Thursday, May 03, 2007

Improving my presentation - Part 2: Printing Larger Prints

As I discussed yesterday in part 1, I've now decided (mostly) on some sizes for larger prints. The next big question is how to print these larger prints.

My home printer only does 8.5" wide. For larger stuff, I've been using Costco's lab, which does up to 12x18. For anything larger, I need to go mail order. I started looking around, evaluating different options.

One of the big issues was color profiling and color gamut (ie: color range). A problem with some of my costco prints is that they had colors that were out of the Noritsu printer's gamut. Some of them I just settled for close enough. Others were far enough off to be embarassing, so I didn't even print those in larger sizes.

I started looking around, and from experimenting with some ICC color profiles from various print services, I discovered that the Chromira printers appeared to have a better gamut than the Noritsu printers, and could handle at least my most important photos (I never got around to checking some of the worst case photos, though).

Looking around at how much the prints would cost got interesting. I originally started out thinking $35 a print. However, I soon realized it was a bit more. And then as my ideas changed and I eventually decided on 16x24, and then 16x28, the cost got higher and higher. Now I realized that I was at the point where just having ONLY 6 photos enlarged, with a copy of each in the print bin, and 3 of the 6 also having a second framed copy, for the 9 prints total with shipping I was looking at around $600.

After that initial investment, as I sold them and needed to replace them, I'd either have to reorder them at the first print rate, or take a gamble and order the replacement in quantity to drive down the price. In addition, I'd have to pay fairly expensive shipping. So I was looking at replacement costs of $100 each or investing several hundred in reprints (which might not sell).

Then, what happens if I screw up and damage one of the prints (screw up signing it, accidentally crease it, etc)? That's $50 to $100 down the tube for one small mistake. Or what if someone manages to steal one from my booth? Or if I sustain some water damage? Or if a customer damages it in the print bin?

Originally I thought my enlargement investment would be about $200 to $250. However, as it grew and grew to over $600, I quickly realized it was starting to approach 1/3 to 1/2 the investment of what I wanted to do all along: buy a wide format pigment printer.

In part 3, I'll talk about all of the advantages of buying a wide format pigment printer and printing your own prints instead.

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