The best photo printing sites for gallery level prints.
As a photographer, there is nothing I loath more than seeing beautiful photos printed in horrible quality. I tell my clients all the time that a great print is just as essential as finding the right photographer. Admittedly, printing photos can be pretty expensive, but over the years I’ve discovered some real gems that provide gallery level work for exhibits I have curated – or simply printing my own memories at the standard I know they should be.
There are some essential things you need to know before you send off your photos to be printed. First, make sure you have a media release if you are going to use a small printer like Walgreens, Wal-Mart, or other drug stores.
The technician can observe if the images look professional and can request to have a media release from the photographer to protect themselves from copyright infringement. It is hit or miss, but if you are going to one of these providers, I do recommend you request a media release from your photographer.
Sizing Your Photos for Gallery Level Printing
Now, here’s the important technical aspect – make sure the images are HD or 300 DPI (Dots Per Inch). This is the measure of the resolution of the image, and it’s especially important when printing photos. Here is a cheat list to go by when sizing and observing quality for a print:
- If the JPEG is less than 250kb, it will only be suitable for use on screen.
- 250kb-500kb might be usable as a small thumbnail
- 500kb-1mb is usable up to A7 – one-eighth of an A4 sheet (74 x 105 mm or 2⅞” x 4⅛”)
- 1mb-1.5mb up to A6 – one quarter of A4 (105 x 148 mm or 4 ⅛” x 5⅞”)
- 1.5mb – 2mb up to A5 – half A4 (148 x 210 mm or 5⅞” x 8¼”)
- 3.5mb up to A4 (210 x 297 mm or 8¼” x 11¾”)
- 6mb+ A3 or over (297 x 420 mm or 11¾” x 16½” or more)
We’ve made you a really handy cheat sheet that you can download, below.
When you download an image from a gallery your photographer has provided, you can hover your mouse over the image and it will normally bring up the dimensions. Remember, the larger you want the print – say, 16″ x 24″ and higher – the larger you want the file size.
The best sites for printing your cherished images
National Photo Lab
If this is a little much, I recommend going online to National Photo Lab. Not only do they provide beautiful and vivid images, but when you upload your photo, it will tell you if the resolution is high enough or if you need to resize the image.
I have used this site to print 30″ x 45″ portraits – and the cost was extremely comfortable and the quality was nothing short of spectacular. This site has an array of mounting options and style of prints such as luster, aluminum, professional, and glossy. As a bonus, they always have sales going on!
The next site I recommend is Mpix. This site also provides gallery level work and is a very tried and true go-to for professional photographers. This company provided three levels of professional photo printing paper, top quality printers, and a great community of inspirational wall décor ideas.
A wonderful feature that this company offers is that color technicians look over your images before they are shipped, and the product is shipped out within one business day of your order. You cannot beat that!
I have used companies such as Vista Print and Shutterfly, but the image quality is not what you want for professional photos. You deserve the best and if you are hunting for online printing sources, these are two LUXYMOM®-approved options. Happy printing!