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I often get asked by parents about where to go to print family photos  

When parents have a photo shoot with me and I show them their beautiful images they often ask me where is the best place to get them printed? It’s understandable because you don’t want to spend all that time and money on a beautiful photo shoot only to have the quality of the photos let you down. I offer professional prints as part of some of my photo packages, but it made me think more generally about how I can advise families.

Is there really a difference between printing photos (1) professionally (2) the highstreet or (3) somewhere online? 

When I talk about getting them printed professional, I mean using a professional lab – one that a professional photographer like myself would use. I have one that I use up in Scotland. They are only used by professional photographers so you can expect that the quality is going to be really high. But does it matter whether you go through a professional lab? Or whether you just do it online or on the High Street. Well, I’m going to find out right now. 

I’ve done a blind test comparing the photos. Here’s the video…

    I labelling the pictures in the blind test as (A), (B) or (C)


    which photo to print


    I looked at 3 things

    1. The quality of the paper
    2. The exposure (how dark/light)
    3. The colour correction.

    The quality of the paper?

    Is it durable and long-lasting? One thing I do to compare them is to close my eyes and just look at the thickness. Print A was much thicker than print B & C.

    Is the colour balanced correctly? 

    Colour balance has to do with the balance between yellow, blue, red and green. This is really important because if you’re photographing people (particularly for me when I photograph a lot of children), I want to make sure that the children’s faces look a natural tone and a natural colour.

    When I looked at the prints for their colour tone, print B made the skin tone look orange, even though the rest of the image had natural colours.

    Print C was much better than B, but still had a bit of an orange skin tone. 

    colour tone

    With image (A) the colour tone is perfect. It looks like a natural skin tone. 

    Is it exposed properly?

    This is about whether the picture is too bright to dark? Now, normally when I send photos off, I don’t really have this issue because I’ve exposed them properly before I send them to the printer. But if you go and take a picture and it’s maybe a little bit too dark or little bit too light, the lab itself can correct it for you, but I don’t usually have that that issue. Now, let’s compare these three. I would say all three of them are pretty good when it comes to exposure.

    My overall verdict?

    Overall, I would say that my favourite is ‘A’. Next, it would be ‘C’ because I feel like the colour correction of this one is a little bit better than ‘B’.

    So I’d say that ‘B’ was probably my least favourite.

    Now let’s reveal which is which!

    and the winner is… my professional lab (A). The second winner here is the one done online (c). ‘B’ was the one that was done on the high street.

    I was surprised because I thought ‘B’ would be better than ‘C’ but actually High Street came in last for me. 

    So where should you go to print your photos?

    The overall takeaway message for me is that if you spent a lot of time and money on a professional photo shoot, you’re going to want them print it a fair size to cherish for a long time. My recommendation would be to go for a professional lab through a photographer. But if you’ve got photos and you’re happy to go anywhere, the High Street or online are totally fine. I think they’re pretty comparable.

    I hope you found that useful!

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