Digital Archival Prints, the Whats, the Whys and the How Much

After a much greater effort than I had envisioned and at a far greater expense than I could have imagined, I am finally approaching the light at the end of my framed print tunnel. So I thought I'd put together this blog post to update those of you have expressed an interest in prints of my photography.

But first I'd be greatly remiss in not thanking everyone for their incredible support and patience as I have worked though this process. I was woefully naive in my understanding of the steps involved in creating a quality, archival digital framed print and all that goes with it. Thank you, thank you , thank you.


I'm gonna start out explaining the "why" I decided to created hand crafted prints of my photography. Quite simply the answer was quality and consistency. The obvious starting point was to upload my images to an online print lab / store and let them take care of printing / framing / shipping etc. With that in mind I sent images out to a number of labs and ordered prints on various different medias. And time and time again I was disappointed in the quality of the product and the consistency of the results. All too often the shipped prints didn't match the processed image on my computer or what I had printed on my own.

The way these online labs work, my images would have been "drop shipped" to my friends and customers without me ever seeing the images. And there was just too much variation for me to feel comfortable with that process.

In the end it just didn't feel right for me to spend so much time and effort to create compelling images in the field without continuing that effort during the printing and framing process.


Simply the "what" is hand crafted, framed, archival prints utilizing the highest quality materials I could economically justify. 

My prints will be 12 x 18 artwork matted to 18x24 and framed in a hand assembled hard wood frame.

I'll pass along a snippit of some of the details but my feelings won't be hurt if skip ahead.

  • Paper & Ink - I've settled on a satin finish 100% cotton rag paper for both my black & white and color images. This museum quality & acid-free paper has an aesthetic and feel mimicking that of smooth satin fiber paper from the darkroom. The images are printed on my professional photo printer utilizing a pigment based ink for durability and longevity.
  • Matting - I mount and over matt my prints with 4 ply Bainbridge archival, acid free mattboard. The print preparation is finished of with 3/16 inch acid free foam core.
  • Glazing - I selected Tru Vue Premium Clear Acrylic for the glazing. Although glass can be generally less expensive, it would have tremendously complicated shipping and it weighs quite a bit more.
  • Framing - Finding a frame solution was honestly my most difficult task. I wanted to supply a frame that would last and compliment my imagery and its future home. So to that end, I choose a hand assembled solid maple frame with a cherry finish. I chose maple for its hardness and durability and the a cherry finish to add a touch of warmth to the image. Cherry also blends well with existing furnishings and I think goes well with a variety of wall finishes.

The backside of this frame is not yet finished. It will be taped along the edges to keep critters out and to clean up the mounting staples.

In the end all my decisions for prints, and frankly all the items in my store, was whether I would be happy having them hang in our own house. And I'm happy that I'm finally able to say that these choices exceed that hurdle. 

How Much

My hand crafted framed and ready to hang print will be priced at $245 plus tax and shipping. I'm still working out the final details of packing and shipping so there is still a bit of work to be done.

Questions & Answers

Why aren't all your images available as prints?

Quite simply because I haven't yet printed them myself or if I have, I'm not yet happy with the results. And some images may never pass this hurdle. The perceived quality of an images gets more an more demanding the larger you blow it up. So often images that look great on the back of the camera just don't dazzle me enough to post on, say, Facebook. Maybe they look fine online but don't cut it for notecards. Maybe cards are fine but 12 x 18 inch prints are starting to show some unacceptable weaknesses. And so it goes on and on as size increases. Capturing technically perfect images that can be printed large can be quite a challenge at times. Camera noise, resolution limits and a host of other factors can come into play to limit the ultimate image print size.

Can I get other types of media or other sizes?

No not yet. And probably not in the near future. It took me quite some time, as y'all well know, to achieve the quality and consistency I needed for this one media and size. That said, larger prints are definitely on my todo list. Even if only for my own joy.

Why 12x18 inch artwork in 18x24 frames?

I didn't feel that smaller sized prints worked with my type of imagery and any larger and the packing and shipping would become an issue. As I mentioned above, I do plan to go larger. Maybe very much larger.

How did you arrive at the cost?

I set my price at the low to middle average of what similar sized prints are selling for in galleries on Lopez Island. And in many cases my components are of a much higher quality and cost more. But beyond that, my price needs to be sustainable. And by that I mean I need to earn enough on my prints to justify continuing to offer them.

I have more questions

Please feel free to contact me.