So, what's this all about? Recently, I photographed the children at my son's daycare. It was a blast, and I'll hopefully be doing it again as my brand was effective, delivered what the client wanted, and at the value the client wanted. Naturally, since my son went, my wife turned to me for digital files, so she can have them printed at whatever lab she wants to use. That's fine. A print from a professional lab may cost more, but it's worth it (to me). To my wife, maybe, maybe not. I don't know, and just because I feel this way, doesn't mean she's right or wrong. Well, she went and picked up the photos from a local store today...and It upset me. My brand represents quality. What the store gave my wife is crap. The photos are off-color, underexposed messes. Now, the local chain store has no idea what camera I used, what lens I used, what white balance my camera's are set to, or what color profile my monitor is/has. Well, my computer, and not only my print lab, but my printer knows these things. What I see on screen, is what I see in print. That's pretty remarkable, given that it's a difference between reflected (print) and projected (monitor) light.
So after she brought these home, I naturally went back to my printer to see if I could tell a difference, or if by some possibility (even though I just handed over 130 proofs that all look fantastic...even in draft mode) the problem was on my end.
I load up my printer with some of Canon's Pro Platinum paper (I only have 8x10, so it's comparing an 8x10 to a 4x6, but still), and print one off...the difference is night and day. I used my scanner to scan it. Now I want to stress that my scanner is the biggest piece of crap in the universe. My scanner was $49.99 like 2 years ago. It has crappy resolution. It has crappy rendering. However, I don't scan photos with it. I scan copies of contracts or receipts. It does the job for that. However, even with the junky scanner, I can still see the difference between the two prints. Now I want to note that with my scanner, it appears that there's a yellow cast. I'm not sure if that's the bulb in my scanner, or if that's the glass in the bed. Even my receipts, if they are in full color, end up with that yellowish cast. So for what it's worth, even the competitor's photo is affected...it's just harder to tell, because it's got crappy color to begin with. Mine, without a color cast is easy to see WITH one, because it didn't have one to begin with.
I'm not saying I'm the best, or I'm the be all, end all. I'm saying that the lab I deal with for my photos, is going to look better than anyone in town, or any chain store that prints. There's a reason I strive to make sure my products are good, and it's because I want to be able to stand behind my name. If I pull this scan into photoshop, and look at the RGB levels, I can see plain as day the problems. On almost every end, their's is down 20+ points, even more in some areas. So I'll close my rant with this. In photography, you get what you pay for. There's a reason a lab print costs more than a wal*club*greens*cost*center*kodak counter print. It's because it's right. You paid money to have a photographer chronicle your special day, event, loved one, whatever. Why pay good money for good work, only to put it on crappy print products? You can't build a good house, on a bad foundation. IT just doesn't work that way.