Where to Print Your Photos | A Professional Photographer’s Review of Print Labs

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I am Neyssa Lee a mother of six, who is planning obsessed, and uses photography to help you see the beauty in your own family’s chaos. Learn more by heading to my ABOUT ME page.

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Hi, I'm Neyssa

One of the most common questions I get asked as a professional photographer is, “Where should I print my photos?”

I set out to answer that very question by ordering prints from numerous labs to compare and contrast everything from quality, price, feel, durability, ease, and over look. The end result is something that may shock you, as I was surprised myself with my findings.

Before I dive in, I want to preface this with a few things:

  • I ordered from several labs. I paid for every print out of my own pocket. None were gifted to me, nor did any company ask for me to write a review of them.

  • Next, it is important to note what matters most to you. Knowing your goals for your prints will help you determine the best lab to use.

  • Since there are several factors why people purchase prints I decided to split “awards” based on categories to help you make the best choice for your family and needs.

  • Whenever printing photos on your own, please ensure you have printing rights from your photographer. Each family who has had a session with me has personal use right for printing and sharing their photos. However, that is not the case with all photographers.

The Print Labs:

For this text I ordered prints of various sizes, including color and black and white images, images taken indoors and out, with different skin tones and type of lighting. The labs are my professional lab, Artifact Uprising, MPIX, Shutterfly, and Target Photo.

Best overall place to print photos: Professional Lab

I know this isn’t a huge surprise. You might even be rolling your eyes, of course the photographer recommends her own lab. However, when it came to quality, colors, tone, value, and look, the professional lab won out. The prints arrived safely packaged, with beautiful tones, thick photo paper, and exactly as I expected them to look based on the image sent to the printer.

Across all sizes, the look and feel were consistently beautiful, with archival quality papers I know will last.

Best place to print inexpensive small sized prints: Target Photo

If your goal is to get some smaller (4×6 or 5×7 prints) at an inexpensive price, Target Photo won out. Although their ordering process was a bit of a pain, the quality was actually the closest to my professional lab and had a decent look overall. However, the paper felt flimsier and they are not likely a long lasting print compared with my lab.

Best place to print your photos for boutique prints: Artifact Uprising

The colors and tones in the prints from Artifact Uprising were gorgeous. The paper on their everyday prints were a bit more like a very nice holiday card paper. Even the 8×10 print I ordered was more like thick card-stock, not the traditional photo paper. With that, the print was gorgeous. They are a bit pricer though, as the 8×10 was more expensive than I personally charge clients for an 8×10 print.

Best Place to Print Your Photos for Large Prints or Archival Quality: Professional Lab

The biggest different in prints came when you got to the larger sized prints (anything 8×10 and larger). On the 12×18 prints I ordered (or 11×14 as Target did not have a 12×18 option), the colors started varying a ton. Also, the larger prints came rolled from both Target Photo and Shutterfly.

The cost difference was surprisingly not that different across all labs, while the quality was.

Since the larger prints are ones that will be more prominently displayed in your home (and for longer periods of time), the best choice is to go with quality over trying to save a few dollars. Larger prints make a larger statement, so you want to ensure the best lab choice.

My Print Lab Conclusion:

In the end, I was happy to find that my print labs quality won out. However, in understanding family’s needs vary, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Target Photo’s quality was decent on the 4×6 sized prints. If you’re looking for a few inexpensive prints to use for projects or to just have around the house, Target is a fine option.

However, if you’re looking for best overall quality, your photographer’s lab is the best option.

Looking for ideas and inspiration on ways to use your professional photos? I have you covered. Follow the link below.

Comments +

  1. joni.farris@live.com says:

    Neyssa – what is the website for “your photographers lab”?

  2. joni.farris@live.com says:

    Neyssa – what is the website for “your photographers lab”?

  3. joni.farris@live.com says:

    Neyssa – what is the website for “your photographers lab”?

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