Print quality, or how good your print looks.
Print quality can be divided into to loose categories. Firstly how good the finished photograph looks when it’s hanging on your wall. Secondly, how durable is the print. How long will it last.
We’ll deal briefly with how good it looks first. This naturally has a lot to do with personal taste. Some like their prints darker, or with stronger colour. Others prefer softer colours and lighter tones. There are a whole lot of personal preferences to take into account. As a general rule though a good quality print will have a full range of tones from near pure black to white. Even very light toned prints benefit from a small amount of black. A little black point in a print that is largely light in tone gives our eyes a reference point for viewing. Similarly a very dark and moody print will gain extra impact if there is a small amount of white within the prints tonal range.
Of course all this is of no consequence, should you not fined the subject or its treatment to your liking. That’s another story. Here we are only really concerned with print quality. As always you must choose a photographer that will interpret your vision in a way that is to your liking. Print quality should be good providing you choose a reputable photographer.
Print quality, will my print keep on looking great for years to come.
Just because your new print looks good, doesn’t mean it is going to last. Sadly a fact of life. One I can assure you, all reputable photographers wrestle with constantly. There are a mired of choices today, when it comes to selecting materials for making great looking prints. On one hand, chemically processed prints, created from digital files but processed in chemical baths much as they have been for decades. And on the other hand, digitally printed images, using either dye sublimation or ink jet technology. All have their pros and cons. For example chemically processed prints tend to be harder wearing. Ink jet style printing can be better quality and outlast chemical prints.
However not all ink jet or for that matter chemical prints are created equal. Variations in ink sets and paper combinations, along with different chemical processes can mean many years difference in the time your beautiful print will be around. Some of the dodgy combinations of materials only last a few short years. Buyer beware. I shouldn’t have to say it but we at excitations use only the best materials. If you hear otherwise, then you have been misinformed.
Making a good print isn’t the end of the process. How a print is mounted and framed, can and will have a huge effect on your prints life. Once again you most likely won’t be able to tell between a great framing job and one by the dodgy brothers. Not for a while at least. A quick true story about bad mounting and framing. Years ago we produced a small black and white print for a good client. She had it mounted and framed elsewhere. No problem, except she brought the whole lot back to use to replace because there was something wrong with our print. In fact the problem wasn’t our print. It was the bright yellow industrial glue used to adhere our archival print to a piece of acid filled, cheap packaging cardboard, before the print was framed. Three months and the picture was ruined. Actually it was ruined as soon as the glue was applied. Just took 3 months for the damage to show up.
So in summary, print quality is a combination of how a print looks and how durable it is. One is obvious to your eye. Unfortunately the other is not.