You just paid for a professional portrait session and now you want to have your photos printed, but where should you go? A lot of people have asked me that question. My answer over the years has changed. I really used to think that it didn't matter, but I have learned as I have progressed that it does.
Sure you can go to your local big box/drug store, insert your favorite here_______, but their machines have a feature called auto correct. What this means is that it looks at the photo as a whole and adjusts it to the way the machine "thinks" it should look. Usually this means a darkening of the overall photo, sometimes is also means a distortion of the colors. So how to avoid this? Don't go to the big box store to get your photos printed. Yeah, they might be cheaper, but the photo quality can also be poor.
Admittedly some of them, such as Costco, have machines that don't auto correct and you can request that it not be done, but most don't. If you have ever experienced loving your photos on the computer screen, but having them look considerably different when you print them this could be the reason. (It could also be a screen calibration issue, but your photographer should have their screen properly calibrated to avoid such an issue.) Your best bet is to take your photos somewhere that specializes in photo printing. One of my personal favorites is Persnickety Prints, but there are others as well such as Adorama, MPix, Millers, WHCC, Nations Photo Lab, Inkleys, Image Depot and more.
The second advantage to these locations is the number of finish options they typically offer. For larger prints, I am a big fan of metallic and pearl finishes. Now, I am not necessarily endorsing any one location, but what I am saying is that if you want a good quality print that is true to color and will last, you want to pick the right company.You wouldn't have your Dr. fix your car, why would you have the grocery or drug store print your photos? If you are worried about cost, I haven't found any of these place to be that much more expensive and even if it were it might be worth it to preserver your memories. If cheap above all is what you want, just know you will get what you pay for.