Printing Pictures The Ultimate Guide

Printing pictures is no longer a job completely reserved for photo labs. Advances in printer technology, ink and photo paper has allowed users to print high quality pictures at home or work and on a cost effective budget. What’s more, printing pictures yourself means that you can edit and touch up the image as many times as you’d like prior or even after printing simply because you are in control.

Printing Pictures – The Ultimate Guide

Choosing Paper Technology – Printers are available with Inkjet or laser disbursement technology.  If you own an Inkjet printer, your photographic paper of choice must be compatible with Inkjet and naturally, the other way around. Do not attempt to feed an incorrect paper, as you are likely to damage the printer.

Check – Do you have Inkjet or Laser printer and source the paper accordingly

As Inkjet technology is the preferred option for photography printing, this guide will explain printing pictures using Inkjet printer.

Choosing Paper Type – Most users are familiar with copy paper on which their daily document printing is done. Normal copy paper however, is unsuitable to print ink-saturated pictures as the ink will bleed, the image quality will look poor and finally, the result is likely to fade rapidly.  For this job, you need photographic paper, which was intended specifically to accommodate image printing. You will need to choose either Inkjet or Laser photographic paper, simply referred to as photo paper. These differ in quality and cheap photo paper is rarely is a good option as it is likely to poses poor archival properties and low image definition quality. To simplify, archival property is a measurement of how long the image will last prior to fading, yellowing or losing its sharpness.

Check – The type of paper I bought or will be buying is true high end Photo Paper

Choosing Paper Weight – Photo papers are measured in GSM. In general, the higher the GSM (grammes per square meter), the better quality the paper will turn out to be hand in hand with the type of coating. However, some printers may struggle to feed certain heavy papers, so you are advised to check the printer’s manual for its upper GSM limit.  Photo papers tend to come in varied weights anywhere from 120gsm to 300gsm. Printing photos tends to be done on the 200gsm to 300gsm range which depending on the quality will yield sharper results with more realistic colours.

Check – The weight of the paper I bought or will be buying is supported by my printer

Paper Size – The biggest waste normally occurs when printing on an incorrect or unsuitable size. Photo paper sizes vary from the smallest 6×4 photo paper to the largest A3+ photo paper before we head to the large format world.  Typically, printing pictures will be done on the 6×4” and 7×5” sizes (similar to 10x15cm and 13x18cm),common photo album sizes, and on the larger A5 and A4 which are the common desk or wall mounted photo frame sizes. The same model paper in its A4 size will naturally cost more than its 6×4 equivalent, hence you will be reducing waste and making your printing more cost effective by choosing the correct size from the start.

Check – The size of paper I bought or will be buying suits my intended use.

Paper Finish – In addition to various sizes and weights, photographic papers differ in the finish of the paper. Examples stretch from the common glossy to the least common luster. They vary in the level of glare and texture of the finish. Glossy is the finish with the highest level of glare while satin, pearl and luster include some levels of glare. Finally you will find the matte finish photo paper, which does not contain any level of glare and so is rarely used for printing photos. Further reading on photo paper finish is recommended, as it is a world on its own.

Check – The finish of paper I bought or will be buying suits my intended use

Now you are almost ready to start printing. Before you do, ensure that the printer settings have been adjusted to accommodate the photographic paper you have sourced. Check that the size has been adjusted, that the quality has been assigned and that the finish was selected.  Avoid ‘bulk printing’ if you can, at least in the beginning so you don’t waste expensive paper. And… make sure you have fed the paper the right way around so printing occurs on the coated side.

If you have any questions, let us know.

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