There's nothing quite like a large print. If you're a photographer, and view most of your images on your computer, it's a completely different experience to see the same image printed as a large 16x20, 24x36, etc.
Having that print is the final step of the craftsmanship of what you do. When customers pick up their large prints at our Midlothian location, I get just as excited as they do when we open up their package and their print has that 'WOW!' factor.
Now there are a few things you want to consider before you create that beautiful artwork:
Before you get started, you want to make sure you're dealing with what's called a 'high resolution' image. This simply means that the image has enough data to print at a certain size and retain its clarity and sharpness. Our website and in-store software will alert you if the resolution doesn't meet our ideal requirements for the size print you've chosen. But we can assist you with that decision in-store! Please keep in mind that many times, a digital image gets shrunk (oh no!) by email systems, Facebook, etc. This is because companies such as Google and Facebook shrink the image to save millions of dollars in server storage. So you'll want to ideally be working with the ORIGINAL image, if you find that your copy has been shrunk.
2. Aspect Ratio
Pick the right SHAPE. So many people think of print sizes as being all the same rectangular shape, but in fact, most of them are shaped differently! A 16x20 print (5:4 aspect ratio below), for example, is a bit closer to a square than a 16x24 (3:2 aspect ratio), which is a bit of a longer rectangular shape. We can ABSOLUTELY help you pick the right 'aspect ratio' (shape of the rectangle), and from there, pick a size that matches really well. Of course you can do this from our website, and see the cropping, but we are always ready to help!
3. Paper Surface
Pick the right surface. Richmond Camera has some great surfaces, such as fine art paper, metal prints, etc. Each has advantages, though much of it comes down to a personal preference. For example, I love metal prints for architecture images, or images with bright colors and contrast. But for portraits, I absolutely love the fine art paper. We also have various surfaces and sprays (matte, gloss, etc.) Just stop by and talk to us and we'll spend some time with you, so you can determine which is YOUR favorite!
Mounting is important. Many years ago when I was living in Virginia Beach, I printed a 24x36, and didn't have it mounted (applied to a rigid surface), and took it to a chain crafts store to be framed. After spending a few hundred dollars and waiting two weeks, I got my framed print back. It looked gorgeous, but within a week, it had warped. That was a huge learning lesson for me regarding mounting. Mounting keeps your large print from warping. Mounting is surprisingly affordable, and our employees here in Richmond do an amazing job with their mounting work. We have many different mounting options. My personal favorite is the 'smooth masonite' but let's show you samples and talk to you about the options before you order your large print.
Pick the perfect size. This piece of art will be a gorgeous showcase of your creativity, but you want to make sure you're getting the right size for the space where the print will be located. One option I give customers is to take a photo of the wall/room where they want the photo to be, with a plain piece of 8.5x11 white paper taped to the wall. I can then show you (by scaling that piece of paper in Photoshop) what that would look like in various sizes!
6. Frame or Easel?
One of my favorite trends I've seen is large prints mounted and on display on easels! You can buy an easel very affordably (stop by the store and I'll tell you my favorite steals for easels locally here in Richmond). Once a large print is mounted (especially on a thick mounting surface such as masonite or gatorfoam), you can simply put it on display on the easel! Now there are two great advantages to this: (a) it is incredibly cost effective to purchase a nice $20 easel since the print doesn't necessarily need to be framed, and (b) you can actually put multiple prints 'stacked' on the same easel, and simply rotate them occasionally so the one in front is on display. That's a great solution if you love variety in your home, or want to change the prints out based on seasonality, etc.
7. The Panoramic Print
One last thing that I want to recommend is that with so many cameras having 'panoramic' modes, and so many apps that allow you to stitch together multiple images to create a super-wide panoramic print, it's a unique and beautiful way to showcase your work. That wide view is not something our eyes can naturally take in all at once, so it's fascinating to explore a large panoramic print in detail. Bonus: Panoramic print sizes are usually perfect for being displayed above sofas and mantles because of their long aspect ratio.
Have questions about printing large? Stop by and let's chat!
-Brian Clary, Store Manager, Richmond Camera Midlothian