Printing is easier than ever. You have the option of utilizing dozens of different online print lab services or print on your own at home on an inkjet printer. Either way, we are lucky to have so many choices.
Why print photos when in this digital age it is so easy to share our photos on our favorite social media? Well, nothing beats being able to actually touch and hold a photograph or a photo book. We have all gone through our childhood photographs - maybe they are in a shoebox or an album - and have experienced the joy of those memories. My kids will often pull a photobook off of the shelf and flip through the pages with big smiles on their faces.
While digital formats are awesome for sharing and storing they also run the risk of digital failure or obsolescence. What if iCloud, Google Drive, or DropBox has a failure and accidentally deletes your pictures? Do you have a backup? In 20-years will the jpeg format (the standard file format for 99% of pictures) still be readable by the latest gadgets? There is a potential risk in digital archiving albeit small but they are real. Printing your most important memories is a safe and easy backup.
While I was exploring a related business idea, I discovered a handful of interesting and convenient options for printing. The two services worthy of highlighting are Shutterfly and Chatbooks. Both of these applications run on Google Android or Apple iOS.
First, Shutterfly, through its mobile application (only), offers free, unlimited 4x6 and 4x4 prints. Not bad, right! The application is easy to use. Simply download the app, create an account, and give the application access to your photos. Then you can easily select which ones you would like to have printed. Your prints will arrive within a week. It's that easy. There is a shipping fee but the net price of each photo is very low, depending on how many you order at a time. Shutterfly's print and photo paper quality are just OK. The paper is a tad thin and the colors are lacking pop. Overall, I would give the Shutterfly app an A for value, a B for convenience, and a C for print quality.
Second, Chatbooks, is a very cool and super convenient way to get your best memories printed in book form. After you've downloaded the application, you'll give it permission to access your photos, Instagram, Snapchat, and/or Facebook accounts. Here is the slick part; for approximately $10/month, each time you post 60 pictures, it automatically generates a small, square book that is mailed to you. It also has the option of including your quotes from the various social media platforms, which is great in my opinion. Like Shutterfly, the image quality isn't great but acceptable. The paper is a soft touch, waxy feel and delivers a softer look compared to traditional photo paper. Chatbooks gets an 'A' for convenience and a 'C' for print quality. For most folks, I would guess that the print quality is good enough. If you're interested in high-quality photo books, I recommend Blurb (www.blurb.com). Be sure to look for Blurb deals because they often run promotions.
So which is for you? If you prefer single prints, Shutterfly is an economical way to go with decent quality prints. If you prefer the booklet format, Chatbooks is super easy to use and delivers similar quality.
If you value higher quality prints, I recommend printing them on an inkjet printer at home or using a better photo lab such as Mpix. On Mpix, 4x6 and 4x4 prints will cost as little as $.24 plus shipping but the print and paper quality are a bit better and, in my experience, worth the extra money. Mpix does not have a convenient mobile app so a little extra effort is required to get them uploaded to their site.
Regardless of which you choose, consider printing those memories for keepsakes, photo albums, or framing. You and your family will get years of enjoyment out of them.
As always, let me know if you have any questions or comments.
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