Apr 26, 2019

The power of print: Printing your photos matters

The power of print. It might seem minuscule in your day to day, but when you’re old and grey…what are you leaving behind for the next generation?
I might have my photographer hat on, but your images in print is a powerful thing. Your legacy, your story, your memories left behind for the next generation.

About a month ago, I got around to printing some more recent photos of our family and putting together a collection of framed photos. I watched as Smith got home from daycare and immediately began pointing out all the people he knew in each photo. My heart swelled as his eyes lit up, seeing photos of himself, his parents, his brother…Why had I not done this sooner?! Not long after, he asked to see photos on Tim’s computer, like he sometimes does, and the two smiled and laughed at all of our family adventures…looking through them like a yearbook. This lit a fire under my butt to get some more photo books printed with our favourite photos!

collection of family photos on tablelittle boy looking at photos on laptop with his dad toddler looking at photos on laptop with dad

It’s no surprise that we live in a time where more photos are being taken than ever before. Most of us have the ability to take a photo whenever, wherever, so long as we have our phones on hand. We might post one to Facebook, one on our Insta story and then we hardly ever glance at it again.

There was once a day when printing your photos was exciting. You brought your roll of film into the lab, waited a few days for a call that it was ready and anxiously went to pick up your 4×6 prints. Flipping through the [often] 24 frames you got out of one roll of film, you might find yourself smiling as you relive the moments you captured on film. You get home, set aside some of the keepers to be framed and put on the mantle, and the rest into the photo album.

collection of family photos on table

I don’t know about you, but I love going through our old family photo albums. A collection of memories from family trips, birthdays, sleepovers, holidays, family reunions, anything and everything that was worthy of taking a photo of. Most often, these photos are filled with the people we love or the places we’ve been. Snapshots of our past that remind us of where we started and how far we’ve come.

If there’s anything that life teaches you, it’s that moments are fleeting. And that we should try to soak up all the moments that soon become memories of our past. Since having children, I am shocked at just how often I find myself wondering where the time has gone. I remember so vividly the day Smith was born, almost THREE years ago. And yet I watch this beautiful kid grow up before my eyes, constantly learning, changing, laughing…and I wonder where the time has gone.

collection of old family photos on table

I have made it a point to not only take more photos of my children but to print those really special ones. Sounds cheesy, but printing and framing photos brings you joy in such an easy way. You’ve already taken these photos because these are moments you care about. Why not infuse your day with those memories that make you smile. I have a framed photo in just about every corner of the house. From the time I wake up, to my walk downstairs for my morning coffee, there are photos of our family and special places we’ve been to add a little pep into my step before I’ve even taken that first sip.

framed photo of family above vintage radio

So what’s stopping you from printing your photos?

While I offer printing services to my clients, the average person might not know where to have their photos printed anymore. Storefronts like Blacks have closed and Walmart is potentially the worst there is out there (sorry, Walmart. But it’s just not your forte). Any jobs that I am not able to print myself at home on my Epson printer, I outsource to some of my favourite businesses.

Where should you print your photos?

There are still many options out there for the average consumer and the professionals alike. If you’re looking for something quick and easy you can do from the comfort of your home own home, Henry’s offers an online printing service that is both high quality and affordable. If you’re old school, they also have kiosks in store that you can use that offer an instant printing option, too!

For some of those more special prints, I would highly recommend Shoebox Studios. They just opened their doors in Ottawa in 2018 and while they are still new to the community, they have made a real impression. Shoebox prints exclusively on archival papers using pigment inks and adjust every image for print. They take pride in knowing that their products will stand out from the big box printing shops. There’s also nothing better than supporting local.

Samuel, founder of Shoebox, graciously answered a few of my questions so that I could share with the rest of you.

-What was your vision behind opening Shoebox Studio?

The vision behind Shoebox Studio was to make a space for creatives to brainstorm, collaborate, and of course create. The artistic community in Ottawa, in my opinion, is incredibly diverse and much more present than you’d assume. But there are no dedicated services for them to go. Before coming to Shoebox, many of our clients were ordering prints of their work online or using more commercial services where they had no input in their own artworks. We wanted to create a small intimate print shop where people can collaborate with someone who listens to the client’s vision and makes sure that’s reflected in the final print.

-In the age of digital, what would you recommend people do with their photos?

With a background in the preservation of objects, permanency in modern photography is always on my mind. All it takes is one hard drive crash for someone to lose thousands of digital images and years of work. Backups and “off-site” backups are a must. There is, however, something special about the physical photograph. This is why Shoebox exclusively uses archival acid-free papers and pigment inks. Whether you chose to print a single image or a selection, we want the image to resist fading and discolouration.

-Since most people are now taking photos on their phones, what would you say is the largest size and best method of printing your photos without compromising quality?

Phone photography has absolutely exploded with the massive improvements in mobile tech. People are creating beautiful images with their phones and these photos should never be overlooked because of how they were taken. The best camera is the one you have with you. Resolution, though, is always the limiting factor when printing mobile photos. With more recent models of phones, we can achieve a respectable 11”x14” without compromising quality. Any larger without heavy alterations, the image starts to break down. There are strategies to mitigate pixelation by using a textured art paper for example, where jagged edges become less obvious. If you’re shooting with your phone you just have to be aware that large prints may not be possible.

 -I noticed you don’t have an online ordering system like Henry’s or other printing services. Will you ever have an online system where clients could upload and order prints? 

Since one of Shoebox’s primary purposes is to provide a collaborative approach to printing, having an online submission form where people can upload images probably will not ever happen. There are a myriad of printing options where you can upload your photo, select a size, and the printed image will arrive after a few days. We want the photographer/artist to have direct input into the creation of their prints and form a working relationship with the printer.

 -Are you equipped to develop film? i.e. disposable cameras that are still kicking around?
We are not equipped to develop film at the studio but we do work with many analog photographers to digitize their negatives or slides. Since we use such high quality scanning equipment, many analog photographs can be printed larger than some digital images! We’ve noticed quite the resurgence in film photography and are excited to be working with the medium. But there are a few fabulous labs in Ottawa that provide awesome development services. [check out GPC Labworks!]

What about photo books?

There are so many affordable online services where you can make photo books in seconds. And while I wouldn’t use these to make albums for wedding clients per se, these photo books offer an affordable way to archive some of your iPhone photos or family photos over the years.
Photo books of family vacations
Intended to be easy to use and make photo books straight from your phone. For as little as $10, you can custom create a photobook!
Ranging from $15 to $130, you can design anything from a softcover book to a layflat album with thick album pages. Bonus: they often have some promos going on!
A more fine art option, their photo books offer a little more class. They have product ranging from $20 to $140, with many different options to upgrade and personalize your album. And they print on archival paper which means it can withstand a little more wear and tear and won’t fade.
Similar to Artifact Uprising (but Canadian!), they offer a wide variety of photo book option from simple to elaborate. Ranging in price from $10 to $250, they also offer archival paper options.

Still have questions about printing your photos? I’d love to help you out. I’m no printing expert, but I’d be happy to point you in the right direction and support your printing journey!

Have a beautiful day, friends! xo
framed photo of family above vintage radio



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