Jun 17, 2010

Which lab is best for you?

There are so many different photo labs to chose from and when first starting you can feel overwhelmed when it comes to choosing labs.  Here are a couple of different tips to help you make the right choice for you!

1.  Test prints.  Every lab gives free test prints.  Try them all and see which labs quality and turn around time stands out to you.  Personally, I feel the best way to test the prints are choosing three distinct photos.  One high key, one low key and one with a lot of color.  See how all three compare with each lab.
2.  Prices.  What prices fit you best?  Does the more expensive prints actually have better quality?  If you went with a more pricey lab can you up your own prices without you hurting?
3.  Products.  Do they have the products you want to offer?  Paper options?  Framing?  It’s great to look at all the different labs and see what they have to offer.
4.  Customer service.  This is a BIG one for me!  Can you call somebody and know you’re going to get a person on the phone to answer your question?  If they mess up an order how would they deal with it?  How long will it take them to fix it?  I just found out that my lab will spell check my printed press cards for me!  Good thing too because I had a couple of misspelled words and some of my words were bordering the danger line.  Yup, they called to inform me.  They just save me a lot of money!
5.  Extras.  Do they do over night shipping?  Drop shipping?  Packaging?  Logo stamps?  How much is all of it?  Discounted specials?  What mounts do they offer like gatorfoam?  What ordering system do they use?  Roes?  Is it simple or hard to use because every lab is different.  Does their website or Roes annoy you?
These are the things to look for and if I’ve missed anything go ahead and leave a comment.  This list was in no particular order.  Also if you find a lab that meets all your needs then good for you and if not decide which is more of a priority.  Customer service or better products?  Hopefully both, right?  🙂  I wouldn’t recommend using two different labs.  As a photographer you want to be loyal with one lab and you may get rewarded in return but if you have two then it’s less likely.  Also labs do print differently and if you’re using two you may see the difference in your products and that’s not good.  We want to be consistent.  I hope this helps you in scouting a lab if that’s what you’re doing and again if you have any other tips in finding a good lab leave a comment!
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