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EP's Photo Blog | Austin Texas | Portrait Photographer

Photo blog of photographer Erica Payne | Austin, Texas | Portrait Photographer.  Specializes  in creative portraiture. 

Groupon & Beyond....Whats the value of a canvas print?

We all love a good deal!  This is obvious due the popularity of sites like Groupon and living social.  But do we really know if we are getting a good deal for quality products.  And how important is the quality really……?

Recently I've been seeing these deals for canvas prints ( usually 16x20 or 16x24) popping up on every "Groupon" type website.  They are offering canvas prints for anywhere between $35-$49.  Typically anywhere to 70-85% off their regular pricing.  My first thought was WOW that's a good deal!  I couldn't even get a quality BLANK 16x24 canvas for my final art projects in collage for less than $20. (there's that nifty word again 'quality'… i have a feeling it's gonna follow us around for a while throughout this blog post).  Then I had another though,

i wondered what some of my FB friends though a 16x20 canvas would cost if they ordered one from a session they had with a photographer.

So what did i do?

I ordered some from a couple of these companies and polled some friends cause  I wanted to see how much of a "deal" were these type of sites really offering.
What i found out was this…
The quality of these Grouponing services are no where near that of a professional lab.  The thickness of the canvas were very different, even between the "groupon" companies.  One was very thin and not stretched taunt.   DSCF2964 Even though it looked nice when I took it out the box, I could tell over time it would loosen and began to sag.  Also the stretch bars were not always of the same quality.
(there's that pesty word again...quality)  Although they were all straight, some were assembled better than others.  Which leads us to the wrapping.  The corners on them were not tight and tucked.  DSCF2975DSCF2965Again, some companies did a better job than other's but not any where near the quality of pro lab.   Finally that left the backing and UV protective coating.  Again, some of them had a better coating than others but NONE of them offered finished backing, read to hang.  (without this dust collects in the back of your wrap ..YUCK!)DSCF2968 DSCF2959
I thought… this is how they are able to charge so little and run these deals.  You have to loose something and in this case you are losing quality.
Checkout these finished canvases from a pro lab:
corner CGProPrintsBackground
Which leads me to the next part of the question.. what do clients expect to pay?  I feel like these sites have created a unreal expectation of pricing.
I got a wide range of price quotes from $15-$200+.  (yes some said $15) About 65% stated $50-65 for a 16x20 canvas from a session with a professional photographer.  My first thought was, wow talk about sticker shock when seeing most professional photographers pricing! I was told that Costco runs canvas prints for about $50.  I'm sure they do an ok job but if you go to a photographer that calls themselves professional then they should use professional print services.  Not places like Walgreen's, Costco, and other places that probably don't calibrate their machines everyday, offer various finishing options, make proper exposure for each photograph and know the full capabilities of the printing machines. Clients also have to remember that you are not only paying for you memories to preserved correctly, you are paying for the image its self.  If JC Penny's charges $120 for a 16x20 canvas and they OWN the print company there is no way photographers can charge $75. (not to mention using a pro photographer you are starting with a better image to put on canvas) It actually cost us over $50 for quality (there's that word again) 8x10!  Even if we did use a groupon we would be in the negative after tax and expenses.
Hopefully get you thinking about your next session and when asked what products you were interested in, you will also consider the quality of the items you order. For me its about placing Artwork on your walls.  This is why I prefer quality canvas, there's no frame to distract from the image.
(still on the fence about ordering quality canvas? Just think of it this way....At least you don't have to shop for a frame!)
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