How to evaluate a print? Simple guidelines for evaluating the effectiveness of a print

By John Walrath


When evaluating a print, there are several steps to ensure that the print is of the highest quality. Before evaluation, be sure to handle the print with care; only touching the edges and avoid the printed surface. Use of cloth gloves is recommended to avoid the transfer of oils from skin. Oils may not immediately show but overtime they can contribute to the yellowing of the paper. You should also allow a print to dry 10-15 minutes for initial evaluation or an hour for final evaluation.


evaluating a print


The first step is to simply get the print into the light. The room light level appropriate for working on a calibrated display is not sufficient for print evaluation. Evaluating a print next to a monitor is not possible unless the print is in an enclosed light box. View your print with a sufficient amount and color temperature of light. We recommend that you illuminate your print directly with a daylight balanced bulb to evaluate. Or, simply view it outside on a sunny day.



Next, check for even and complete ink coverage. If highlight areas extend beyond the gamut of the paper/printer combination, the printer will not put any ink in these areas allowing the paper to show through. On many papers, you will need to hold the print at an angle to see this and in some cases, it can be seen when viewing directly.



Lastly, ask yourself if you have met your creative vision. Can you identify the subject? Do you effectively lead your viewer through the image? Does it fit within a larger body of work effectively? These types of questions are not directly related to printing but helping you communicate with your print.


Printing is enjoyable and an important part of our heritage as photographers. I believe it is also an important part of our future. Color management tools, like SpyderX and Spyder Print, help make the process go smoother.