Metal Prints and Bay Photo

I am a huge fan frameless options for presenting photography.   Standouts, wood or aluminum mounts, and acrylic sandwiches are attractive and do away with mattes and frames.   Often enough perspective buyers are more concerned with matching frames to their house than complimenting the image.  To me the most appealing styling would be the aluminum floats.  Either the image is printed normally and then dry-mounted onto aluminum or printed onto the metal itself.  Then the image is then raised off the wall by recessed box or frame usually 1" in height. 

Back in college I was first introduced to the idea by a gallerist at Metro Frameworks Gallery.  There I mounted four images from Great Sand Dunes National Park for my senior thesis show.  They were epson prints dry-mounted onto aluminum and then given a protective acrylic spray coat.  They looked amazing.  When they mounted them for me, they scratched one print, noticed it, and offered to redo it free of charge for me.  The scratch would have been negligible except then when lit from overhead it showed strongly.  They redid it for me and I offered to let them keep the damaged one as an example.  To my knowledge they still have and use it.  I thoroughly enjoyed process.  The prints looked gorgeous when mounted and with a luster finish reflection was not an issue, especially when compared to what could have been done with glass at that price.  I kept this set of prints in the family.  Right now they're up at my father's place in San Francisco enjoying the bay air.

on display in the Great Sand Dunes Visitor Center

Lately I have been getting work done with Image Wizards and overall I am very satisfied.  The images come out looking similar in dynamic range and color to the epson prints I used to make and have strong and appealing build quality.  They use a small folded edge aluminum box to raise the print off the wall and place the usual rubber feet on the box.  For the hanger they cut one sawtooth hole for either hanging orientation.  I would prefer a way to get a wire on it but considering the size of the box on the back it makes sense.  There have been a few hiccups in the finish but the customer service fast, polite, and effective so this is of no issue.  Things are different with my experience with Bay Photo.  Currently you can find some of the prints I have made through ImageWizard for sale or on public display at Nebraska At the Market or at the Great Sand Dunes National Park visitor center.

 pin striping, white wedges and dirt

pin striping, white wedges and dirt

I have been shopping around for a good gallery and store host.  While I like the website I have created, having an integrated store with an outsourced customer service would be amazing. SmugMug came recommended to me as well with their integrated printer Bay Photo.  When I saw that Bay Photo did metal prints, I was sold.  I started setting up a website through smugmug and ordered a set of 5 metal prints from BayPhoto for the Emerging Artist Show at the Artist's Cooperative Gallery here in downtown Omaha.  The photos arrive and they're awful.  Thin white edges adorn the corners of the images from where they didn't cut the images out of the boards strait.  One is cut a full 1/4 shorter than the others.  The prints that terrible pin striping that is the tell tale sign of a clogged nozzle on your printer.  One print had a dirt smudge in the sky under the finish.  Needless to say I wasn't happy.  When I contacted Bay Photo they did offer redo the prints for free which is what I wanted but at no point did I feel that they knew how egregious it was for this to go out the door of their shop.  Nor was there ever a real apology.  When the new set of prints arrived I was similarly dismayed.  Of the five, three came in okay.   A different one came in 3/8" shorter than the others and the fifth came in just bad.  I'm not entirely sure how or why this happened.  Time wise I was out, so I ended up only have four photos for the show open (I used the short one) and just left a space for next week when the fifth arrived redone.

 Left: what they sent Right: file

Left: what they sent Right: file

As a result I am never going to BayPhoto again for printing.  Nor am I going to able to effectively use SmugMug's service (Which I ended my account as a result of this.  They were very polite and fast about the whole thing, including refunding the money for the account.)  Other photographers I have talked to are generally surprised about my experience in that it happened at all and that happened from BayPhoto.  This isn't necessarily indictive of what kind of experience you would have but it was mine.

Update December 2015

Much to my amusement and dismay the prints from Bay Photo have age horrendously.  I've had them in storage with a few from images made back in 2012 and they have all well defined curves.  I have no idea what would have done this.  I had them leaning in a climate controlled storage unit and they have curved out away from the wall.  Comparatively the ones from image wizards look good as new.  Thanks Bayphoto for the gifts that keep blowing.