Here's the disadvantage of sending your prints out for printing.
Imagine you work on your image file, get it just right on the monitor, and send it off to wherever to be printed. A day or three later the print comes in the mail, and you look at it and think, hey, looks great. Then you look at it some more, and you think, you know, if would look better if it were just a little less yellow.
Or: I should have opened up that shadow just a tad.
Or: I didn't realize the color noise was going to be quite that obvious. Should have hit that slider just a little harder.
Or, darn, forgot to remove that whatever-it-is in the distance that you can't tell what it is...meant to do that.
Obviously there are different standards for different people and different uses, and hey, it might even be the case that the professional printmaker can do a better job than you could ever do, so his/her/their expertise and equipment is pure bonus. And maybe the print you'll be happy with is a McDonalds meal as opposed to a gourmet experience at a fancy restaurant—if it looks halfway decent you'll be happy. Not everything has to be a connoisseur's idea of just-so.
But at the other end of that spectrum, printing is a means of "signing off" on exactly how you, as the artist/"creative," want the print to look—precisely. To set it in stone, so to speak—or rather, set it in unchanging pigment ink on archival paper. Printing to that higher standard is a servo-mechanism kind of activity. You prepare the file, print it, look at it, appraise how it looks and feels; make changes; print again; look, appraise, make changes, print again; look, appraise, make changes, print again...and so forth until it looks just exactly the way you want it to.
Just one of those re-do cycles becomes pretty onerous when you're sending the file out for printing...even if the shop you use does the re-do for free. It's still a hassle.
Print at home, and the process might end at one print, or three, or seven. And it could take 45 minutes or five days—you can do it in your own time. You can keep going and stop as soon as you are satisfied and not one iteration sooner. It's really a far better way to work, if you're [an artist / picky].
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Featured Comments from:
Larry Gebhardt: "Well said, and it's why I own printers instead of sending out for prints. I've tried both ways of working and I wouldn't go back to not owning a quality inkjet, though I might someday let a shop make large prints for me after proofing at home."
MHMG: "And once you have the printed image exactly the way you want it, you can now make a few perfect replicates for family and friends...no need to re-order from the photo lab and cross your fingers that the reprints will match the first print!"
PhotoDes: "I did some prints earlier this week and your portrayal of the process was spot on. For me, it took three prints and I got just what I wanted. I've always known I'm 'picky.'"
Steve Caddy: "And it's satisfying as hell. Making that final object closes the creative loop."
Mike replies: That's the real bottom line.