The “Big Box” Boys Have Got Nothing On Me!

Richard Charpentier Prints, RLC Design, Wide Format Printing 3 Comments

Over and over again I encounter an issue with some clients.  It’s nothing that I can control, but now it’s something I can demonstrate easily……..

Many clients go to “Big Box” shops to get prints done.  Hey, those guys are cheaper than me.  I admit it.  And you get what you pay for.  Several photo clients apparently like to “double pay.”  That means they get a print or two done at the Big Box, then they come here to get the print done right.  All in the name of saving money……

Yesterday one of my “regular regulars”, Steve L, stopped in to have me reprint something.  He’d gone to “Big Box X” to have his prints done.  His photography instructor at a local college recommends printing with that Big Box shop.  Well, Steve had the folks at that shop reprint his image 3 times (12×18″) trying to get the color right.  They never got it right.  And after paying for 3 trys it would have been cheaper to bring it to me in the first place.  Oh, and I use better paper too (archival and everything).

Steve gave me his disk and we pulled the image up on screen.  Amazingly, the image looked nothing like what the Big Box Boys printed for him.  Errrr…..Calibrate People!

Steve was kind enough to leave one of his big box prints with me.  I asked if I could display it along with one of my prints.  He gave me the thumbs up.  Take a look below.

The image on top is my print on Breathing Color’s Vibrance Rag.  The image on the bottom comes from my “competitor.”  Looking on screen, Steve’s image matches with the top print (mine), and is way off from the bottom print (the other guys).  Steve went so far as to have my competition try matching his image better, so they printed it 3 times over, and all way off.  🙁

In the end, Steve spent more trying over and over with the Big Box.  Coming in here we sat down, looked on my calibrated monitor, gave a thumbs up, and made the print.

So, if you’re looking to save money Big Box might not work out as you’d planned.  I’ve had dozens of other clients come in after printing at “Big Box X” with prints they hated.  And when they leave here they’re always pretty darned happy.  Guess it comes down to whether or not you want your image the way you intended it, or if being way off on color is okay with you.  Hey, it’s the client’s choice every time.  🙂

Steve had one suggestion.  He thought if I offered a special discount for students I might get a little more business.  In response I explained several things to him.  Archival papers, archival inks, and running things on rolls.  When he came in I was running a ton of glossies for a client.  But since he’s a regular I happily popped the gloss roll off.  When taking that roll off the printer wastes a 4″ strip, and creates more waste with the remaining roll measurement (another 4″).  So, popping the gloss roll off cost me an 8″x36″ section of paper.  That’s 288 square inches of waste for a single print.  See, I factor paper waste into my pricing.  Folks never think of that.  And bottom line?  A single 12×18″ print is a total waste if I have to change rolls.  So, no discounts folks!

Note:  Yes, there is a giant tub of Jelly Belly Jelly Beans in the photo above.  Regular clients know how much I love Jelly Beans.  Want to get first in line here at RL Charpentier Photography?  Bring me Buttered Popcorn, Cappuccino, and “Sour” Jelly Belly Jelly beans.  You’ll be in!  🙂


Comments 3

  1. Love me some Jelly Beans too! Can’t do too much buttered popcorn without the acid reflux kicking in, but a little now and then is all right.

    As for the calibration, spot on as always! Tell Steve that he has a pretty cool shot there too!

  2. Competitor: an opponent, especially in a commercial market.


    Time taken….less, with finished quality product in hand.

    Quality competition…..Uh, see below…

    Definition–“Open market rivalry in which every seller tries to get what other sellers are seeking at the same time-sales, profit, and market share by offering the best practicable combination of price, quality, and service. Where the market information flows freely, competition plays a regulatory function in balancing demand and supply.”

    You better have your rolls handy and gallons of ink available….Fail to plan, Plan to fail.

  3. Post

    Thanks Jason. Calibration nut over here in AZ. If my images don’t look right to me, how could I ever expect clients to be satisfied with theirs? Glad Costco is so far off on the colors!

    As far as Steve’s image….. LOVE it. I know this old train car, drive by it often, and always tell myself that might make for a nice photo. Then I keep driving. Now that Steve has shot it, no need for me to. He did a great job!

    Keith, I’ve got so much ink….and mad rolls of canvas, Vibrance Rag, Metallic, Glossy, Satin, and Optica. Ready for the onslaught!

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