One of the most important questions to consider when booking a portrait session is not the cost of the sitting itself, but what you’re going to need to spend on your prints. I have seen photographers offer “free portrait sessions,” all the time, and then mark up the cost of the prints ten-fold. Others charge a sizable fee for the shoot, but very little for the prints. It’s not easy to figure out what the real bottom line is going to be, without doing your homework in advance.
Contrary to what many people think, true high-quality prints from your photo shoot do not have to be ridiculously expensive. No doubt they are more costly than taking the digital file to Walmart and printing on one of the automated machines, but if you could see the two side by side, you won’t even believe the difference.
The two issues that impact the final cost are simple. The first is size. A simple 8 x 10, professionally color corrected by the lab, on a quality Fuji photo paper, and sent directly to you, is usually just under $20. As you go larger in size, as most people do for the “main portrait,” you will find a breathtaking 16 x 24, 20 x 20 or 20 x 24 that will last for generations, at around $75.00. Of course if you want to go with something huge, a 30 x 40, at around $130, would be the centerpiece of any very large room.
The other big question is mounting options and mediums.
The choices there are:
Color corrected Fuji print
Print on photo paper – This print you would then have matted and framed in the traditional manner at a local framer, or if it’s a standard size, pick up a pre-made frame and mat and just assemble it. Approximate Prices: 8 x 10 – $20, 12 x12 – $35, 16 x 24 – $75
Print on canvas, in a stretcher frame
Print on canvas – Canvas prints are really pretty, as they make a piece look more like work of art. Within the realm of canvas, you can order just the canvas print and have it matted and framed, a canvas print in a stretcher frame that slips into a larger frame, or my favorite, a canvas wrap, in which the sides of the stretcher frame are finished, and the piece just arrives at your door ready to hang. Approximate Prices (flat canvas, not on stretcher frame or gallery wrap) – 8 x 10 -$40, 12 x 12 – $58, 16 x 24 – #105.
Print on aluminum substrate
Print on Metal – This is a newer technique that is just amazing. I have my whole wall covered with my prints on aluminum, and the richness of the colors is mesmerizing. These also come ready to hang in most cases. You’ll pay a little more for the canvas wraps and aluminum prints, but you’ll save that many, many times over by not having to pay to have your prints framed. Prices TBD – I actually use a different vendor for these who has really mastered the technique. I have 20 of them in my home.
Print mounted to 3.4″ foam board
Prints Mounted – This is where you take a standard print, and mount it to a piece of foam board or other material. You can choose from multiple thicknesses and colors. Also very nice. Approximate prices - 8 x 10 – $25, , 12 x12 – $55, 16 x 24 – $119
Print Wraps – Lastly is a newer technique called print wraps that are very stunning, and again are ready to hang. The lab takes a high quality print, and then wraps the ends around foam core. Gorgeous and ready to hang. 8 x 10 – $35, 8 x 12 – $48, 16 x 20 – $109, 16 x 24 – $119.
Standouts – The print is mounted to a 1 – 1.5″ foam board with white or black sides. Approximate prices – 8 x 10 – $59, 8 x 12 – $69, 16 x 24 – $145