“What are the differences in printing companies and what should I look for when selecting one”?
This is a question that I hear a lot from people. It seems that anyone that has the money can get a printer (and many people and companies do) thinking that they can start offering printing services. So what are the differences you should look for.
1) Make sure that the printer that you use is knowledgeable towards colors and density. If I hear one more time that the color is “yucky” I am going to loose it!! There is a reason that a color is off, and a good printer will know the difference between cyan and blue and magenta and red. There is NO adjustment when printing to remove “yucky”, it is a color and / or density issue.
2) A good printer will have a balanced printing system so what you see on the monitor is what you will get when printed. If they tell you “it is close” run fast. Close is not for printing.
3) Training, training and training. In my 30 years I have taught many people how to see colors, density, sharpness and how to select the correct media for printing on. Many places figure that they can give you one choice of the media, or maybe two choices, and that will make your images look good. Each image is individual and needs to have the correct media selected to make it look the best. Printing is an art and cannot be learned in a month or two!
4) Equipment, ink and paper. Many places will buy a printer based on price and then look for cheap paper and ink to print on. This is so wrong. Printers are designed for specific things, some are made for poster prints (most actually), some are made for photographs (few), using the wrong printer will effect the final print. Likewise using cheap inks and paper will result in premature fading and poor quality prints. There is a reason that a print costs a few cents, the company has cut corners to get the low price and it will be seen in the quality or longevity of the print.
5) Finishing options. So you want a print but once you have it what are you going to do with it? Are you going to spend the money to have it custom framed, put it in an album or gift it as it is? Giving a 16×20 print that is not mounted will usually result in damaging the print, likewise mounting a 4×6 print will mean you need to get a custom frame for it. A good printer will ask these questions and help you select the proper media for the end use. Likewise a canvas print that is not properly coated is just an expensive short term image that will fade and get damaged, coating your canvas print will make sure that it lasts for a long time and will keep it looking great! Make sure that your printer knows the difference!
6) Professional service. You can go many places and drop off files to be printed or even upload on the net. But what is happening once the images leave your care? Are they being checked for problems or just printed? Is the person that is doing the printing just using your print as a means to increasing their bottom line? Once again a good printer will care about the image as much as anything, a good printer is not just covering a department on their break or printing to increase frame sales, a good printer cares about the image!