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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Newhall

Life of a Photographer: Getting Quality Prints for Galleries

I know, I've already posted about draft prints, but I figured I should also talk about getting prints for displaying at galleries. Drafts are just that. Drafts. They don't need to be more than what they are used for. Final prints, on the other hand, are going to be sold and displayed, and therefore much more important. So they need to be perfect. How do we get there?

Firstly, let's assume that you've finished all the drafts, and are satisfied with your image. Second, let's assume that you're going to display your photo at a gallery. Good for you, you got accepted at that gallery!

What qualifies as a "gallery quality" print? Well, that's really up to you and the gallery. Some galleries specify what they want in the structure of the frame, or maybe they display a specific type of print. As an example, I've worked with galleries who asked for a specific type of hanger on the back of the piece. In this case, they asked for one with d-rings and wires (picture shown below).

D-rings and a copper wire nicely attached on the back of a frame

In order to fit what the gallery was asking for, I had to make a couple calls to the printing shop I like to use, and confirm that they could do that. They could, so I sent in the order. They gave me an amazing quality print.

Now, what would I have done if I had not been satisfied with the quality of the order? When it comes to limited edition work, a photographer has a little more control over what they sell, and how they sell it. I usually print my limited edition work with less urgency, and thus more time to focus on quality. Now, when it comes to errors in printing, a photographer can catch these when they go to pick up the order from the print shop. Given the nature of the limited edition work they would probably point out the error, and ask the printer if they can do the order again. Thankfully, I've never had to do this.

When it comes to more open edition work, like what I sell on this website, I get everything printed and sent from a third party. Whenever I've tested their work it's been excellent! A favorite is definitely the decorated phone cases. A good quality case with (in my opinion) excellent artwork!

Of course, there are photographers who circumvent this concern about quality by simply printing and framing things themselves. While this is an excellent strategy, and requires no third-party interactions, I find that it sucks up my time. Time that I would prefer to use working on photography, instead of printing. Don't get me wrong, printing is a vital part of the photographic process (obviously), but I can't do it. I get too fidgety and anxious. I'd rather leave it to the professionals!

What do you think? How do you handle the final print? Send me your thoughts on the issue!

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