It’s that time of year again: lab-shopping season. As the New Year rolls in, photographers focus on bettering their businesses and we know there’s nothing more exciting than delivering a beautiful print of a beautiful photo.*
You’ve probably noticed that SmugMug offers not one, not two, but FOUR fabulous print lab options, each offering a full array of great print products. So if you’re a seasoned pro who already has a favorite, we may already be friends with them.
Four labs means a ton of amazing print options, more than 600 different products in total. But before you start sweating, here’s a quick rundown on each one to help you narrow down and pick the best fit for your photos.
No matter what, rest assured that you get a single, cohesive online presence and a full business solution when you’re at SmugMug.
Your work is in good hands.
Based just outside of Atlanta, Georgia, these guys have been a true powerhouse print lab fulfilling orders for some of the nation’s biggest event companies. But they’re more than just brawn — they put all that experience to work getting your print orders out the door quickly and economically, whether you buy one print or one thousand. EZ Prints is available to every single SmugMug user, and they fulfill all 4×8 and 5×7 photo card orders, to boot.
Our friends at Bay Photo enjoy the sun and fresh sea air each day in Santa Cruz, California. The positive effects are evident in the pride they take to their work, attention to detail, and the approach to customer service. Business and Portfolio SmugMuggers tell us that Bay Photo’s hand color correction, meticulously strong packaging and innovative product lineup are essential to the satisfaction of their clients. Plus, did you know that using Bay Photo also offers delicious Photo Extras like mats, frames, mounted prints and more, so you save a trip to the framers?
Last year we unveiled our first non-USA print lab, Loxley Colour. Situated in the outskirts of beautiful Glasgow, Scotland, they’re ready to fulfill all your highest-end print and display needs, right from your SmugMug gallery. They’re particularly popular with picky pros (and their picky customers) in the UK, but they’re happy to ship anywhere in Europe… and beyond.
White House Custom Colour
We started hearing that SmugMug Pros wanted even more print lab options, so we put our ears to the ground. White House Custom Colour won by being a crowd favorite and by passing our rigorous print quality test with flying colors. We felt confident that they met our (and your) incredibly high standards for beautiful prints each and every time. They hail from the Twin Cities in Minnesota, and opened a second and third location in Dallas, Texas and Fresno, California, to bridge pros from all corners of the United States. They’re a family-grown business just like SmugMug, proving that we have a lot more in common than just a love for photography.
Three Quick Notes
1) EZ Prints is available at all SmugMug account levels.
2) Bay Photo, WHCC and Loxley Colour are only available if you have a Portfolio or a Business level account.
3) All labs ship their goodies everywhere on the planet. But for logistical reasons, you may choose to pick the lab that’s closest to you.
Here’s hoping that you fall lens-over-heels in love with your your perfect lab this year!
* We know that DPI really stands for “Delirious Pixel Infatuation.”
Support Hero Josh Lawson is our resident rock star. He leads a double (really, triple) life working for SmugMug, being a musician and acting as agent at our print labs. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s hear the man himself. You’ve probably met him if you’ve ever written to our help desk with an order problem, uploading issue, or pretty much anything else.
Spotlight on Josh
What’s your hiring story?
After college I started working for Kodak/Qualex doing tech support for one-hour photo machines, Kodak Picture Makers, and Kodak C-41 and RA-4 chemical process control. In 2005, my girlfriend decided to go to graduate school out in Santa Cruz, so we packed up and headed west from North Carolina to California.
I ended up working customer service for Bay Photo for the years we were there. In 2009 we decided to move back east, but I kept working remotely for Bay Photo part-time, just a few hours a week.
That winter, Bay asked me if I’d like to work the WPPI trade show with them. An all expenses paid trip to Vegas for a (mostly) unemployed guy? I jumped on it. And I’m so glad I did.
I met a bunch of Smuggers there at a party. Larry from Bay Photo put in a good word for me, and Andy asked me if I was interested in being a hero. It sounded like an awesome job description! I started ringing Andy’s phone off the hook.
About a month later I got an interview and the rest is history.
How does music fit into your life?
During my stint in Santa Cruz, I decided to try a career change and did a trade program for luthiery (stringed instrument repair and construction). While I was working with Bay Photo I also landed a job at the Santa Cruz Guitar Company, building guitars.
Now I play drums for Wild Order and you’d have to pry my Korg MS-20 analog synthesizer out of my cold, dead hands.
Most Smuggers collect cameras and glass. I collect vintage drum machines and synthesizers, and that’s one of my faves. A beaut from 1978. It does sounds from hard techno to smooth 70′s fusion jazz to bizarre drones. Lots of knobs to twiddle, and endless sonic possibilities.
We affectionately call you the SmugMug Lab Rat. Why’s that?
I’m a great lab contact because I know first hand how a lab operates from the inside, how each product is physically created, and I know how to spot a potential issue when I run across one. I collect feedback from all the heroes (and thus our customers) and relay it to the labs so that we can keep the quality of our work top notch. I have phone meetings with each lab every week, and email various people at both labs daily in management, operations, and customer service.
I also do things like keep the flow of orders transmitting between both the labs. And lord knows that’s no small task, as there are thousands of orders sent to the labs every day. Communicating with the lab IT people, sometimes hacking up a bit of XML to get an order to process, repairing corrupt jpgs, etc. I keep a close eye on my order babies to make sure they get to the lab and process quickly. I keep track of orders that are late and do things like upgrade shipping when something is lagging behind.
Sometimes I feel like the Wizard or Oz pulling levers behind a curtain to keep the order machine well-oiled and finely tuned.
Shout one tip from the rooftops to SmugMuggers!
Proof & Retouch: USE IT! We make it easy to place orders, but it’s *always* helpful for Pros to review their clients’ orders before they’re sent to print.
Customers may not always crop their photos properly, so reviewing orders before they print is something I recommend to all Pros. An ounce of prevention….
Check out these features Josh mentioned:
Why a contest?
We teamed up with the good folks at Bay Photo Lab this fall to kick off a contest asking photographers to submit photos representing the theme of a perfect pair — two things that go splendidly together. SmugMug and Bay Photo are like peanut butter and jelly, ying and yang, aperture and ISO. We love Bay’s hand color correction and their crazy-in-a-good-way devotion to making the best dang prints out there. They love our seamless integration, fanatical devotion to making sure your photos look the best in our galleries and prints, and 100% guaranteed customer service. We guess you can say we’re the perfect pair for picky pros whose reputations depend on us.
Photographers from all over heard our call and submitted almost 2000 shots. The time has come to announce who the winners are, and we couldn’t be more tickled to have another reason to shout to the world how much we heart Bay Photo Lab and the awesome customers we get to work with on a daily basis. Winners of the Perfect Pairs Photo Contest were picked by a group of Judges from Bay Photo Lab and SmugMug based on their editorial discretion and your votes.
Here’s what we decided.
GRAND PRIZE WINNER
“Steam Runners” by Ric Cederholm of Waunakee, WI
We love this photo because it’s two friends having the time of their lives. The shot captures a playful and fun moment that makes us long for the days we could run with our hands in the air, hollering with joy (sure, we can do it as grown ups too, but it’s definitely cuter when kids do it). What’s better than running in the sun with the mist in your face? Maybe unwrapping your first MetalPrint. Maybe.
Ric, if you’re watching, you get:
- 5 free years of SmugMug Pro ($750 value, not including bragging rights)
- $500 Print Credit to world class Bay Photo Lab
- Photo credit in major national and tradeshow advertising, including WPPI
FIRST RUNNER UP
“Coordination” by Marc Benjamin of Fairfield, CA
This shot shows the power, elegance, and artistry that can be created when two powerhouses come together. The striking contrast stopped us in our tracks, and the poetry of these dancers forms entwined in the air sealed the deal for us.
- 4 free years of SmugMug Pro ($600 value)
- $300 Print Credit to Bay Photo Lab
SECOND RUNNER UP
“Relationship Stability” by Jesse Rather of Arcata, CA
Talk about a photo that makes you look twice. Managing a business and serving your customers is a fine balance of impeccable quality, dedication and fun, and we thought this photo channeled that feeling well. To top it off, the quirkiness, beauty, and humor made us smile. Thanks, Jesse!
- 2 free years of SmugMug Pro ($300 value)
- $200 Print Credit to Bay Photo Lab
THIRD RUNNER UP
“The Polar Pair” by JP Diroll of Pittsburgh, PA
A bit surreal, a bit Planet Earth. It’s hard enough to resist such childlike interplay in the animal world, but drop the fuzzies into a sun-streaked pool of the deepest blue and you have double the win.
- 1 Free year of SmugMug Pro ($150)
- $100 Print Credit to world class printer Bay Photo Lab
FOURTH RUNNER UP
“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Rachelle Elliott of Wymore, NE
Rub-a-dub-dub, two cuties in a tub. Parents, watch out: They’re already winning hearts!
- 1 Free year of SmugMug Pro ($150)
- $50 Print Credit to world class printer Bay Photo Lab
Thanks. We Mean It.
We we really blown away by the enthusiastic response to this contest and totally felt the love. Thanks again to everyone who entered their photos and shared their vision of “The Perfect Pair!”
Looking for a little exposure?
From now through September 30th, we’re looking for one great photo that captures the fun, free spirit of our doe-eyed partnership with Bay Photo Lab. The winning image will be used in print, digital and trade show media and get you more exposure than you can shake a stick at.
What’s in it for you? (apart from photo credit in major national and trade show advertising)
- 5 free years of SmugMug Pro. That’s half a decade of safe, secure and unlimited uploads and a one-stop shop for your photo business. More info.
- $500 in Bay Photo print credit so you can build your own Hall of Photo Fame.
- Total bragging rights at shows like WPPI. (“I made this!”)
Get your entries in by Friday, September 30th, 2011. Click here to enter now!
Vote, vote, vote
After you submit your best, tell the world which ones are your favorites by using the Twitter and Facebook icons under each image in the submissions gallery. Or have your friends post a comment with their love. Our judges at SmugMug and Bay Photo will choose the one that fits the theme best… and consider the ones that got the most attention from fans.
Voting ends on October 7th and we’ll announce the winners on October 12th.
Who’s Bay Photo?
Since our launch with pro lab Bay Photo almost three years ago, we’ve shouted from the rooftops how much we love this amazing photo lab from a little seaside town in California. They’ve fulfilled orders from thousands of our customers, printed tons of goodies for us and we’ve been roomies at trade shows everywhere.
They’re our Pro-only lab here at SmugMug. We chose them for a number of awesome reasons, including their consistent quality, rich color, attention to detail, durable packaging and their hand color-correction services for photographers who just want to shoot.
They also offer some of the most innovative print products on the market that keep your photos off the boring mat and frame.
Don’t you want to be connected with awesome folks like this? We do.