FAQ: Getting Your Professional Photos Printed

A little game of Mad Libs: They're here! They're here! You got your disc of [wedding, engagement, newborn, family] photos and you [take, upload] them to the [nearest, easiest, most advertised] photo printing [store, website]. You finally get those gorgeous prints and ... wait. Why is my [head, arm, bracelet, flowers, feet] cut off in the photo? It didn't look that way on the disc.

Lots of photographers heavily encourage, or even require, that their clients get prints through their chosen printer. And there's a reason for that. While I'm pretty laid back and understand that I'm giving my clients a disc of photos to ultimately do with it what they will, I do recommend that they get those pretty prints done through my printer or a couple other vetted options. Here's why ...

My Canon 5D Mark ii shoots at a ratio of 3:2. Do the math and it converts to a 6x4—or 4x6—photo printed perfectly.

Professional Photo CroppingHere's my faaaavorite photo from Nicole and Chris' wedding. It's at a 3:2 ratio.

Unfortunately, not all print sizes fit into that ratio as perfectly as a 4x6, and I don't know about you, but I want to get big, dramatic photos printed at all kinds of crazy sizes. This means that I have to physically crop the photo to the size I want. 8x10? A 4:5 ratio. 20x28? A 5:7 ratio. Make sense?

Professional Photo CroppingHere's that same photo at a 7:5 (or 5:7) ratio. Compare to the photo above to see what's missing. In this case, it's a pretty good crop.

Professional Photo CroppingAnd here it is at 5:4 (or 4:5 ... an 8x10).

Color rendering and other quirks aside, the easiest and most advertised printers don't allow you to choose the crop. That means if you choose a ratio other than 3:2, you'll get your photos back looking differently than they do on the disc. And in some cases it might not be a good different.

If you have the luxury, get your prints done through your photographer's printer to ensure the absolute best quality. If that's not an option for you, consider using a company like www.mpix.com that at least allows you to choose your crop.

I hope that helps someone out there! :) If you have other questions, I'd love to answer them. Feel free to leave them in the comments section down there.