How to Print Professional Looking Photos
In this guide, photographers Kirk Richards and Julian Lallo share their tips on choosing the best photo printer, inks and paper, as well as advice on preparing your images for print. Whether you’re interested in printing off your favourite shots to hang at home or you’re a professional photographer looking to sell fine art prints, this is everything you need to know.
The Best Printers for Printing Photographs and Artwork
There’s a special synergy between Canon printers and Canon cameras. They just work so seamlessly well together. Canon printers also feature powerful Colour Management technology, consistently producing ultra-fine detail and true colour reproduction. What’s more, Canon’s range of printers are supported by Canon Print Assist, with step-by-step setup tips and simple video tutorials to help you get the most out of your printer from day one.
"There’s simply no better feeling than printing off your favourite photographs on quality paper and physically holding them in your hands like works of art. The good news is that modern technology brings the power of professional-grade photo printing directly to your home, allowing you full creative control over the entire process."
The Best Ink for Photography Printing
If you want consistently long lasting archival quality prints and the very best colour precision then we recommend the use of genuine Canon inks with your Canon printer. Canon inks are renowned for their quality blacks and true colour reproduction, drawing on oil-less fusing technology to achieve exceptionally sharp, glare-free colour output. Unlike some third party inks, Canon cartridges are designed to work seamlessly and will not damage your printer. They’ll even help clean and lubricate your print heads, which is important for preventing build up blockages.
The Best Photo Paper for Printing
Both Julian and I advise printing with Canon paper. Different types of paper offer different textures, brightness and gloss, with each affecting the look of your images in a different way. When selecting your paper, be sure to consider the specific colours, contrasts and tones of the particular image you want to print.
Here are three main paper types we recommend for achieving the best quality photography prints:
Lustre: This popular photo paper has a semi-gloss finish and is a very versatile paper choice. Lustre photo paper can be used for all types of images and is particularly well suited to monochrome images. When printing with lustre paper you can expect your images to come out super sharp, with vivid colours and deep blacks.
Fine Art Smooth: With a smooth matte surface, this high quality photo paper perfectly reproduces dense blacks and tones and also has an impressively dynamic colour range. Use this paper to bring your most colourful images to life. The matte surface means there’s no gloss or reflections, making it ideal for images you want to hang on your walls.
Pro Platinum: This is a super high-gloss paper that will really make your images pop with bold colours and high contrast. Be aware, though, that the paper’s high-gloss finish means you’ll need to be selective about where you hang the image if you want to avoid reflections.
How to Prepare Your Photos for Print
Recently we have both been enjoying editing our photos with Canon’s Digital Photo Professional Software. It offers high-performance RAW image processing that works seamlessly with Canon printers and Canon EOS or PowerShot cameras. Ultimately, whether you use Print Studio Pro, Lightroom or Photoshop, preparing your photos for printing comes down to your personal preference and how you want to portray your image.
Here’s a few essential things to consider:
Your shadows and blacks will look darker: Your printed image won’t be backlit like it is on a digital monitor, so it’s important to adjust your shadows and blacks to get the most possible detail out of each photo.
More detail needs more editing: You’ll be surprised by how much more detail you notice in your images when you start printing them. We usually go through our images with the clone/healing tool to remove any unnecessary distractions before printing
You should export images as TIFF files for print: We export our images as TIFF image files with colour space Adobe RGB. This ensures colours are printed accurately. An easy alternative is to print using Print Studio Pro. Using Lightroom’s plugin feature, all you need to do is go to ‘plugin extras’, select Print Studio Pro and you’re ready to start the printing process without needing to export the image or adjust colour space settings.
How to Frame Your Photo Prints
Framing: A quality frame with a nice matte border is an ideal way to enhance your prints. Simple is always best when it comes to design – a good frame should be complementary to your image without distracting the eye.
Dimensions and Borders: If you’re planning to use a matte border then its best not to print all the way to the edge as your images will be cropped by the frame. We would advise printing with a 20mm border to ensure your image is fully visible once framed.
Glass/Perspex: Your budget will influence your decision when selecting glass or perspex, but be mindful that it will play an important role in taking care of your prints. Depending on where you plan to hang your photos, and the type of paper they are printed on, an anti-reflection, non-glare or UV filtering glass may also be worth investing in, especially if you plan to hang your photos in direct sunlight.
Why Should Photographers Print Their Images?
Kirk: For me, printing my photographs is like creating something timeless. We live in such a digital age and we rely heavily on computers and screens to display our art, but this is not always the best way to experience it. Art is formed through physical creation and I believe the way we present it should capture the audience in a more direct way.
Printing your work also helps you learn more about yourself and how you photograph. With the ability to print your images at a scale larger than your computer screen, you can grow as a photographer and inspire yourself to capture light in different ways, to shoot more precisely and edit more diligently.
Julian: I’m always looking to improve as a photographer and have found that printing my work is a fantastic learning tool. I’m able to see my images in a much larger format when I print them, as opposed to only ever seeing them on a screen (most commonly on a small smartphone screen). There’s also something really special about physically touching and holding something you have created from nothing.
The Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 was chosen as best A2 Photographic Printer.