Best place for photo printing *and* framing?
November 7, 2013 12:29 PM   Subscribe

Starting to think about holiday gifts, and I have received a request for one of my photos printed and framed. What is the best way to turn a photo into a gift? (Bonus difficulty: the original photos are analogue/film with a square aspect ratio.)

I shoot film, then scan digitally. I can do my own B&W darkroom prints, but not color. In the past, I've had American Frame print and frame photos, but I was never really happy with plexiglass instead of real glass and I had a bad customer service experience last time I used them.

I'm lucky enough to still have a real photo store in my area (Calumet, formerly Penn Camera) but I haven't had them do any printing for me since they changed hands. I'm concerned that their film services are a bit of an afterthought now; it's taking me up to 2 weeks to just have B&W developed anymore.

I guess my options are:

(A) Get a print done from the original negative, then have it framed at a local craft-type store.

(B) Get a print done from the original negative and try to find an off-the-shelf frame/mat in a square format.

(C) Send a digital scan to someone, somewhere to print and frame for me.

I'd kind of like to keep the budget at around $50. Any advice appreciated! (This is the photo I'm thinking of, if it makes a difference.)
posted by JoanArkham to Media & Arts (5 answers total)
Some Target stores (to give an example) have Kodak scan-and-print stations at the front. You either plug in a USB stick, memory card, scan your photo on the attached flatbed scanner, etc. You then pick the size of the enlargement (4x6, 5x7, 8x10). It prints out your photo; you pay at the cashier.

I did this with some wedding photos earlier this week. It's easy. The paper is glossy Kodak photo paper of one kind or another. I don't know if glossy is an issue for you.

Other than Target, you could try drug stores. The Bartells and Walgreens in my area also have self-service photo processing stations that look almost identical in functionality.

Then you either go elsewhere in Target/etc. and look for a picture frame you like that matches the size of your print, or you go to a dedicated framing store (example) where they usually have stock glass frames available.

You should be able to do this under your budget unless the enlargement is huge. I framed a nice 5x7 photo for $20: $2 for the print and $18 for the frame.

If you have a custom photo size, then you could perhaps print out the image at one of the set enlargements and then slice it with a cutting board. A dedicated frame store should have stock square frames, I'd think.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:08 PM on November 7, 2013

I wouldn't be surprised if you had difficulty finding a lab that still does color prints from film without using a lightjet (where the image is scanned and then printed on photographic paper). I worked in a one-hour lab 10 years ago, and this was how we made prints from film.

If you know anything about working with color profiles and have a calibrated monitor, I would find a lab (locally or online--white house custom color is one) that provides the ICC profiles for their paper/printer. Most, if not all, decent print shops will have ICC profiles available.

Since it doesn't sound like you're too concerned about archival framing or anything like that, you could try to find an off-the-shelf frame you like and get a custom mat cut.

off-topic, but the reason it might be taking you so long to get B&W film developed anymore is probably because there's not a lot of people who are still sending their film out to labs. B&W is so simple to do at home that most people I know who shoot B&W either develop it at home or pay the $30/roll to have someone do it by hand.
posted by inertia at 1:59 PM on November 7, 2013

Target usually has some square frames. I'd find the frame first and then print the picture the proper size to fit in the frame rather than the opposite.
posted by artychoke at 8:21 PM on November 7, 2013

What about printing the image onto canvas? not framed, but it's still a great quality. Google 'print to canvas' for many options.
posted by hydra77 at 11:49 PM on November 7, 2013

You can do this for far less than $50. Many labs can still handle negatives, and now there are specialty stores around that specialize in just this sort of thing. Then you can buy square frames with mattes from pretty much anywhere. I've hung frames from Ikea in photo shows with not a single negative reaction. They're almost criminally cheap, south of $10.
posted by nevercalm at 7:30 AM on November 12, 2013

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