Where to Print Professional Photos

Jul 25, 2023

Where to Print my Professional Newborn Photos

Where to print photos in San Diego

In today’s digital age, most professional photographers offer something that was rarely provided to clients decades ago – digital images.  So what to do with these digital images besides posting them to social media and sharing them with family and friends?  Printing them!  This is probably the most important and very first thing that should be done when receiving your digital images from your photographer.  As a newborn photographer in San Diego, CA, making sure my clients select the best companies to print their beautiful newborn photographs that will be consistent with color and quality, is extremely important to me.  Let’s chat about where to print professional photos to ensure the best retention in quality, color and consistency.

Here’s a little known secret I will share with you.  Many years ago, you could only order professional prints from your photographer.  Your photographer would either have their own photo printer or would order your prints for you from a professional print lab.  These professional print labs work exclusively with professional photographers to ensure quality on both ends.  Somewhere about 18-ish years ago when DSLR cameras became more widely used, and old school prints using negatives became a thing of the past, professional photographers began doing something new… offering digital images for purchase instead of prints, or in addition to them.  Why?  Well for some photographers, it was easier – they could just send over client galleries electronically and never have to lift a finger to print or order anything for their clients.  With the rise of social media, especially Facebook, clients loved that they could take those professionally created photos and share them online with friends and family to enjoy.  However, professional print labs began to feel the change – less and less photographers were ordering professional prints from their companies.  So these professional print labs decided to roll with the changing times and instead of allowing regular folks to be able to have access to the professional labs, they created additional consumer based businesses that cater to you – the client!  So, when you order from one of the labs I recommend below, you’ll know that you are actually ordering from a company that originally prints for your professional photographer!

Best places to print my photos

Let’s cut right to the chase!  While I’ll share a few other consumer print labs below, here are my top two recommendations for where to print professional photos that I feel are the best in keeping a consistent quality and color profile.

If you’re a San Diego local, I recommend printing your professional photos at Pro Lab Prints, AKA Fromex Pro Lab.  They are located near San Diego State University on El Cajon Blvd.  They’re a local small business and great spot if you need same day printing services.  The quality of their work is extremely consistent and the quality is on par with what I expect from a professional lab.

My second recommendation is for Unit Prints.  They are located in Michigan, so for my clients, orders are made online and shipped fairly quickly.  Same as above, I find their quality, consistency and colors to be perfect and represent my work beautifully.

Professional photo printer near me

How to prepare my photos for printing

Besides finding where to print professional photos, an important aspect of ordering is how to prepare your files before hitting the ‘order now’ button.  Most labs will have either a ROES system or an easy to use online ordering system.  Sometimes ordering can get a little overwhelming with all of the different options. You’ll have options to have your prints mounted, matted, coated and color corrected.

First of all, it’s important to have the full resolution digital image properly downloaded or saved.  Don’t ‘right click’ to save your images from your screen – this will guarantee the crummiest of quality print.  Instead, use the ‘download’ button from your photographer’s photo gallery to ensure that your are downloading the full resolution image.  Once you have your full resolution digital image gallery properly saved to your computer, you’re now ready to order prints!

One of the most important things I recommend doing when ordering is to TURN OFF the ‘color correction’ option.  Your professional newborn photographer has spent literally HOURS working on your photos, ensuring that the colors are exactly how they should be. Keeping the option for color correction ON will mess with the image and will alter the colors in your prints.

You might also be asked if you wish to have your print mounted or sprayed with a special coating.  What’s all that?  Well, I DO indeed recommend both mounting and coating your images that are bigger than an 8×10 size.  Why?  The larger the print, the more your print will have a tendency to get ‘wavy’ over time.  Humidity, heat, horizontal hanging, etc will contribute to your photographic print losing its ‘flatness’ over time.  The solution to prevent any of this is to have your print mounted.  Most companies will offer styrene or gator board.  My personal preference is for styrene.  It’s kinda like a plasticky thin cardboard that your print is professionally glued to, keeping it rigid and firm.  Adding a coating is useful if you plan to have your print displayed in a sunny spot in your home, where the UV rays can affect the print over time.  The UV coating is sort of like  sunscreen for your prints.  It will also protect against smudge marks from fingers.

Where to print my photos in San Diego

What size photos should I order?

For desktop prints to display around the house, I love a 5×7 inch size.  It’s not too small, not too big, and perfect to have framed and put up on your shelf or console table.

For wall art in clusters, I recommend a minimum size of  11×14, and for individual art pieces to frame individually as one piece only, I recommend a minimum of 16×24.

I always recommend keeping the original aspect ratio of your photo, the way your professional photographer created it.  Usually, but not always, your professional photo will be a natural 5×7 inch ratio.  So if you are wanting to enlarge your photo, try to stick with that ratio in order to keep all of the details from being cropped out of your image.  Your professional photographer has created your images to be printed exactly as creatively crafted.  Take a look at the sample below.  I took this photo of this sweet little guy with the vision of keeping all of the details) moon, stars, positioning of baby’s body intact.  Cropping this image to an 8×10 size would cut into the edges of the moon and would remove a star from the other side, and really, it just changes the feel of the image from the way I created it.

Can I crop my photos

Is glossy or luster better for my photos?

I am a big luster girl.  Sounds funny, but really – I prefer my professional prints to be created on luster paper versus glossy.  Don’t get me wrong, glossy photos are great in certain circumstances, but I find that luster prints reflect a better array of colors and contrasts as they were meant to be printed.  Many labs might even give you the option to go with lots of different options such as pearl, metallic and deep matte.  I like to personally keep it simple and go with a timeless print.  Luster all the way!

Where to print my photos online

For their quality and handling of professionally created photos, I recommend the following photo print labs:

Where NOT to print my professional photos

Ok guys, as much as I love these stores for their convenience (and excellent food courts for one in particular), please take my word for it.  The following labs are awesome if you need to print photos off of your phone or for a quick school project, but please understand that there is a BIG difference between printing professional photos and printing iPhone photos.  The reason why I caution you against bringing your investment in professionally created full resolution digital images to one of the labs below is mainly due to quality control issues.  You see, most of the places listed below use printing machines that are not maintained daily and calibrated for professional use.  They are meant to print a ton of photos quickly and do not have a professional human monitoring each image that comes out for consistency.  The colors are always off and the feel of the actual photographic paper is thin and cheap.  These prints are not archival in quality.  Again, I am not dissing these companies and am also guilty of using these places for a quick photo here or there for use in a school craft project for the kiddos, and my daughter routinely orders from one as she likes to work on her scrapbooks, using photos from her iPhone. So let me reiterate:  The below places are good for photos taken from your phone but NOT recommended for printing your super expensive, fancy, professional photos that you just spent a crap-ton on.  Trust me, your photographer will cry if she ever finds out that you printed your treasured professional portraits here…

I do not recommend printing your professional photos at:

  • Walgreens
  • CVS
  • Costco
  • Shutterfly
  • Snapfish
  • FreePrints
  • Target
  • Walmart

I hope this blog post has helped you find where to print professional photos.  So go upload, print and display those beautiful newborn portraits!