Pro Prints vs Drugstore Prints…it DOES matter!

So…you just dropped a hefty chunk of change getting your photos done with a professional photographer…what now? Well, in this day and age, the most popular option would be to buy the digital package so you can print your photos yourself and share with friends and family online. Makes sense, right? You want to save money…and it’s easy as pie to go to a one hour studio and have the print to hang on your wall that night! We’ve all done it (myself included.)

Well, that way is not always the best choice. I have seen this “post” done by several photographers on their blogs… but I was always skeptical. I always thought “oh yeah, that’s edited.” Well… I decided to try it for myself…and let’s just say, I am REALLY shocked. I have heard how bad consumer labs can be…but now I have seen it for myself. I can promise you that these are the prints in their true form. I have not done ANY editing whatsoever, other than just scanning the photo onto my computer and adding the lab name.


Each lab took their different spin on the photo…but ultimately, even the untrained eye can see what is wrong with each “version.”

Here’s another example. This time, I chose a photo with an “off white” background, just to see how the labs would work on that.


As one of my friends told me “It looks like a rainbow!” and it’s true! It personally makes me sad that THIS is how my work may possibly be displayed…especially since you (the client) spend hard earned cash on the experience of a professional photo session and are left with these as keepsakes (and the fact that they may be passed on to future generations!) and that I spend HOURS upon HOURS working on your session for it to turn out like this! yuck!  It’s hard for me to swallow because as you can see…these examples are NOT what my work looks like…so if you order these prints, and you see how it comes out…it’s NOT ME! I promise!!!

Obviously these labs are great for printing snapshots where you don’t really care about quality…but if you are going to spend money on a great photo session that you can pass on to future generations, why waste it? Just some food for thought.

ADDED NOTE: Lab results will vary based on location. If you do decide to still print through these labs, be sure to click on “do not color correct” so your print gets as close to the photographer’s work as possible. Also…this post is not intended to “bash” these big box photo labs. It’s meant to educate…and show my clients the method to my madness! Also…if you do decide you do want to print the photos yourself, check out Although they aren’t going to get their colors EXACTLY with the photographer (it’s best if THEY do the ordering, that way they can take it up with the lab if the prints are off) they’ve been the best I have noticed from experience.

Edited to add (January 24, 2014)
This post was intended for my client’s eyes. If you are a photographer wanting to learn more, please feel free to contact me 🙂

Want to see another example? Check out my friend Lindsey over at Feather Blue Photography’s post!

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