Better Than Ikea: If You Are Going to Print Photos – Print Them BIG!

Jan 6, 2018

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.

Better Than Ikea: If You Are Going to Print Photos – Print Them BIG!

Jan 6, 2018

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.

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Large Photography Print on Metallic Paper and Acrylic

I have a confession to make.

I am a professional photographer. I’ve lived in my current house for nearly fifteen years.

I don’t have a single photo that I’ve taken on my walls.

The reason…..?

Because the thought of printing my own work seriously stresses me out!

I don’t have any of my own work hanging on my walls – which means that I don’t have anything at all hanging on my walls.

Sure, I could temporarily fill the gaps with some cliché Ikea photos (apparently “mass produced soulless wall art” translates to “björksta” in Swedish)

It would sure be a lot cheaper (Brooklyn Bridge Exactly Like All Other Photos of Brooklyn Bridge 46″x30″ for $49!, Random French Lavender Field You Haven’t Visited 55″ x 39″ for $69!,  Ugly Lighthouse in Bad Light 55″x39″ for $69!).

But take a look at those print sizes – they’re big – really BIG!

Here’s how Ikea sells it:

Our collection of big art inspires and takes you away to different places.

OK, well yes, that is totally lame and uninspiring – but the point is – Ikea knows that really BIG prints look really GOOD!

Large Photography Print on Metallic Paper and Acrylic

But printing really big is actually really hard…well not really but it feels that way.

I take thousands and thousands of photos every year. How do I begin to choose which ones I like enough to hang on my walls?

Every month I capture images that I love, photos that I love even more than the ones I loved last month.

Next month I will probably capture a photo that I love more than anything I’ve ever photographed before.

Who am I to freeze time and pick something that’s wall-worthy today?

And high quality prints are expensive.

Sure, Ikea might be able to sell you a 55″x39″ print for $69 – but a professional giclée print, canvas gallery wrap or acrylic print is going to cost ten times that much.

At that price, you’re making a serious investment in your art – not just filling space – you better get it right!

What kind of image quality do you need to make a 55″x39″ print anyway?

At a standard print resolution of 300 ppi you’re looking at a 193 megapixel image. I don’t have a 193 MP camera.

Can I enlarge my mobile phone photos to 193 MP?

Just Print Your Favorite Photo Today!

After year’s of worrying about it – I finally decided to just pick two photos that I really like and get them printed – one for our living room, one for my office.

For our living room, I chose a really cool (pun intended) photo of me and my family exploring a cave up near our cottage on Georgian Bay in winter.

It was captured by a Canon 5D Mk II with a Canon 20mm lens a few years ago. It’s not technically perfect, but it’s pretty good.

I enlarged it and cropped to 48″x30″ at 300ppi and chose to have it printed on metallic paper with an acrylic mount.

Large Photography Print on Metallic Paper and Acrylic

For my office, I chose a photo of my wife in White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. This is one of my personal favorite photos I’ve ever captured – so it seemed fitting.

This photo was captured by a Nikon D800 with a Sigma ART 50mm lens.

I enlarged it and cropped to 60″x24″ at 300ppi and chose the same printing method as the first – metallic paper with an acrylic mount.

The only shop I could find that could print the gallery quality and size that I wanted on acrylic was Bumblejax (their customer service was great and everything is done in house in Seattle too – and pro photographers get a 50% discount on their first order).

How Did They Turn Out?

The print quality is amazing. Metallic paper mounted on acrylic looks just as good as you think it should with a bright vibrant photo.

However, somewhat ironically, the photo I had intended for the living room just didn’t quite go with the wall color in my living room.

It’s probably something only a photographer or an interior designer would notice (a cool blue in the ice on the print vs a warm blue on the walls). I probably should have realized that the blues clashed before I printed it, but lesson learned.

Since I have lots of virgin wall space (and don’t really feel like re-painting the living room as my wife suggested), I hung it in our dining room instead (gray walls go with everything).

Now I just have to decide what’s next!

What Do You Think?

Are you as anxious as me about printing your own photography?

What prints have you made that you absolutely loved?

Ever hung something on your wall that you hate?

Is Ikea really the solution to every home decor problem?

Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!

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JP Danko

JP Danko

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.

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14 responses to “Better Than Ikea: If You Are Going to Print Photos – Print Them BIG!”

  1. Eckhardt Kl Avatar
    Eckhardt Kl

    Good article! I too was hesitant in printing my pics till someone looked at me and said: “After you die no one is going to look through your hard drives to see your images. They will re-format and re-use them.” That jolted me – So I had 6 big black and white favourite prints printed and framed and they are now hanging in my home and I’m very happy. I use Art Printing Studio here in Oakville and they are superb. http://artprinting.ca/

    1. Joe Clay Avatar
      Joe Clay

      Good sentiment, but I hope that by the time I die, hard drives won’t even be what we’re using anymore! ;)

  2. Michael Avatar
    Michael

    My first print was 40/80. I used a local printer and mounted it on foam board. It was terrifying but exhilarating to sit with him and participate in the development.

  3. Micha van Neerwijk Avatar
    Micha van Neerwijk

    I did a few months ago and I was ‘scared’ for many years. In the end the best decision I (ever?) made, although I had to tweak the images to print so big. Now that I’ve done that for myself I actually took some photos to print for others! Great gifts! I even managed to get (read optimize) a Sony Z2 phonepic on a 120x80cm canvas, and up close… Yeah you see artifacts but from about 1-1,5m it looks fantastic! Oh, and I need more walls because in my head I already have printed 20 large one more…. ????

  4. Paul Stonehouse Avatar
    Paul Stonehouse

    Enjoyed the article, greatly! No doubt most of my photographer friends fail to showcase their personal work in their own homes…..the article jars the mindset to show more work and on a grandeur scale like Ikea…but a 60″ x 48″ print mounted, could cost well over $600 ++++ dollars… that Ikea giant print seems such a better value. I’d rather spend my cash on going to some location to capture and experience that area, than spend the money on my work hanging on my wall….I priced 2 metallic, acrylics 60 x 48….finished and delivered….I could fly to the Amalfi Coast of Italy and wander for 4 days with camera in hand for the same price

    1. Marko Avatar
      Marko

      Very true. When I thought of printing a huge 4×5 for my bathroom, mount it, frame it and coat it for humidity protection it came to around $600. I bought the Amsterdam print from IKEA for less that $40.

      I finally did a large print of Porto (Portugal), it is 30×19 ( 38×27 framed) and my wife and I love it! I will definitely do a couple more. Expensive though… :-)

  5. Alex Rainchik Avatar
    Alex Rainchik

    Can you recommend good place to print those BIG photos?

  6. Roger Lambert Avatar
    Roger Lambert

    I have a B&W rendition of a winter scene hanging on a wall in my family room. It is about four feet wide, three feet tall. – Cost: ~ $7.00 bucks.

    Yup, seven bucks. It is no giclee print – it was made at Staples on their high-quality B&W engineering blueprint printer. It is basically just a piece of newsprint paper. Whites are not pure white, and blacks are not pure black…. but….

    It looks pretty terrific at a distance.

    I think I remember I uprezzed the file for the size. It hangs on 3 pieces of string with 3 large bulldog clips.

    Not my print, but someone else’s example:

    https://i.pinimg.com/736x/35/e0/fc/35e0fcaa5d2153f6da4ba279e13cc2ca.jpg

    1. JP Danko Avatar
      JP Danko

      Great idea – thanks for sharing!

  7. WillMondy Avatar
    WillMondy

    My friend now has a few prints hanging in his office for his growing aerial photography and filmmaking business, and it looks great, much better than bare walls or random photos.

    I’m not getting tempted to get one of mine printed for my room (I would like more, but I have only one hook and landlord won’t allow any more).

  8. Ross Duncan Avatar
    Ross Duncan

    Good topic JP, it’s sure to strike a cord with many photographers, both pro and amateur.
    I’ve attempted many variations over the past few years with various degrees of success and failure, one big fail but a lesson well learnt is making sure your computer monitor screen is calibrated.
    Another way to show off your work, and something I would recommend highly, is to self publish your own photo coffee table books.
    There’s a few companies around now offering this service, I use Blurb and have found the process not only fun and creative but the end result to be terrific.
    It’s a lovely way to show off your work, not too expensive and you get to see your work printed.
    Here’s an example from a recent book I did.

    http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/invited/7153105/d87208018b587d570a5cc053fee4304c4e4d5396

  9. Kevin Avatar
    Kevin

    I like your article and share your fears and sentiments, JP. The problem of choosing which image, and the problem of the high cost can both be solved with a 4k TV mounted on your wall for the same price as the large print. That’s the route I’m headed for my house. A $600 big print must be gorgeous, but a $545 4k TV from Costco will show next month’s favorite shot, and the month’s after that.

    1. JP Danko Avatar
      JP Danko

      Actually…that’s not a bad idea Kevin! I never thought of it that way…

  10. Sam Avatar
    Sam

    Loved the way you told your story. I have a landscape photo printed at home, but it took me a long time to decide on “The One”, thinking that I would never change the picture, so I better choose the right one. After I’ve printed and hung the photo up, I’ve been looking at the photo every time I reach home, and it brings me back to the place I took it. After that, I have been printing my photos and hanging them and displaying them all around my house. For larger prints, I didn’t stick to 300 ppi. It still looked good from my normal viewing distance so wasn’t an issue. Used Print For Fun printing studio and their prints are great! https:///www.printforfun.sg