It happens to us all at some point – you are at the store and you see that sexy ink jet printer with these fantastic sample prints and you think – wow, it’d be awesome if I could that myself! Of course, we usually have this epiphany at a place like Best Buy so when we are looking at the printers there we feel like we are getting the “top of the line” when we plunk down $250 (after $300+ in rebates <g>) for that printer that is going to be our way to “save money” over the “high” cost of printing from online photo labs – or at least that what we tell our significant others!
When we get home we are so excited that we hurry up and remove the 3200 pieces of tape from the printer, load the ink (being super careful not to touch the contact points per the instructions) and hook it up to the computer. Of course we want to really see what this thing can do so we locate our favorite masterpiece and print it using Photoshop or Lightroom. We eagerly await to be dazzled as the print comes out of the printer, but when it does our excitement turns to dismay when our image is too dark, too flat, lacking the vibrancy we see on our display. Of course we are excited and we recognize we haven’t read the manual, so it’s off to attempt number two using the software that came with the printer – after all, it should work perfect right?
We print again using the funky interface of the printer OEM supplied program only to have our print come out marginally better, but the colors are way off. Sure it looks okay when we use the little OEM sample 5 paper of paper that came with the printer, but when we use our Office Depot 50 pack of paper that was 1/10th the cost of that crazy expensive OEM paper we are horrified at the results. This leads the determined person on the goose chase of getting a variety of different papers to find out what is good or not, and lots of experimentation. Experimentation is expensive so this user spends countless hours making sure they are following the manual to the letter and only using the expensive papers, yet the results are still unsatisfying compared to the our “expensive” online service. Eventually this user does what many users do – they give up and figure they’ll tackle this problem another day. When that day arrives they are quick to discover that one or more cartridges are either empty or clogged despite their only printing a few pages.
Sound familiar? If so, don’t fear as you aren’t alone. If you are lucky you did this with the cheap printer, but some have the same experience with very expensive printers leading me to once say that self printing was insane as I had a lifetime average of about $40 per 4×6 print when you consider all of the wasted hardware, ink, and paper. Suddenly those 9 cent prints didn’t seem so expensive anymore!
As a result of this frustration I decided to tackle this problem with the same determination I had with many challenges much bigger than this, so I leveraged all my resources and the success of my blog to launch a printing series where I would prove that printing could be fun and economical. I established relationships with Canon, Epson, X-Rite, and other key printing related companies as well as recruiting the top master printers and photographers in the country to share their secrets for getting a great print. The effort proved to be very successful as I had the luxury of using the greatest printers, papers and products that money can buy with one on one instruction from industry legends like Greg Gorman, Eddie Tapp, Douglas Dubler, Vincent Versace, Randy Hufford and more. I learned a ton and now I can print a 24” x 53” print to perfection on the first try, and I did it so I could teach the millions of DSLR users out there who hoard photos on their disk without every enjoying the magic of seeing them in print – especially large prints!
The fruit of my labor comes out this December in the form of a multi-part Printing 101 Guide that ties together all that was learned during hundreds of hours of research with over a dozen print masters to create over 30 in-depth articles that covered topics ranging from:
- Choosing the right printer,
- Printing terminology,
- Printer reviews,
- Paper reviews,
- Color Management & Profile Creation,
- Informative instructional DVD’s,
- RIP software,
- Product to help you evaluate your prints better,
- and so much more.
I hope you can enjoy all these wonderful articles I’ve created especially for you! I’d like to thank Rick & Juan for giving me the opportunity to share my excitement about this series and I hope to be back here writing about more fun photography topics in the future!