The negative is the equivalent of the composer's score, and the print the performance. - Ansel Adams
While digital images may not be the same as a film slide, this is still true about prints. Holding images in hand is the most emotional and satisfying stage in the lifecycle of a digital photograph. Albums and photo wall art bring me and my friends/clients much more joy and pride on a daily basis than a digital album sunk deep into my hard drive somewhere. So today, we're talking about how to make sure we get our favorite images through a printer and into our hands.
Here are my tips for what to do now:
Make a goal for printing based on what you want and what you value. What is your goal? You may want monthly family albums. You might want an album for each child for each year. Or 10 prints each month to display in the dining room. Set your goal. Personally, I want small albums for events (birthdays & vacations), nice books for each child's first year, and quarterly/annual books for the family's "everyday" moments.
Choose your tools. Below is a review of my current favorite tools & apps for family photo printing. Use these or go with other companies, doesn't matter as long as it gets done. And please let me know if you know of something awesome out there I should share!
Create a schedule and set reminders to make this happen. Thanks to current technology, some of this process can be automated but it is still a great idea to set aside time on your calendar to make sure this gets done. You can combine it with your weekly or monthly photo organization time since you'll be working with photos anyway. I'd start with one hour every 4 weeks and adjust as necessary.
There are many great album printers out there and you want to choose what fits your specific needs and style. Do you like fun album design with graphics and text or something clean and white? Is it a special occasion album or more of a utility album? Do you have time to create the design in their software? All of these things matter.Whatever you choose, just make sure you stick with it so the album collections have a cohesive feel. I've narrowed down my choices to:
Chatbooks - The thing that makes Chatbooks really unique (awesome for us busy people) is that it's automated. Every time you have 60 new photos in your social media feed (or 60 chosen from your phone), it alerts you that it's time for a new book. And unlike many other options, there's no designing step either, it's just one image per page. You select the photos you want excluded and bam, they send you an album. And it's cheap (no I don't work for these people, I just think their business model is a great one). It is PERFECT for capturing your everyday moments. I've actually created a private Instagram account so I can go backwards in time to fill in our past with Chatbooks even easier.
Artifact Uprising - Known for their quality and clean aesthetic, AU is perfect for more of a baby book, something to be treasured. Their products are lovely and their design interface is easy and minimal (seriously, if the design process takes too long, it just never happens for me). It definitely costs more than something like Chatbooks but it is for a different purpose and worth it, in my opinion.
Blurb & Mpix are also great solutions for higher end paper, all have slightly different styles and offerings. I'm still deciding between one of these or AU for our vacation and birthday books. Apple books, Snapfish, and Shutterfly are both popular for quick and easy album printing and are known for their affordability.
Prints & Gifts
Printing at a drug store, Target, or WalMart is doing your photos a disservice. Especially if they are professional images. The color, the longevity of the ink, and the paper are all sub-par, at best. Here are three of my favorite consumer labs, all have great products and trustworthy reputations.
Mpix - Mpix is the consumer side of one of my favorite pro printing labs, Miller's. I always suggest Mpix for prints to my clients when I send off their digital copies. The color is accurate and the service & cost are both great. You can print directly from your app and they also make albums (as mentioned above) as well as wall art, cards, and invitations.
Persnickety Prints - Persnickety also has a good reputation for printing. Aside from traditional print products, they have easy Instagram printing and Polaroid inspired 3x4s, little Insta-calendars, and mini albums. Their app is really helpful as well, allowing uploads from pretty much anywhere you store photos (Dropbox, Facebook, etc).
Pinhole Press - While they don't offer standard prints, Pinhole Press is known for fun and creative products. My favorite Pinhole Press product are their board books for kids. How fun is that? Kids love looking through their personalized books. I also love their photo magnets and puzzles. They make great gifts! Definitely give them a peek.
Looking at prints with your kids or seeing your family photos on the walls every morning is good for your soul. It grounds us and reminds us what's important. It's also good for your child's self-esteem! So set those goals and let's get this done.
Until next time!