I'm a storyteller who believes life is made up of the little moments and that the best photographs look for the in-between
I want to talk a little bit about something I’m super passionate about: printing your photos. I cannot emphasize this enough: A digital file should NOT be viewed as the end-product of your session.
A printed photo or album needs to be.
A couple of years ago when I was working as a journalist in West Virginia, there was a 100-year flood. They called it a “black swan” event – a catastrophic event that has long-reaching consequences.
During this flood, a lot of people’s homes were severely damaged or outright destroyed. And you know what people brought with them as they fled? Photographs. Family photo albums. Wedding portraits. These have immense sentimental value and are not easily replaced — if at all.
Yet in the digital world, many of our photographs remain permanently in digital spaces. And that’s a huge tragedy. It’s SO EASY to lose these memories permanently as technology changes.
For instance: when I was a child, data was kept on floppy disks — some of my clients may not even know what those are! And I’m only 29. Then by middle school it was CDs, then USB drives. My three-year-old MacBook doesn’t have a USB port — when a client wants a USB drive I have to use a converter to transfer the images onto the drive. Now, most things are stored in the cloud. But what happens if your cloud payments lapse, or the company changes ownership or policies, or gets hacked? Or a hard drive fails?
I’m going to be honest — every, single, year of my business, I’ve had a hard drive fail. As a vigilant professional, I keep backups of my data and backups for my backups, so those failed drives have been a huge inconvenience, but not a tragedy.
But most people don’t do that. Digital files are kept in one place. And digital is a very precarious place to leave your memories.
So here is my plea: print your photos. You don’t have to print all of them unless you want to! Not every photo is going to be your favorite. But DO print a selection.
Printing on your own vs. buying from your online shop
Digital files are included in every session fee as well as a print release. You can print on your own or print through my shop. If you want to purchase from the shop, simply toggle over the image and click on the “cart” icon. A chart will pop up on the right and you can pick different kinds of prints, canvasses, metal wall art, books or albums.
Printing through the shop will be a little bit more expensive than printing on your own. However, you are going to get a MUCH better product than you will if you are printing from a mass consumer printer.
Additionally, I can’t guarantee color matching if you print on your own. My monitor is calibrated to match my print lab. So how I edit your photo on my screen is how your photo will print. When you print through places like CVS, Walgreens, Walmart or Costco (some of the poorest quality options), colors will probably look pretty different than what you see on your screen. They may be washed out or tinted one way or another.
All that being said, if you want to print a bunch of photos and are tight on funds, it’s much better to print anywhere at all, knowing you have the option to upgrade your prints later, rather than saying “I’ll do it later” then never getting around to it!
For any wedding or elopement, I highly, highly recommend investing in a wedding album. Wedding albums are beautiful, heirloom, display-style books made with premium materials that you can’t get on the consumer market. They are made to last a lifetime, most likely sitting on a coffee table.
Here’s how the album process works: when you get your online gallery, simply “favorite” your selection by “starring” the ones you want in your album. Albums come with 30 spreads — a spread is what the album looks like when it’s open flat. For a 30-spread album, I recommend 60-70 photos. If you can’t narrow it down further, extra spreads can be purchased a la carte.
I then take your selection and start the design process. Once I get your design together, I send you a digital proof of your album to make changes or approve, along with a design guide with the options for the album cover. You simply choose from the options (leather or linen) for the cover. Then your work is done and I send the album to the printer! From start to finish (album in your hands), the process usually takes 4-6 weeks.
While albums are made with top-of-the-line materials, books are made with professional-grade standard materials. This means they’re not quite as nice as albums but are still much higher quality than you can get on the consumer marketplace. They are also a little bit more affordable than albums and are beautiful options for parent gifts (you can purchase a companion book to go with your album), for engagement or couples sessions, or as guestbooks for your wedding filled with pictures from your engagement session.
Prints purchased through the shop come in either “deep matte” or “standard.” Matte images don’t have the gloss one associates with photographic paper and have slightly more muted colors as a result. Matte is usually associated with “fine art” prints. Standard prints are glossy and have deeper blacks and contrast and the colors are more vibrant. Whichever one you choose is simply a matter of aesthetic preference.
Prints range in size from 4×6 all the way up to 30×40.
4×6 images make really great “shoebox” images (to be tucked away in a shoebox and revisited when you’re feeling nostalgic) or as gifts.
5×7 and 8×10 images work well as framed tabletop prints, or, when matted, as part of a gallery wall.
11×14 images are getting into wall art size.
When choosing what size wall print to purchase, it’s really important to consider scale. Are you adding to or creating a new gallery wall? Is the print going to be the only decoration in its particular space?
I’m no interior design expert, but I’ve gleaned these tips from experts in that field:
Make sure the art fits the particular space. Above furniture your prints should take up about ¾ of the width of your couch or mantle or bed. You can either achieve this by going big with your print (a 30×40 print above your mantle) or by choosing several smaller (say) 11×14 prints to stack in a row. For bigger walls like a living room, gallery walls are great options. Here are a few excellent visualizations from Pinterest.
Hang single prints at eye level.
It’s better to go bigger than too small — small prints tend to look lost, almost like an afterthought, by themselves.
For gallery walls it’s totally ok to mix and match frames, mats, canvasses, metals, etc.! (For comprehensive tips on gallery walls, check out this article).
When measuring your space, remember to decide if you want the print matted (in which case the total external frame dimensions will probably be closer to15x20) or unmatted, which, depending on how wide the frame is, will probably put you in the total used space ballpark of 13×15.
In addition to prints, you can also purchase canvasses and metal wall art. Canvasses have a more classic aesthetic and by nature of the material are a little more matte. Metals have a contemporary look and are bold and vibrant. For both canvasses and metals you can either hang them “as is” or frame them for a different look.