I spend a lot of time in the Etsy forums. What am I doing there? Am I storing up info for when I finally open my own shop, or am I romancing the dog? I'd like to say it's the former, but those political posts in Etc. get me every time. And I can't claim that it's going to help my business at all if I watched this today. But...I have got a lot of good information off the forums, and I thought I'd share some of what I've done to get ready.
I got an email today from Overstock.com that my photo mailer envelopes have shipped. Really? Wow, that's great, only 8 days after I ordered them. And the EBay business (Express Shipping Supply) I contacted about combining shipping on 2 different sizes of envelopes has never replied, even though they stated on their site to email and ask about combined shipping. I'm not really complaining, because I'm not 100% sure my photos are ready for sale - I can tweak some more... But I'm never going to open if I wait to be 100% sure of myself.
I have an Epson V200 scanner so I can scan my own negatives and art prints up to 8.5 x 11, and after reading many forum posts, product reviews, and banging my head against the wall, tearing my hair out, finally decided to get the Epson R1900 printer. It will print up to 13 x 19 inches, has great reviews, and was just outside what I thought I could afford, but I did want to be able to print larger than 8 x 10, so....I bit the bullet and so far I am completely happy with it. (just don't ask about the 3 hours I spent trying to install it on my old laptop. When I gave up and tried installing it on the new laptop - 1o minutes. I swore a little.)
I prefer this to finding a photo lab. I worked in a lab, and it's not that they can't do great work, it's that getting the same color and density every time is nearly impossible (don't get me started on the reasons why, I have Vietnam syndrome about this) and I remember the hell we used to go through with professional photographers wanting us to just "do what you did last time". Like we were TRYING to do it wrong, just for shits and giggles. The amount of stress and wasted paper was insane. There were people who flat out refused to even touch orders if they came from certain customers, just because they knew they'd get shit from them. We may even have unkindly referred to one woman as 'that bitch'. And I don't want to be 'that bitch' for someone. So part of it is control - I can be as fussy as I want about color matching without driving anyone else to use profanity. And honestly, I don't think I'd complain about photos from a lab knowing how hard it is to get it perfect for someone else, so I'd end up with pics I wasn't happy with just because I didn't want to say anything.
Most of the photos I took with my Canon Elan II E, it's a film camera not digital and it takes fucking beautiful pictures. It has a 28 - 105mm lens, which gives me a decent amount of zoom, not quite macro, but for that I can always borrow Gord's Fuji Finepix S9000 with the 28 - 200mm lens. His also takes great pictures, but I love my camera and will probably use it forever. The only benefit of digital that I can see is that you don't have to have negatives developed, and I do use Gord's camera when I just want a quick photo of something to post on the blog.
The scanner does a great job, and I can set the resolution very high and get great quality scans. This is much easier than getting a lab to do it for me, because I remember we used to charge $1 a scan for a basic scan to get a 500KB file, which is too small for me. I've saved money having the scanner just from the negatives I've scanned so far.
Paper may be the death of me. I'm still tweaking photos and paper, but I'll let you know what I end up going with. I'm intriqued by this Velvet Fine Art paper, but good god, is that expensive. It may be something I wait to introduce after I start making some money (knock on wood).