Do you use a professional print house?

Do you use a professional print house?

iStock_000009784425XSmallAre you printing your treasured, timeless images by a print house who cares about each and every image with time and care or are you printing them through a consumer company who spits out images by the thousands daily? Are you printing them in a place where someone actually looks at each image? Or are you printing your clients’ treasured wedding images along with folks who are also printing their mobile phone ‘pix’?

When I first began getting paid to take photographs, I didn’t know that I should be printing them with a company who cares about colour profiles. Colour whats?! Your images have imbedded profiles which dictate the colours to be printed and mainstream high-production companies don’t generally use machinery which considers those colours carefully when printing.

Here are some pros according to Elizabeth:

  • Professional labs use better quality papers to produce really lovely, heavy and thick photographic prints to stand the test of time.
  • They accept embedded colour profiles
  • There is a wider range of sizes and products available
  • In addition to the usual matte and gloss, most print houses also offer metallic papers
  • The customer service can’t be compared

At first, the costs may seem outrageous but the old adage rings true that you get what you pay for and until you try a professional lab, you won’t know the difference it can actually make. The cost of a print should be passed on to the customer anyhow. If you have your products priced decently, the cost of production should be an afterthought.

Do an experiment and test one photo with a few different labs. Some professional labs require you to set up an account with them and you order through a Java program called ROES (many labs have this option) using your account number. At first, I thought that was too much work and continued using the run-of-the-mill photo mill but then finally buckled down and did the deed and now I use One Vision Imaging. They have been absolutely brilliant. The only thing I’ve found a pain is that it can take a lot more time to get the images to me (sometimes even 10 days) and I’m used to getting them practically the next day, but that is only because those other companies spit them out and throw them in the mail without a human being ever laying an eye on them.

In America, a highly regarded company is White House Custom Colour (WHCC). I so SO wish I had access to them here in the UK because they are a completely lush company who offer so much more than I’ve ever seen a professional print house offer in the past. And they even do some free test prints and send you a great samples packet to get a feel for their different papers.

Because photography and photographic printing has really boomed recently, with a huge rise in ‘prosumer’ markets, these run-of-the-mill printing companies (am I allowed to say their names while I’m dogging them? Hmm…) have devised aspects meant to serve the professional photographer by allowing you to create web galleries from which your customers may order their photos and have their orders drop shipped to them by the company, leaving you only to take your money and run. I used one for a while and I see so so many problems with this.

Firstly, are you really comfortable with your clients seeing their finished products before you? I say ‘boo!’ to that idea. Secondly, the photos are printed in the various ways in which I laid out before (not considering your colour profiles, etc., etc.). Lastly, as a professional, I feel that it is part of my business that I make my clients feel that they are getting (and paying for) something they cannot simply do themselves. They don’t have the equipment, they don’t have the experience and neither should they have their own account with your printer. I don’t feel that it’s particularly good for business for my clients to actually know the raw cost of the prints. As photographers, we already have to fight the battle of helping our clients understand that they are not buying ‘pix’, prints or paper-and-ink. They are buying photographic images, art featuring themselves, which you photographed, edited and had printed especially for them – treating every step of the process with tender loving care. We don’t help ourselves out in this aspect when they see us printing their images with the same printer from whom they just got a thousand free prints upon joining.

Do you use a professional print house? Tell us what you think!

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Elizabeth Halford is a photographer and advertising creative producer in Orlando, FL. She wrote her first article for dPS in 2010. Her most popular one racked up over 100k shares!

Some Older Comments

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  • Tom Slaiter December 7, 2012 09:49 pm

    Professional print houses are expensive, but has some very reasonable prices, just a heads up :-) Thanks for the post, made me think quite a bit about it!

  • Sammy March 6, 2012 05:53 pm

    If any one are searching for photo lab company near your area, i got some wide address list:

  • Tifany February 8, 2012 12:09 am

    Can anyone recommend a place that makes fantastic picture canvases?

  • Casey January 27, 2012 01:53 am

    I shoot, almost exclusively, concert photography. When i first tried online houses, I tried Mpix and Nations Lab (who frequently has 40-50% off sales). There was no comparison. Nations Lab's colors were off on most pictures and on the largest print it was blown out. I called them up and they reprinted it, but it was still off. I'd printed the same image on Mpix (at a much smaller size) and the colors were much better.

    If you let mix adjust color/exposure, and you're not happy, they will reprint it, and I've had them do that 2 times. If you tell them to make no adjustments, then you get what you get.
    I'd prefer the latter, but the reality is even with a calibrated monitor, the images were generally off (probably my fault, as I'm still learning about profiles and aside from LR4 Beta, I've got no easy way to soft-proof.

    Anyway, this is an interesting read. Those of you with costcos are lucky. I've heard nothing but good thing about them for years.

  • M.S. November 17, 2011 05:42 am

    I have used WHCC and Mpix/millers and they are good .But they are too big overall to take time for you unless you spend alot with them . You know that upfront when you are asked how much you spend with a lab in the past and how much you plan to spend with them in the future before they even open an account for you ! I've had great success with a smaller company they offer all the products everyone else has and their prices are the same or cheaper and their customer service is second to none ! I've Been in the business 25 years , I've tried them all , and in the end these guys are tops .

  • Candace September 29, 2011 03:27 am

    I live in Canada and have been searching for four years to find the best print lab here but have had no luck. So far my favourite lab is in the states and I absolutely love them. Even though they are in the states I highly highly recommend them!

    Black River Imaging:

    I also agree that White Custom House and Millers look great and I have had some samples come back from White Custom House which turned out great. But I still love Black River Imaging above all.

  • Derek Milster September 21, 2011 02:18 pm

    Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You obviously know what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting videos to your weblog when you could be giving us something informative to read? Many thanks!

  • Rich Maher April 15, 2011 05:43 am

    Another vote for MPIX. Their metallic prints are outstanding, and a very quick turn-around time also.

  • Michelle February 25, 2011 08:29 am

    "Lush" is the word when it comes to WHCC. They are fantastic. I have had them call me on more than one occassion to make sure an image was what I really wanted, even when it was my obvious screw up! They have catered to me when my internet was down to make sure I got the sale price. They have never hesitated to answer my questions and replace whatever I wasn't happy with. Truly a company that cares. Not to mention the best quality I have found.

  • Mindy February 25, 2011 04:18 am

    Can any Canadian DPS'ers comment on the shipping rates and taxes from WHCC to Canada? I am happy with my local pro lab but they don't print cards and I'd like to give WHCC a try.

    Does WHCC handle the taxation or do you end up paying UPS for duty? I've been burned before when ordering things from the states and don't want any suprise costs cropping up.

    Thanks for your advice!

  • Sarah October 30, 2010 05:47 am


    Has anybody heard of flyeralarm? I heard that they are going to offer deliveries to the UK soon. They have become no.1 in Europe when it comes to printing matters of any kind. Many of my friends and family in Germany order from them.. They offer excellent quality and unbeatable prices. At least that's what they say... I will definitively try them... they have an excellent international reputation.. we will see...

  • Steve Sanger August 13, 2010 05:39 am

    I agree that the big point is that your customer can never create something that looks as good and is of the quality that you produce..

  • Elizabeth Halford July 23, 2010 06:47 am

    @David: wow thank so much that's really helpful

  • Chris Schutz July 22, 2010 05:07 am

    I commented on this subject some months ago, but may be time to mention it again. I gave up using so called pro labs and do all my own work. I use the Canon Pro pixma 9000 printer with Canon paper. Now, I know that there are many out there that will send up howls of protest. The prints will fade, the prints will fade! Well, maybe in 100 years. I have a pro shop print of my cousins wedding from the early 1970s that I can barely see today. I'm convinced that I'm better off using a quality (read-expensive) printer, the paper from that same company, practice your colour management, and do it all yourself. Chris

  • David Andrew July 21, 2010 12:59 pm

    I tried WHCC. They can't print a 12 x 18 or larger without printing errors. Large, blobby shapes running down the image. Happened so frequently that I can't use them at all. They do not have QC. I had them print the exact same image files on two different substrates. One set was significantly darker than the other (unusably so). WHCC refused to reprint. That screwed me out of $200. I won't do business with them again.

    MPix is unable to print vibrant warm colors. That screwed me out of another $200. I was rather offended by how their customer service treated me, and how little they cared.

    I've tried several print houses, and each has it's own problems. I'm still looking for a place with consistent, high quality and customer service.

  • Nina January 22, 2010 03:45 pm

    For those of you who have asked about WHCC....LOVE....LOVE....LOVE them and their products! The prices are great too!

    The other question I seemed to notice reading through...

    Yes, you need to set up and account and send them 5 8x10 test images(free, and you get paper samples) before they will issue you an account number. The account application is free and does ask a lot of questions about your studio and work as a photographer. Whether you are a professional who has been at it for years or doing it as a serious hobby you can set up an account. For instance when it asks for your studio name..use your name ie: Nina's Photography and your home address for the "studio/work" address. I opened my account a few years back in this fashion before I was more serious and not taking many clients. I now use them as my main print house and couldn't be happier. I am local to their original/main office and can go in and get my prints and approve/view everything before it walks out their front door and while I have never seen anything I didn't like from them it is a great feature to me!

  • Tyler January 19, 2010 09:29 am

    Has anyone compare WHCC to Pictage? If not maybe I will try and get some test samples from each to see who has better prints.

  • Sheila Blight January 18, 2010 11:54 am

    Lots of people like Mpix and WHCC, but I just have to put in a kudos for H&H Color Lab. I wouldn't dream of printing my work myself - these big labs have spend millions of dollars on the very best equipment, plus they have employees who really know what they are doing. I have used H&H for about 12 years now, and have found them to be wonderful to work with. They have great customer service, offer occasional free classes at their lab or in several other cities around the US. They have a quick turnaround and always package the prints in the very best way for shipping. If you live in Raytown, MO, I am jealous - I would love to be able to walk in and get to know these wonderful people first hand, face to face.

  • J Sinon January 18, 2010 10:56 am

    I use both WHCC and ProDPI and couldn't be happier with the results. I highly recommend both.

  • Kantha de Abrew January 17, 2010 06:18 pm

    I use a professional lab which is low cost but each photograph is edited by a professional graphic designer. The downside is that they use low cost paper and does not sometimes calibrate their computers and probably printers

    For my clients here in Sri Lanka the photos are exceptionally good.

  • Loraine McCall January 16, 2010 04:05 pm

    I do! I love working with pros, it takes away the headache on figuring out what went wrong and figuring out how to fix it.

    Time is rare these days and we do NOT want to spend it on non-specialized printers.

  • Loraine McCall January 16, 2010 04:05 pm

    I do! I love working with pros, it takes away the headache on figuring out what went wrong and figuring out how to fix it.

    Time is rare these days and we do NOT want to waste it on non-specialized printers.

  • Kristine Dupuy January 16, 2010 05:18 am

    I have reviewed the website for WHCC and I would like very much to become a client. Does anyone know if you have to be a professional photographer and have a studio to become a client? The required application by WHCC mainly asks about studio and business information. I do not have a studio or a business. I do photography as a serious hobby, entering local competitions and shooting usually on location. I do photo shoots as well but my customers by word of mouth. I have been looking for a professional printer for some time and would really like to give WHCC a try.

  • Kelvin Jackson January 16, 2010 03:44 am

    H?H color The best printers I have used.

  • Jason Lloyd January 16, 2010 02:51 am

    A good pro print shop for the UK is DSCL, we use them a fair bit but try to stay local where possible as there is a local specialist. Unfortunately, it's hard for the local company to compete on price but they make up for it by being local and fast so we can pick up urgent jobs same day and they offer a great proof printing service.

  • Chris January 16, 2010 01:16 am

    I just found this site yesterday and stumbled onto this very interesting thread, and feel a little uneasy about commenting this soon, but I'll give it a try. I consider myself a "semi-pro" photographer, concentrating on a few select clients. Over the years I've tried all sorts of processing labs and have dissappointed every time. About three years ago I took over the whole process myself. I found that I'm my own best critic, I trained myself to pick out that "beer can in the corner", etc. I took classes in Photoshop and practice relentlessly. I print my photos on a Canon pixma Pro9000 printer, using Canon paper (they have a wide selection), and other papers if the client wants something special. I also matte and custom frame the prints. In other words the image never leaves my sight, from concept to hanging on your wall I have complete control. I have found that this is a great selling point. Of course, of the client wants a print larger that 13X19 I have a small privately operated lab that I hand carry my picture to and from. Bottom line: I trust only myself! Chris

  • Jeannene January 16, 2010 01:00 am

    Chris....I to have the Cannon 9000 printer, but I have found that the prints just don't hold up as well. And in the long run they were costing me more. After using Mpixpro I will not go back to even printing my own proofs. The Lustre finish on the photos is unbeatable. You should give them a try!

  • Suki Zoe January 15, 2010 11:07 pm

    UK - & &

  • Elizabeth Halford January 15, 2010 07:24 pm

    @michael: wow thank you so much for sharing your experience that is really great information.

  • Michael Padnos January 15, 2010 06:42 pm

    I live in Paris and show my work in galleries in the US and Europe. As my work is in large format (50cm x 75cm is the smallest size) I always use a professional lab. Here's what I get for my money:

    1, After I have done the best I can do at home --and I'm reasonably competent at Photoshop-- I sit down with the lab technician, who regularly improves my images. ("Did you really intend to include this little while line on the right side? Do you want the sky quite that purply? Do you want that little speck over there, or that empty beer can on the street in front of the car? Would you like your image more if we made a small crop on top, like this?")

    If you are working with a technician with a good eye, his/her help can be INVALUABLE! It's wonderful to have a friendly editor, or assistant!

    2. Sometimes I get a full print and I don't like it. (too small; too reddish/bluish/yellowish; badly cropped). The owner of the lab shrugs her shoulders and gives me a new print, no charge. My lab (Label Image, in Belleville) is terrific to work with; I am happy to pay a little more in order to print images that are often a LOT better than they would have been with my own efforts. .

    3. The lab has a wide choice of papers, a VASTLY superior printer and a wealth of experience that allows them to make suggestions that I never would have known about without their help.

    4. The lab has some sort of technology that allows me to print large format pictures (1 M (1 yard) in the largest dimension) without any degradation of the images. I have tried the various programs that are available to the skilled amateur for this purpose: they simply do not compare to what the lab can do for me. (Thus I can produce really fine-grained images, in very large format, with my 10 million megapixel Pentax K10D..)

    In short, I regard my lab as a partner in the production of my images. And I feel that my images are regularly improved by their input.

    Bottom line: labs cost more. But if you find a good one, the lab's professional equipment and expertise is an invaluable aid in the production of really elegant images. And a really elegant, finished print is one thing that distinguishes the professional photographer from the millions of competent amateurs who use their home printers, drugstores, etc to crank out a lot of sloppy, blurry, poorly organized pictures.

    Go Lab! A home-based photographer can NEVER produce a print of the quality you can get from a good professional lab.

  • sakura hasegawa January 15, 2010 04:41 pm

    Yup. Definitely professional print house for me. I used to be an event coordinator for concerts and such. I always made sure I printed my posters and print ads in printing companies that have lots of experience. I also check out their portfolio first.

  • Linda - RaidenShine Photography January 15, 2010 02:08 pm

    We have just started using MPix and absolutely love them so far. After a wedding, we have Costco print the 500-1000 proof prints and then for the serious prints will use MPix. Our clients order through ZenFolio that sends the orders to MPix. We get a chance to approve every order so that we can make sure the sizing format is correct for the picture size they have ordered. So far many clients have ordered canvas prints and framed enlargements. In the past we printed all the serious work ourselves and did the framing ourselves, but our business has taken off, so we needed a print house to help us with our workflow.

  • Chris January 15, 2010 01:50 pm

    Hi folks, I am brand new to this site and just happened upon this particulary interesting forum, very interesting. I consider myself a semi-pro photographer; handeling only a few very select clients. About 3 years ago I quit sending my photographs out to any lab of any kind. I print all my work on my Canon pixmaPro 9000 printer. It is actually a selling point I use quite effectively. Your (the client) pictures never leave my sight. From exposure to hanging on your wall that picture is under my personal supervision. I also matte and custom frame the image.

  • FriedChicken January 15, 2010 12:43 pm

    For Australia:

    We don't have any major, one-stop-shopping digi labs. However, you can:

    a) order online (many - including Bay Photo, WHCC and Miller's - ship overseas)
    b) go to a local lab
    c) order at places like (thus, I recommend): LabX (Melbourne, but ships Australia Wide - check to confirm, though), DigiLab(, in Brisbane but ships Australia wide), and RGBlab (ditto; however, I'd go with the other two before first).

  • Luke January 15, 2010 11:06 am

    Brisbane here, too. I was looking at but wondering if anyone has tried them, or can recommend another. I think I might get some test prints done there.

  • Cassy January 15, 2010 10:49 am

    I was just about to ask the same thing, Luke. Preferably in Brisbane! I've had a quick look around but haven't had the chance to test them myself yet.

  • Eli January 15, 2010 10:41 am

    yes i use nations photo lab and they are great. i live in close proximity to them so i can easily pickup orders saving time and money on shipping. they are also a bit cheaper than the other pro labs i have used for printing. i would highly recommend trying printing and albums at nations photo lab. their staff is very knowledgeable and amazing to work with.

  • Luke January 15, 2010 10:11 am

    Does anyone know of a good Australian printer?

  • Mike January 15, 2010 09:42 am

    Bayphoto is excellent and there ROES works well. Make sure you use their profile.

  • Greg January 15, 2010 09:19 am

    I am an amateur, not a professional. I have been using ProPics Express ( for prints and have been extremely happy with the quality and prices. This year for our family Christmas cards I had to use and pick them up at Walgreens, While they turned out good, there was a big difference in print quality as well as paper quality compared to ProPicsExpress. Next year I will make sure I order early enough to use ProPics.

  • Greg Manko January 15, 2010 07:26 am

    I'm not a professional photographer, but I used to work in the advertising industry and so I am mucho picky about the colour and the quality of my I send them off to a pro lab. The only downside is that it takes longer and I have to drive farther to pick up my prints as compaired to a "1hr" photo shop. World of difference in the prints!

  • Marisa January 15, 2010 06:58 am

    I am NOT a pro photographer, but am very picky about color! I love MPix's turnaround time and prices, but all of my prints came out way more yellow than I expected, despite calibrating umpteen times and going back and forth with their customer service (which I appreciated). I now use ColorInc and my prints look much better. Turnaround time isn't quite as fast, but I'm OK with that. I may try WHCC though, after reading this...

  • Barb T January 15, 2010 06:53 am

    I use Millers, Mckenna, ACI, and Mpixpro. I like all of them but not one offers everything I offer to my clients.
    I have not had a problem with any of the labs. I have also done a few small orders with Pro Labs Express and am really liking the result.

  • Frances January 15, 2010 05:14 am

    I use WHCC for the majority of my print needs followed by Color Incorporated.

  • John H January 15, 2010 05:13 am

    We use MPIXPro for all our large orders (except poster size prints) and have nothing but good to say about their print quality, customer service and turnaround time (overnight) at a very competitive cost. I have come to count on the overnight shipping, compared to several business days through the regular MPIX service, without paying an overnight shipping premium. We use All Star Digital Labs for our poster size prints and have experienced excellent quality and customer service with them as well.

  • Bernie Gillette January 15, 2010 04:56 am

    I have been using "Burrell Colour Imaging" for 25 years. I have had images printed from the largest 30 x 50 to wallets. I have always had sizes up to 11 x 14 printed with a linen texture. Using this finish my images have always been a step above. The important thing to remember is, it doesn't matter how the image looks on your monitor, it matters how good the iimage looks on paper. Burrell Colour Imaging has never disappointed me and more importantly my clients. After all there the ones who write the checks.

  • Sarah Ashley January 15, 2010 04:33 am

    I tried signing up with Miller's - a professional print house, but they rejected me since I don't produce enough prints per year. They ushered me over to mpix, which has served me well, but as far as I'm concerned costs me as much if not more than Millers would and I feel I'm not getting the same service as I would get if I were on the Miller's side. I think I'm going to switch to WHCC! I'm glad I read this article.

  • maz January 15, 2010 04:24 am

    I'm frustrated that here in GB we haven't got easy access to WHCC.... and their amazing range of products. Would love more British recommendations!

  • Keith Colley January 15, 2010 04:19 am

    I always use 'Kolor Kraft,' a local, small, professional Imaging company in Kidderminster (Worcestershire, UK). It's a face-to-face service and it's difficult to imagine that the service or quality could be bettered.

  • Jeannene January 15, 2010 04:12 am

    These comments are great....I have been using Mpixpro I belive it is a step up from Mpix ...great for people like me...small studio, that needs to keep prices under control! I just did my first 20x30 mounted print....I couldn't be happier! And it was at my door in 48 hours....IN A BLIZZARD!!!!! I highly recommend them!!!

  • Tucker January 15, 2010 04:04 am

    I've used NationsPhotoLab for about a year now and I'm satisfied with their work and turnaround. Although I see a few things with WHCC that has caught my eye and I might check them out as well. Overall very good and insightful article. I couldn't agree more with not using a printing house that offers your clients accounts with base pricing. I can understand with keeping things central but I make out fine using my photo proofing via RedCart's ordering system.

  • Christine January 15, 2010 04:04 am

    I used Aspen Creek Imaging and the photographs were beautiful. Of course, the moment I got them, I accidentally crunched one of them, immediately ruining the print.

    So now I'm up the proverbial creek (pun intended) looking for a pro print shop locally in DC. Does anyone have any suggestions? I need to get another print turned around in less than a day, pretty much.

  • Sheila January 15, 2010 03:59 am

    Another vote for Mpix here. I love how they have so many options. The quality of print is fabulous and they offer fast shipping.

  • Rob January 15, 2010 03:11 am

    A follow up on MPIX. I just got an order of 8 pictures mounted on single thickness matt. When I opened it I had two sets (I ordered one). Something had happened during the mounting/cutting process. It looks like the paper slid so some of the matt is exposed and some of the photo is off the matt. They sent me those AND the correctly mounted ones. My first thought was "why let me know it got screwed up?" They could have sent me the correct ones and I would never have known. Now I am very glad they did.

    1 - I know they have a QC process. My prints came in the exact time I expected even though they obviously had to be done over. I feel confident that if they ever make a mistake in the future, they will catch it and still get me my order on time.

    2 - They dorked up ones are not so badly off that they are junk. If nothing else, they are now great paper/matting samples that I wont care about people putting their grubby hands on :)

    3 - Even dorked up, they are still MY pictures and I know that no one dug them out of the trash and claimed them as their own. I now know that MPIX respects my IP and lets ME choose what happens to mistakes.

    I am certainly not MPIX biggest customer but they treated me like one! Thank you MPIX!

  • yunki January 14, 2010 09:43 pm

    Does anyone have a recommendation for Sydney, Australia?

  • Tammy Rockwell January 14, 2010 02:26 pm

    Yes I use a small professional lab and I love it. I live in a town that has about 6 national pro labs. I chose one of the smaller ones because the owners are great and they actually want the photographers they work with to succeed. When you call them you get a live person on the phone and they are always helpful. If i ask for advice they are always willing to help. Not sure if it is acceptable to post the name of the lab but it is Pierce Digital.

  • marie January 14, 2010 09:47 am

    I have considered using WHCC or Mpix for a while now but haven't had time to look into it. I am not a professional, but I still want great quality photos...

    For anyone who uses either of these do you need to have a studio to use them... preferably WHCC?
    Their (WHCC's) become a client page asks a bunch of questions relating to studio work.


  • anaamli January 14, 2010 07:34 am

    Does anyone use Nations Photo Lab?

  • Paul January 14, 2010 03:49 am

    For my fellow Brits, I suggest you can do a lot worse than The Print Space in London. They offer both inkjet and c-type prints across ten different papers, with ICC profiles for each of them. I've been more than happy with the prints they've done for me.

  • Printing Services January 14, 2010 12:32 am

    It is a sad fact to admit but many people around the world are printing their photos on a home printer where the quality is just not there. I always recommend using a professional. You get what you pay for!

  • Jason Collin Photography January 13, 2010 11:22 am

    I can also put in a vote for WHCC. I got my 5 free 8x10s in the mail to begin with and have since placed orders with them via ROES (easy & fun to use). Delivery is fast and inexpensive so even if you are impatient like I am, you can feel ok using an online ordering service.

  • Todd Eddy January 13, 2010 09:44 am

    I use ezprints the few times I've printed photos. I like that they give you an icc profile to soft proof and all their printing machines are constantly color balanced. I plan on making a collage on a wall of my good photos and I'll probably use them for printing (some of the pictures will be 11x17)

  • Ryan January 13, 2010 06:44 am

    I use Mpix (miller's) for most of my photos, but I do have an account at WHCC for cards, books, etc.

  • Tyler Wainright January 13, 2010 03:51 am

    WHCC has a deal where if you sign up with a new account you can get 5 free 8*10 prints. I did it a few weeks ago and the images turned out great. Plus, they send you a very nice set of sample paper so you can determine what type of paper you want for your next print job...I never knew how cool metallic paper was until I saw it first hand. I'll definitely be using them again soon

  • Patty Reiser January 12, 2010 04:18 pm

    I recently started using My Photo Pipe and I am thrilled with the quality and the speed of their work. Just before the holidays I had a last minute rush job and my printer was out of ink. I used one of those Kodak Kiosk. Never again. The paper was not all that great and their prices were even worse.

  • Joel January 12, 2010 02:44 am

    I've been using regular print houses up till now. However, recently, I printed out some beautiful but pretty dark photos that I took in Bali and was really disappointed. Some of the photos were just too dark to really make much sense out of them although they look great on the monitor. I'll definitely try a more professional printing house next.

  • tivoboy January 12, 2010 01:00 am

    I don't usually post here, there are always certainly enough responses (kudos to the site/blog for that)

    But, I have to add my overwhelmingly satisfied comments about WHCC. they are simply fantastic, and each and every order I get my first response is always WOW, this really came out GREAT! Prints, mounts, books, large format matted and mounted prints for events, always come out great. They aren't DOING anything with the images - they don't do that at all on purpose of course so one has to get it right prior to upload of course but their reproduction of what I send them has always been excellent. Customer service is great and domestic based of course and shipping for me here in CA has always been fast. (only downside now is they have a CA office and now we pay TAX on the purchases - but I can trade that off for regular shipping and it comes out about the same)

    Everyone should at least try them out.

  • Alex January 12, 2010 12:28 am

    As a pro using as my proof hosting site, I'm able to use Bay Photo. The prints come out great and I've often had clients compare what their friends order versus printing at WalMart and the quality difference is astounding!

  • Daniel*1977 January 11, 2010 11:52 pm

    I've near my home Foto83 ( FujiFilm) they use Fronitier printers and print on real photo paper.
    They gave me prise for 10x15 0.18 USD and for 15x22 0.36 USD!!!

  • Zack Jones January 11, 2010 11:07 pm

    I don't know if they are considered to be a professional print place or not but I have printed images from ShutterFly and have been very pleased with the results.

  • Matt January 11, 2010 05:05 pm

    I use MPix; the quality is excellent and their shipping is extremely fast (I am overseas, so shipping to a FPO address can be slow). I recommend them to everybody who asks.

  • Krysta January 11, 2010 02:27 pm

    I live in Canada, and I've recently started using WHCC... they're amazing! Despite having the dollar difference, and the high shipping fees... they're 100% worth it.

  • Rob January 11, 2010 12:30 pm

    I use Costco for quick and dirty prints and MPIX for anything that matters. My biggest gripe about Costco is that they often attempt to "Correct" my pictures even when I tell them not to.

    I have been very impressed with MPIX for both the quality of product and service.

    I had never heard of WHCC but I plan to use them for some competition prints very soon! I went through hell last year getting my prints done and mounted....then mounted straight!

    I have also used Artscow for books and prints (free). They were worth what I paid for them - a few dollars of shipping and handling. Besides terrible color maintenance, the books look like they were printed at 72 DPI.

    I have done photobooks through Apple (My Publisher) with great results.

  • Linda Capra January 11, 2010 09:47 am

    So far I primarily use WHCC. I am always very happy with the quality but even more importantly love their customer service. I'm fortunate to live near their original location so I get them super fast. My college photography instructor recommends all his students open an account and we got to tour the place they use to be at. Since then they have grown out of that place and moved to a larger space nearby. It was quite impressive to see them in action. I like that they are always adding more quality products too. I more recently gave EZ Prints a try since that is offered from my hosting site. My client got orders from both WHCC and EZ Prints, both lustre and metallic, and I asked them how the quality compared. They said both were of equal excellent quality.

  • Killian January 11, 2010 07:48 am

    I use Adorama too, and really like them. However, after reading the comments here, I think I'm going to take some of my shots from an upcoming trip to New Orleans and try the "print house test" of seeing what I get from Mpix and WHCC.

    Thank you for everyone's comments; they're very helpful!

  • andy brannan January 11, 2010 05:57 am

    I use Adorama and have been very very happy with the results....

  • wayoutnumbered January 11, 2010 04:35 am

    I've had limited experience also but have have had great success with and Black River Imaging. I LOVE the pearl cards w/matching envelopes from Black River Imaging. Both of their turnaround times are fantastic too! I really try and encourage my clients to try the pros first instead of printing their own.

  • Can't Say January 11, 2010 04:12 am

    I know that WHCC is planning on looking into going over to somewhere in Europe, potentially in 2011.

  • Paul January 11, 2010 04:05 am
    They have the ICC Profiles for almost all Costco printers.

    For the prosumer who doesn't sell his photos or use them to make money. This has to be the best solution, and they can pop off a set of prints in 24 hours!

  • Silisia January 11, 2010 02:47 am

    I use
    Their customer service is incredible. Their prints look like "what I see on my screen." They are affordable, offering different levels of membership, according to your current business needs.
    I too have prints from various places for comparison, Efoto is still the best for me.
    Great and truthful article. Thanks!

  • Rose Pratt January 11, 2010 02:44 am

    Costco may have "good" quality for a mass-production facility, but it's nothing in comparison to professional print house. Each Costco will have different setting they print to, the same picture will come out looking different depending on which one you take it to. Professional print houses will tell you how to calibrate to their printers, or make the slight adjustment needed. I personally use a local print house (the also ship) Master Lab Photo, it is nice to be able to approve the order before I pay for it. Most print houses (local or shipped) will redo an order if it's done wrong, but it's nice to not have to waste the time with shipping.

  • Tom January 11, 2010 01:20 am

    This is funny I was just talking to a friend about this..when I first started a professional friend recommended a company in Atlanta after being played with a few times I changed over to Mpix which is a division of Miller’s Professional Imaging. Miller’s was founded in 1939, and is the largest professional photography lab in the United States. The company has production facilities in Pittsburgh, Kansas and Columbia, Missouri. (I reside in MO) It's nice as most orders are flipped within 24 hours. Usually a few days by mail. I knew their was a difference but never realized how much difference in quality I also advise sampling each of their work (testing) nice to know what you're dealing with before instead of after. Guess it's a matter of what you're looking for I always diversify my business thus I use a few different print houses depending on the job at hand. WHCC is also great they were a very small, local film lab for portrait and wedding photographers in and around the Minneapolis/St.Paul area. Both are great places and offer wonderful results.

  • Iris January 11, 2010 01:15 am

    Yes, I do have two that I use, depending on what I have printed and where I get the better price for it. Both LABs had printed first some test prints and I like them both. I like that both are using my color image and make corrections if necessary. The turn-around time is marvelous - usually I have the product in my hands within a week :) -- I also use those print house for my personal photos and not just for clients.

  • Mirco January 11, 2010 01:06 am

    For my last Art prints I used

    they are specialized in high quality artistic prints, so you won't find any books, greeting cards or similar, but they have some great framing options and a very high quality standard.

  • Ness January 11, 2010 12:38 am

    Thank you for raising this subject.... we are still trying to source an excellent printer. To parky London I have heard very good things about The Print Space (they send samples out for a few £'s) When my calibrator arrives (very delayed by the snow) I will be able to send off my pictures and make the decision. It is down to Print Space, one vision and dscolorlabs. WIll let you know.

  • Mary Anne January 10, 2010 11:33 pm

    I just recently received my first order from (which is, I believe, the consumer end of Millers?) and it is fantastic! AND, I sent the order in on Tuesday night and had the prints in hand on Friday. I'm just learning, and this was the first photo that I was really proud of and didn't want to trust it to the huge production guys. I just set up a WHHC account and want to send them a test order, too. I just need to get around to setting up five files . . .

  • Tim January 10, 2010 10:38 pm

    I couldn't agree more with Elizabeth's post. While I'm not a pro, I take my photography seriously and always use a professional print house for competition prints. I have been incredibly impressed with The provide all the print size and paper options Elizabeth mentioned and they take a personal interest in each photo. On a few occasions, they have even called me to clarify my order instructions (like when I sent a 12x32 file to be printed on 12x36 paper (oops).

  • Ruben January 10, 2010 07:33 pm

    I consider myself a normal prosumer user, who is very critical on materials :)
    It amazes me that the charm of printing photo's is nearly lost with the digital age, lots of my friends don't even print pictures.. I even do regular photowalks with someone who's still usesan old minolta analog camera with black and white film sometimes. You won't know how amazingly HARD it is to get those printed in the old fasion way.
    For myself, i have a simple calibrator for my monitor, so my images should be good. recently i have been disappointed by a number of printing services simply not printing what i wanted or printing colours totally different. This really is disappointing for me. Currently i'm looking into a more professional printing service, or even just a professional one. So, if anybody has tips to get a good printing service in The Netherlands, please recommend :)

  • Christina Lee January 10, 2010 06:32 pm

    I definitely enforce the idea of using a professional lab!
    I have used two separate ones:
    BWC out of Dallas--my mother used them when she lived here and they have GREAT customer service. Once they delivered a large print to me that had a slight scratch on it, and they sent me another at no extra cost and with no argument. The delivery is great as well. I can put in an order and in less than 48 hrs. it's on my doorstep.

    I recently started using MPix and I really like them as well---they are two states north of me and I'm amazed at their turn around time! I've had an order at my doorstep less than 24 hours after I submitted it online! The quality is great and they provide materials for you to use for promotion of prints and the wide variety of products they have.

    I definitely don't use W-M--because the last time I tried to, they accused me of violating copyright laws and didn't believe me when I told them the pictures were truly taken by me, (the only reason I was using them is because I was poor in college, in a small town where there wasn't any other printer available.)

  • Blake January 10, 2010 05:31 pm

    Yes. We also will not allow prints to go out without handling them ourselves first. We still deal with our print houses face to face as well as we're also strong believers in building relationships. It's been worth every cent.

    I am also curious as to peoples views on wet process printing vs inkjet vs dye dub printing for prints less that 12" x 18" in size. We still much prefer wet process printing where possible. It still just has an edge to it that nothing else can quite match.

    While we have the resources to print everything up to 12x18" ourselves, we have found it more cost effective to out source all our printing for now. For one, rejected prints cost us nothing, and the labs know we have a zero tolerance policy so while the printing turn around is slightly slower, the quality is top notch and our quality checking process is now much smoother and quicker leaving us more time for what we do best.


  • SJlarue January 10, 2010 05:16 pm

    Another Plug For WHCC...Get your Christmas cards done by them, they are unreal...and cheap...and perfect.

    Color Inc is a great place....they will emboss senior pictures...and the printers are great.

    And finally EZ Prints is absolutely awesome for panos. I have tried others and have always come back to them for Panos.

  • Ric January 10, 2010 04:11 pm

    We've tried MPIX, WHCC, and BayPhoto. MPIX is good but we found WHCC and BayPhoto to be a little more to our liking. BayPhoto hooks directly up to our photo hosting site, so the combination of quality prints and ease of printing was a slam dunk. BayPhoto's service and responsiveness has always exceeded our expectations. I'd say WHCC was in step with BayPhoto.

  • Peter van den Berg January 10, 2010 04:02 pm

    I just have received my prints from a run-of-the-mill photo mill and recognize all the thongs mentioned: wrong color profiles, the have blown up the pictures by 5-10%, my black and white pictures have become gray pictures. Next time I will use a professional print house!

  • Kari January 10, 2010 03:02 pm

    (Hmmm, the link in my post above doesn't seem to want to show as a link, but it is there--just click on the words "this picture".) :-)


  • Kari January 10, 2010 03:01 pm

    Another vote for MPix here. Printed this picture on their metallic paper as a Christmas present for my boyfriend (it's a long story why that particular one) and it looked FANTASTIC. My whole family kept commenting on it. Also had it framed (with mount, mat, and glass) by them, and it was definitely reasonably-priced.

  • Summer Rush Photography January 10, 2010 02:48 pm

    I use and absolutely love Black River Imaging. They have great customer support and even live chat. They get me the pictures usually 3-5 days later depending on the size of the order. If there is a problem with an image when they print it, they will call me and we figure out what needs to be done. If I have a problem with the way something has printed, which only happened once, they fix it right away at no cost to me. I have tried millers lab and uploaded pictures for the test images they sent for free. But the prices to me were more for the same or better quality from Black River Imaging.

  • Valerie January 10, 2010 01:23 pm

    I use a professional lab. They do a great job and my images are worth the money. Also if someone like a client is paying why not get the best possible print from s company that cares

  • OsmosisStudios January 10, 2010 12:58 pm

    Local is almost universally better than any other solution. There are a few places in town that do printing and nothing but (one also does film development, so I feel pretty safe). They all allow their customers to download colour profiles and ALWAYS proof.

  • Walter Wimberly January 10, 2010 12:08 pm

    My wife and I use MPix, for any photos we wanted printed well (almost all of our professional photos, and important family photos). They do larger sizes than any local printers, and are almost spot on with their colors and quality. In addition, when on rare cases we've had an issue, they understand and are able to fix it. A local 1hr shop can never compete on that.

  • Ed O'Keeffe January 10, 2010 10:10 am

    I used to do my own printing up to 10x8 size and then when I felt that my photography was at a stage / quality that could take larger prints I was very close to buying my own until I found a local print house that does 16x12 prints for around the $2 price point on professional paper and same day turn around time. It just makes sense for me and my clients.

    If your in the UK try

  • gloworm09 January 10, 2010 09:58 am

    My son is journalism teacher and recommended MPIX to me. That's where they send all their school portraits and sports pictures. I've been very happy with the results. You can order about any size you want and they'll put my copyright on the back for free. Their also guarantee my satisfaction which is a plus.

  • Kimberley January 10, 2010 09:43 am

    Where are the best printers in Canada?

  • parkylondon January 10, 2010 09:34 am

    Sigh. Could someone from the UK recommend a *decent* print house? Nid halp pls.

  • Cornell Tramontana January 10, 2010 09:32 am

    For me, it depends.

    In the past, when printing 4 x 6's, I took them to a local camera store to have them printed. The 4 x 6 photos have been always for friends/relatives, such as the normal photos taken at parties, holidays, and other celebrations. I recently gave a relative a photo CD, instead of having the photos printed. I expect to do this in the future, instead of printing 4 x 6's.

    When I print larger photos, I have always used my printer which gives me control over what I'm printing -- not just color profiles.

  • Clementine January 10, 2010 09:22 am

    My personnal experience with professional printers is quite small but I do see a Huge difference

    Sometimes, it is not a bad idea, if you want more cheaper shots.
    For Christmas this year, as a side gift to my family, i offered printed pictures that came from a well known drugstore. I decided to do so because i needed something cheap and fast (last minute idea)
    The paper is even thinner whether it is film or digital. And the color of the digital is really bad.
    I don't know if it is there color or if there are "automatic" adjustment but.. erk!
    And a client can easily see - or feel the difference. Of course my family is happy, but if it had been for a client, it is a big No. For digital pictures, at worst, you'll end up losing money. Film is more of a roulette russe: I had a film cut right in the middle of the pictures once.

    (do i need to say it was the last time i even bought something from W-M :)

  • Amber January 10, 2010 08:42 am

    Great info. I can't wait to use one.

  • Andrew January 10, 2010 08:39 am

    I've done prints at Costco before, and while they do process a LOT of images, their quality was extremely high. I was very happy with my results.

  • Mark January 10, 2010 08:27 am

    I've so far only used one pro (or pro-ish) print house, called Mpix. They cost a little bit more, but not too much. I have to say the quality I've received from them is head and shoulders above anything I've gotten from the run-of-the-mill snapshot printers.

    One thing they do which I love is send you a calibration kit upon request. This consists of a single 8x10 sample print that covers the full gamut of colors and contrast (including some small color and brightness charts), plus a CD-ROM of the original image used to make the print. Just open the file on your computer and adjust your monitor to make it look like the print, and voila! You're (roughly) calibrated to their printers.

    And the difference seems to be not only technical, but the level of care they put into each print. The slightly increased cost is more than worth it!

  • Chris @ Lens Artwork January 10, 2010 07:33 am

    I use an independent, professional printer EXCLUSIVELY. He believes in quality just as much as I do. He personally looks at each file before he prints, checks the quality himself, sources paper from companies with CENTURIES of experience in the paper business, and rejects 30% of the work he's asked to do because he doesn't want his lab name associated with it.

    Expensive? Yep - compared to companies that just whip them out by the thousands. Worth it? Absolutely. I wouldn't do it any differently. My clients are never disappointed, and his quality allows my prices to be high enough to make it more than worth it.

    I may not sell nearly as much as low price producers, but my clients understand what they are getting and that they are paying for significantly higher quality. It's less running around for me because I'm dealing with people who understand that they're not paying for just "paper and ink" like stated above. They understand that they're buying a piece of art. That's the way I've done it from day 1 and I don't regret it a bit.

    When you're ready to get serious and be taken seriously, look into a fully professional lab.

  • Josh M January 10, 2010 07:23 am

    I use and have had nothing but amazing results! They are very fast, very professional and very helpful. When I have called they're customer service they know about my account and you get personal service by a person!

    Unparalled quality and service...I won't go anywhere else.

  • My Camera World January 10, 2010 07:19 am

    For large prints and those on specialty papers I use a professional printer.

    I use my own printer to test final outputs on smaller samples. I also print my own glossy and semi-glossy photos up to 12" wide. My system is color managed and calibrated end-to-end.

    It s just at this time I don't do enough large format over 12" on the smallest side to warrant a larger printer.

    Since most prints are in the range 12"x18" I can handle at home unless as I stated above I need a special Paper.

    Niels Henriksen

  • carly January 10, 2010 06:55 am

    I've been using a professional printing lab that is nationally known but just happens to be located in the town I live in, called CPQ. It's convenient, if a print ever comes out wrong, I can always just drop by and they can fix it straight away. No shipping and handling necessary, which I love. My husband and I are moving in 5 months--a 2600-mile move!--and I think I'll continue to use this printing lab for the time being until I can find one closer to our new home. I'm a perfectionist and I really like to see the print/product first before it goes to the client. If it doesn't meet my approval, it doesn't go to the client. As far as professional albums, I've just ordered my first KISS album from Kiss Wedding Books. I choose to use them over CPQ's albums simply because I like the KISS style a lot more. Either way, printing labs are essential. It's just another way of defining your brand as a photographer. If a pro photographer were to hand me a print made with cheap metallic paper, I'd go somewhere else. Just my two cents.

  • Adam John January 10, 2010 06:17 am

    I think the professional route is the best way to go. WHCC inspects each order prior to and after printing. Their quality is top notch and I wouldn't think of going elsewhere.

  • Justin Korn January 10, 2010 06:15 am

    Personally, I use a few different print houses depending on the job at hand, WHCC being one of them as well as Millers Lab. At this time, I'm actually looking into finding a local professional printer for that EXTRA touch of loving care. With a local printer, you talk with the printer face to face, you grow a relationship with them, and most importantly, as mentioned in this article, you get a chance to see the print(s) before shipping them off to your customer.

    In any case, using a professional printer is definitely worth it.

  • Allison January 10, 2010 06:08 am

    I use WHCC myself and highly recommend them.