I recently started printing my photos at home. It is not a very simple affair, you have to study a little but then results will arrive. Having the entire production cycle under control, from shooting to printing,
gives great satisfaction.
I am absolutely not a printing expert and moreover certain rather complex topics certainly cannot be explained in an article of a few lines. Having told this necessary premise, I would still like to give some advice on the process that goes from shooting to printing.
It's my practical experience of many years. During this time I have made, as inevitable, several mistakes that have helped me to improve.
1) The photographic equipment is certainly important however I see many people who spend thousands and thousands of euros on camera bodies and optics. These same people then process their photos using monitors costing a few tens of euros. A quality calibrated monitor is an essential a piece of equipment as a camera body or lens. So avoid buying the 7,000 euro camera body if you don't really need it. There are DSLRs and mirrorless cameras that cost half the half of the PRO superbody and will give you, in 95% of situations, the same results. Invest the money you have saved in a nice monitor otherwise it is all useless.
2) The post-production work of the images is fundamental: do not listen to those who say that it means falsify photos! Any serious photographer, amateur or professional, uses photo editing software. These are not used to make an ugly photo beautiful (in these cases the only solution is the recycled) but to enhance it, trying to reproduce the same colors and tonal passages present in nature at the time of shooting. The RAW format of the images (a sort of digital negative) presupposes its own processing, otherwise an image that could be washed out and low in contrast. I have already written above about the importance of the calibrated monitor but also the software for image postproduction are fundamental.
Personally I use Adobe Lightroom Classic but other software such as Photoshop, Capture One and Luminar are also very valid. There are also free software that do a great job like Darktable, Gimp, and Canon Digital Photo Professional.
What really matters is taking courses to learn how to use these software well. Paid courses usually give more guarantees but, if you know how to choose, there are also free courses online that can be a valid help.
3) Is it really necessary to buy a photo printer? No. Printing your own photos at home is very satisfying, but it also has its downsides. Quality printers cost money and, above all, consume a lot of ink. The cartridges are not cheap and even the quality papers (I am using the Canson Infinity Rag Photographique 310) for Fine Art printing have a considerable price. If you plan to buy a photo printer to save on prints, know that the game will only be worth it if you do a lot of prints in a year.
There are some excellent printing companies (for example Saal Digital) that represent a valid alternative. They usually offer the possibility to download their color profiles within their websites. These
color profiles are essential for a correct preparation of the file for printing.
I hope, with these few tips, I have directed you a little towards the right path, made up of study and many practical tests, to get to process and print your photos in a satisfactory way.
Images need to be printed on large formats (from A4 upwards) and not only to be viewed on devices such as smartphones and tablets. Nothing can compete with a fine art print to enjoy all the details and nuances of a beautiful photo. So it doesn't matter if the printing is done at home or if you turn to good printing companies but print, print and then print again !!!