Why You Should Print Your Photos

January 26, 2010
f/4.0 (gah! shoulda been at least f/8), 1/160sec, 14mm, ISO 200

f/4.0 (gah! shoulda been at least f/8), 1/160sec, 14mm, ISO 200

I’m about to get a bunch of my photos printed and framed from my 52 Photowalk project last year (including the one you see above), and I thought this would be a good time to discuss why I think this is such an important thing to do.

To Motivate You

Motivation is a huge factor when it comes to printing up my photos – especially if I know this is my ultimate goal. When I started my 52 Photowalk challenge last year, I was already thinking about what I would do when I was done. I was hoping to get at least a few photos to print and frame, and I was also planning on making a book that included at least one photo from every walk. Going into the project knowing that was a goal motivated me not only to get out there every week, but really pay attention to what I was photographing and thinking about how it would look on a wall or in a book. There’s a big difference for me between the type of photo that I take specifically to post online and the type of photo that I take thinking I might one day print it up. I might take a funny self-portrait for a group on flickr, but I’m much more likely to take photos of landscapes to print in my house.

Printing photos also motivates me after-the-fact. There’s something so exciting about getting that package in the mail that has my photos in it, opening it up and feeling my photos in my hand. It’s really hard to feel like I’m in a photography rut when I’m physically holding a photo of mine. It really just fires me up to get out there and take more photos!

To Make You Feel Like It’s All Worth It

First Photo PrintedThe first time I saw one of my photos in print (which, btw, was the photo you see to the right), I was so happy with it. This particular photo wasn’t even one of my favorites, but I was amazed at how good I felt about it when I saw it in print. We’ve all put photos online. Anyone can put a photo online – and while anyone can print up a photo, too, most people don’t these days. You really feel like you’ve “made it” when you’ve got one of your photos hanging on your wall. Especially if someone sees it and says it’s beautiful!

Besides, most of us have put a lot of money towards our cameras and accessories, and it makes you feel like it was just a bit worth it to see some results on our wall.

What You Should Print

Most of my photos that I’ve gotten printed up are 5×7s or 8×10s. These are relatively cheap to print and very easy to find frames for. Plus, by getting all my photos in standard sizes, I can easily switch them out when I get a new batch of photos printed.

Gallary Wraps

That being said, last year I splurged on a set of 3 16×24 canvas gallery wraps – where your photo is printed on canvas and stretched around a frame, as you can see here. While it was definitely pricey, as soon as I got them in the mail, I knew it was worth it. I can’t afford to do this with all my photos (nor would I want to), but I think it’s important to splurge every once and a while and do something really special like this with your photos. (If you’re curious about how big those canvas wraps are, I took a photo of me standing next to them for reference a while ago, and you can see that here).

Where You Should Print

I can’t give too much input into this one. I have only ever used mpix.com for all my photo printing. I used them once and was happy enough with the results that, to be honest, I was afraid to try anywhere else in case they weren’t as good! No matter where you choose to go with, though, I suggest you try a small order first to make sure you like the quality before you order a large batch. I also suggest you check out to see if they have a calibration kit. Mpix offers one here – the idea is that they send you a photo they’ve printed, along with a matching photo on a disc so that you can make sure the photo looks the same on your monitor as it will when it prints. While you could just get one of your own photos printed to compare, the mpix photo contains a grayscale and spectrum, as well as 4 different types of photos on them to really test every aspect of your monitor calibration.

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  • Guys,

    It's really great topic, it's really more useful for printing own Photos.


  • Guest

    I tried to print two of my favorite shots but unfortunately i had a very disappointing result. the print-out had crop my picture I wanted an 8 x 10 for starter. when i saw it i told the guy at the counter that my picture is not right its been cropped and he said because i wanted an 8 x 10 that the machine will crop some parts of the picture.... need help how to make sure that it wont happen again.

  • Yeah, that's a common problem, unfortunately. The best way to combat it is to crop all your images first before you print them - which is what I do. Both Picasa and Gimp have really ways to crop to standard formats (like 8x10), so if you use either of those pieces of software and want to know how to do it, let me know and I can point you in the right direction.

    Also, I print all my photos from mpix.com (they print and ship surprisingly fast and I've always been happy with the quality) and if your photo doesn't exactly match the size you order, they'll show you how they're going to crop it, so you can see what will be cut off, and you can and the crop there on the site if you want - so that's another way of going about it.

  • domesticexecutive

    The only printing I have done it to produce a calendar of my favourite basset hound photographs that my family and friends have to endure! I think the thing that puts me off is knowing I have to calibrate my monitor, sort out printing, frame them and if I still have the energy put them on the wall. The beauty of having a blog is you can show your photographs without all that effort. You are right though and I think I'll make an Easter present to myself to print photographs for my home office wall which are currently bare.

    I've finally sorted a place for my daily snaps on my and will get onto my first photograph project for February. http://www.domestic-executi... Thanks for the inspirational shove in the right direction.

  • Did you just come over to my house? Did you notice that none of the 7000 pictures I took last year are hanging on my own walls? Stop snooping on me!

    Fine. I'll go print some pictures. Then I'll floss. And call my mother. In. That. Order.

    Actually, my problem is that I don't value my stuff enough to hang it up. I love many of the pics I've made, but when it comes time to drop $10 to print it and put it in a frame? Cheapskate. I know it is good enough to hang in my own house, but gosh darn it I just want everything to be free!

    Maybe it is time to splurge on a gallery wrap (I've drooled over those before) to help me convince myself its good quality stuff.

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