First, Download & Back-up Your Photos
Receiving your full digital gallery of images is so fun! After you've given yourself a chance to look at all of your beautiful images, I HIGHLY recommend downloading your entire gallery and backing it up somehow. An external hard drive is my go-to. A flash drive would work as well but they can be easily misplaced or broken.
Why? Some photographers will put expiration dates on their digital galleries. The most typical timeline is they'll keep your digital gallery link live for 1 year, and then it will expire. Their policy/timeline will often be mentioned in your contract, but if you are unsure, just shoot your photographer an email and I'm sure they'll be happy to provide you with an answer.
There are a couple of photographers who will also put a clause in their contracts saying they are not responsible for the preservation of your digital images once the gallery is delivered. This is usually stated just in case files get corrupted or their backup devices break/are lost.
All of these clauses are mostly precautionary. I don't put expiration dates on any of my galleries (for now, maybe one day I'll see the need to, but I can't think of one at the moment), and I keep all of the RAW & edited images on an external hard-drive and never delete anything. If I fill up my hard drive, I'll just buy another one instead of deleting the client's old galleries.
BUT, the more copies & more back-ups you have, the better. Technology can be great, but can also be a little annoying, so better to be safe than sorry.
Looking for good external hard drives? Here are a few I recommend! (click to open the links for each)
-La Cie Drop, shock, dust, rain-resistant hard drive
-SanDisk 1 Terabyte hard drive
-Segate 2 Terabyte hard drive (this is the one I currently use to back up all my photos)
There's nothing like getting your photos printed, truly. The images just come to life once you can see them in a physical form. It doesn't matter if you just order 4x6 prints or you decide to blow up your favorite photo on a 20x30 canvas to hang on a wall; the prints will be stunning.
There are NUMEROUS places to get your photos printed, but I (and most other photographers) will recommend getting them printed from your photographer. Some may recommend printing places to go to, and some (like me) will say ordering through your online gallery is best.
I use a program called Pixieset to share photos with my clients. It creates an online gallery where clients can download their images AND also order prints directly through their gallery. The orders get sent to a print lab and then the photos are shipped directly to the client.
And can I just say, the quality is amazing! I recently ordered some big wall prints for a wedding expo I'm going to and was so impressed with the print, the quality, the packaging...the whole thing! My storefront in particular can do normal photo prints (like 4x6s and 8x10s and tons of other dimensions), canvases, metal prints, cards, stand-out prints, and framed prints...so many options that look amazing and professional.
Yes, you could get them printed from Walgreens or Costco, but I'm warning you now, the quality won't be great. If you're looking for an inexpensive but quality print site, I HIGHLY recommend Shutterfly. They're almost always running deals on photo prints (and if not, use the Honey extension for Chrome & you should find some great coupon codes to use.) The last thing you want is to get sub-par quality prints of the professional photos you paid money for.
Create a Photo Album
Most people create photo albums out of their wedding photos, but I definitely know a lot of people who have made albums out of their senior photos, family photos, or even just a collection of photos they've taken throughout each year.
I'd start by asking your photographer first if they offer photo albums in their packages or add-ons. Some photographers will just recommend you to a couple of sites to make your own, other photographers will just organize & make the album for you and ship it to you. It all depends on how "hands-on" you want to be in the process.
Premium Photo Album Companies
-Milk Books (this is the one I use/recommend)
-Printique (also offers wall decor options)
Other Photo Album Book Sites
Other fun options/websites
-Mixtiles: Upload your photos and get your framed photos that you can just stick to your wall! No command strips are required because the frames come pre-sticky! They say you can remove them from walls without peeling paint or leaving a sticky residue behind. I haven't tried & tested it myself, but I see ads all the time and they look super neat!
-Mixbook: Not sure if they're a sister company to Mixtiles or not, but they offer photo books and other products as well.
-Artifact Uprising: They have albums, framed photos, & calendars, and a few other things.
-Etsy: Of course, Etsy can be way too much fun when it comes to personalizing/printing anything.
-Digital Photo Frame: This is always a fun option if you aren't a big fan of printing your images but still want to display them. There are tons of options on the internet all with Wifi capability. For some models, you email the photos to the frame, and for others, you upload photos using an app.
I hope his little article gave you some tips & ideas on what to do with your photos after receiving your gallery. I will ALWAYS recommend people get their photos printed in at least some form. The colors just pop and they seem to come to life way more than just viewing them on a screen. **If you are ordering any prints for holiday gifts, it's best to get everything ordered by the 1st of December to allow for ample production & shipping time!