First images as shot. Second image without archival ink or paper.

I know it’s tempting to go the cheapest route and go to a local consumer printer (Walgreens, Target, etc.) to have prints made. But let me tell you what you are giving up.

1. Professional printers make 100% color accuracy and consistency a priority. Every print is hand checked.

2. Professional printers use the finest acid-free, archival paper so that your image doesn’t start to fade after a year.

3. Pro printers use archival ink which is acid-free, smudge-proof and water-proof.

4. They offer exceptional customer service to your photographer to ensure your order is correct.

5. Many have online programs the photographer can use to see exactly what your images will look like when printed.

You don’t have access to these printers because they only work with professional photographers. The printers require proof that you are professional before an account will be opened for you.

I use acid-free (archival) mats for my images, which are of course archival from a professional printer. If you want your prints to really stand the test of time, be sure the materials you use to frame them are all archival--acid-free--as well. You can check out Jo-Ann’s or Michaels-both stores almost always have coupons. You can also try any custom frame shop.

Archival lifetime estimates for prints are 100-200 years. Probably longer with extra-special care. You won’t get that from a big box chain store. And you may not care about that, but your grandchildren and great-grandchildren might.

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