Save Money and Frusteration On Professional Quality Photo Prints

Francisco Andaur (Fran Juan DeMarco) + Friend / People Photographing People Photographing People by NewMindSpace, South Street Seaport, NYC / 20090919.10D.54206 / SMLMost of us have had professional portraits taken at some point or another. Over the last decade however, the professional photography business has transitioned from using film to digital format. The biggest advantage to this change is being able to purchase the rights to all of the photos.

Digital Vs Film Photos

In the film era, all you were able to do is buy prints straight from the photographer, and you did not receive near as many photographs as you do with digital. I am sure there were photographers that did just hand over all the undeveloped rolls of film, but you had no idea what you were getting and it was not cheap to develop film.

So you have bought the rights to all of the fantastic photos your professional photographer provided you, now its time to buy prints. Should you buy them straight from the photographer? Or should you take them to your local drug store or Wal-Mart to be printed? Are there any other options?

Professional vs Drug Store Photo Prints

Have you ever compared a drug store print side by side to a professional print? Can you tell a difference? A majority of people can and it does such an injustice to a professional photo to have it printed at the drug store. A professional quality print is a piece of art. Do you really want to spent a good chunk of money on a professional photographer, just to have an OK quality print suitable for your fridge instead a piece of art to hang on your wall?

The next dilemma is, you just spent a bunch of money on having the photos taken, you want the art quality prints, but don’t really have the budget to buy them through the photographer. If you have the ability to afford buying them directly from the photographer, it is always best to support your local artist, but sometimes that is just not feasible.  The next best alternative is to have your digital files, that you have already purchased the rights to, printed by a professional photo lab yourself.

How Much More Do Professional Photo Prints Cost?

When I discovered this option a few years ago, I was so surprised at how affordable it was! If you want a 5×7 print, you can get one from Wal-Mart for $0.58. The only options you have with Wal-Mart is if you want to pick it up or have it delivered.

Your other option is to purchase a 5×7 print from a professional photography lab. I personally use Nations Photo Lab and can get the same size print for $0.65. For only 13 cents more, you get fine art quality, and have the options of choosing different types of photo paper and other options such as color corrections.

Is this amazing of what?!? You can even have it shipped in those pretty boutique packaging just like you get from your photographer! You can use this option to have your every day hobby photography, or your family snap shot pictures printed in a higher quality.

Can you tell the difference between a professional and non-professional print? Have you used professional photo labs? What is your experience?


  1. Sometimes, it’s the paper that they use that tells the difference actually.


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