Persnickity Prints

While looking over the Persnickety Prints site I was reminded of one of the reasons we like their work so much – they use photographic paper. Photographic paper has one of the best longevity ratings around.

I remember a time not too long ago when paper scrapbookers were heads over heels for archival quality (and still are, rightfully so.) Archival paper, archival corners, archival tape – everything the best quality and longest lasting in order to protect our memories and keep them around for a long time.

Did we forget when we went digital?

I think we did.

Here’s why: It’s easier and cheaper.

Why would you work for hours or days on a layout, putting your heart and soul into it, and then output it to a less then archival media? Like an ink-jet printer. Or worse – an at-home ink-jet printer with inexpensive paper and inks from the refill shop… all to save a buck? My memories are priceless – and I hope to capture and retain them in my layouts and pictures.

Having been in the photo industry for over 30 years now I’ve learned a lot about image permanence – how long a picture or layout will last.

  • How you display it makes a big difference. Heat, humidity, light, airborne solvents and chemicals – all factor in to how long a layout or print will last.
  • How you store it makes a big difference. What it is stored on or in can significantly affect the longevity. What touchs the print (tape, glue, embellishments) also have their effects.
  • The pigments (What makes the picture – the inks, dyes or toner that make up the actual picture)
  • And last – the substrate (that’s a fancy word for the paper) How good is it? Is it cheaply made, acidy paper or neutral, archival quality.

Here’s some thoughts on the prints you can get for your layouts that aren’t photographic. If it’s not photographic output, it’s either going to be an ink-jet or it’s going to be electrostatic (fancy word huh – think color copier with toner and paper). While some ink-jet prints are shown to last as long or longer than photo prints, it depends entirely on using a particular printer, ink, and paper from that printer’s manufacturer. Do you know exactly what combination someone is using to print yours? If it varies one bit (like using a lesser grade paper or ink) it can significantly impact the life of your layout. And most home printers we digital scrapbookers use are not suitable for archival quality output – unless you dropped a couple of thousand on your ink-jet! The same issues are magnified with electrostatic prints – the toner can vary from batch to batch, as can the paper. And as most electrostatic prints are on the low end of the price range, you know the labs that use them are saving every last penny to keep the cost down.

Now don’t get me wrong – home printers and these other type have their uses. Need a quick flip book to give to show Grandma the kids’ last concert? Do it on a home ink-jet for the quickness. Doing a display for crops or shows? Use cheaper electrostatic because it’s going to get handled and likely ruined. Anything for a short term use is ok for these type of prints.

But aren’t our memories – the work you want to keep around for a lifetime – the really important stuff – worth using the photo paper? We think it is.

Now go order some prints from Persnickety Prints and let us know if you did! Share your comments and thoughts about this too by leaving one below.

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About the author

Stan brings to the site a long career in the photo industry from working as a professional photographer to 13 years with Kodak to his present position asDirector or Marketing with Advanced Photographic Solutions color lab.Having spent all his adult life in the photo industry, Stan discovered the wild world of digiscrap through wife Jenn (better known as ScrapKitty Design). Even 12 years of teaching Photoshop and digital imaging to photographers didn't prepare him for the wild and wooly world of digi-crops, so he sticks to teaching classes and writing about photography and PS/PSE on their blog www.scrappersworkshop.com/blog. Stan and Jenn are transplanted Yankees in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, and would not live in lake effect snow again if you paid them.

20 Comments

  1. crystal says:

    I love Persnickety…and I love that they care enough to educate their clients about the difference between them and other printers.

  2. Zanne says:

    What kinda of questions do we need to ask to know what we are getting?

    TY

    • Stan says:

      Great question Zanne! You can often tell if it’s electrostatic or not if they offer double-sided prints. You can’t do double sided photographic prints and I’ve never seen double sided inkjet – so if it’s double-sides it’s electrostatic. In addition, a lot of vendors will tell you what they print on – if they mention Fuji CrystalArchive or Kodak Endura, that’s photo paper. And a lot just plain out say it somewhere. If not, email their support and ask – what technology do you use? What kind of printer? Remember that if you are ordering a photo book it is likely press-printed (electrostatic). All though you can do a hard-bound or soft-bound photo book in photo paper (we do at the lab where I work) they are really expensive and most digital scrapbookers would be getting one that is more value priced. Ones from Shutterfly are press printed.

  3. [...] digital scrapbookers should use photo paper for their important layouts See our blog post on why digital scrapbookers should use photo paper for their really important layouts – it's something we really care about a lot! Thanks for taking a look. __________________ Stan [...]

  4. [...] digital scrapbookers should use photo paper for their important layouts See our blog post on why digital scrapbookers should use photo paper for their really important layouts – it's something we really care about a lot! Thanks for taking a look. __________________ Stan [...]

  5. Melissa says:

    I used My Pic Tales and I like the smooth rather than glossy look – is that an option with Persnickety?

    • Stan says:

      Melissa – had not heard of My Pic Tales but a quick check of their site I see they use Xerox equipment so their prints are electrostatic. Great prices though. I checked Persnickety and they offer prints in lustre finish (usual one) , Glossy which I what you would want, and another I had forgotten you can only get with photo prints – Metallic. The metallic is a normal print with a pure silver metal under layer that gives the prints a particular depth and sheen – they are ultra glossy and make layouts (especially anything with text and graphics) really pop. They are usually more expensive though.

      Thanks for commenting!

  6. Chari says:

    Education is so vital, especially in this digital world. It all looks great in pixels on the screen, but the print is a whole new story! Thank you Stan for your expertise!

  7. Mary says:

    Great information!! Glad I found your site. I am a fairly new digital scrapper, and have only begun to navigate the digital printing waters… I have used Persnickety Prints before, though, and I love their Customer Service. Prices and shipping speed are great, too! I am finding there has to be some sort of balance between convenience, longevity, and cost, though… I do have an HP oversized printer, and I have printed layouts on HP photo paper using standard HP photo ink… Truly, though, BOTH the ink and paper are EXPENSIVE! You have me worried about how long those prints will last… Are we talking less than my lifetime, when stored in an album at normal room temperature? I suppose there’s only so much we can do as our family historians… :)

    • Stan says:

      Mary, sadly, less than a lifetime might be the case- even with photographic prints. It all depends on the compete chain – from manufacturing the paper/inks/dye by HP or Fuji through people printing the work (is their chemistry good? did they substitute cheaper paper to save money?) through how you store it and what you store it in. I’ve seen prints and ink-jets last less than 6 months to a year (bad storage and environmental conditions). Now don’t get all scared though – most will outlast us and preserve our memories. You have the best chance, in my opinion, starting with photographic prints for the really important stuff.

  8. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jenn and Stan White, Persnickety Prints. Persnickety Prints said: Digital scrapbookers – use photographic paper for printing your layouts – http://b2l.me/av44v2 [...]

  9. Jewel says:

    A great way to check out your home printer is to look at independent studies dome by Wilhelm Imaging Research. Their testing methods have become the de facto industry standard for inkjet printers.

    http://www.wilhelm-research.com/

    I adore Persnickity – but thought that could be useful info for those of you who want to know more about your own printers.

    • Jenn says:

      Yes, we love Wilhelm. The important thing to note when looking at their data is that you must be using EXACTLY what they used for the tests. What they found was that durability (resistance to fading) was best when using the printer manufacturer’s ink (which most of us do) AND paper (which many of us don’t)! And when you change one of those two factors, ink or paper, the life of the print can go down to as little as a few months. So if you have an Epson 12×12 printer and buy your ink from Epson and buy your paper from Epson, you’re probably ok. But as your printer gets older, and newer printers come out, and paper is re-formulated, and the ink in your printer is not, there’s no guarantee that will hold. Why take the chance?
      Printing at home is great for greeting cards, crafts, gifts, but not for the only copy of Great-grandma Ethel’s wedding photo! This is why we recommend photographic prints for the truly important stuff, and what’s more important than your memories?

  10. scrappysue says:

    Thanks for your informative article Stan! I am currently trying to decide which is the very best way forward for printing digital albums; am I right in assuming that photobooks are not the best way to ensure longevity? Do you think it would be better to have digital scrapbook pages printed on photographic paper and store in an acid free album? I have to admit I was under the impression that all photobooks were great quality and would last. Many thanks for your advice! Sue

    • Stan says:

      Sue – photobooks have their place as an amazing way to present a lot of pictures and layouts all wrapped up into a beautiful, inexpensive presentation. Who would have thought technology would advanced so much that we could get an on-demand, hard-bound book for $20-40? That being said, without really tight control and assurances from the manufacturer, the long-term stability of photobooks is up in the air. Another factor to consider is that a photobook is a snapshot- once done, the pages and ordering of the pages are set forever. With an album of 12×12 photographic prints, you can add or subtract layouts and rearrange them at any time. Don’t get me wrong Sue – photobooks will last – question is how long? It’s a matter of 10-20 years versus 50-100 years – not everything we scrap is worthy of being saved that long so photobooks are a great value . And I’m sure the archival quality of them will get better! Thanks for your comment.

  11. Aimee says:

    Hi! Thank-you so much for this post! Good information to consider. What I would also like to know is which home printers are the best for printing digiscrap pages at home as well as the best papers for print permanence life of at least 100 years. The wilhelm website if overwhelming to go through and I was wondering what others are using at home that can offer a life of at least 100 years. My hubby says that printing at home is more economical if printing a lot, but is it possible to get a long life with great color lasting for future generations without using an online printing company. Otherwise, I will be be going with Persnickety. Thanks so much! Aimee :)

    • Jenn says:

      Aimee, I can’t imagine a scenario where you could get a 200 year archival print (which is what you’re getting with silver halide) from a home printer. Even not allowing for misprints (where you have an error and need to reprint) it would be hard to meet that $1.99 price. Wilhelm will tell you that the only way to get longevity beyond months is to use both paper and ink from the same manufacturer. So if you have an Epson printer, you need to buy Epson paper. The 12×12 paper best price I’ve seen is $1 a sheet – and that’s purchased in bulk on sale. So assuming you’re going to waste an occasional piece with a paper jam or bad print, and including shipping on paper, you’re already over $1 a page. So if you’re frugal with your ink, you might keep it under $1.99, but considering I buy print credits for $1.49 on sale and print in large batches to offset the shipping, I don’t think I could print at home. And given the frustrations of printing stuff, I’m happy to purchase! Besides, the silver halide prints are water resistant whereas one sneeze on that lovely home printed print and you’re out of luck. So frankly, I don’t print ANYthing at home anymore, except stuff I need immediately for some reason.

      That said, if you really want to look at a printer, the Epsons are pretty highly rated, and the paper is available on sale regularly if you look. I got to use one for a class I worked on with Jessica Sprague a few years ago, and it was very nice. But 8 ink cartridges, each one about $20 each as I recall! Good luck whatever you decide!!

  12. Great article!!! Education is so vital, especially in this digital world.

  13. [...] of my favorite things about digital scrapbooking is using my layouts over and over. I always print large silver halide prints for myself and put them in albums, but I love making photo books as [...]

  14. dazzodeals says:

    Great information!! Glad I found your site. I am a fairly new digital scrapper, and have only begun to navigate the digital printing waters….

    http://www.dazzodeals.com/

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