How should I get my wedding photos printed?
December 1, 2005 11:57 AM   Subscribe

Wedding Photos: we decided to go with an all digital photographer for our wedding. How should we print the photos?

We can have the photographer print them (we've seen samples -- they look great), or pay a little more and get the hi-res images on disc and handle it ourselves. (More $ upfront, but then we have the original files.)

We have a Canon i9900 Bubblejet which does a decent job, with photos but I'm wondering about other options.

I seem to remember reading a thread on here a while back about how great Costco's photo service was. Is this true? Any other suggestions? And, while I'm at it, any recommendations of the best photo paper to print at home?
posted by papercake to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Good lord, definitely get the digital copies of the photos. I'd pay the photographer to print them, too. Negotiate a discount. If you have to print them yourself send them out to a service; don't print them at home. Costco is rumoured to be very good, mostly because unless you go to a high-end lab the whole printing process is automated so you might as well go with someone who's cheap and has decent machines. Apparently Costco does.
posted by Nelson at 12:01 PM on December 1, 2005

Flickr now has a photo print service, a friend of mine ordered some from them and they came out great.
posted by lohmannn at 12:09 PM on December 1, 2005

Response by poster: Nelson, thanks.

I should have been more clear: we will get the disc, eventually.

But right now, with the money we've already spent on the photographer, we can either get the disc or get some pics.

I'm wondering if there's a cheaper just-as-good-quality way to print our photos ourselves, to save us the some future cost.
posted by papercake at 12:11 PM on December 1, 2005

We did this too. We had an album made by the photographer plus CD's of the photos. For nicer copies we've had pro shops print them (the photographer being one of the shops, especially as he already has the prints on file at his shop). For quick prints we use our home printer or the epson picture mate we got just for such a purpose.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:13 PM on December 1, 2005

If you're using a Mac, the iPhoto option where you can print your own book (with a nice linen cover) is fantastic. Good quality, reasonable price and it holds up better than prints.
posted by ColdChef at 12:19 PM on December 1, 2005

Get the originals now. If you buy prints from the photographer, they are going to mark up the prices. You might as well use that money to get more than just a print or two. Ask the photographer where he/she gets their photos printed. They'll probably be glad to recommend some good, high quality shops - they'll want you to get the best print you can because people often blame the photographer when they've received a poor print. For the general public, places like Costco, Walmart or Sam's Club do a pretty good job, as do a number of online places like EZPrints.

Make sure you get a release with the photos as well. Lots of places will give you a hard time if you try to print professional photos without a release.
posted by undertone at 12:25 PM on December 1, 2005

Get the originals for sure. Our photographer recommends getting prints at Costco over smaller chain photo stores, because they have the volume that lets them invest in better equipment.

Printing yourself is fine for quick jobs but won't match the quality you'd get from a photofinisher.
posted by mendel at 12:30 PM on December 1, 2005

We went ahead and got the photos as offered by the photographer. We were presented with a book of proof photos. That book was taken around to our in-laws so they could each pick out a stack of favorites. My wife and I picked out some for our own album, and gave the whole order to the photographer. If I remember correctly, we were entitled to a very classilly bound book of 24 photos (5" by 7"), which we took. The rest of the photos came in loose stacks that we then mounted in albums that we purchased ourselves to give to our parents.

The photographer then offered us the original photos (hi-res) on CD for just a little more money. With that and the proof book (that we kept), we can print however many photos we might later want.

Could we have just printed them out ourselves? Maybe, but it would've been a lot of extra work and probably wouldn't have saved too much cash. Besides, after a year of wedding planning, it was nice to just let someone else work instead.
posted by grabbingsand at 12:31 PM on December 1, 2005

Printing photos yourself on an inkjet printer is almost always more expensive than getting discount prints made at places like Costco, even when following the printer manufacturers' optimistic cost-per-print specifications. Good inkjet photo paper is expensive, and the ink even more so.
posted by zsazsa at 12:38 PM on December 1, 2005

The one thing that hasn't been mentioned: friends and family often want prints as well. Many digital photographers upload them to a website, give you a password-protected URL (which you share with friends/family), and anyone with the password can select as little or as many as they want and order away.

Otherwise, family/friends bug you for prints.
posted by deadfather at 12:41 PM on December 1, 2005

To follow on to that, keep in mind that the photographers do charge a lot for the one-off prints. $5 for a 4x6, $8 for a 5x7, $15 for an 8x10. Prices like that. The package may be reasonable, but if a lot of family and friends will be buying them, that could be an issue.
posted by smackfu at 12:47 PM on December 1, 2005

We rec'd photos on CD and our photographer used to professionally print the digital images.
posted by cahlers at 1:12 PM on December 1, 2005

I use They do an above average job and are easy to use. They work with both amateur and pro photographers. Much better quality than Cosco or the marts and about the same $$. Be sure to use a archive quality paper.
posted by orlin at 1:38 PM on December 1, 2005

NortonDC and I are using to print our wedding photos, after we got a bound book from the photographer and 2 cds of digital photos. Ten cents a print for 4 x 6 prints. (They will also do 5 x 7, 8 x 10, and wallet size, and *also* have a handy little bound book option -- 20 double-sided pages, up to 3 photos per page, with or without captions that you can add, for $20, and a 25% discount on multiple copies. Woo hoo!)
posted by onlyconnect at 1:42 PM on December 1, 2005

I've shot a few sports, social and corporate events on a second-job basis and one thing I've learned is not to do the printing myself. Time consuming PITA and more expensive than using a lab. For anything more than very few prints it's a huge drag.

There are lots of different business models that individual pro's use, but more and more are moving to a hand-over-a-cd-and-be-done-with-it system or using web-based fulfillment. The old-school approach of trying to control and charge for everything has been killed off by the digital revolution, although some are still trying to hang on. The quality of printing from chain-stores is generally good enough these days that it's hard to justify the mark-up on providing the prints themselves using a "pro" lab.

If you do get the photographer to supply prints, you're buying a service as much as a product - he/she's the one who has to deal with the lab, keep everything organized and deliver the prints to you and yours - so some mark-up over lab cost is reasonable, whether it's a line-item on their bill or absorbed into their overall package price.

However you handle things, you need to seriously consider getting hi-res shots archived on cd and in your possession, even if you also get any prints you want from the photographer at the same time. Years down the line you'll still be able to get fresh prints. Whether you get the prints from the photographer as well is down to your budget, exactly what service is offered (album mounting and so on), how quick he can deliver and how much of a hurry you're in, and whether you want the hassle of organizing printing yourselves.

As already mentioned by undertone, get a release so you'll not be given grief by whatever lab you might eventually use. This should be routine for any pro who provides shots on cd for printing by the customer later.
posted by normy at 1:55 PM on December 1, 2005

Also, prints you do at home are not going to be archival unless you've got the right printer, ink and paper set up. (Some homemade inkjets fade after a few months.) If you use one of the labs, however, and they use Kodak Endura or Fuji Crystal Archive paper, you'll have prints that won't fade or color-shift. I email lots of my stuff to Walgreens (and then pick up the prints an hour later) because they use Fuji machines and archival Fuji paper and I find the color match to be very satisfactory when compared with my monitor.
posted by xo at 4:09 PM on December 1, 2005

I went through the unfortunate circumstance of our wedding photographer getting in a major car accident. Fortunately she recovered, but it took some time to get the original digital shots and film negatives.

If I were in your position, I'd get ahold of the originals ASAP, make copies, then look into getting prints. Your photographer doesn't have a magic print machine that makes better printed photos; you can get the same results yourself without the huge markup.

FWIW, I use Gallery to manage everything online (including unedited originals), so anyone that wants to download files for a print can do so.
posted by bh at 4:19 PM on December 1, 2005

Snapfish is great. Costco (mail order) prints, particularly in the 8x10 size, pale in comparison to the Snapfish prints.
posted by shoepal at 9:03 PM on December 1, 2005

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