Web page updated May 24, 2010 

 

How to print wedding pictures on a home PC printer

Did your wedding photographer provide high resolution digital images with your photography package? 

If so you CAN print these images at home. It's a convenient way to make prints for all those people you promised them to!

We have suggestions that will greatly improve the quality of those prints.

If you decide to use a photo lab instead, we'll show you below the "magic words" to use with your photo lab to obtain higher quality prints.

 

 

PRINT-AT-HOME WEDDING PHOTO SUGGESTIONS

Some of our customers have excellent computer skills and really really want to print wedding pictures at home. The information below will greatly improve the quality of those results.

Wedding pictures are finicky to print well compared to ordinary snapshots. These suggestions will help whether you hired Doug or a different photographer.

 

 

Use only a printer manufactured within the last 5 years (Canon, Hewlett-Packard, or Epson are the brands most used by experienced photographers.)

Newer ink designs are way better than older inks. They work better and resist fading very well.

Use your manufacturer's own ink brand and not "refill" inks for wedding photos, to avoid fading risks.

Use your manufacturer's BEST GRADE of photo paper. The paper grade makes a HUGE difference in image quality.

Buy a printer that uses AT LEAST 5 COLORS of ink. Six colors are better. Good 5-color or 6-color printers sell for less than $200. And truly first rate 8-color printers start at $300 (Hewlett Packard makes one.)  Canon and Hewlett Packard printers, in my own experience, have been less finicky to use than Epson printers.

Most printers sold today use only 4 colors. Some are only 3 colors. They simply do not print enough detail for good wedding prints.

Those popular "Multi-function" printers are ALWAYS just 3-color or 4-color designs so I do not recommend them for wedding pictures. (The more ink colors a printer has, the better it will show details, and the flesh tones it prints will look more natural.)

Important: When printing pictures at home most users will need to add a "gamma adjustment" to brighten up the prints. Epson, Canon, and HP all have print dialog boxes (in their software) which contains this manual adjustment feature. My Epson printer routinely needs a +1.15 manual gamma adjustment.

If you don't add a gamma adjustment the prints will come out too dark, even when the image looks perfect on your monitor screen. THIS BRIGHTNESS PROBLEM OCCURS DUE TO A WELL KNOWN DESIGN FLAW* and has nothing to do with the actual image quality which the photographer captured in his camera!

When printing pictures at a photo lab kiosk the same problem may occur. SOME self service photo lab kiosks let you manually brighten pictures before printing them. But not all of them allow adjustements. (For example, Costco's printing equipment is professional quality but their new kiosks give you NO adjustments.)  

Many labs & kiosks try to fix the brightness problem with some kind of automatic feature, but machines often guess wrong. It may work fine on picture #1 and then is way, way off on picture #2.

Before printing a large quantity, have test prints made and verify the results first, to avoid waste.

Would you prefer to use a photo lab instead investing in a $200 to $300 printer?  If so I recommend you choose a more expensive, pro-oriented photo lab that offers "best quality" or "custom print" grades. Use those magic words to find out if a photo lab is capable of offering the quality you need. And order prints in those grades ONLY. When you do that, the lab is supposed to automatically make density, gamma and color balance adjustments for you. Warning: you MUST ask them to use their best quality grade or they may print using economy grade. Best quality/custom costs more but is worth it to avoid delays & headaches.

We'll be happy to suggest some local and online labs that offer best-quality service. We want your prints to come out well because they're our best advertising! Even if you don't order prints thru us, we want your pictures to look their best. (Our local recommendations are for the Sacramento and Roseville, California area.) 

Of course, if you're Doug's customer, you can order reprints though us and we'll automatically take care of those details.

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  • *The DESIGN FLAW referred to is that new flat-screen monitors are very, very bright compared to the lower "brightness" of photo paper. But image processing standards were designed when duller CRT monitors were in use. Calibrating today's bright monitors to accurately match less-bright paper is a less than perfect process.
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  • You may notice it's hard to find anything but yucky GLOSSY photo paper at local computer stores & office stores. That design flaw is the reason. Glossy paper makes it easier to see details in those too-dark prints. (Matte or luster surfaces are less forgiving of bad printing skills.) Stores got fewer customer complaints with glossy paper. That's why most local stores stopped carrying anything but that glossy paper. Unfortunately they stopped providing options for their more sophistiicated customers.

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