I’ll bet that you think those prints sitting on your desk are made with ink. After reading that sentence, you’re probably starting to second guess yourself. Read on to find out the TRUTH!
What’s a photographic print?
Photographic prints are the kind you put in an 8×10 frame or stick in those albums with plastic sleeves. Otherwise known to you as “a print”!
Photographic printing is also used in certain types of albums. The papers are bonded to substrate (a thick cardboard-like material) so that the pages become unbendable and untearable (unterrible?).
Look Ma, no ink!
Ok, ready to learn the secret?
Just like the receipts nowadays are printed using heat-sensitive paper, photographic prints from digital files are made using light-sensitive paper. My lab exposes the paper to a laser light source, and the image that develops is simply a reaction to the light. Because of this, the image is a permanent part of the paper, or more rather, it IS the paper! There’s no scratching that stuff off.
B&W vs color
Believe it or not, there is a difference between photographic printing when it comes to B&W vs color. This is why when you order B&W prints from Shutterfly they look purple. I love purple, but I want my B&W prints to be black and white, thanks! Ordering from a professional means the photographer can specify with the lab to use the B&W photographic printing process.
Professional vs consumer labs
There’s a time and place for professional prints and a time and place for consumer prints. It all depends on the quality, color accuracy, and longevity you’re expecting. I always hand my clients a bunch of prints of the same picture. One of them is from a professional print lab, the rest are from various consumer labs. Not only do they always know which one is the professional print, but they often make comments like, “ew, the Walgreens one is green. The Target one is neon. The Shutterfly one isn’t sharp. The Costco one is super dark.” It’s better to make an educated decision after seeing what you’re getting yourself into either way!
Professionals can also offer things like different finishes, mounting (which is when the print is bonded to a rigid material), and matting, like this:
Well, I hope you learned something new today. When I learned about photographic prints my eyes got wide. Pretty neat stuff! If you found this post helpful, feel free to comment and share it around!