15 Critical “Need to Know” Steps Before Printing Your Boudoir Images

Color profiles in a book

Getting your boudoir images printed for your clients whether for an album, wall art, or folio box is the second half of the boudoir experience equation (the first half being the photo session itself). You can’t just run down to Walmart, hand the clerk a USB drive, and return later with a set of images. Well, technically you could but first they’d probably have an issue with the subject matter and level of nudity and second, the quality would most likely not be up to your standards. 

In this article we’re going to go through the entire process that a budding (or seasoned) boudoir photographer has to go through in order to get great looking printed images for their clients. It’s an area that not a lot is written about so we’re going to try and de-mystify this somewhat mysterious process. Think of it like a really important episode of Scooby Doo, “The Mystery of the Professionally Printed Image!”

This process holds true for albums, folio boxes, and prints (both paper and metal).

So, what are the 15 critical “need to know” steps before printing your boudoir images? 

They are:

  1. Choose a professional printer
  2. Find out what color profile they use
  3. Ask if you have to convert your images to their color profile (or if they do it for you at their end) 
  4. Convert your images to the correct color profile
  5. Find out what your dpi should be
  6. Choose the right kind of paper for your image
  7. Ask how often they calibrate their printers
  8. Order some test images first (usually for free)
  9. Analyze the results
  10. Assess their pricing
  11. Ask about printing mistakes and their “do-over” policy
  12. Assess their customer service and communication with you throughout the whole process
  13. Assess their shipping methods
  14. Check out another printer or two (or three) and rinse and repeat steps 1-13
  15. Make your final choice based on image quality, ease of ordering, customer service, and price

Sounds fun, right?! 

Yeah, it’s a lot of work but a critical step in leaving your client happy and wanting to refer you to others. This is it! This is what it all boils down to… how the images look. You want to educate yourself on this process but just like anything else, it gets easier the more times you do it. 

So, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of all these steps to make it easier for you to get a handle on this. If you want to get a Scooby snack, I’ll wait. 

Okay, all refreshed now?


1. Choose A Professional Printer

There are many many professional printers to choose from that serve only professional photographers. The clients for these companies are all the professional photographers all over the world who do weddings, seniors, boudoir, family, infant, pets, landscape and any other genres that are out there. 

Now, we’re not talking about your Vista Print type printer here that mainly focuses on printed materials for marketing, these printers’ main focus is printing images for albums, wall art, folio boxes, and such — keepsake items to be enjoyed and treasured for many years. 

In addition to ones you find online, you’ll also want to seek out any local fine art print shops in your area as well. These will be more boutique style businesses with the advantage of being close enough to visit in person. You can actually go in and touch and feel samples of paper and check out their entire operation.

Ask For A Referral

Facebook Group

Where do you start if you’re just starting out? The best way to get some feedback is to join a Facebook group within your genre and post a request for a good print lab. You’ll definitely get some responses and you can begin your search there. 

Search Online


Another way is to search for “professional boudoir photography album suppliers” or “professional boudoir photography printers” in Google and scroll through the results.

This will probably narrow down the list a lot and you’ll be contacting printers who cater to and understand the needs of the professional boudoir photographer.

2. Find Out What Color Profile They Use

“Uh… hold on there a minute. What the heck is a color profile in the first place?”

In simple terms a color profile is basically a range of colors for a particular medium. Your eyes see the biggest range of colors but devices such as a computer screen, tablet, or smartphone see a smaller range of colors.  

So, a digital image viewed on a computer screen may use a different color profile than an image printed with ink and paper from a printer. I say “may” because it depends on the process and the type of printer the lab uses.

Different types of printing use different color profiles as well.

If your digital image has a color profile that’s different from the printer’s color profile, your colors will likely be off.

For a more detailed explanation of color profile I recommend you view this video from PHLEARN on YouTube but also watch this one too because there’s information given by the print expert that contradicts what Aaron advises in the first video with regard to setting your workspace in Photoshop to Pro RGB verses Adobe RGB (1998).

3. Ask If You Have To Convert Your Image To Their Color Profile (or if they do it for you at their end)

Once you know what color profile they use, ask them if you have to convert your images before sending them in. In a lot of case, especially with the bigger well-known printing houses, they’ll request you send them in “sRGB”, but call first and find out for sure because smaller boutique printers may require something different.

4. Convert Your Images to the Correct Color Profile

Most people will be doing this in Photoshop or Lightroom so I’ll explain both.

In Photoshop 

Open up an image, then under “Edit” scroll down to “Convert to Color Profile…” In that first drop down menu next to “Profile:” just choose the correct color profile and save. Yes, it’s that easy. No protractors or sun dials needed.

In Lightroom

Select your image, then make sure you’re in the “Library” workspace (check tabs up top), click “Export”, under the “File Settings” frame next to “Color Space” click the drop down menu and select your color profile, then click “Export”.  Bam. Done.

5. Find Out What Your DPI Should Be

DPI stands for dots per inch and has to do with resolution and how much fine detail one can see in an image. Using the proper dpi correlates with the viewing distance. 

Viewing distance is the average distance one would normally be viewing an image. An image on a billboard will have a different dpi than an image you’d view at four feet in a gallery. Your more boutique fine art labs will understand this while your larger mass-producing type labs may not. 

You may also want to use one lab for albums and another for fine art wall prints… just sayin’. 

6. Choose the Right Kind of Paper For Your Image

In that second video I recommended you watch, the printing expert talks about how the type of image shot will lend itself to certain types of paper over others. It’s an excellent segment and shows that one type of paper isn’t the answer to everything you want to print. 

There’s matte verses glossy, sure, but there are also subtle variations in between, along with different textures as well. Paper is such an important part of the printing process that can enhance your images even more to showcase them in their best possible light.

A good printer will also recommend which paper will do your work justice over others, so head their advice.

7. Ask How Often They Calibrate Their Printers

If they’re a professional lab they most likely take care of this on a regular basis but it’s still a question you might want to ask just to hear what they have to say about this. If you’re still getting your images printed at your local drug store chances are their printer does not get calibrated on a regular basis… if at all.  

8. Order Some Test Images First

Many print shops and labs will offer test images (for free). This is a great opportunity to see exactly how your images will look, although they’re usually 4×6 or 8×10 in size but still, that’s plenty big enough to get a good sense of their quality. Take advantage of this when you can. 

With some of the bigger mass-producing labs that do albums and such, there won’t be that more personalized attention you’ll get from a smaller boutique type business. So, keep that in mind. You may be talking with a different rep each time you call. 

9. Analyze the Results

How’d they do? Are the blacks not too black and the whites not too blown out? (Although that also depends on your file.) Do you like the gloss or matte finish? How does it look with a light shining on it? How does your image look with that particular paper texture? Is the paper sturdy enough? Are there any defects in the printing? How do you feel about the image as a whole now that it’s been made into a physical thing? Pretty trippy isn’t it? We’re so used to seeing our images on a computer screen but getting them printed with high quality paper at a great lab is a whole other experience. What’s your general vibe about it all. (I’m big on “feeling” things out.)

10. Assess Their Pricing

How’s their pricing? Is it fair? Too much? Is it a great deal for the quality you’re getting? How much profit from your retail price are you willing to spend to get the quality print that meets your standards? This last point has more to do with you than the client. This is a pride and quality control issue because more than likely your client is not going to know much about print quality.

11. Ask About Printing Errors and Their “Do-Over” Policy

What happens if you find a printing error on one of your images — something they may have missed? What’s their policy? Will they supply you with a corrected replacement for free? (I would hope so!) How do they react when you mention this type of issue?

12. Assess Their Customer Service and Communication With You Throughout The Whole Process

How have you been treated throughout this whole process? Are they cool? Are they snobs? Are they hard to get a hold of? Are they going out of their way to make sure you’re satisfied? Do they know what they’re talking about? Do you feel confident they know what they’re doing? Have they suggested certain kinds of paper depending on your image? Have they made other helpful recommendations? Do you like their vibe? (there’s that word again) How does the overall experience feel dealing with them? 

I was on the phone with one particular printer and this person kept interrupting me and talking over me when I was trying to ask some simple questions. I kept missing half of what he was saying because he didn’t understand the simple skill of “talking and listening”. When one person is talking you’re supposed to be listening and vice versa.  

He sounded a bit rushed and if he didn’t have time for me, he should have suggested calling me back when he did have the time. Not an experience that left me feeling I wanted to do business with this person because I had such a difficult time just trying to get a few basic questions answered. 

13. Assess Their Shipping Methods

How did your prints arrive in the mail? Were they damaged or creased? Were they packaged sufficiently? Did they arrive in a timely manner? Was extra care taken to ensure a one-time damage-free delivery? If not, then that’s just more time and energy you have to spend to call them up, send everything back, wait (while your client waits as well), and do the whole thing over again. 

If one printer is more expensive than another, but they listen, offer helpful suggestions with your printing, and deliver your images undamaged in a timely manner, the extra cost may be well worth it. 

14. Check Out Another Printer or Two

The best way to know how one print lab performs is to compare them to another. Check out a few more. Get more free image samples processed. Is one easier to deal with than another? Is one way more helpful than another? Is one way overpriced than all the others? After doing this three or four times you’ll have a good sense of what’s important to you.

15. Make Your Final Choice Based On Image Quality, Ease of Ordering, Customer Service, and Price

So, what’s the verdict? How did everyone do? It’s now time to pick a winner. Winner-winner-chicken-dinner! Whew! I’m tired. That was a lot a work, but if you’re one of those photographers (like me) who’s into the printed image then this will all be worth it. 

In the end you’re gonna’ find one or two or three printers that you’re going to want to work with for a very long time, and you’ll form a relationship with them. 

They’ll become part of your team and eventually they’ll know what you want almost automatically (more with the smaller boutique ones, than with the big mass-producing ones). 

Related Questions

How Do I Find Out What An Image’s Color Profile Is?

In Photoshop

Open up an image, under “Edit” scroll down to “Convert to Profile…”, in the “Source Space” box next to “Profile:” is where the image’s color profile is displayed.

How Do I Set Photoshop’s Color Profile?

— Open up a RAW image in Photoshop

— At the very bottom of the screen you’ll see some small print underlined listing color space, bit depth, image size, and ppi (pixels per inch) — click on it

— the Workflow Options dialogue box will appear

— under “Color Space” you’ll see “Space:”

— click on the drop down menu and select your color profile

 In Summary

If you offer wall art or folio boxes then educating yourself on the printing process is critical to your business, after all, it’s the final product your clients are buying and keeping for a very long time to enjoy and treasure. 

You want others who see these works of art and go, “Oh my god, these are amazing! I need to do that! Who did these?” 

If your printed images don’t make that impression then you’re only hurting yourself.  

Thanks for your time!

Charles Mitri

Founder / Lounge Boudoir

If you found this article helpful, forward it to someone else who may also find it useful.

Related Articles

What Are Four Products Every Boudoir Photographer Should Offer?

Charles Mitri

Charles Mitri is an award-winning boudoir photographer and also founder and writer of LoungeBoudoir.com, an educational blog and resource website for boudoir photographers worldwide. He lives in Yorktown, Virginia.

Recent Posts