I recently had a client who won this beautiful print, matted and framed in a beautiful 16×20 thin and ornate champagne frame, in one of the yearly contests I offer to my clients.
She also has a large gallery of framed bix box prints that she and her husband put together herself, and she was so struck by the quality differences that when we had a conversation about it, she encouraged me to share this information with you all. I try to encourage my clients to keep big box prints to a size of 8×12 or smaller, because the print quality is pretty far away from the actual art that I work so hard to create. This is hard to understand, however, until you see both side by side.
This is an approximation of the differences in quality that I see the most often. For one thing, I love to use a lot of matte shadows in my work, and big box prints tend to apply some more contrast to my images and that erases a lot of details in those dark areas.
Now, she has told me, the comparison is so obvious that she wishes that all her portraits were ordered from my lab and professionally framed. I also mount my custom prints on styrene, so that they can be displayed beautifully alone on an easel, and also so that they lay flat under a mat and don’t create shadows at the corners when they bend inside the frame, or push up and stick to the glass, creating those dark moisture spots in the center.
I recently ordered my very first canvas for the living room. Holy smokes I tell you I just sit there all day and stare at it. What a stolen moment in time, these smiling toddlers. Babies, really. But to have it printed beautifully large, airbrushed skin and vibrant colors, shiny details, it takes my breath away. I know that ten years from now it will bring tears to my eyes.
Generally I don’t preach about these differences to my clients, but I do try to get quality products out there in the form of canvas, prints, albums and cards in some way or another so that every client at least gets to see a high quality product. Have you tried a high quality product from your photographer? Have you been disappointed in your images when they arrived from a big box store? I will confess, I have gotten high contrast prints back from a quickie developer and actually blamed my photographer for the lower quality images! This was before I knew anything about the industry and I was simply unaware that my photographer would have zero to do with what other people did to her beautiful image in the printing process. When images come from my lab, they are quality checked by a very educated staff, printed on high quality sustainable materials, and when they get to me, I make sure they look the way they should before I pass them on to the client.
When it comes to my galleries, there are some that I try to change often. But mostly, I keep professionally taken images on the walls for five to ten years at a time! Why in the world would I slap those up there and walk by slightly disappointed that they are too dark or too light or in a cheap looking frame?
Framed and canvas galleries are like furniture, except we adore them more. Furthermore, with each year that the baby fat cheeks slip away and the wrinkles increase, these beautiful images become more precious simply because we cannot go out and make more.