Affordable way to print and frame my photography?
August 23, 2015 2:36 PM   Subscribe

What's the easiest way to affordably turn some of my photos into framed art for my walls? I'm considering getting six of these 12x12 inch frames from Social Print Studio, each with a single 8x8 print. I like the idea of square frames, and 12x12 seems like a perfect size for building a collection over time... but I'm wondering... is $60 each overpriced? Is there's a better way?

Also: I have zero experience with printing... any advice for prepping my photos for printing? My photos are mostly abstract-ish, so I'm not worried about skin tones at all. In fact, I'm 99% sure I'll be doing black & whites.
posted by 2oh1 to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
If it's helpful, there's a link to my photography on my profile here.
posted by 2oh1 at 3:03 PM on August 23, 2015

I have never ordered one for myself, but several of my friends have ordered my prints through Society6 and reported that the prints were of excellent quality. You could also try Adorama; their highend stuff is reputed to be good.
posted by Nyx at 3:41 PM on August 23, 2015

I have a BFA and know a lot of artists and confirm that framing is just expensive. It's sort of a "thing" to learn to cut your own matts and do your own framing for that very reason - I know people who do side businesses doing this for friends, and I know of at least one biggish frame shop in the bay area that started this way (because the only thing worse than paying a lot for it, is paying a lot and finding out it's been done poorly or your work has been damaged! and they were reputable, etc.).

Anyway, it looks like the Social Print Studio price includes the printing of the picture - in which case I think it's a pretty good deal. You're getting something printed and made in the US too, which (I think) is good as well.

I also have heard good things about Artifact Uprising. I believe they would also do a print + frame deal.

As far as prepping your photos - calibrate your monitor anyway, to make sure light is being output in a consistent way so that the nuance of tone shows up properly. Make sure they're at least 300dpi, that they're the size you want them to print at, etc. Any service you use probably has a page of tips for working with them. If you have any questions about monitor calibration, MeMail me - the device I use I got from Amazon for under $50. I can't remember what it's called at the moment.

If you want to get prints and have them framed as separate exercises, I've heard good things about IPrintFromHome. They also have lots and lots of information about prepping your work for printing. Some of it is specific to them, but lots of it - and lots of the basic ideas - are universal.

Good luck!
(OH - If they don't do test prints, order one first and make sure you're happy. Then order the rest!)
posted by jrobin276 at 3:56 PM on August 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

you linked earlier to your photos right? or i was dreaming. for high contrast abstract b+w you might be happy just taking a usb stick to your local copy shop and seeing what they can do printing wise (try various places, and go when they're not busy, and then you can chat a bit and perhaps print multiple times - if you're lucky you'll get someone who'll show you the computer screen they use and let you specify different contrasts, etc). you normally want to be printing onto glossy paper of some kind. for frames, i root around in supermarkets - they often have frames on offer. you can buy card from an art store for cutting your own mat, if you want - that's easy enough with a metal ruler and sharp knife. so that's the low price route. you can also make your own frames - it's quite tricky, fine work, though (i've done it once that i'm happy with, and that's a frame for a large painting where i used floorboards).

for stuff i care more about (generally other people's photos so they've arranged the printing - either a place that cater to photographers in santiago centre, i think, or printing themselves, or at their college or whatever) i go to a professional framer. they vary a lot in quality, not much in price. and they are happy to make a frame to exactly my specs (material, colour, size, mount etc).

i live in chile, so i can't give you useful prices.
posted by andrewcooke at 4:01 PM on August 23, 2015

andrewcooke said: "you linked earlier to your photos right? or i was dreaming."

I did, but I forgot that we're not supposed to link to our own sites in questions here, so the link was removed by a mod. This is my photography. It's mostly black and white these days, mostly abstract-ish. I do street photography, except I shoot details such as stripes, patterns, textures, shapes and words out of context rather than people and scenes. It's a hobby!

For frames, I'd like something standard-ish, because I'd like to start small, with maybe three prints, and grow it over time to six, maybe even 12 eventually, and fill up a wall with a real collection of my own stuff.
posted by 2oh1 at 4:10 PM on August 23, 2015

If you're willing to go with a lower-quality frame but a nice print, I've had great luck with SnapBox Prints. They do a fine-art-paper print with a wide white border and frame for ridiculously cheap; it's not as fancy as custom matting, but it looks great and they'll do a 12x12 print-and-frame on lustre photo paper for $16. At that price, get one and see if you like it!
posted by you're a kitty! at 4:50 PM on August 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

ms scruss recently put together an exhibition of her photos, having never printed anything before. If you can find a local lab staffed by Real People (not just Costco-style envelope stuffers and cash takers), you'll get some great advice and get prints that look pretty much like you expected. She gave the lab (Northern Artists ProLab - you're not in Toronto, but they are great) 3-400 dpi JPEGs cropped to 8×10", and the results were really crisp.

8x8" and 12×12" are slightly non-standard sizes, so you'll find you may have to pay more. Spend more on the print, and less on the frame (raid Ikea, check Michael's weekly specials) and you'll be fine.
posted by scruss at 5:22 PM on August 23, 2015

I had the same issue. I bought these and don't hate them.

They don't have standard attachment pointa for a wire, but they worked for the faculty exhibit I was part of.
posted by cccorlew at 8:54 PM on August 23, 2015

In any event, I found a bunch on Amazon that seemed like they'd work. Just watch out as some look good in teh photos, but are plastic frames, or have plastic instead of glass in front.
posted by cccorlew at 8:55 PM on August 23, 2015

Buy frames with cut matte board at Ikea and have your prints made at Costco.
posted by conrad53 at 9:09 PM on August 23, 2015

Seconding Costco. It somewhat depends on YOUR Costco, but mine has a good crew and great prices.
posted by cccorlew at 9:19 PM on August 23, 2015

I probably should have specified in my question that I need to be able to do this either online or via mass transit... otherwise, Costco would be something I'd look into for printing as I've heard good things before. Then again, I've also heard bad things, so I assume it really depends on the location. Either way, Costco is out for me (or at the very least, inconvenient enough to be a last resort). Frames from IKEA are definitely an option I can do and am considering!
posted by 2oh1 at 10:04 PM on August 23, 2015

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