In the “old days” (about a decade ago!) most people would bring their rolls of exposed film to a local photographic shop, drug store or local department store to get their film developed and prints made from the negatives.
Of course most people are now able to take their photographs with a digital camera and either print them from a home printer or use a digital photo development service. Because the technology in most consumer printers has yet to catch up with the quality of digital photography, and because most digital photo development companies provide far more than just prints, most people tend to utilize these services rather than printing their own.
The question for many people is “which service do I choose?” and this is an excellent question. How to select a digital photo development service involves a bit of research and also an assessment of the needs of the consumer. For example, do you need wallet prints and access to the files online? Do you simply want a dozen high-quality copies of a single shot? Would you like to correct the images before they are printed?
Not all digital photo development services will be able to provide the kinds of services mentioned above, so a consumer must know what they need before selecting a provider.
The first step is to find a company with an “easy to use” upload application. This is the method by which the website receives the files for printing. Most have their own application that the consumer will be required to load on their computer, and this entire process (loading, installing and using) should be extremely quick, secure and simple.
The next step is to ask what else the upload software or website applications can provide. For example, can the software correct the common “red eye” before a print is made? Can the image be “cropped” or altered in some other manner? Such functions are fairly basic and if a digital photo development site does not provide them it may not be up to date.
What kind of paper and prints are available. Because most consumers are now aware of the importance of paper and archival quality inks and materials, so too should the digital photo development company and they should make it a standard issue of providing all of their prints on papers that will endure several lifetimes. Additionally, they should offer such items in a diversity of sizes and styles. For example, if a consumer would like an 8×10 print of a portrait, as well as several in a 4×6 size as well then such options should be easy to order.
Finally, the nature of the Internet means that sharing of information should be easy and simple, and the best digital photo development sites will provide all of their customers with a special “album” or personal space to which they can direct family and friends. These areas should allow visitors to browse a customer’s images and select those they would like to have prints of – which is an excellent way for those at great distances apart to keep up with current family events and moments!