Comparing Photo Printing Services

Hello! Today I wanted to share the results of a small research project I undertook last month. Research....about photo printing. As an avid memory keeper I am a big believer in getting my pictures offline and in paper form, so I can enjoy them and share them with my loved ones. Don't get me wrong- I LOVE modern technology. I am an avid Facebooker and Instagram sharer. But, there is nothing like paper and pen to capture memories. Not only do I print pictures of my life, but also my loved ones. I have dozens of framed pictures in my home of my friends and family. I also help other people capture their memories in paper form thru my custom scrapbook business. I print my pictures in a variety of ways, but had never really thought thru what was the most cost effective and efficient way to do so-I was more of a 'Hey! here's a sale, here's a folder full of pictures-CLICK' kind of shopper. A couple of months ago I got he idea to 'test' out a variety of services/methods and compare how they work. Serious research kind of stuff. Today I am going to share the results with you. I also worked out a couple of DISCOUNTS that you can use to print your own photos! So, no excuses, ok? Read up, pick a service and print some pictures this weekend.

Before we get started, a few notes:

- I use Picasa+ ,a free service from Google to organize and process all my photos. I have never learned Photoshop, mainly because I find I can do almost everything I want with Picasa. It links up to my Google Plus account, and integrates with many of the photo printing services I am going to talk about today- I love Picasa! 

- I typically order pictures is in a big batch-to add to my own scrapbook or to create something for a client. I tend to stick to two sizes: 4x6 and small square (3" or 4"). Every so often I order an enlargement, for my home or a special project. 

- I have made several altered photo books for people. I shared my most recent one HERE

- For this experiment I chose two photos: one I wanted to print 4x6 and had all the colors. One that I wanted to print square and had mostly black, white and red. I did not trim the prints to a square shape, but am sharing them as they come. Also, you will see that ordering a square print is not easy or possible in all methods

- In addition to online services I also printed at home on my 2 printers 

- I am not the world's greatest photographer, but I did my best to capture the prints and show the differences, it may be hard to see on screen what I see in real life.

photo printing review murphy's camera louisville

Murphy's is known as the go to place for camera people. They are the experts in town if you want to buy camera equipment, talk photography and get your pictures printed. I have been there in person many times and always loved the staff . I use them 1-2 a year.
photo printing review shutterfly
Shutterfly is probably the most well known online for photo printing. Most everyone I know has used them at one time or another, and very often when I am ordering prints for a client they want to share them with me thru Shutterfly. (disclaimer: I am an affiliate for Shutterfly, so I often share links to their products. I only share their services when I love it and think it is useful)

photo printing review target photo
Years ago I would take my camera card or flash drive and print my pictures right there in the store. It was convenient, fast and pretty good quality. In more recent years I have used them when I wanted a large photo quickly and I was shopping there anyway. 

photo printing review persnickety prints

Persnickety Prints is a fairly new company I learned about thru social media. I order batches of my own pictures 2-3 times a year and always try to send my scrapbook clients there. I am also an avid reader of their blog. Before undertaking this little experiment I would have gladly told you they were my favorite.

Now lets see a side by side comparison (and look at prints I printed at home)

PROS: local biz I want to support, able to go in and talk to a human, ask questions, on site machine to get prints myself, excellent colors and thick paper stock, prints have a semi gloss finish I like, links to Facebook (FB) and Instagram (IG) 
CONS: When ordered online prints took 5 days to get to my local store, not a lot of custom sizes, does not sync to Google+ or Picasa, website was hard to navigate (basic and a little confusing to order what I wanted)
PRICES// 4x6 .39, 8x10 3.99

PROS:  Easy to use website, easy to print a square pic (although I'd like an option to print a smaller size, like 3 inch), lots of size and medium options (canvas, metallic prints, etc), their photo books are excellent quality for their price point (I love them!), site is always running special and coupons-see the end of the post for a special discount this weekend!)
CONS: Can't easily share social media pictures, their app is not really any better than their mobile site, paper is thinner than other methods and color were not accurate (look at the red in the cat pic)
PRICES//4x6 .15, 8x8 photobook 26.44 (see end of post for sale!)
This week you can get 50% of hard cover books and 30% off everything else on their site! code: RELAX . Also, All customers enjoy $10 off orders $10-$49.99, $25 off orders $50-$99.99 or $50 off orders $100+ with promo code SAVEBIG at checkout

C. Target
PROS: Convenient (I shop there often so I can pick up prints easily), they offer delivery, you can get pictures from FB, IG, Flickr, Picasa and Google+, color was pretty good
CONS: Couldn't order a square print (I thought I was ordering a square print, but you can see what I got), website in general is a little buggy (I somehow ended up with 2 cat pictures?),  paper stock in thinner than other options.
PRICES// 4x6 .19, 8x10 2.89

PROS: the best quality prints-colors are bright, thick stock.They offer the widest variety of print sizes and finishes (their metallic prints are gorgeous). You can get prints in matte, shiny, metallic, etc and on traditional paper or other mediums. They offer pre paid print plans that lower the cost a little.Connects to Picasa, FB, IG and Flickr, easy to use website, fast delivery (less than a week). They win cutest packaging award. They have an iPhone app, but I haven't used it yet. Also, they have an active blog where they share free downloads, camera and cell phone photography tips.
CONS: While their website is easy to navigate in general I did have problems using a few functions. For example, I expected my 3 inch square prints to be printed right to the edge, but there was a small border. Later I found a note on the site pointing this out, but it was not readily apparent. Just something to know if you are going to explore beyond standard 4x6 prints. 
PRICES// 4x6 .29 3x3 (the size I print for my Project Life pages) .85 
PP has generously offered my readers a special discount: 20% off ALL prints! code: hotwheels20 expires: June 20, 2015 
*one discount per order, not available with pre paid print credits

PROS: Right at home and I can print up to 8x10. Prints are generally clear and crisp. Ink is permanent if I let it dry for a few hours.  It's wireless! The ink cartridges are not super expensive. This is my only printer, and I use it for home and work, it works just as well printing work documents as it does printing pictures. I have also printed on: transparencies, transfer paper, semi gloss paper, and sticker paper
CONS: The colors can be a little 'off'. Can you see in the picture of Succotash in the red bag that the red is a little too bright? It's more obvious in person, and I have noticed red is a common problem color. Limits to how big I can print. Also, apparently I am supposed to be able to print borderless prints, but several searches on Google and a few hours of useless trying and I gave up. That is super annoying.

F. Canon Selphy (<
PROS: I love this little printer for 4x6 prints. Its super easy to set up and I can print right from Picasa. The prints are clear and bright and the ink dries quickly. You can print a square 4x4
CONS: limited in sizes (although you can order accessories to print smaller sizes), limited to glossy paper
PRICE// .30 per print (with the 108 page pack)

Nothing too earth shattering in the results. . I will always use Persnickety or Murphy's when I want to print photos to display in my home and for special sizes for my scrapbooks.  Shutterfly will continue to be my go to source for sharing pictures with my family and ordering photo books. Finally, my little Selphy will get plenty of use when I don't want to wait for pictures, or I am printing them for someone else. It's so handy to have.

I hope I've inspired you to go forth and print a few pictures-get them offline and into the real world! (hey, don't waste the awesome Persnickety discount, ok?). Did this help you pick a new photo printing service? Where do you fo to get your pictures printed? I wish I had time/money to explore all the options available, but if you have a suggestion, I'd love to hear it!

Be back on Friday with something fun, see you then!