A lot of photographers these days are providing the high resolution digital images.  Not only does everyone desire the instant gratification of sharing on social media and via email, but you have the freedom to make as many prints as you like, as big as you like (provided the proper resolution) and have them forever!  After paying hundreds, if not thousands for these images, you'll want to make sure you are using proper labs and proper finishes to display the highest print quality possible.  Read on to find out more!

professional photo printing by consumers

One of the biggest mistakes people make when ordering on their own is having the auto-correct box checked.  You do NOT want to have the lab auto correct your photos!  Your photographer has spent hours editing your photos to get the right colors and exposure, so make sure auto-correct is turned OFF (if given the option).

Luster or Glossy?  Luster (or e-surface) will give your photos a more professional, matte finish.  Glossy will reflect light-which can be pretty annoying, however the one upside to glossy is that your photos appear sharper (good to know for your personal photos, but not recommended for professional prints or large sizes).  

Black River Imaging is our favorite online consumer lab, and they also work with professional photographers, so their quality is really top-notch!  They offer a lot more than just prints and you would order online from home and they ship to your door.  Can't beat that!  I really love the quality of their canvases, too.

modern photo collage wall design

If Costco was closer to me, this would be my go-to, hands down.  Their one hour lab offers luster prints and the color is pretty consistent.  Side note-when I worked at a portrait studio, both the studio and Costco had the same printers.  By far Costco is my favorite local one-hour lab.  Downside?  You need a membership.

MintedTiny Prints and Magnet Street have a TON of designs for holiday cards, birth announcements, save-the-dates, and more.


I have heard great things about Blurb for photo books from our photografriends but have yet to try them out for myself!

There are a TON of convenient "photo labs" around.. CVS, Walmart, Target, etc.  The (one) problem with these places is consistency.  Anytime I've ordered from somewhere like this and was happy, I'd try again and just wasted money.  Blacks weren't black, skin color looked "off", photos were too dark, etc.  You also have to think, whoever is maintaining their printer, likely isn't a professional and if you paid a professional to take the photos, why would you pay a non-professional to print them??  Now if I'm being honest, when I am in a pinch and need some prints for the kids' school projects and things like that, CVS has served me pretty well.  I would never order from there for large prints to be displayed on my wall, but I do love the convenience since it's right around the corner from my house and they can be picked up in an hour (and Lord knows being a busy mom means last minute!).  Their one hour lab does not offer luster-another reason to stay away from somewhere like this for wall art.  

One more PSA.  If you received your images via download, go get yourself a flash drive, thumb drive, USB, external hard drive, etc.  God forbid something happens to your computer and you lose everything, at least your precious memories will be backed up somewhere else!  You can get these almost anywhere that sells electronics and the smaller USB's (2 or 4gigs) are pretty inexpensive.  Totally worth the investment for piece of mind.

Hopefully this post will serve you well.  Go ahead and get your photos off your computer and into frames, books, image boxes..something for future generations to hold and adore, especially since technology is always changing!  If you have any questions or recommendations, drop us a line in the comments.. we read them all!

Looking for a fun DIY project using your photos?  These photo blocks make for great ornaments, Christmas gifts, or even just home decor!