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Police and Law Enforcement Home  Law Enforcement Technology  >  Digital Photo Printing


Digital photo printing has become quite important in our field since we began using digital cameras.  However, due to the nature of our business several factors should be examined.  Before we begin, there are different schools of thought as to whether we should even be using digital photos.  We offer this piece for those who are using it.


Digital Photo Printing - In-House or Outsourced

Of course most agencies would prefer to handle all of their digital photo printing in house, but this is not always practical.  Replacement ink cartridges can be very costly, the printing process can be extremely time consuming with most printers, and personnel can be utilized better than being assigned to watch a printer that takes as long as several minutes for each photo to print.

You might question the outsourcing of something as important as digital photo printing, but most agencies were doing this when we were still using conventional cameras.  Today, there are numerous companies which provide digital photo printing services.  Many allow you to simply email them the images, and they will mail you the actual photos when they are ready. 

The decision to keep digital photo printing in-house or outsourcing it should be determined by the needs of your department.

Choosing a Digital Photo Printing Service

If you opt to outsource your digital photo printing, choosing the right service will be an important decision.

The company you should check first will be the one you were using for your film processing prior to getting a digital camera.  After all, you probably chose them before because they were trustworthy.

If for some reason they cannot do it or you decide against them, the search begins.

Your choice will be between a local photography store and one of the online services.

Local Photography Stores for Digital Photo Printing

The benefits to choosing a local shop will include personalized, professional service, priority processing, and more control.  Just make sure that they are doing it in-house and not farming it out.  The main benefit should be the fact that only specific, previously approved personnel will have access to the photos.  This is a very important feature for digital photo printing of graphic scenes and high profile incidents.  We'll talk more about this later.

When dealing with a local shop, it is a good idea to create a contract with the company.  The contract can stipulate many things including which employees will have access to the digital photos, privacy conditions to ensure that no extra copies of the photos are made or distributed, and your photos to be the priority job when requested.

Online Digital Photo Services

These services have come a long way.  They are fast, convenient, reliable and affordable.  The downside is that you have no idea who is seeing the actual photos.  These services should be avoided when the photos are of graphic scenes or potentially high-profile incidents.  They should be fine, though, for other incidents.

The Cost of Digital Photo Printing

The good news is that prices for outsourcing digital photo printing have gradually come down making it even more tempting to outsource.  In fact, pricing for digital photo printing has come down to as little as just .10 per photo.  ( 7/2/05)  Below are some others: 

Wal-Mart  From .12
per photo
1 Hour Photo Service from .19.  Can be picked up from local store one hour after order. From .12
per photo From .10
per photo
CVS From .29 per

Whatever you decide, just make sure you do your homework.  We are in a sensitive business, and photos falling into the wrong hands just cannot happen.


Digital Photo Printing


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