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How to Show Clients the Value of Professional Photographic Prints


Are your clients getting their prints from the same place they get shampoo?

Enjoying photographs on your iPad, phone, or computer is nice. However, it’s the final print that matters most. Making an image look great on screen is art. Making the same image look great in print is another kind of art.

As a photographer, I often struggle with how to best showcase my work. After all, 90 percent of art lies in presentation. Fine-art printing, I’ve discovered, is a blend of art and science… not much different than photography itself.

Why work with a Pro Lab?

When it comes to printing, I tell myself: “Do what you do best, and delegate the rest.” I’m a photographer, not a master print technician. There are people who print better than I can, which is why I’m happy to outsource this important part of my business to experts.

The last thing I want is a disappointed client – a client who loves her images when she sees them on screen, but ends up with muddy prints, inaccurate skin tones, and images with the sharpness of a butter knife.

Which is why I rely on professional labs to do the heavy lifting of masterful printing. They know and understand the science of how printers work best. They know when to change toner, how different types of paper absorb ink, understand the importance of a color-managed workflow, and know the precise way to sharpen prints so they look their best.

What’s the difference anyway?

Images should look better in print than on screen. Always. That’s where the art and science in printing mesh. If they don’t, then you’ve got a poor quality print. While bright computer displays make images glossy and beautiful, they also don’t yield consistent, accurate color (think about looking at a bunch of TVs lined-up at Walmart). Unfortunately, many labs make the mistake of assuming that if a print looks “close enough” to the computer monitor, then it’s good enough. False! An untrained eye (your client) CAN notice inaccurate skin tones, muddy colors, and overall lackluster appearance. And they’ll be unhappy with YOU – their photographer – for delivering a lackluster final product.

In the end, the final print should reflect and compliment the image in the mind’s eye of the photographer, which is highly subjective. That’s even more reason to partner with a professional lab that can create stunning prints for you and your clients.

How can photographers sell that value to their clients?

Holding actual prints from a Pro Lab goes a long way in assessing quality. Physically placing prints side-by-side, in your client’s hands, will make a huge difference. In fact, I think it’s the best way to educate them about the value of professional photographic prints. There’s no comparison to what big box stores pass off as “quality prints.” Trust me.

Pictured above are actual Pictage prints in various formats – all sized 8×10, which is something my clients like to see when choosing aspect ratios/crop ratios (like how to print an 8×10 that’s in a 4×6 format). Notice how the bride’s tiara is cut off in the “full-frame” crop, an important detail that many brides are frustrated seeing, if they don’t understand the difference. I show them this little demo during our first meeting, so they understand how final photographic prints will appear – and they thank me later!

I assure my clients that I want them to have an enjoyable experience with their images, not a frustrating one. I tell clients that I guarantee the quality of any images – as long as they order through my Pro Lab. This relieves burden, time, and hassle of working with big box stores. It’s also a service to your busy clients, who don’t have time to deal with bad customer service at big box photo retailers.

When clients receive their images carefully wrapped in tissue paper and presented in a beautiful gift box, they know they worked with a pro from start to finish. That’s what I want them to tell their friends.

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About RJ Kern

Photographer RJ KernRJ Kern is a Minneapolis Wedding Photographer who loves to create as much as share. He loves to share his enthusiasm in his free photographer resources blog posts. He’s been enjoying the process of bringing back medium format into the wedding market, but this time using pixels. Tech humor, duct tape, creativity… garnished with light… remains an important part of his photography style. RJ has been a Pictage user since 2006. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

The NEW ShootQ is Complimentary while in Beta mode for the next few months.  Enjoy!
The NEW ShootQ is Complimentary while in Beta mode for the next few months.  Enjoy!