Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of printing service is Resolve Photo?

We’re a great service to use when the print really matters to you. We’re all about the highest quality prints that will make your work looks its best, and make you and your audience happy to see it. We take the necessary time to produce the best prints we can. Our best references are the hundreds of customers, from enthusiasts to professionals, artists to family people and world travellers, who trust us with their important and cherished prints.

How do I start working with Resolve Photo?

We work with all kinds of customers in many different ways. But the best way to start working with us is to come into the shop and have an in-person discussion about your work, and what we can do for you. If you have specific discussion points around your work to start, we encourage you to book a scheduled consult session with us so that we’re able to focus our attention and advisement on your specific goals. Subject to our available time, we’re generally happy to have brief, casual discussions in the shop if you’re trying to determine whether we’re the right printing service for you.

Can I call you to discuss things, if it’s not convenient to come to the shop?

Yes, we do talk with customers by phone all the time, many of whom live outside the Calgary area. Visiting the shop in person is by far the most effective way to ensure everything about your request is properly understood, but if you can’t make it into our location we’re happy to go through the details by phone.

We’re a small, customer-focused team. The person you’re talking to on the phone isn’t a call centre operator but is very likely the person who will produce your work. When you call we might be engaged with customers in the shop, or hands-on producing customer work. Please leave a specific message: name, phone number, any critical deadline you have, and what your project or request is about. We would like to print your work, so we will get back to you; but if we’re very busy it may take some time. Don’t avoid leaving a message — we’d really like to learn how we can help you with your project.

How quickly can you reply to emails or phone calls?

We are highly customer focused here, but we’re also a small team that does everything to maintain the quality of the work we produce. Our #1 priority is always the customers who physically come to the shop, while our #2 priority is producing the work that we’ve already committed to produce. We do value your desire to talk with us about your new work, enquiries about our services that may interest you, and so on. But unfortunately we’re not in a position to have people purely dedicated to manning the phones and the email inbox. Please clearly communicate your request in your phone message or email, and we will definitely get back to you as quickly as we can. If we haven’t gotten back to you yet, it’s almost always because of priorities #1 and #2 above. If you need to hear back from us more quickly for some reason, be sure to mention that in your message so we know to prioritize. Please consider this expectation management about how quickly we can respond. Thanks for your patience!

How much do I need to know about printing to work with you?

Realistically, there’s not much that you need to know about the printing workflow to work with us. That’s why working with us is helpful — we have mastered the art and craft of digital print, so you don’t have to. But your digital files do need to be more or less ready to print, and there are many cases where the original files submitted to us just aren’t ready to go to print. You can sometimes have us fix the issues as part of our retouching service. But in other cases we simply may point out issues with your files and advise holding off on the order until you can re-process to correct the issues. So the main thing that would help you the most is how to have a high quality digital file as the starting point.

You also should have fairly concrete ideas around the final presentation of the prints. For example if you’re framing them, you need to think about sizes of materials (which influence cost or sometimes availability of certain materials), how much blank paper border you may need, whether you’ll use a mat or not, whether to reveal any of the paper surface between the edge of the mat & edge of the print (for a signature), whether you want us to drymount the print so it stays flat in the frame package, etc. These considerations aren’t about the printing process, and you don’t necessarily have to know how all the work is done. But how your final presentation is designed can influence how we make the print, so if you have specific ideas we’ll need to know about them to do everything right.

What information do you need to print my order?

  • Your image files, as close to print-ready as you can make them. If you need us to do any retouching to finish them, talk to us about that.
  • We need to know what paper(s) you’d like us to use for your prints. If you don’t know which papers could be good to use, you can talk to us, read about our papers, or attend one of our workshops to learn about the different papers.
  • What size you want to print at. We’ll check the size vs. the amount of detail and resolution in your files, and talk to you if the print size isn’t quite a match.
  • Do you need a paper border left around the print area? Do you need us to trim the prints to an exact size, including a border, or right to the edge of the print area? Would you like us to dry mount the prints for framing?

What is the typical turnaround time?

This can vary by our workload, and by the size and complexity of your order. It will also vary depending on how your order is finished — for example bare prints are quicker to produce than framed prints or stretched canvases. We can let you know turnaround times when we quote your project.

If your files are print-ready, there’s nothing unusual about your order, and our order volume is typical, the delivery timing is 1 – 2 weeks. Any non-typical orders (or heavy order volume on our end) may mean things will take longer.

If you’re planning a larger project please contact us as soon as you can. Projects, especially for galleries or major exhibits, almost always take more time than anticipated.

Do you have a gallery show or did you just make a sale of your work? Awesome! We’re happy to work with our customers’ timelines as much as we can, but please just let us know about your important dates when you put in your order. Even before you order, if you know something is coming, talk to us about your possible timelines to make sure we’re ahead of the game. Then we have key information for setting priorities.

Can I get something produced as a rush order?

Resolve Photo’s service model is based on serving our customers in the order in which their work is committed. We don’t normally do “while you wait” printing, or routine short turn-around times. We always have a queue of orders in production. New orders normally are added to the end of the queue and get printed in sequence, and that timing is measured in days, not hours.

That said, it is generally possible to place a rush order. For us, a rush order is anything that you need by a specific date that’s less than 1 week from the time the order is confirmed with us. For framed prints or stretched canvases, a rush order is something you need sooner than 2 weeks, due to the extra production work involved.

For all rush orders, your image files need to be ready to print as-is.

We do reserve the right to apply a 25% (minimum $50) surcharge for rush service. We have other customer commitments that we’ve already made, and we don’t want to simply push all of them back. To prioritize additional work on a fast turn-around time means we have to work extra hard to deliver all of the commitments.

Note that during periods of extra heavy order volume, or for complex orders or image files that are not ready to print as-is, we simply may not take rush orders.

What can I do you help you print my order more quickly?

If you’re ordering services online or in the shop, there are things you can do to speed up the production of your prints. Make sure your post-processing is clean, and suitable for printing on the media you’ve chosen. Check your images for sensor dust spots, lens chromatic aberration, and other typical flaws and correct them all before you upload the images to us. Don’t over-sharpen your images or use filters & plugins that produce posterization, patterns, etc. which all harm print quality. Crop your image to the correct aspect ratio you’re asking for in the print size (e.g. an image that’s sized for 8×12 out of the camera will have to be cropped if you want it printed 8×10).

Do you offer volume discounts?

We will quote you an attractive price for large projects. Let us know about your project, and we will work with you.

On a specific type of paper (Ilford Smooth Pearl), we do offer a bulk pricing model based on the linear feet of printed material. You need to order a minimum of 25 same-sized prints to qualify. Also you must either print full bleed photos on our 17″, 24″ or 24″ rolls, or do all final trimming yourself. Ilford Pearl is a good looking, robust photo paper, and if we can automate your bulk print order then we pass the savings on to you.

Do you have discounts for students?

Absolutely, please see our Sponsorship page for more information.

Can you ship prints to me and/or my customers?

Certainly, we will make shipping arrangements based on your needs. We send work out of town, nationally or internationally. Ask us for details and we’ll advise on the options available. It should be noted that we’re not primarily an “online” printing service, so our packaging and shipping options may not be fully in-line with your needs.

Note that the packaging materials we use will protect the pieces we ship based on our experience. However they may be based on recycled materials from other packaging, off-cuts from larger pieces, etc. If you’re shipping work to your own customers you may need to provide your own packaging to ensure it meets your particular needs.

We reserve the right to apply a small packaging fee when we’re requested to provide more robust shipping packages than we would normally prepare for delivering work.

Can I put work you deliver straight into long-term archival storage?

Unless you’ve told us in advance that you’ll be putting the work straight into archival storage, generally we do not package in archive-safe materials in order to keep our prices as low as possible. Our commonly used materials are good for protecting pieces during transportation and handling, and pose no issues if the pieces sit for a few weeks. If you let us know of any particular archival needs we can potentially address them, but our stock-on-hand selection of long-term archive safe materials is more limited. Talk to us for more details if this is a concern for you.

What sizes do you print?

We can print most any size. Need 13×16? No problem. 21×56? No problem.  With some media we’re able to print 60×120″; with almost all other media we’re able to print up to 44×120″. We specialize in prints 8×10″ and larger. Our entire printing workflow and service approach is geared to high quality, larger sized prints. For us, 8×10″ is the smallest size we print.

What kind of paper can you print on?

Based on our experience and love of paper and print materials, we have put together a great list of glossy and matte papers that we have in regular stock. These include awesome papers from leading manufacturers like Hahnemuhle, Moab, Ilford, Awagami, Canson, and Inkpress. These papers all have unique qualities and strengths that can contribute to superb prints of your work, and we’re happy to talk with you about different papers we love that you may love too.

If you’re interested in seeing different papers, we have some pre-printed samples in the shop. Come by for a look. We also have a few selected sample paper packs and swatchbooks if you’d like to purchase a small sampler to review yourself at your leisure.

If you’re unsure whether one paper or another would be ideal for your prints, especially if you’re making large prints or a significant portfolio of work, we offer low cost test strip prints on more or less the full range of papers we carry in inventory. For a nominal fee, we’ll print a small cross-section of your image(s) on one or more papers, allowing you to see first-hand what your own work looks like on the media. This avoids making a large expense for full size prints if the paper proves not to be the best fit.

Can I bring in my own paper for you to print on?

Within certain limits, yes we will print on your own personal supply of paper. Generally it needs to be a type or specific size of paper that we don’t normally carry in stock. (If we carry it in stock, then that’s what we print on, of course. We don’t need our customers to bring in their own supply of the things that are part of our normal business.)

Be advised that we don’t discount our prices for printing on your supply of paper. Our prices reflect our confidence and guarantee of the quality of work that we deliver. If we’re printing on a different type of media for you, we have a bunch of setup work, test prints, and potential wastage that we still need to cover, all of which is built into the pricing for our normal inventory of papers. Printing on your paper actually takes more effort for us, not less, and we don’t apply a discount for doing more work. In fact, for highly specialized media that deviates substantially from any of our regular media, we reserve the right to apply a 25% custom print media surcharge.

Do you have a super low-cost printing option?

In a word, no. We are not in the ultra-cheap printing business. We’ve chosen all of the media we use because their characteristics support the type of high quality, large format and fine art printing work we do. If there was a very low cost paper we could trust enough to use, we already would have it in stock. But it wouldn’t reduce our prices that much because the cost of the physical paper itself is a small component of our pricing. Our pricing mostly comes from everything else in our process.

Do you take/print passport photos? And do you print photo books, calendars, magnets, or other promo material?

Our focus is high quality, fine art prints so we don’t do passport photos or other legal document photos. And for most of your other print needs, you’ll need to find a commercial printing service.

Do you print on metal?

No, we do not. However if you’re not fully committed to metal prints, ask us about high gloss media (including metallic papers) that can be mounted in various ways to achieve a very high impact, punchy appearance similar to metal prints.

Do you print on canvas?

Definitely! We print all our canvases on award-winning Breathing Color Lyve canvas which offers great detail, colour and contrast. Read all about our canvas options.

Do you process/develop/scan film?

We are first and foremost a digital print studio so we do not deal with processing, developing, or scanning film. However, we can scan prints up to 12.25″ x 17.25″.

Do you scan photos or artwork?

Yes, we do scans of reflective art (prints, drawings, and non-textured paintings such as watercolour). We can scan photos up to 12.25 x 17″ in a single pass and larger prints in multiple passes which we then stitch together. The scanning fee provides you with a high resolution digital file with basic colour correction. We can do additional work on the scanned images as part of our retouching service.

Can I send raw digital photos to you and have you fully process them prior to making the final print?

Generally, no. We are not a photo development service, but a printing service. We do some fairly basic image adjustments to optimize files for print, and we do have a retouching service where we will do more extensive work for you. But in general the work that we do is most not on the creative side, it’s on the restoration and reproduction side. As a general rule, your creative work needs to be pretty much complete before you send files to us.

Can you reproduce an original drawing, painting, or photograph that I own?

Sure we can! For small, flat pieces (12.25 x 17.25″ or less) we can scan them on a flatbed scanner, creating a high resolution digital file. For larger or non-flat pieces (e.g. oil or acrylic paintings), we reproduce them by photographing the original on a black backboard using high quality digital photographic studio equipment, polarized strobe lights and colour temperature corrections. Again, the result is a high resolution digital file. Read more about our reproduction service.

If you want a printed reproduction of the original, we’re happy to quote on printing it for you. Either way, you get the high resolution digital file for the initial scanning or reproduction charge.

Note: If you created the original work in question, we’re happy to reproduce it for you. However if the work was created by someone else — a painter, photographer or other creator — then we must follow Canadian copyright law. This means that we need to see that you have the original creator’s permission for you to reproduce the work. If you don’t have or can’t get this permission, then unfortunately we must decline to scan, print or otherwise reproduce any copyrighted works.

How big can I print my file?

This is one of the most common questions we get, and the answer is always, “it depends.” Looking at a print on paper or canvas is not the same as looking at digital pixels on a screen for many reasons, and size is one factor that doesn’t always translate the way you might think. We regularly encounter situations where an image can be printed larger than a customer expects, but many others where the biggest useful size is much smaller than expected.

Many factors influence how far a digital file can be enlarged before it could be considered not to work at that size. Key factors include: your personal taste for image detail and sharpness, the taste of the audience (if the print isn’t staying with you), the pixel resolution of the digital file, the amount of detailed subject material in the photo, the paper / canvas / other media printed on, how the digital processing and sharpening is done, how close the viewers will be when looking at the finished piece, the lighting on the piece in its display location, etc. All of these things combine to create a flexible range of sizes that work better or not so much. We can guide you through it, but rarely is there a simplistic “right answer” dictating that a file can be printed at one size but not another.

We can help you answer this question better if we know how big you’re thinking of printing the image. If you’re thinking of printing something approx. 20×30″ vs approx. 40×60″ print, it’s great to know and will help us get you better information.

What file types are best?

We can work with many file types including JPEG, PDF, TIFF, and PSD.

If a JPEG file is all you have to start with, there is no point converting it into something else before sending it to us, because the quality has already been limited by the JPEG file format at the beginning.

However, if you have a choice of file formats because you are photographing in a raw camera format, working with scanned film, or using some other high-quality imaging process, then TIFF or PSD formats are preferred, 8- or 16-bit depth.

What's the best way to export files from Adobe Lightroom to send to you?

In the Lightroom file export window, you should select the following options: TIFF or PSD file format, Adobe RGB 1998 colour space, native file size (do NOT upsize or downsize the resolution), 8-bit or 16-bit, no extra sharpening.

What's the best way to prepare my files in Adobe Photoshop to send to you?

When working in Photoshop, most likely you’re using TIFF or PSD as the file format. Go ahead and send those to us. If you have a bunch of layers in your file, leave them in place, don’t flatten the file. That way if we need to tweak or adjust anything to optimize your image for printing, the edits have not all been “cooked” into the base file.

Can you work with other software and unusual proprietary file formats?

As a general rule, no. We use Adobe products, specifically Photoshop and Bridge, and standard file types such as TIFF, PSD and JPEG. These are the standards in the photography and print industries, and they are the primary software tools and file types we support. Niche, proprietary, or industry-specific tools and file types generally will not be something we deal with. Even general tools such as Corel that unfortunately don’t have significant market share are not tools that we support.

What's the difference between 8-bit and 16-bit files?

16-bit files potentially contain more tone and colour information, especially if you use a high-quality imaging approach such as shooting a raw camera format or doing high resolution film scans. If your files are absolutely print-ready, and we are guaranteed not to have to do anything to them, then 8-bit files are fine in most cases. But if we need to process the file, or if we’re doing a specialized print workflow such as K7 carbon B&W printing, then 16-bit is a better choice.

What colour spaces do you work with?

We run a fully colour managed photographic printing workflow, so we support virtually any colour spaces you may need to use. This includes sRGB, Adobe RGB (1998), ProPhoto RGB, Gray Gamma 2.2 (for B&W), and more.

If you don’t have a strong reason to choose something else, Adobe RGB 1998 is a good all-around colour space for general use.

Our printers have CMYK-based inks, but our entire photographic printing workflow is based on RGB colour. Unless you’re working with pre-press (books, magazines) and doing your own colour retouching for a CMYK printing processes, there’s generally no reason for you to use any CMYK colour spaces. If you give us files in a CMYK colour space, we will first convert them to an RGB colour space, most likely Adobe RGB 1998. There may be a need for some adjustments to the files to get the full benefit of our printing workflow

Do you have a monitor recommendation?

We think the NEC PA SpectraView monitors are a fantastic series, the best bang-for-buck options for colour critical work. If you’re a photographer, you’ve probably spent a lot of money on cameras, lenses, computers, hard drives, software, travel, etc. Whatever brand you pick, do yourself a big favour and use a monitor that’s designed and built for accurate colour work.

What about monitor calibration?

You should be calibrating your monitor if you care about accurately looking at colour, and hope that what we print for you will match what you see on your screen. If you don’t calibrate, you’re playing a version of Russian roulette with digital colour.

Not all monitors are equally well suited to photographic processing or other colour critical work; if a monitor is poor, calibrating it won’t necessarily help.

Common calibration values are luminance of 90 – 120 cd/m2, 2.2 gamma, and D65 / 6500K white point. The ambient lighting in your environment may call for a different luminance value. If your calibration software doesn’t allow you to set these values, it’s likely not a suitable tool to use.

If your calibration software has a function to automatically adjust the calibration based on the level of light in the room, disable that feature. It’s far better to control the ambient light to keep it consistent, rather than have inconsistent ambient light trigger changes in monitor calibration.

The monitor calibration tool we currently use is the X-Rite i1 Display Pro.

Do you provide printer profiles?

Absolutely. Our profiles are specific to our own photographic printing system, so you can’t use them to print on your own personal printer if you have one. However you can use our profiles to soft proof your images in Photoshop or other advanced photo editing software.

You can also ask us about a “digital colour house call.” As part of our value-add services, we can bring a portable calibration system to your Calgary-area location. We can calibrate your monitor, create custom printer profiles on your printer and paper, recommend tools that you may need to acquire, and advise you on configuring your system and software for proper colour management. This will improve the accuracy and consistency of your own work, as well as integrate more closely on any print orders you may place with us.