I’ve post­ed this over at my ‘Learn with Ken’ area. See more top­ics here: forums

❓ [b]Colleen asks:[/b] We are going on vaca­tion to Cape Cod in August and are plan­ning a fam­i­ly beach por­trait with a pro­fes­sion­al pho­tog­ra­ph­er. After search­ing many sites I’ve nar­rowed my options into a cou­ple dif­fer­ent pho­tog­ra­phers. One option is to go with a pack­age with sit­ting fee that includes a 20 x 24 wall por­trait and can pur­chase the 4x5 proofs. We order direct­ly any addi­tion­al pho­tos from her. Anoth­er option is to pay a sit­ting fee for the hour and then he pro­vides me with a CD with all the pho­tos – we then get any pic­tures print­ed from an out­side source such as Shut­ter­fly, Snap­fish, Kodak, etc. Just con­cerned with qual­i­ty of such a large print such as 20x24 through one of these com­pa­nies. We are also look­ing at pos­si­bly going with a can­vas fin­ish and think I would feel more com­fort­able with qual­i­ty if I went with a pro­fes­sion­al pho­tog­ra­ph­er as opposed to one of these out­side online groups. Thanks for your feed­back. I appre­ci­ate it! ➡ [b]Ken Says:[/b] Great ques­tion. Giv­ing the per­son a CD of images is nice for [b]snapshot[/b] prints, but I think you are going for a few real­ly large, ‘heir­loom’ prints and that real­ly might be best to get through the pho­tog­ra­ph­er. Their job is to make sure it’s beau­ti­ful. It’s less has­sle for you. ❗ Of course it might set you back a car pay­ment… but that print will be around longer than your car! I like Kodak­gallery best online, but I don’t even see options for those can­vas prints, etc. Weg­mans (believe it or not) has real­ly nice equip­ment, and what they don’t do in-house, they do via Kodak. You might want to stop into a big Weg­mans and talk to them. I see ‘can­vas’ prints on their list. You could see sam­ples, ask if a pho­to should be any dif­fer­ent (lighter or dark­er??). It’s cer­tain­ly more cost­ly to have a pro do the work, but you can be so much sure of the qual­i­ty, you have some­one to com­plain to if you don’t like the print. Maybe if the #1 goal is the beau­ti­ful, big print, go with that pho­tog­ra­ph­er and ask how much to buy the dig­i­tal file for future snap­shot pur­chas­es. (If they even offer that option). Maybe a pack­age with the big print, a few small ones and the dig­i­tal file for the best group shot. I’d think if you buy a big, expen­sive framed print, they should be rea­son­able about sell­ing the file… but that’s just me… And with the print size you list­ed, that pho­tog­ra­ph­er might still be on film, not dig­i­tal. 💡 Anoth­er impor­tant thought is the rel­a­tive qual­i­ty of the pho­tog­ra­phers… first ques­tion is how good are both of them? If you’d like to send me their web links, I can see if there are any hints to how good they are. Final ques­tion is how much post-pro­cess­ing each pho­tog does on the image. To give you a big print, they must do work on the file (light/dark, col­or, retouch, etc)… to just give the images on CD, you’d have to ask what’s done to the images or are they strait out of the cam­era. [b]Print prices at Wegmans/Kodak vs. from a Pro:[/b] No pro can match those super-cheap whole­sale prices. I nev­er even offered sin­gle 4x6’s and 5x7’s were around $10. You have to do a fair amount of ‘prep’ work to images to print real­ly nice­ly, and the cost of the print means very lit­tle in the over­all final cost. Most­ly you are pay­ing for the prep work/retouching. [b]Sitting Fee vs. More Expen­sive Prints:[/b] There’s often a slid­ing scale between pay­ing more for the shoot and less for the prints, so if a pho­tog­ra­ph­er has an inex­pen­sive ‘sit­ting fee’ to take the pic­tures, they real­ly need to make that mon­ey on the prints. Now, to be fair, I’m very cheap. Lisa and I eloped and didn’t have real wed­ding pho­tos… so I under­stand try­ing to save mon­ey on things… but if you are get­ting the per­fect fam­i­ly por­trait to cher­ish for years to come, then it’s worth pay­ing a bit more. I’d sug­gest that you even will get more use out of a beau­ti­ful fam­i­ly por­trait than a wed­ding album that might just gath­er dust some­where in your house. The whole extend­ed fam­i­ly will love the fam­i­ly group shot for gen­er­a­tions. Hope that helps some folks to think about the issue and get the right thing and at a qual­i­ty they’ll be hap­py with for years.

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