Why We Don't Print Photos at Home (Hint: It Costs More)

Why We Don't Print Photos at Home (Hint: It Costs More)

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Taryn Williford
Sep 29, 2011

Back in the days when 35mm film was the photo medium of choice, you had one and only one option for getting those birthday party pics into your hands: The local photo counter. But now that you're shooting digital photos, you have options. Do you print photos at home? At a store kiosk? Through an online photo print service? Here's our medium of choice, and how we came to the decision.

Despite taking literally thousands of photos each month, I rarely need to print them out. But recently, when going through some group shots from a college friend's wedding, I found myself wanting to get some images off my hard drive and into some frames.

There are several options for someone wanting to print a small stack of photos to line the frames of a gallery hallway. Each one has it's pros and cons:

Printing Photos at Home
+ Instant gratification.
- Sometimes poor photo quality.
- Need extra software to edit photos.
- Most expensive, thanks to ink and paper costs.


Printing Photos at a Store Kiosk or Counter
+ Same-day photos.
+ Lowest cost, overall.
+ Good photo quality.
+ Editing photos is made easy.
- Can't be done from home.


Printing Photos from an Online Service
+ Can be done completely from home.
+ Superior photo quality.
+ Make photo edits easily.
+ Low-cost...
- ...but you pay for shipping.
+ ...but you can easily find coupon codes for most sites.

In the end, I decided to go with the online service.

It surprised me to discover that printing photos at home wasn't the most cost-effective method. And while online printing came out to be a bit more per photo than heading to my local Target's photo kiosk, I appreciated the fact that I didn't have to add a trip to the store to my "to-do" list.

What about you? How do you print personal photos? Why? Tell us in the comments!


(Images: Flickr member ianturton licensed for use under Creative Commons, Flickr member lukemontague licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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