So you've captured an amazing image on film or digital sensor. Now what? How you have your image processed and printed can be just as important, or more important, than the image itself. Your print is your presentation of your work. Make sure its a good presentation by understanding your options.
Who will develop your negatives and/or pint your photographs is a huge decision. For many years, and to a large degree today, the biggest difference between amateur photographers and professional photographers was the labs. Oftentimes a professional's negatives and raw images looked little better than an amateur's. The photography lab that offered individualized processing and cropping made the images match the photographer's vision. Ansel Adams
preferred to process his own images so he retained complete control over the creation process. Photography processing should not be taken lightly.
Once you have taken an image and chosen a processing option, you must decide on what size and format to print your image. This process often takes new photographers by surprise when their enlargements do not look like the original image. 35mm film and most digital sensors shoot in a 3:2 ratio. This fits the 4x6 photograph with which we are all very familiar. However, this format ratio is not the same for 5x7 and 8x10 prints. If you have composed your image for a 4x6 format ratio and then print the image as a 8x10 print you will likely loose some of your subject. Understanding the relationships of these different print sizes is the first step in knowing how to compose your images for the most flexibility in printing.
Now that you know who will print/process your images and what sizes you want them to be printed, you need to decide what surface the images will be printed onto. The surface finish of your photographs can make a huge difference in the overall look of your images. Much like the different paint finishes, glossy and matte result in two distinct looks.