Professional vs Drugstore

February 25, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

I'm off my usual Monday blog post today.  I have started going to classes to get my butt into shape and had a class this Monday.  By the time I was finished dying, the day was over.  Haha! 

I wanted to break quick from blogging about sessions and talk about prints.  

I have had people complain in the past about prints made from digital downloads that just aren't coming out great.  When I ask where they're printing, it's always CVS or Walgreens or Walmart.  

Every lab is set up and calibrated completely different.  Some are set up to auto correct color, with no option otherwise, on images that have already been color corrected.  Obviously, I cannot set my computer up to color correct and calibrate to EVERY print lab out there.  So I focus on my print lab.  Where my professional prints go.  I know that what I see on my computer screen will be exactly what I see on my prints.  When I first signed up with this company, I was allowed a few free prints to make sure what I was seeing is what was printing.  If not, at least I would be able to adjust accordingly.  

Not just every print lab, but every computer is different!  I, in the past, have been in a quick bind with my own computer, so I have borrowed my daughter's.  I edited an image on there for a sneak peek.  When I got back to my own computer, the colors were MUCH duller than I thought they actually were.  If I edit an image on my computer, and post it as a sneak peek, that image will look MUCH different on my cell phone.  And not usually in a good way.  But I know the color quality is there because my laptop is what my true colors are on.  

So I did a quick experiment this week.  First, I tried uploading a couple of images to Walmart.  I couldn't even do it.  The size of my images (what I give you are ALWAYS extremely high res files) kept crashing the site.  So how you guys are even loading them to Walmart, I'll never know.  

So I tried CVS and Walgreens.  I have had numerous complaints about CVS in the past and I was actually surprised by the quality there.  I have to say several things could've factored into my better prints.  

1. It's a brand new CVS that just opened up within the last year.  Therefore, probably a better quality printer.  Or at least one that's not already run into the ground.
2. None of these quick pharmacy labs are set up for consistency.  What could be fine this week is terrible next.  

I will admit, not ALL of my own personal prints go through my professional lab.  Sometimes my husband will comment he wants some updated pictures for his locker.  I'll print through Walgreens which is right down the street and convenient.  Sometimes my daughter will need a quick picture for a school project, and over to Walgreens we go.  But their images that are going to hang on our walls, that are visible to guests, that will be passed down to THEIR children some day, those 100% go through my lab.  

The CVS prints I noticed, the colors were much more vibrant.  Which sounds like a good thing, but I'm already someone that likes images that are vibrant and true to color.  So these made them almost too much.  

So CVS is on the left, if you compare, you can see how vibrant the reds are.  And this is definitely not the sharpest picture, as I took it quick as an example, but the area around her face is a little pixelated and not sharp as well.  

This is a second set of pictures.  CVS, again on the left, you can see the difference in the almost electric greens in this image.  If electric green is not your thing, this print isn't going to be either.  LOL. 

When I picked up my CVS prints originally, I thought this wasn't going to be too bad.  I was shocked when I got home to see the vast difference in the greens. 

Now Walgreens, on the right, not only printed much much lighter than the other two labs, but this particular print also gave her skin a very yellow-y hue.  There was a slight yellow cast to her right arm that I brushed off in post processing for the original print, but it was almost like Walgreens didn't care about that.  It does not show as vibrant yellow here as it did in the print, again, because of my quick snap.  Her face was sharper in this print than the CVS version, but her skin, already a pale color, was ghostly white where it wasn't yellow.  

The same in this set of prints.  You can see how drastically lighter the right side is to the left.    

These pictures were almost perfect right out of my camera, which I think attests to how closely these three prints actually are.  That does not always happen.  Sometimes I forget to adjust a setting when shooting, only to realize when I get home and look through how underexposed it is.  I am working on getting better about checking these things ON LOCATION.  Thankfully, I can usually save these things in post processing.  When I do this however, this drastically affects the prints at local pharmacy labs, but does not effect my professional lab prints.  

Sometimes I will sharpen an image slightly in post processing.  I notice this almost always effects a pharmacy print as well.  Is there anything WRONG with the image?  No.  These are things many, many photographers do post processing.  Pharmacy labs are not properly equipped to print these types of files though.  They're great for quick prints.  And if you're going to run and make a quick 4x6 for grandma, go ahead!  I'm guilty of it too, at times.  

However, please please please print your larger images at a high quality lab, if not through me.  I cannot guarantee print quality that is not printed directly through me.  I notice the larger the print size at the pharmacies, the worse the quality.  They get so pixelated and the colors are so far off.  If you would like some recommendations of places that are better quality than CVS, Walgreens or Walmart, I am happy to provide some online places to you.  Mpix is a great one.  I had very little issues ever with Mpix when I was printing all my professional images through them.  They also have great pricing and quick turn around times.  Nations Photo Lab is another one I went through a few times and was always very pleased with the quality.  

I take the time to correct and edit each image individually.  Depending on how close I got it in camera, or what effect I'm looking for, this can be anywhere from 4 or 5 minutes up to 2-3 hours.  Yes.  Per image.   

You've spent the time and money to have your images professionally taken, so make sure you preserve those images for future generations and print with them! It may seem like a little thing, but it can end up being a big thing in the end. 

Hailey K

February 17, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

In late September, I got to meet Hailey. 

I adored her red hair and her eyes caught the light so beautifully the whole session. They were a stunning shade of blue. 

Hailey goes to Seekonk High and is such a smart girl.  She take psychology courses already at the high school level.  Who knew high schools were even offering that?!  She loves the classes and plans to start BCC in the fall and major in psychology.  

When I asked what her favorite subject was, she said English.  First time I've gotten that answer, I think!  Her mom said she was an unbelievable writer and loves writing essays and short stories.  Those college entrance essays should be a breeze. 

We did her session at Capron Park in Attleboro and there were so many lovely areas around to shoot in.  

I got most of my seniors this year before school started, but Hailey was already about a month into her senior year when we did our pictures.  She was enjoying her classes and already looking forward to the end of the year.  It's hard to believe these kids are now half way through already!  

Hailey didn't do any after school activities or sports.  She likes relaxing after school and hanging out with her friends. She also has her younger brother Tyler that she helps with.  

I hope Hailey is having a wonderful senior year.  And if she's not, it's almost over now. ;)  In 3 months, the end of May/early June, most of these seniors will be done with their high school careers.  Done with teenage things.  Some will begin jobs, some will move out, some will head to college.  I feel blessed that I get to meet and know these kids at the last phase of their childhoods.  There's a sense of giddiness and nervousness in all of them when we start talking about life in 12 months and what it looks like for them. 

Good luck Hailey! Looking forward to seeing the amazing things you do with your life!

Shawn N

February 10, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Meet Shawn.

His Mom said he was going to be a hard nut to crack.  That he doesn't smile and hates having his picture taken.  I had a really great time with Shawn though and we had some laughs.  Fine, maybe his sister was actually standing behind me making faces at him. ;)

Shawn goes to Agawam High out in West Springfield, and I took the long drive out there to do his pictures. He plays the drums and from what I understand, he's really good at math, but not a fan of the subject in general.  LOL.  He enjoys history classes and hopes to go to STCC (a community college) next year and work on electrical engineering.  With his excellence in math, I bet he does great at this! 

I asked if he had a girlfriend, but we decided girls were too much trouble. 

When his Mom originally contacted me, she let me know that he played drums and wanted to do some pictures with his drumsticks.  I wasn't sure at first what I was going to do with drumsticks, but was happy with the end result. Shawn is also working on making his Eagle Scout.  My husband is an Eagle Scout so Shawn and I spent some time talking about his Eagle Scout project and then his (hopefully) eventual Eagle Scout ceremony.  I told him of all the doors being an Eagle Scout has opened for my husband, and that it doesn't sound like that big a deal, but the commitment to make Eagle is actually noticed and respected.  

Shawn's sisters joined us for the session, and we had some fun with them. His older sister (on the right) is already in college and was telling me how much she enjoyed it.  I believe she's a sophomore.  His younger sister, on the left, has a few years to go before we have to worry about her senior year. ;) 

Shawn's dog also came with him.  Well, one dog.  From what I understand, there were more dogs than this.  And I had to laugh when I learned Shawn was actually allergic to dogs.  This little guy was the cutest ever.  I spent too much time shooting just the dog.  Because if you bring a dog to your sessions, I am going to stop shooting people at some point and just focus on your dog. Haha. And never apologize to me for your dog.  I love them all whether they're barking at me, jumping on me for love, or behaving perfectly. 

I had a great time getting to know Shawn and his family.  I hope to get a chance to see them again in the future when his little sister is a senior!  I hope Shawn is having a great senior year, and that he is working hard to get his goals for the end of 2020 in order! 


Sophia B

February 03, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Meet Sophia.

She is a senior this year over at Coyle Cassidy High School.  She's part of the National Honor Society and works at the Food Bank.  I know she had an endless list of after school activities, though I can't remember them all. 

She really, really wanted to shoot in the sunflowers.  Her mom found this amazing field of sunflowers that sits dead smack in the middle of Providence.  I mean, this is an island, surrounded by super busy streets on both sides, and you are just sandwiched in the middle in this sunflower goodness. 

Her face quite literally exuded joy when she stepped out of her car and got over to the sunflowers.  I don't blame her because I think it's physically impossible to be in a bad mood when you're surrounded by these tall flowers of sunshine. 

I initially wasn't crazy about the buildings in the background.  As I worked through her gallery though, I really loved the depth the added to the story! I'm not usually a big fan of Providence, but that morning I really got to know the city in a different light. 

We set our time for early on a Sunday morning, and I really think that was a blessing.  Being sandwiched in between two busy streets, and parking on street only, I'm not sure we would've had any luck finding parking at ANY other time of day.  So, note to all of you, if you're looking to shoot in this sunflower field, I am offering early mornings only.  Haha.  Think 8:00 am or earlier!  8:00 am actually was pushing it as we had the harsh sun rising and little shade to work in.  Which is why I was okay with some sunglasses coming in to the images! 

Sophia wants to pursue nursing after she graduates and was looking to apply to Salve Regina, Emmanuel College or Simmons College.  I know she applied to an was accepted to Salve Regina with a presidential scholarship offered, because she received that acceptance letter the day I delivered her prints!  I'm not sure if she applied to the other two that she was thinking of.  

There was a great pedestrian bridge right across the street from the sunflowers, so we played a little Frogger and dodged our way over there.  I just loved the more city feel these pictures offered, as I don't get many chances to shoot in such a populated city.  They had a farmer's market right down the street from the pedestrian bridge as well, that Mom perused while we were snapping pictures.  The city of Providence, while not my favorite, was certainly beautiful on this late August morning. 

Sophia was a joy.  Like most teenagers, I expected her to be a little tired and crabby having to get up and join me so early on a Sunday.  That was not the case at all, even though she said she can be crabby when she travels places.  But I'm not buying it.  Her personality so mirrors the bright, happy sunflowers.  It was really the perfect location for her session. 

Her smile lights up her entire face.  

I loved everything about this session, even though I'm not really a morning person.  I would get up early every day, though, if people wanted to shoot at this location with me.  I am thankful to Sophia and her mother, Tammi, for finding this location and bringing me to it.  I'd love to know if Sophia accepted the offer from Salve, or if she had some other amazing offer and where she's headed in the fall! 

And hopefully, I'll get a chance to work with her again in the future. 

Colby R

January 27, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

Meet Colby.

Like, seriously, one of the kindest, most respectful kids I came into contact with this year.  

I met Colby a few years back when he and his family came to me for family pictures.  I couldn't believe when his Mom contacted me in the summer and told me he was now looking for senior pictures!  The years go faster than you think they do. 

He is currently a senior at Bristol Plymouth High School and working in digital communications, which includes, ironically, photography! He loves voice over acting as well.  I'm not sure what capacity that entails within the school itself, but I know he's done a bit of work in it already and really loves it!

We talked a lot about what he's doing after high school next (this!) year.  He was very up in the air and I loved talking with Mom and Dad who said that 18 years old is so young to be deciding on your forever.  And I completely agree.  So many kids spend tens of thousands on a college career in a field they never even end up pursuing.  Better to take a year or so and figure it all out before jumping in with both feet. 

He did talk a little about joining the Navy though and the career options he could pursue through that avenue.  I'm surprised I don't get more young men coming through saying they're going to join either the army, navy, marines or the reserves.  I believe Colby was the first!  

Colby is another senior this year I don't have a lot of common contacts with.  I'm sure by now, the end of January, he is starting to figure out a little bit better what the fall looks like for him.  I'd love to get some updates on Colby, if anyone has them!  I'm thankful to Thomas' Mom in the last blog post for updating on how he was doing! 

I have to say, I think a lot of people are quick to put down teenagers.  Quick to judge them.  This class of 2020 is some of the most stand up kids I have had the pleasure of meeting.  I got to laugh a lot during my senior sessions this year.  I got to know a lot of great people.

They asked a lot of questions, they answered a lot of mine.  I am astounded to hear the course load a lot of them are handling at their ages and the ambitions they have for the futures.  Seniors are blank slates.  Nothing but the rest of their lives ahead of them. 

I hope you're having a great senior year Colby!  And if you're reading this, or Mom or Dad are reading this, I'd love an update to see how his senior year is going and what the end of 2020 holds for him! 


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