For most photographers these days our photos easily find their way to our websites, blogs, online portfolios, or to family and friends as .jpeg attachments. All of these are digital images, but rarely do we print. It is for this reason that I do not own a good printer. I print infrequently enough that I find it easier to just upload files to an online vendor. It may actually be cheaper this way, as I hear about photographers buying new (and better?) printers before the old ones have died. That’s not cheap, as the half-used printer is basically given away as old and antiquated. I also hear about dried up ink cartridges. They’re not cheap either.
I’m afraid too that if I even slightly “open the door” to doing my own printing, I’d really get “into” it and would soon find myself buying all kinds of fancy papers and spending way more money and time than I ever expected. My eyes glaze over when I hear someone talk about print profiles. It’s actually a hobby all by itself, I think. Plus I have nowhere to set it all up!
All that being said, there is nothing so satisfying as a nice big print. For the past 10 years I have been using Mpix in Kansas City, when I want printing done. If I upload a digital file on, say, Monday it will be printed, mailed and received by me by Thursday. Not 24 hour turnaround, but a few days is fast enough for me.
You can check out their prices online. They are on the high side I believe, but the results are very high quality and their support is excellent. I had several 20”x 30” prints get bent in mailing (the only time in 10 years that happened and I can’t remember whether it was their fault or that of the U.S. Mail), and they overnight mailed replacements to me the next day. Also, it is worth noting that several times a year I receive emails with discount codes for 50% off on “large” prints, usually defined as something equal to or bigger than 11”x14”.
I have framed and matted a small number of prints measuring 20”x 30”, and quite a few measuring 16”x 24” or 20"x 24". I have always been happy with the quality of their work.
Recently I framed two large prints for an office conference room project. I asked that 18" by 24" images be printed on their 20" x 24" paper, as the images had a 4:3 aspect ratio, which is the native aspect ratio of the Olympus E-M1 camera that was used for both images.
Because they were to be wall mounted side-by-side I chose two strong subjects that I thought complemented each other: Lower Falls of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone in Wyoming and Mount Rainier in Washington.
The mats, frames, acrylic non-glare glazing, and foam backing were purchased from American Frame (google it) and were cut to the exact measurements I furnished through their online tools.
Lower Falls of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Wyoming
Olympus E-M1 and Panasonic 14-140mm @ 14mm (28mm equiv)
1/640sec, F6.3, ISO200, -1.3EV
Mount Rainier from Reflection Lake
Olympus E-M1 and 12-100mm F4 zoom @ 47mm (94mm equiv)
1/500sec, F5.6, ISO200, -1.7EV