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 4×5 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 20×24 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 4×6’s and 5×7’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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