basically on a PC you can simply transfer the images to a folder when your phone is connected to your computer, or using a Mac you can import them into iPhoto or other image editing software (I use Lightroom). SIDE STEP: Now would be a great time to BACK UP your images using either cloud-based storage or an external hard drive. Computers crash ALL THE TIME. Don’t risk it – back it up!
- Sort/Organize – Now we decide what to print. Honestly, if you’re not going to print it, there’s not much point in keeping it on your computer. But sometimes it’s hard to let go of an image even if you decide not to print it, so those can go into a “keep” folder, and the rest can go to a “print” folder. The images should be arranged in the order you took them, and can be placed into folders by month within the “print” folder.
- Decide how to print: Nowadays, the image quality of phone pictures is such that they can make a decent sized print. For example, the new iPhone 6 can be printed up to 8 X 10 at 300 PPI (which would yield press quality prints). You could make small prints for a gallery wall, individual prints for small frames throughout your home or office, or create an album. My personal favorite is to create a simple, small album that covers a particular span of time (usually about 6 months, but could be more or less depending on how many pictures you take). I put one picture on each page to keep things simple.
- Decide where to print: There are so many different options when choosing where to have you images printed, but I recommend the following companies to my clients when they inquire as to where to print their personal images or personal albums: mpix.com for personal prints and Artifact Uprising for personal camera phone albums.
I probably go through steps 1-3 every couple of months, just to make the process less daunting when I am ready to order a new album or place a print order.
So you’ve worked with a professional photographer and opted to purchase the digital images. You’ve got all of these amazing family portraits on an USB or disc… What now?
- A single large image (think at least 16”X20” for a single stand alone piece of wall art)
- A group or “gallery wall” of images in the same or varying sizes
- “Gift” sized prints (8X10 or smaller) for small frames throughout your home or office
- An album
Creating a gallery wall can be overwhelming. Choosing which images, at which sizes, in which arrangement, and where to hang them can be an exhausting process. I recommend working with a professional photographer who specializes in designing and creating gallery wall displays. However, if you’re feeling up to a DIY project, then my best advice for you is to plan, plan plan. Buy your frames first, arrange them on the floor, or use paper templates and painters tape to see how your arrangement will look before you start hammering away.
When deciding where to print, I’d recommend checking with your photographer to see if they have a recommended consumer lab (they should). If they have no recommendations for you, a reliable choice is mpix.com.
If you decide an album is the best way to display your images, I highly recommend you go back to your photographer and buy an album from him/her. For a true heirloom-quality album, you really need a professional to assist you. Creating an album from a consumer lab (Shutterfly, Snapfish, etc.) really just isn’t going to do your professional images justice. For example, the albums we offer are handcrafted with a lay-flat design, each page mounted on a thick substrate for stability and longevity, and a hand-cut linen cover. It’s truly an heirloom piece that you will enjoy and pass down to future generations, and is something only offered by professional photographers.
WORD(S) OF CAUTION: It may go without saying, but going to Target, Wal-Mart, Shutterfly, Snapfish, or your local drugstore for prints/albums is NOT recommended. At all. Ever. Why? Glad you asked. As professional photographers, half our art is taking the image with our camera, and the other half is editing and preparing that image for print, so that the resulting printed image is exactly as we envisioned it. That means we spend a LOT of time getting colors, shadows and highlights exactly just right. When you purchase a printed image directly from us, we can guarantee that the image is a perfect representation of our vision, mainly because we have calibrated our screens to match the color profile of the print labs we use. Colors, brightness, highlights and shadows will all appear different depending on where you print. You’ve already invested in your photographer to capture your images, so it makes sense that you should be equally if not more invested in the final product, which is all that truly matters.
So there you go. Print your pictures, people. Or better yet, have your photographer do it for you.
Jamie Vinson is a Raleigh, NC wedding photographer and a lifestyle family photographer. She lives with her husband, their two children, and two crazy King Charles Spaniels.
- Get Your Images Off of Your Computer and Onto Your Walls - January 19, 2016