I’m guilty of it, too! I point and shoot and snap and THEN…I never do a thing with the digital file. The image will sit on my camera or computer, only to be seen again if I happen to scroll by it. I’m working on being better about this and I want to help you do the same! As a professional photographer, I only use a professional print lab (usually Miller’s or WHCC) to print products for my clients. As an every day mom and wife, I have a few consumer print labs that I absolutely love for printing things for my home or gifts for my family.
Mpix: Best for Prints, Canvases and Gift products
Mpix is by far my favorite consumer print lab and it’s the only one I recommend to my clients. (I wasn’t even paid to say that! Just speaking the truth.) It’s the sister company to Miller’s professional print lab and holy cow, the quality is amazing for the price! You must check out their home decor products for your canvas wraps and metal prints. Click here to view easy gift ideas using your own images. The accordion minis are a personal favorite. And get this, they now have a “Tap to Print” app so you can print directly from your phone. Yes please!
Shutterfly: Best for Albums and Books
While I would not use Shutterfly for professional prints and products, I love it for the ease of building albums and books. They have every possible theme and template you can imagine, from modern and simple to cookbooks and baby books. My favorite themes are “Familygram” and “All in a Year.” You can print any size album from 5×7 to 12×12 using a soft or hard cover. Downside: the print quality is not always great. Upside: having the option to download pictures from Facebook and Instagram, which is where so many of our pictures reside these days!
TinyPrints: Best for Cards and Stationary
Truthfully, I haven’t ordered anything from Tinyprints except baby announcements, and that was years ago. With that being said, several of my clients and friends swear by them and I rarely hear negative feedback about their products. I adore their personalized notepads! They can get pricey, but the more you buy, the more you save. They would make beautiful gifts for the grandparents (ahem, and keep one for yourself!) Obviously, I especially like the notepads that use your own images, like this one and this one.
Side note: Becky with Dallas Moms Blog wrote an awesome article a couple months ago about easily turning your Instagram pictures to unique gifts. I’m a sucker for fun magnets and plan to check out Sticky9 very soon!
Finally, where not to print. While I love stores like CVS and Target for prescriptions and mascara, I definitely do not recommend them for your printing needs. Simply put, it’s not what they specialize in and it’s not what they’re good at. When you put in the time and effort to take a picture, download the file and PAY for a print, make sure you’re going to a reputable printer so you’ll be proud of your prints and products!
To give you an idea of what I mean, check out the results that professional photographers Rebecca Danzen Baker and Kaye Ness found after sending the same print to several different print labs. Sometimes it’s difficult to see the poor quality of an image until you do a side by side comparison like these ladies have done for us. The results are shocking!
As always, I want to hear from you! Let me know if you have questions or if there’s a specific topic you’d like covered in the future. You can shoot me an email at [email protected]