10 Mistakes to Avoid When Printing Your Prized Photos

mistakes avoid printing photos

Whether you’ve spent hours waiting to take the perfect shot or you’ve worked tirelessly creating a visual masterpiece, when it’s finally time to print your prized photos, you want them to beam with quality.

Of course, not all printers are made the same, and there are all kinds of designs and styles for you to choose from for your printing pleasures. With so many options to choose from, there is guaranteed to be a printer that suits everyone’s personal fancy. However, that also means that you might have to get used to the printer you have and all of the rules that come along with it.

If you want your photos to look their best, there are a few key things that you should check for before printing. These tips consider all kinds of things, such as common printing mistakes, the best ink cartridges for photos and more.

To ensure that your photos are being shown at their very best, the following are the top 10 mistakes to avoid when printing your prized photos.

aerial view hands holding printed photos

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PRINTING ON THE WRONG SIDE

Even though this kind of mistake might seem easy to avoid, a lot of people make the error of printing on the wrong side of their printing paper. For people who are printing on regular printing paper with no extra treatment, this won’t be a very big deal since each side has the same treatment.

For those who purchase pricier photo-printing paper, however, the costs can be high to make this kind of mistake. Some of the best printing papers for photos can be very expensive to purchase, and you’ll also have to take into account the price of the ink cartridge that was wasted as well.

To avoid this costly but simple mistake, make sure to read all of the instructions before feeding your paper into the printer. Make sure you recognize which side is for the photos and that you know how the printer feeds the paper through.

If you can, try to do a test paper first with a small image. This way, you can be sure that you’re feeding the paper into the printer on the proper side.

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USING A LOW RESOLUTION

People who use their printers for things like e-mails and simple documents don’t need to worry too much about resolution, but for quality photos this is an important aspect.

The resolution of a printer refers to the quality of the print, and printers that are able to output higher dots per inch (DPI) are usually better for images. This is because the more dots of ink a printer can fit into a square inch, the sharper the image will be.

If a printer is marked as having 600 dpi, then it’s capable of creating 600 dots per square inch on your paper. The higher the number goes, the better the resolution gets.

dots per inch graphic

If you’re printing your photos on a printer that has a very low resolution, then chances are your photos are going to be unclear and grainy. A photo that is precise and detailed requires a much higher dpi count so that the lines are much more focused and vibrant.

For a professional photographer, you should be looking for a dpi of at least 2880 by 1440 or higher. Anyone who is printing simple documents and text should be using a lower dpi–or else they’ll likely be wasting a lot of ink and money.

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USING THE WRONG PAPER SIZE

If you know what size you want to print your cherished photos, then you should be choosing that size of paper right off the bat. Most printers are capable of being adjusted to complement different paper sizes; check with your printer ahead of time to make sure this is a possibility.

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Using the wrong paper size is a waste of money, resources and time. If you’re printing on a piece of paper that is too big, then you’re going to end up spending time cutting out the photo creating waste.

Instead of wasting half of the paper you’ve purchased, try to decide on the exact sizes you need. This will ensure that you don’t spend extra time cutting or wasting paper, and you can reuse the rest for other projects.

If you’re going to be printing smaller sizes, consider printing more than one photo on each piece of paper for another way to save on supplies.

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INCORRECT ORIENTATION

If you’ve entered in the incorrect orientation of your photo for printing, then it’s likely that you’re going to be wasting a lot of ink and paper. This is especially true for larger images that are often set too big for the paper you’re using.

As a result, a lot of the photo may run off the sides of the paper, causing you to lose a large portion of your masterpiece.

To avoid this, it’s ideal that you take a look at the print preview of your project before printing. Make sure that the photo is only printing on one page, and that no extra pieces are printing excess images.

Check whether you’re printing in landscape or portrait, and be sure to watch as the print comes out so that you can cancel it early in case of a bad orientation.

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LOW RESOLUTION OF ACTUAL PHOTOS

settings getting adjusted digital camera

Even if your printer is set to print with a high resolution, your photos won’t come out looking their best if they were shot in a low resolution.

This is a common mistake because photos usually look ideal on a computer screen but come out looking stretched and blurry. To avoid this, it’s a good idea to check the setting or properties of each photo, and make sure that you’ve selected a high resolution for them.

If you’re printing photos that you’ve taken on a camera, you may have the option to choose your image quality before you even take your photos. Take a look at the options you have in your settings and play around with different sets to figure out what kind of lighting, focus and quality are best for your project.

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USING MISMATCHED PRINTERS AND PAPER

Some of the best printers for photos only work with their own brand name of printing paper, and this is something you’ll want to look out for before you choose a printer. Companies like HP are known for offering supplies for every printing need, so their printer paper only works with their own printers.

If you’re mixing different brands that aren’t universal, then chances are you’re not going to like the results. Printing paper options that are universal are much easier to rely on since you can print your photos with any printer and get great results.

If you decide to take a chance, you can risk a few things with your images including bleeding colors, smearing and very wet ink that takes a long time to dry.  

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PRINTING WITH LOW INK

person checking printer ink levels

One of the most frustrating mistakes to avoid when printing your prized photos is running out of ink before your project is complete.

Most computers and printers will signal you when their ink levels are getting low, and this is when you should be thinking about replacing or refilling them. Even if your printer starts out with vibrant colors, a big enough project could take up a lot of ink and finish off with colors that are faded.

Again, this kind of mistake is a huge waste of ink, as well as paper. If you tend to do a lot of printing, buying ink cartridges in bulk is a great way to go since you can purchase brand-name cartridges for lower prices.

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NOT USING COLOR CORRECTION

Even if your photos are bright and vibrant on your computer screen, there is a good chance that they won’t come out exactly the same on paper. This is common since the colors will behave differently when they’re applied to a piece of paper, which alters the look of an image.

If you want your image to look just like the one you took, then it would be a mistake not to do a little bit of color correcting. There are a variety of image editing programs you can use to increase the vibrancy and clarity you want, or you can check for color collaboration software on the printing program you’re borrowing.

Sometimes this kind of software costs extra to use, but the results are usually worth the price to get the look you want.

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NOT EXPERIMENTING

Some people have a favorite type of medium that they print their photos on. This is totally acceptable but sometimes it can be a mistake not to do a little experimenting.

Just like it can be eye-opening to try different filters on your photos, printing them on different mediums can be great for your project as well. If you’re printing at home, your options are going to be fairly limited.

photobook section seascape scenery

However, if you can send your images to an industrial printer, the options are seemingly endless. Some of the options you have include printing on glass, canvas, aluminum and even wood. The change in materials help to change the personality of the photos, and they may even look better hanging with the décor style in your home.

Acrylic glass is a medium that makes photos look extremely modern and high-class, and the crystal-clear material really helps to make colors pop. Canvas, on the other hand, has a lot of texture with a classic feel that makes it perfect for portrait and landscape photos.

Aluminum comes in all kinds of different options, including matte or gloss finishes that have the option of showing some of the metal through the photo. The contemporary style of this photo makes it ideal for photos of cars and machinery, as well as nature photos and anything with reflections.

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USING BAD PRINTING CONDITIONS

These days, printers are made to be very smart and fairly self-sufficient. Most printers will let you know when something is wrong, and can even order more ink for themselves when they begin to run low.

However, even a printer can’t pick itself up and head to the repair shop when something goes wrong. Taking care of any kind of ink build-up or small issue is imperative as soon as you learn about it so you can avoid bigger problems that ruin your ability to print.

There are all kinds of little issues that might arise, including print heads becoming clogged, dust building up inside and ink drying up completely. These kinds of issues can have a huge effect on the quality of your prints and may stop them altogether.

Make sure to look for any signs of poor printing quality or check your printer’s display for warning lights. Newer printers will usually let you know right away if something needs to be fixed, so it’s best to take care of those issues before you try to print.

desktop printer paper office supplies

CONCLUSION

After working so hard to create an image that you’re proud of, you don’t want to end up wasting money, time and resources with a bad printing job. Even though modern printers are exceptionally independent and high-quality, there are still a lot of things to be wary of to make sure that everything is in working order.

If you’re still on the hunt for a printer, be sure to keep these tips in mind. They may help you to make a better decision based on your printing needs and skills. If you’ve already got a printer for your images, take care to do a quick clean of your printer each week to keep dust, dander and other build-up free from the small spaces in your printer.

If you’ve chosen the right ink cartridge and photo resolutions, then you’re ready to start printing. Just to be safe, however, take heed of these 10 mistakes to avoid when printing your treasured photos to ensure that you’re printing a photo that is worthy of your wall.