06 December 2012

My Favorite Online Photo Printing Sources




A couple of weeks ago I had an issue with a photo printing company pulling out of a sponsored post at the last minute. It’s a long story. I won’t go into the details here, but I concluded that I wanted to write a non-sponsored post about other online image printing resources that I already use and recommend to people in real life. So here we go!
Before we start, I feel that I need to explain something. See, because a significant portion of my job involves graphic design and because I am a self-proclaimed 'avid-photographer', I am Hella Picky when it comes to image printing. When I find a great place at a reasonable price I want to share that information with everyone I know. That means you! The recommendations below are based entirely on my own opinions. Feel free to chime in the comments if you can recommend others. This is a sharing place :)



Standard Photo Prints | MPix  | Starting at 19cents
I can’t tell you how many people have said to me over the years, “I’ll let you in on a secret – get your pictures printed at Costco! They are cheap and the quality is fabulous.”

Well they are half right – Costco is cheap, however, I have not found the quality to be fabulous. Maybe some labs are better than others. It could be regional, perhaps. I used to splurge for Ritz photos but when I saw this post from Zemyal Photography directly comparing image printing results, I decided to give MPix a try. Conclusion: they are great. I have had several batches of photos printed there plus some reprints of old favorites. The contrast between MPix prints and the previous prints (from that “other store”) is startling. I dare you to try them. 

Posters | Walgreens | Starting at $9.99
I print posters for work pretty regularly (lots of event signage). I used to send them to a commercial printer and get them mounted on foam board for nearly $100 each. Now I send them to Walgreens photos online department and get them for $33.  The 24”x36” image comes printed on photo paper rolled up in a cardboard tube delivered to my door. The image quality is fine. Perfect? No. They are prone to slight over-saturation on certain colors and large fields of black come slightly streaked, but for $33, you can’t beat it. Pair one of these posters with a $10 frame from Target and you have a great gift. 
Side note: The photo at the top of this post is an image of my Grandnanna I had printed poster size at Walgreens. I like it not only for my sentimental memories of her, but because it is the first photograph I ever took. You can tell from the perspective angle, I was not very tall at the time. Do you remember your first first photo?
Calendars | Pinhole Press | Starting at $24
Okay, Okay, photo calendars are a thing. I get it. They are cute and Gramps and Aunts like to look at pictures of the little tatertots from the year prior (I am included in that category). What I don’t get is all the cheesy clip art and country goose borders people put on them. I mean, when it’s March, I know it’s March. Do I really need some creepster illustration of a leprechaun planted next to a baby’s face to tell me it's March? With that in mind, if you are looking for a cleanly designed, excellent quality, leprechaun-free calendar template at a reasonable price, look no further than Pinhole press. They also have a lot of other great stuff like wine labels, return address labels, puzzles and personal stationary. Everything is clean and modern and happy looking. Pinhole is like the J. Crew of online printers.

Magnets | UPrinting | Starting at $35 Dollars
I did a campaign with the UPrinting folks last summer. If you are looking for an online all-around one-stop retail printer, they are great. They have a deal on business card magnets – 100 for $38. If you are in the market for Save The Date magnets or just want your kid’s picture on your fridge TIMES A HUNDRED, this is the place to go.
Side note: They also sell car magnets. I am seriously considering having a picture of Lola printed on a car magnet to keep on the front of my fridge. Is that weird? (Do I care?)

Side note:  These are just plain fun: Instagram Magnets | Sticky Gram| starting at $14.99.
Christmas Cards | Tiny Prints | Starting at $1.30 each
Is this the least expensive place to print holiday cards? No. Do most other cards look amateurish and cheap when displayed on someone’s mantle next to a Tiny Print card? Yes. Tiny Prints have some seriously fun templates and their paper stock is thick and fancified.  It’s just different. It’s sort of like Crain’s stationary – it just feels better than everything else. I’m not saying the other options are bad, I’m just saying Tiny Prints are better. 

Photo Books | I Photo | Starting at $3.99
Disclaimer: I have not done this through IPhoto myself but I have seen the results and was impressed. However, I have ordered a couple of photo books from 'other' places and the results were lukewarm at best (weird cropping, grainy images, blech. Everything looking like the ISO was cranked up high. So I am not going to recommend them). But, but, but, recently a number of people have been telling me how easy it is to order coffee-table quality photo books through I-photo. I like what I see. They have 20 page business card sized photo books starting at $3.99, and big coffee table books starting in the $20 range. I smell Christmas gifts! Have you tried it? Leave a comment if you can shed more light on this than I can.

Intagram Fun | Pinstagram | starting at $12
I am new to Instagram so I have not ordered these yet, but I saw some in somebody’s home and they are the bees knees. This company does all kinds of nifty stuff with Instagram photos, including calendars.

So tell me, what are your favorite printing resources on the internet? 
Does anybody know a good source for hats and mugs? I hear Santa loves a photo mug!

18 comments:

  1. My hubby just gave me two fabulous photo books, one for each of my two kids, with well over 300 photos. He designed them on Blurb. Now, although we are not professionals, i consider ourselves to be photo snobs. The quality and look was wonderful! With the pages being 8x11, this was my most favorite gift ever recieved! Highly recommend!

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  2. Do you have any suggestions for panoramic prints?

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    1. I have heard good things about Zazzle -- haven't used myself, tho.

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  4. any experience with printing onto a wrapped canvas?

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  5. Uprinting is a great source for canvas printing. I ordered rolled canvas but I know they do wrapped canvases as well. I like theirs because you can't see the little dotted image formations like with some other places.

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  6. I was a pretty rotten photographer as kid. Still am, actually, but digital has made it possible to snap hundreds of pictures and then cherry pick. Pearl Harbor Day yesterday inspired me to look up pictures of the ship my grandfather served on during WWI; this post is making me consider printing one to display somewhere, or maybe to give my grandmother.

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  7. My son made me an iPhoto book the first year they were available. He found all the dog pictures we had for our then 3 year old dog. It was one of the last presents he gave me, so it's special to me.

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  8. Thanks for the tips, Peaches. You know, I don't remember my first photo, but my last was always less than an hour or two ago! :-) I use different folks for different strokes. Apple does a superior job on greeting cards and book compilations, offering endless options for page combinations that allow creativity to bloom. Results are always gorgeous. Canvas4Life is my favorite for canvas prints of all shapes and sizes, such as the ones I'm attaching; I've yet to be disappointed. This was an exquisite Cape Cod sunset, last summer. I shot before we even hit the beach, from the other side of the dunes. The views were breathtaking. And, Joe is in for a surprise with our fave shot of Mambo at the beach. I digress. My favorite for capturing my blog in book format is Blog2Print. Again, with great editing options, I'm able to use only what I deem print-worthy and have even isolated just recipes to format for special gifts. I still use Shutterfly for decks of cards, etc., but their work has deteriorated, in my opinion. And, I still use my properly set Epson for small prints, greeting cards and B & W. Merry, Blessed Holidays from Nicki 'n' Nik(on)! xo

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  9. PS... Forgot to respond about calendars... again, Apple/iPhoto is superior. For special dates, you import appropriate photos... no icons here! And again, one can become very artsy in doing montages. I especially love to create black and white backgrounds with some color over it. It's amazing how you can enlarge some photos, bringing subjects to the sides, allowing for the import of yet another photo in between. I can go on and on... gee, wonder why it takes me an entire day to create ONE gift book or such! My favorite thing to give!! So sorry... I "talk" too much! xo

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  10. Thanks for sharing your resources, love your photo of Grandnanna.

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  11. What a fantastic resource - thanks for posting all this!

    I love the big posters : )

    actually will probably need Save the Dates soonish ;)
    and I DO remember my first picture that I took - was 4, took a really nice picture of my parents at Disney World - would really love to have that....

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  12. Great post, thank you. For photo & resume books, I like blurb.com. I also like printing at my local Sam's club (samsclub.com). They have large format printers, up to 20"x30" and do a quality job. Just make sure you have them run a test print on your paper selection. Their prices are very reasonable. Thanks for a great blog.

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  13. MY very favorite on-line printing source is Nations Photo Lab. Great prices, quality work and super fast turn-around!

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  14. I agree..nations photo has been very easy to deal with and I do all my big poster prints at staples for $7.00 dollars.....adjust your b&w pictures in photoshop first so it isn't too dark and crop it to the size you want...easier on staples employee

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  15. I love MPIX and use them for all of my clients that I have "time" to order from.. I do love Photosynthesis in Ames, Iowa TOO!!

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  16. I just got our Christmas Cards from mixbook. LOVE them. Could not be happier ~

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  17. I just got our Christmas Cards in the mail. We used mixbook this year. Could not be happier!!

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-AP

 
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