{You Get What You Pay For} Westfield, New Jersey Photographer

Print purchase minimums.  I have them, and though it seems unlikely, I’m going to use a recent issue I’ve had with a local lab to explain one reason why I have them.

Print purchase minimums are a part of my business model, and right now, I’m glad they are.  They are in place so that unless a client is planning on purchasing the entire session (30+ images) worth of digital files, digital files are not available for purchase until the print minimum purchase has been met (if a print package is purchased, there is no print minimum purchase, and digital files are available, and usually included, with the purchase of the package).

One reason I have print minimum purchases is so that I can stay in business.  Another reason is so that I can keep the cost of my a la carte digital files at a lower price for my clients (I charge less per file than MotoPhoto. Remember that as you read on.).  I could go on, but let’s get to the reason I’m trying to illustrate.  I have them so that my clients expect to walk away with at least some prints and products from me, prints and products that I can 100% insure are the highest quality, and are always checked for defects before packaging and delivery.

I guarantee that my clients are going to get heirloom quality pieces with the colors, saturation, clarity, and exposure that I intended the image to have.  The prints, canvases, and mounts that I provide will last longer than a lifetime with the proper care on my clients part.  That newborn picture is going to look just as good hung in the nursery today as it is going to look hung next to the image of that newborn’s newborn in 20 or 30 years.

All my prints and products are printed through a professional lab.  My monitor is calibrated with the printers at that lab.  There is really very little room for surprises. I am an advocate of using labs like this for my clients, and if my clients do get files, I always ALWAYS recommend staying away from Walmart, CVS, Cosco, Target, etc etc when printing. Always.  I recommend using Mpix.com because they provide a consistent product. I do not use them for my professional printing, but they are good enough that if a client isn’t going to print through me, then they can be relatively confident that they will get a good product.

So why on earth did I decide to use MotoPhoto to process my film?

I didn’t want to send my film for the first roll along to a professional lab because I wanted to see how the camera was working, and I wanted to get used to it. I wasn’t expecting to get good results.  I had MotoPhoto process the negatives (uncut) and burn the files to a disc because 2 weeks ago I didn’t have a photo scanner.  I was “eh” about the results from them.  And I was unhappy that a few of the images on the CD were corrupt and couldn’t be opened. I was even more unhappy that the images were saved at WEB resolution and not PRINT resolution despite the fact that they guaranteed print resolution when I originally inquired.

After a few more rolls of film (and some more corrupt files), I asked in person about the resolution. I was basically told that it was fine, it didn’t really matter.

UGH.  I don’t even want to talk trash about the guy but he had some nerve treating me like I didn’t know a thing about photography, computers, or photoshop.

So I got a scanner.  My next 3 rolls of film I had just the negatives processed.  The following image on the left is an example of what I’ve gotten back.

Some of those specs are my own doing – I’m still learning about the best way to get dust off of my negatives before scanning.  About 90% of it is from (what I believe) them rolling the negative strip when it was still wet and loading it into the canister.  A number of other negatives in the strip have a similar vertical band.

So why on earth did I go back there?  Because for whatever reason I didn’t think I was going to walk away with images that I was happy with.  Each roll I have had images that I’ve LOVED, so I need to get over that and deal with the fact that I’m going to have to spend more money to ship them off to a professional lab so that I don’t have to spend an entire day in photoshop fixing 2 images (I am almost done with a third, but I don’t know that I’m going to finish it today so I am not going to count it).

all images shot with Kodak Extar 100 35mm film

The moral of the story?

I am very cranky because I’ve spent all day at my computer fixing the images, time that I could have spent playing with my kids or shooting more film.

So, keeping that in mind, the lesson here is if you don’t make the investment in a quality product you’ll end up dealing with an inferior product (and poor customer service. I promise.). Print minimums gaurantee to my clients that they will be walking away with a nice selection of quality products, and that is something I am proud to offer. Now I need to live what I preach.

The first and third image will be available at Lily Makes Three once I’m finished fixing the rest of the images in the series.  Soon I hope.

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