Updated: Jan 8, 2019
Hey all! I live in a community filled with people who love to print via big box stores (Walmart, Walgreens, and Shutterfly being the biggest three I hear about) so I thought I'd dedicate a post on what I recommend doing instead. I get it, I really do! It's cheaper, faster, more convenient because you'll already be there anyway, the list goes on but hear me out and I'm sure you'll realize why cheap and convenient aren't always the ideal option...
Tip #1 Order from your computer
Ordering from another device (such as your phone or tablet) can often lead to your photo being distorted, pixilated, or the coloring being off. If you don't have a computer then it might be worth a trip to a friend's house or to the library to borrow a computer for this purpose. Your photos from your gallery will be large enough files to order fairly large home décor if you so choose.
Tip #2 Order via Mpix.com
Ordering from a big box store can completely change your image quality also so I do recommend Mpix, it's a bit more expensive but really it's not that bad price wise. Mpix is a happy medium between a pro lab and a chain printing lab so you're not paying pro or boutique prices but you're getting quality that is dang near the same (in my opinion). Mpix has super fast processing and delivery (even at the cheapest option), they take extra precautions to ensure your order doesn't get damaged via mail, and the customer service is top notch. I very much prefer paying a bit more rather than getting photos with added grain or having the coloring off...to me, big box is a waste of money if you're ordering professional prints.
Tip #3 Lustre
I never order glossy and usually turn to matte but if these are official portraits that you paid to have done...you might as well give lustre a try as your finish. Lustre is between glossy and matte and has kind of a pearly sheen to it, it usually costs a little extra but it's pretty!
Tip #4 Crop/Resize
Photos are always a certain size...sounds obvious but many don't stop to think that the size they're printing isn't the same as the original. I leave my photos the size they are straight out of camera so if you're printing an 11x13 or 8.5x10 for the living room, you're going to be cutting off some of the sides. Normally there's an option at checkout to see and edit how your photo will be printed so feel free to ensure no one is being cut in half before your print is sent to you...no one likes being cut in half...unless it's intentional by the photographer ;) I do ask that you don't change the composition beyond sliding the little box side to side or up and down a bit...If you change the composition too much it can damage the photographers reputation when others see it.
Tip #5 Consider a Photobook
If you had a documentary or storytelling type session then two photos printed out might not do your session justice (except maybe for a wall collage with more photos). For example, if I'm printing out personal vacation photos or photos from a wedding or a day in the life session, I'll print a photobook to better tell the story of the time spent there. Plus they look great and are easier to transport while you're showing them off to family and friends.
Do you have any other tips you prefer while ordering?