- Glossary of Printing Terms
- Bonus: 4 Tips for Online Photo Printing
- Recommended Photography Gear
- Types of Canvas Prints
- Anatomy of a Wood Frame Canvas Print
- Wholesale Photography Products Can Help Your Business Grow
Printing photos online is a fairly straightforward operation these days…
However, it’s still helpful for beginners in photography to have a glossary of printing terms used by online photo printing companies. Having this glossary as a guide takes some of the mystery out of the process.
I’ll also add some tips for printing photos online that may not be fully covered by a glossary of printing terms, such as what image resolution is needed for submission, preferred file types, color tips, processing for better online photo printing, and so on.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents:
Glossary of Printing Terms
Many companies that offer online photo printing have a glossary of printing terms relating to their own business posted somewhere on their website.
One of my top choices for printing photos online, CanvasPrints.com, has a nice page with a glossary of printing terms to help you understand the photo printing process a little better. While I appreciate their dedication to providing quality customer services like this, what I most appreciate about CanvasPrints.com is their high-quality level of prints.
At any rate, below, you’ll find that I made my own version of a glossary of printing terms that goes beyond a single type of online photo printing. The glossary below is informed by my experiences over the years with printing photos online.
Photo paper is printing paper that has been specifically designed for the needs of displaying photographic images in real life as opposed to a digital display.
For digital images, most photo papers aren’t light sensitive, but there are also photo papers made for optical printing from a film negative or slide. Paper prints are usually displayed in mattes, frames, or both.
Metal prints are photographic prints crafted from metallic paper and bonded to a sheet of polished metal. The metallic paper can be bonded to the metal plate before or after printing. Metal prints are often displayed as-is without any frame.
A canvas print is a canvas wrap made from cotton material and usually stretched over a wooden frame. Canvas prints have a unique appearance based on the material that is seen on the edges of the wooden frame. The print can “bleed” over the edge, or the printer can apply a blur effect to the edges. Canvas prints can be displayed as-is or in a frame.
Acrylic prints are high-quality paper prints (or sometimes metalized paper) that are sandwiched between an opaque backing material and a clear acrylic top plate. Acrylic blocks and prints have an interesting depth effect for viewers and can also be displayed with or without frames.
Dye sublimation is a process in which the inks are embedded into the print material itself, bonding with the material used. This achieves a better color depth and lasts longer than an ink sitting on top of the printing material. It’s the preferred method for specialty prints such as canvas prints.
Canvas depth refers to the thickness of the material on the edge of a canvas print stretched over a wooden frame. Some frames may be relatively shallow, while others are 1 ½” or more. Larger canvas prints should be printed with a thicker canvas depth for improved strength.
Cotton Blend Canvas
A cotton-blended material is optimized for being used as a photographic canvas. The smoother the blend, the better color depth and image sharpness. High-quality canvas material is required for photographic printing, avoiding issues such as fraying or fading.
Solvent-based inks are durable and hold their color for a longer time than others, such as latex inks. Many solvent ink suspension mediums are not environmentally friendly, but an eco-solvent ink is suspended in a solution that’s safe for the environment. Eco-solvent inks are preferred for canvas prints.
Latex inks are waterborne or suspended, and usually aren’t as durable or as colorfast as solvent inks. Most latex inks are also eco-friendly, but aren’t used by a large number of online printing services in favor of longer-lasting eco-solvent inks.
White Label Shipping
White-label or blind shipping is a drop-shipping option in which the online photo printing company ships directly to your client, but without any labeling or branding from the printer. This speeds up the delivery, while not diluting your own photography business branding efforts.
The surface sheen or shininess of a photo print is referred to as sheen. Lower sheen papers and other materials may also have a slight texture to the surface of the material.
Digital proofs are small file images sent to clients so they can decide what images and poses they want to order as physical prints.
Archival, photographically speaking, is the quality or characteristics of paper, inks, and other materials that allow them to last a long time without significant degradation such as fading or aging.
Resolution refers to the amount of detail a digital photo file holds. Higher resolutions can be printed larger than lower-resolution images.
Color correction is adjusting the color balance of an image to more closely represent the color of a subject in real life.
Color balance can be greatly affected by ambient light conditions such as full daylight, overcast skies, incandescent lights, and so on. You can do this yourself in-camera or by post-processing, or you can opt for the online printer to apply their own parameters.
The most common physical print sizes have been in existence for many decades. These include 8x10 and 16x20 inches, which often require image cropping. Other sizes such as 4x6, 8x12, and 16x24 inches utilize the entire image file dimensions.
The video above by Carlos Sanchez details how to change print sizes in Photoshop.
Panoramas are made by stitching together overlapping side-by-side image files for a much wider view than your lens can provide. Panoramic prints are characterized by being wider than they are tall.
In addition to the standard prints and enlargements, many online photo printing companies can also put your images on gifts of all kinds. This includes coffee mugs, photo puzzles, and tote bags. You can also order tee shirts, photo tiles, and beach towels, to name a few.
Bonus: 4 Tips for Online Photo Printing
To give you more utility and guidance, I’ve included four bonus tips to help you prepare for printing your photos online. This is not a complete list of everything you need to consider when printing your photos, but the four tips outlined below will certainly help you get started!
The larger the file, the larger you can make a print and have it look sharp, generally speaking. I like to recommend using your camera’s RAW file setting for capturing images. RAW holds all or most of the information the camera sensor captures. Then, you post-process and save as the largest size JPEG (or TIFF) that your online photo printing company can handle,
Photo by bogdankosanovic via iStock
Every picture you’ve ever seen has been processed in some way. In reality, there is no such thing as a SOOC (straight out of camera) photo. All film gets processed, all digital images get processed, though a JPEG may be processed in the camera, but it’s still processed.
Post-processing is the method where you use an imaging program to fine tune your images to perfection or change them radically for special effects. Post-processing is a necessary skill for any digital photographer wishing to improve their photography overall.
You can make an image file into virtually any size final print in a staggering array of ratios of height to length. Try cropping your finished files into different sizes, and see what creative leaps you make with the right photo.
Check out the menu of your photo printing company for programs that increase your profit when you start selling your art. CanvasPrints.com has an excellent program for wholesale prices to suit this specific purpose.
See what you can do with this glossary of printing terms and bonus tips for printing your own photos. If I might offer one last tip, though - the printing company you use matters a lot.
There are many online printing companies to choose from, and while choice is great, not all printing companies are made alike. When choosing a printing company, you want to work with folks that are dedicated to your work as much as you are, and in my experience CanvasPrints.com fits the bill!
Not only is the CanvasPrints.com team a dedicated bunch of photography enthusiasts, but they also create beautiful prints and other products. I have ordered dozens of prints and photo gifts from CanvasPrints.com recently, and I’ve been thoroughly impressed each and every time. You will too!
Check out my video above to see some of the awesome photography products I’ve recently gotten from CanvasPrints.com.