I remember the first canvas print I ordered of a landscape image I took of a river rolling along a cliffside.
It was in the fall, so the colors of the leaves were spectacular. The bright gold foliage looked amazing against the deep red color of the cliffs behind the trees.
It was a gorgeous scene that I wanted to immortalize in a print.
Unfortunately for me, I rushed through the process and ended up getting a print that now hides under my bed in a plastic tub with several other prints that I've grown to hate.
So, in the spirit of helping you avoid the same problems, I've come up with a few tips to help you get the best canvas print.
Is It Really Wall-Worthy?
Perhaps my first mistake was in the image I chose to have printed.
It was a perfectly fine photo with incredible colors. And upon first glance - heck, even the second and third glance - it seemed like a well composed image as well.
But the longer it hung on my wall, the more I noticed things that I didn't like.
For starters, the horizon was ever so slightly off, a mortal sin for any landscape photo.
Additionally, I'd taken the photo from my eye-level, which the more I looked at it, the more I realized that it was a super boring way to view that particular landscape.
And if that wasn't enough, there was a small tree branch protruding into the frame. It was barely noticeable, but over time, it became the first thing I saw when I walked by the print hanging on the wall.
So, the moral of the story is that you need to dive deep into the photo before you get it printed.
Don't just glance at it a few times - zoom in, blow it up, check the corners of the image, and be sure that it's something that you will enjoy for years to come (like the images of my son seen above).
High Resolution is Where Its At
Can you get a canvas print of a photo you took with your phone? Sure!
Can you blow that image up as large as one you took with your DSLR or mirrorless camera? Nope...
If you want to create large prints, you need a camera that is capable of taking high resolution images.
Now, that doesn't mean you need to get a Canon 5DS with a 50.6-megapixel sensor, but it also doesn't mean that you can get huge prints of pictures you took with your 10-year-old point and shoot camera, either.
Just bear in mind that the larger the print, the better the resolution needs to be. Fortunately, a printing company worth their salt will help you figure out how big of a print you can get based on the resolution of the image.
Watch the Focus (and Other Settings)
Obviously, you want the subject of your photos to be in sharp focus. That's the case whether you get a canvas print or not.
But beyond that, consider what purposefully out of focus areas might look like when printed in large format to hang on the wall.
By that, I mean that your favorite portrait of your kid might look glorious on your computer screen, but when blown up, that delicious bokeh in the background might not look so good.
Furthermore, think about the ISO you use as well.
Again, when viewed at 25% on your computer screen, an image that was shot with a high ISO might look fine. However, when rendered in a large print, all that noise might rear its ugly head.
And when it comes to exposure, for printing purposes, having the image slightly underexposed is preferable to having an image that's slightly overexposed.
That's because all those highlights might lose all their detail and appear like bright white blobs in the print. That's a little more distracting to the eye than shadowy areas that are a little on the darker side.
Choose the Right Options for Your Print
Getting canvas prints has come a long way since I ordered my first one online all those years ago.
In fact, I'm pretty sure the company I used back then is long since out of business. Read more about the best canvas prints online company on our wesbite PhotographyTalk.com.
Today, when I need a canvas print, I choose CanvasHQ to handle all my orders.
There's a ton of reasons for this, among them their top-notch customer service that makes me feel like a member of their family...
But I also like CanvasHQ because of all the options they give me for my prints.
I can choose from all sorts of sizes, from just 6-inches wide to 96-inches wide.
There's different types of canvas wraps, too, including plain black and white, mirrored, and an image wrap that extends the photo onto the sides of the canvas for a three-dimensional look.
"I love the personal service that you ALWAYS provide and the fantastic quality of the canvases. This is my 4th order I think, and I recommend your company to everyone! Thank you :)" - Jannell M., Lynnwood, WA
I like the variety of frame depths as well. For my smaller prints, I like something shallower like a 3/4-inch depth. Most of my prints have a 1.5-inch depth, which gives them a nice visual heft without looking too chunky.
Of course, on my biggest prints, I get a 2-inch frame depth that gives the print a ton of extra visual appeal and helps it look like it's standing out away from the wall.
Add to that a selection of different canvas finishes that range from matte to iridescent, glossy to semi-gloss, as well as a variety of image effects to give your canvases a completely different personality, and you've got a recipe for one heck of a canvas print.
You even get complimentary digital proofs, fast shipping, and a money-back guarantee if something isn't quite right.
In other words, my experience with CanvasHQ has been the polar opposite of what happened way back in the day when I ordered my first canvas print.
If you want the very best canvas prints, put some thought into the images you select, make sure they're high resolution photos, be mindful of the camera settings and the focus, and definitely choose the right printing company to make your images come to life.
If you can do those things, I think you'll find that you're just as pleased with the prints you get in the mail as I am!