Buy a printer made for printing photos rather than an everyday printer!
Everyday printer woes
Use an everyday printer for printing photos you don’t want to keep! Maybe wanted posters. Maybe pictures of the boy you wish your daughter would break up with. Maybe pictures of the cat you wished hadn’t been adopted into the house! Maybe lost dog flyers. Maybe pictures from a co-worker's farewell-good-riddance party.
Don’t use an everyday printer for photos—you won’t be very happy.
Everyday printers are useful office tools; they print documents, letters, checks; they scan invoices, receipts, photos and articles; they copy letters and reports; they fax documents in; they fax documents out. They print in black and white or color. In a pinch, they will print photographs. They just won't print photos that will keep.
What you won't like
Part of what you won’t like will be due to the printer itself. Part of what you don’t like will be due to the paper—even photo paper. Part of what you don’t like will be due to the inks used and those not used.
My everyday printer, a nice HP all-in-one, has been used to print photos, photo magnets, tattoos and transfers. It worked, but the colors faded quickly. There isn’t the gloss and depth of a properly printed photo. The size is limited to letter or legal size.
You just won’t like the photos and you’ll feel that a quart of ink (chi-ching!) has gone down the drain.
Honestly, you’d be better off sending your files to an online printer (there are tons to choose from) or running to Costco, Walmart, Kinko’s, Walgreen’s, CVS, etc to have your photos printed. There’s a reason these companies can tell you what kind of printer they use, which type of ink and what kind of paper. They will take control of the fine-tuning of the color of your photos, which you may or may not find fine.
Do you want control?
But if you seriously want good photographs where you can control the colors, sharpness and quality, you need your own photographic printer and decent paper. You need to calibrate you computer monitor or prepare to go through a lot of paper and ink and frustration to get the output to match the screen.
I bought an Epson photo printer last year. Canon and HP make fine ones as well; you can’t go wrong with any of them, or other reputable brands.
A photo printer uses different inks and more colors of ink than a typical everyday printer. You don't just have a color ink cartridge and a black ink cartridge. For instance, my printer uses magenta, yellow, blue, cyan, photo black, matte black, red and gloss inks.
What a difference it makes! I tried out many different photo papers and learned that I had to figure out how to tell the printer if I was using a gloss or matt paper and which brand it was. It was a steep learning curve, but once I got it, I could hit print and have fabulous, glossy (mine is a gloss printing model with a special gloss ink) images in no time. When I printed my first 13” x 19” photos, I was so excited, I wanted to show it everyone.
More about printing
Best printing results at home
If you’re willing to invest the money, the time, and the effort, get a photo printer! I don’t have experience with the smaller, take-them-with-you photo printers, but I bet they’re simple and easy to use and you’d be quite happy with the results, although limited in size.With the right combination of professional photo paper, photo inks and a photo printer, my photos should now last 75 to 100 years if properly cared for. They come out so gorgeous, I just want to print more!(If you want to buy some of my photos (check my profile), you could help my photo addiction. . .)