I know the draw of visiting a local big box store and getting cheap canvas prints made of your family photos.
Not only is it convenient but it's also usually quite fast, too.
But there's a reason why those kinds of prints are so cheap - the prints are cheap too!
The paper that's used is usually flimsy. The inks that are used aren't high-quality, either.
So what you end up getting is a small, sub-par print that will fade with time, and really doesn't give you much in the way of a great visual experience from the get-go anyway.
What's the solution, then?
I know it can sound alarming when I say that you should think about getting professional prints made of your favorite photos.
"Professional prints" has a connotation to it that makes a cash register sound go off in your head, right?
But there's a couple of problems with that line of thinking.
First, your best photos deserve to be seen as a beautiful, professionally-made print.
Second, not all professional prints are prohibitively expensive.
With that in mind, I'd like to offer a few tips on how to get professional photos for first-timers using CanvasHQ, my preferred professional printers, as a prime example of what to look for.
Check on the Quality of Their Materials
As I noted earlier, there's really no point in buying cheap prints because the cheap materials they use won't result in a print that lasts very long at all.
Instead, you want to consider things like resistance to fading, scratching, and UV rays.
You also want to be sure that the substrate on which the photo is printed is high-quality as well.
Take CanvasHQ, for example.
They utilize artisan-quality, archival-grade poly-cotton blend canvas that's specifically designed for fine art reproductions.
That means that your images won't just be clear, sharp, and have gorgeous colors and contrast, but they'll also last a good, long while.
The water-based inks that printers like CanvasHQ further extend the life of the canvas.
Their canvases are scuff-resistant and water-resistant, and the canvas can be cleaned with a damp cloth.
So even if there is a mishap and your toddler accidentally slings water on your favorite print, you don't have to worry! Just grab a damp cloth, wipe down the canvas, and you're good to go!
The Frame is Just as Important as the Print
I've bought canvases in the past that looked good initially, but then began to buckle and warp over time.
Clearly, that's not a good situation...
Buckling and warping occur when substandard materials are used to create the frame behind the canvas.
Great service. Canvas and print quality is very good, and the framing is done very well. We will definitely be ordering more. - Ed V., Spencer, IA
To get the best-quality print, you want to ensure that the printer uses artist-quality, kiln-dried stretcher bars.
This kind of stretcher bar is made to last, and when companies like CanvasHQ hand-stretch the canvas over these high-quality framing materials, the result you get is a perfectly-mounted canvas that won't warp.
Inquire About Options
Some professional printers offer precious few options to their customers because it allows them to speed up the process and pump out more prints.
The problem with that is that not everyone needs the same kind of prints; it's hard to shoehorn the vast array of photos and wish-list items that people have for their prints into a few small categories.
At CanvasHQ, they've found a way to offer tons of options while also maintaining a quick turnaround time.
You can choose from a host of different canvas sizes or even order a custom size if you need.
Choose from a number of different finishes on the canvas as well, including glossy, semi-gloss, matte, iridescent, and vintage.
You can even choose the thickness of the frame that's used!
Having that kind of variety means that you can tailor your print to your specific needs and wants, making it more likely that you get the perfect print.
Ask About Turnaround Time
Just because a printer takes forever to get your print to you isn't necessarily an indication that it's a good-quality print.
In fact, CanvasHQ makes the best canvas prints around, and they do so in rapid fashion.
I've ordered prints on a Thursday before and gotten them on Saturday - even though I live in California and CanvasHQ is in Arkansas.
Now that's a good turnaround time!
Great work on the canvas. I am quite impressed with your touch up and refining skills. Thank you. I highly recommend Canvas HQ. Fast delivery as well. - Kim S., Boerne, TX
And don't think that because these guys are quick about it that their prints aren't up to snuff.
I can tell you firsthand that my CanvasHQ prints are the best I've ever gotten, and that's based on buying a ton of prints over the years.
If you ask me, way too many people simply post photos online and forget about them.
Instead, your most precious photos should be on your wall where you and your family can enjoy them day after day.
When getting prints made of your photos, consider the things I've outlined above, that way you're assured of getting the highest-quality print possible.
And remember - though quality might be a little more expensive than the cheapo prints you can get at big box stores, aren't your best memories worth a few extra bucks?