How to Make Printed Photographs Look Their Best

December 27, 2020

Have you ever wanted to learn how to print quality photos? Take a look at these common mistakes people make when printing photos, so you can print your photos just like the pros.


In this digital world, we very often see people invest in professional portraits but then their photos are only displayed on digital screens or social media. I’m here to tell you why printed photos are the best!

If you want to see printed photos in your home, I’m totally on board with you!

So you have a photo you’re excited about. You can’t wait to add it to a picture frame and hang it up on a wall in your home. But when you go to print the photo, you hit that print button, and out comes a hot mess. What happened? Images can be tricky as prints. There’s a lot of color space and resolution mumbo jumbo to know.

Let’s face itour home printers are just not up to the task a lot of the time.


Avoid These 5 Common Printing Mistakes


Here are a few things that could be standing in the way of you and that extra special print. First and foremost, if you want to learn how to print photos at home, take a look at these common mistakes to avoid!


1) Lighting


Prints lean towards the dark side (force pun, anyone?). This is because computer monitors are lit from behind, and often quite brightly!

When we go to print that photo out, we may be shocked to see how much of a difference that backlighting made.

A test print can come in handy if it’s available, but when in doubt, give the photo exposure or brightness a little boost before hitting print. I tend to set my computer brightness at 50% whenever I’m evaluating a photo edit for printing. Depending on where I print, maybe even less!


2) Color Calibration


This is one of a few reasons why photos look different online compared to prints.

Digital screens and printers don’t always agree on the color. The green you see on screen may not be the same green on paper and ink.

There are several things you can do to align the printer and screen, from color calibrating your monitor, to using photo-specific printing supplies.

Depending on the print lab, they may need your image files to be in a specific “color space” setting, too.

The technical details of correcting color issues can end up more trouble than it’s worth. If you find yourself in this camp, work with your professional photographer to get the prints you need without the hassle of color calibration.


3) Images Are Too Enlarged


Some people tend to over-crop or over-zoom in on an image that doesn’t have a lot of image information to begin with. This will leave you with splotches of square colors that resemble nothing like the original.

Using a professional camera with a large amount of megapixels gives more freedom to crop and zoom in. However, there are still limitations to this.

A professional photographer will understand the limitations of their gear, so that your prints should never look pixelated or distorted this way.

Want to start your own professional photography business? I offer photography mentorships where I can teach you what gear to use!


4) Bad Retouching


Another issue that arises when printing, especially larger prints, is bad retouching.

Doing a mediocre retouching job may be fine on small prints or digitals, but when you magnify an image to 40-inch wall art, you’re going to notice any cut corners.

The retouching has to be flawless when printing large, period.


5) Avoid At Home Printers


Many at-home printers are just not optimized for quality photos. The same goes for the printer paper. It’s not the most economical way to do it these days either.

Professional print labs can do high-quality prints faster, better, and with less expense than ever before. However, these labs also vary in quality.

Low-cost retail labs are geared towards profit, and may use lower-quality materials (hello, fading!), skimp on ink (bye-bye, beautiful details), or take other shortcuts that compromise the memories you’re trying to save.

For the images that matter the most, ask your photographer. A trusted, professional print lab is the best way to print professional photos.


If you’re interested in hiring a professional photographer, you can learn more about my photography services here!




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