Printing your photography


This week it’s about printing your photographs, something that has given me headaches and eye sores for weeks on end. It’s not really something that is the cause of worry for most people, as they couldn’t care less if their colours look desaturated, or wanting it printed in a particular format. But I’m going to sum up my findings briefly, that could hopefully save someone like me a hell of a lot of trouble in the future.

Let’s get technical: your photographs. Most people will take snapshots, download them and that’s the end of it. But if some of you want to make a pretty little album with them, then you will have to print your photos. The colours will look are beautiful on your screen, but a few will come out washed out and dull in print. This is to do with CMYK and RGB. I’m sure most of you have heard those terms. Basically, RGB uses filters add colours to black (your screen) and CMYK uses filters to take colours away from white (on paper). RGB gives a much wider range of saturated colours than CMYK, especially bright blues, greens and pinks. Some printers have set modes to try to compensate, and you can make adjustments in photoshop, but be careful because the sliders work differently in RGB mode than in CMYK mode. And whatever you do, it will never be as colourful as RGB.

Once you’ve come to terms with that, or gone crazy trying to adjust each and every image, there’s several different ways to go about printing your photographs:

(a) Scrap books

These are still a big favourite of mine, there’s nothing like getting down and dirty with some glue! But of course you need to print your photos first. Depending on how many photos you plan on printing out it may be worth seeing if you can get a good deal for a set number of photos through an online company such as Snapfish. I’ve also heard ASDA is really cheap. Most of the time the printers they use are standard, so quality-wise there won’t be MUCH difference.

(b) Printed on paper, DIY photoalbums (for the non-professional)

I’ve made two of these, and they do take a lot of time than your traditional photo albums, but it’s well worth it. They instantly look extremely professional. I used Photobox at the time, and was pleased with the quality, although some edges did get cut off, quite badly. The online programme is also a bit fidgety, but if you have the patience, go for it. It has a good warning system to let you know the quality is too poor.

(c)  Printed books

The cheapest option if you want to design your book completely are Lulu, Blurb or Bob books. Not only can you order print books through these services for yourself, but you can also advertise your books with them, and allow people to order their own copies. I only have experience with Blurb, but Lulu even allows you to make your own ebooks as well. They have designing software that allows you more creative freedom with pre-set templates, overcoming almost any irritating feature, as well as having InDesign (and other programme) add-ons. I’ve had alignment issues with blurb, but they will reprint for free if there is an error. People who’ve used Bob books don’t have anything bad to say from what I heard.

(d) Magazines

Creating single or a few copies of a magazine is difficult, as most printers want at least 25 copies or so. The best option at the moment is HP’s Magcloud, and I was reluctant because they use quite thick paper, and it’s only semigloss. However, with no others like it out there, I did go for them and it’s a very cheap option that’s high quality. I was very impressed with the pages, being a lot glossier than I’d expected, and having a harder cover makes it look very professional. But because the pages are thicker 70 starts looking quite thick already. I had problems with the margins – there was no trimming from the bleed, so I had some white margins on some pages and test was close to the spine. The only other cheapish option that I found was Daisywheel, but they don’t have add-ons for e.g. InDesign, and if you want to create your own design you have to upload each page from scratch in jpeg format, and I was dubious about what that would do to image res. They also require at least 5 prints.

(e) Larger prints

I’ve personally never printed anything in a larger format, but Digitalab and The Print Space have quite a good reputation.

I'd like to know your opinion too

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