What Is An Archival Print?

What is an archival print? The term has been thrown around a lot lately in the photography industry, almost enough to think that any print is archival quality.

“Archival-Prints” are Museum-quality Fine-Art reproductions. Sometimes called “Giclee Prints”, these artworks are made with an ultra-high-resolution fine-art printer, using the very finest archival inks and papers. Independent testing by Wilhelm Imaging Research Inc. (a world-leader in image-longevity testing) has established that these “Archival-Prints” will last more than 200 years before any noticeable shift in color integrity occurs. They are truly “Museum-quality Fine-Art reproductions”. (to read more about this visit http://www.jonathonart.com/digital.html)

A fine art print is a term used to describe an extremely high quality print. Fine art prints are often printed from digital files using archival quality inks and onto acid free fine art paper.

It’s important to know that many consumer labs do not offer archival or fine art prints because their printers do not have that capability. Their printers also don’t have the full color spectrum needed to match your digital image. This is why the coloring can vary greatly between the image you see and one that you get from chain stores. It may be greenish skin tones, or more yellow than normal, and overall quality is lost. Not to mention that the print won’t even last that long. When you’re bringing out those 50 year old photos to give to your grand daughter (notice I didn’t say 50 year old USB’s or discs), you’ll want to them to be in perfect shape.

Photography is an investment, just like buying a home, and is guaranteed to appreciate over time. Nothing can replace a moment long passed except for an image frozen in that time. Don’t shop around for the cheapest photographer with the cheapest digital prices. I desire for you to have physical prints to hang on your walls, to withstand the dry climate and the heavy humidity when you retire to the islands in 35 years. And when your great granddaughter wants those photos to have in her home I certainly hope the colors and clarity are still intact.

Digital images are important too, but they should be treated like the negatives from a film camera. They’re there in case you need to recreate a print due to damage or loss and for archival purposes. They should not be the only item you end up with since we know that technology changes, and your great granddaughter probably won’t even have a USB port or disc drive anyway. It’s easy to get caught up in this digital era with the intentions of keeping all your images on a hard drive and printing numerous albums. But have you done that yet, or are they all still sitting on the disc or in the online gallery? And did you make sure the printer was using the archival method to ensure its longevity?

Just something to think about. If you’re still reading this post I assume it’s because you value photography and desire to have these memories for more than one life time. So, as with any investment, make plans to save and then initiate the process. As one photographer said, “You’re going to be concerned with the price only one time – when you make the decision to hire a photographer, BUT, you’re going to be concerned with the quality of the photograph for the rest of your life.” – Richie Swartz

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These blog posts may include recent sessions and galleries, personal thoughts about photography, or even simple updates about my life. 

Brittany Wassmer is a maternity and newborn photographer in Arvada, Colorado, specializing in newborn portraiture.