Why pay for professional prints?

So, you’ve invested money to have beautiful professional photographs taken (by me!). You’ve chosen to purchase the digital files so you’ll always have a copy as a back-up and probably so you can run off a few prints whenever you feel like, right? I completely understand! When I choose a photographer for my family, I want to be able to purchase the digital files too! But photos can’t be enjoyed sitting in a drawer on a USB, you need them printed; in albums or up on your walls for everyone to see!

This is where it gets tricky.

When you hire me as your photographer, you aren’t just hiring me to press a button. You’re hiring me for my artistic vision, and part of that is editing and polishing each image before I deliver your final product. Without getting too technical, I can spend up to 30 minutes editing ONE photo, sometimes longer if it’s a composite image. I make sure every single photo has the perfect colour, contrast, sharpness etc, down to every detail. I want to make sure this effort isn’t wasted, so I have calibration software I use to ensure that what I see on my monitor is exactly what my chosen professional labs produce at the other end. Before I deliver the print to you, I quality check it and make sure it’s perfect. When you hold a professional print from me, it looks exactly as I intended, and is of the highest quality.

So what happens when you take these beautiful files, that you’ve paid me to perfect, and print them at local photo labs? I wanted to see for myself so I went and got a few samples and compared them to one of my preferred professional labs.

First up we have gorgeous Frank. Here is the digital file for reference.


And here are the prints. I have tried to be as accurate as possible, these are photographs of the prints (more accurate than scanning). I chose a few of the more popular print labs, using a cross section of stores from across Australia (this was done in conjunction with a group of professional photographers I am friends with as an experiment for our studios). We have Snapfish, Big W, Kmart, Harvey Norman and Camera House.

Let’s see how little Frankie looks.


How do you think they compare? To be completely honest, even I wasn’t expecting them to be quite this… different. Poor Frankie even has black smudges across him in the Camera House print! And the worst of it is, because non professional labs don’t have the strict protocols that pro labs do, if I do this again in a month they could look completely different, and results will be different from store to store within the same company. It pains me to think my customers may have something like this hanging on their walls!

But I didn’t want to rely on just one image, so I ordered a couple more to be sure. Here is Holly and Spencer.

Beautiful Holly – Digital file.




Cutie-pie Spencer – Digital file.




Yep. I’d say I’m pretty sure.

So there you have it! Why pay for professional prints? Because, as with most things, you really do get what you pay for. You’ve invested in professional photography, you want to make sure that what is hanging on the wall is of professional quality. Don’t waste your money!

These samples are also available in studio for you to view. If you’d like to discuss more information about the print products I have available, or would like to book a session, I would love to hear from you!

Speak soon!


*Professional photographers – please feel free to share, but please be sure to credit me as the author. Thank you!*

Toowoomba photographer.

Maternity. Newborn. Baby


17 thoughts on “Why pay for professional prints?

    1. Christie-Lee Post author

      Thank you Rob! I am trying my best to help educate clients about why it’s important to invest in professional printing, not just digitals.

  1. shez

    I love that you have put this out there. I use to run a Harvey Norman lab and was proud of my self in the fact that I actually serviced, cleaned, calibrated and re calibrated on a very regular basis. We were running a fusiform frontier 570 which was brilliant as long as the services were maintained. I had many professional clients over the four years of working there and am sad to say that the quality and standard I held for so long has now gone downhill. I in fact can get my prints done at better quality at the local big w now.
    Your work is beautiful and you should be proud of it. 🙂

      1. Lucas

        Fujifilm Frontier 570 was a great machine! We now have a DL650 and we are less than impressed with it! Great article as well!

  2. megann

    I ordered from snapfish twice last December. I printed my Christmas photos, ran out and ordered more…. when I received the second shipment, I compared the two prints and even those, printed by the same company , were drastically different

  3. Anna

    I used to work at Big W in the printing section, and along with the extra contrast and colour hue added, they also add a de-sharpening filter. I think this all adds up to them trying to make the best image out of the photos the customers have taken themselves. I would get a lot of people complain about the quality over the years – and I couldn’t do anything more for them. I recommend ANYONE using a professional photographer get prints done at professional printers to not be disappointed with the result.

  4. Corey Jinnette

    What is meant by a professional print. Who or where do you use for your ‘professional print’.
    Thanks for sharing those comparisons, makes it easy to show someone else.

    1. Christie-Lee Post author

      Hi Corey,

      By professional print I mean through your photographer. The print companies I use deal with professional photographers only. If your photographer doesn’t offer prints, they usually have a company they recommend so it would be worth contacting them.

      Hope this helps!


    1. Christie-Lee Post author

      Hi Dominique,

      I recommend speaking to your photographer regarding print options. To guarantee the best outcome you would purchase your prints through them. If your photographer doesn’t offer prints, they usually have a company they recommend so it would be worth contacting them.

  5. Bree

    Thank you so much for publishing this post! I spend so much time trying to explain the difference in print quality to my clients. You have illustrated it so beautifully. Thank you. Stunning work too!

  6. Sabine

    Thanks for putting in the time and effort to do this it can often be hard to explain a bad printing lab can alter the look of the photo, I used to run a mini lab and am very particular with my prints now days, have had some shocking results and even nicely told some labs there calibration must be off only to have them say no it must be your image which I then take else where and its fine. I personally have had some really good prints from my local BigW!! goes to show tough its not consistent in all stores or from one operator to the next as they all have different standards so its hit and miss. best taken to a professional for professional photos : )

  7. Rachel Davie

    Perfect examples. I don’t know how many times i’ve been asked to just “give me the unedited images on USB”…


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