Inside Mpix: A Print’s Journey

May 4th, 2011
Prints in print lab

We strive to give our photographers the best of everything, which is why we are partnered with Mpix, an online digital imaging lab for both the professional photographer and the advanced amateur. This lab provides uncompromising quality of prints and services and is the top choice for professional work and photos requiring the absolute best in digital printing.

Today Mpix continues our behind-the-scene blog series and gives us an inside view of the order and print process.

Inside Mpix: A Print’s Journey

Welcome back to another inside look at Mpix. We’re excited to share small sneak peeks at how the lab works and a glimpse at some of the really cool people and processes we have here.

It is important that we mention the great people we have working here in our Pittsburg, Kansas lab. As you will see throughout this blog post and others in the future, Mpix is a very hands-on lab. And we’re proud of this fact.

Today we are going to walk you through the journey your images take from the website all the way through printing and pre-checking. It’s a pretty fast ride, which is how we are able to turn out prints and press products in the same day.

Step One: An Order is Born

“When a daddy camera loves a mommy camera…”

Just joking!

The entire process starts by you uploading the images to your Zenfolio account online. Once your photos are uploaded and organized you have the opportunity to use Zenfolio’s SEO tools and features such as invitations, contact list emails and Facebook integration to drive traffic to your site. Visitors may view your photos, select images and place them in your personalized shopping cart.

When your client is ready to purchase and the final checkout button is clicked the Mpix process begins. The order is sent to the photographer for review and once it’s approved, the photos are sent though a secure server to us and pulled into production.

Step Two: Checked, and checked, and checked…

Your order is then printed on a route sheet. We have numerous printers to handle the different types of orders we receive every day. There is a printer for Mpix, MpixPro, Zenfolio and Mpix/MpixPro Press orders – it is an amazing amount of paper too.

The order items are all printed on what we call a route sheet and then given to a Color Technician for image reviewing and any color adjustments that need to be made.

Our color techs, or as we call them “QC’s” are really amazing at what they do. Most have been with Miller’s for 15 – 20 years! They are all tested for color accuracy and continually trained for consistency and to keep up the Mpix level of quality.

When viewing your order the QC will make color and density corrections, if you have allowed this on your order, and also check for any type of upload error that may occur to the image.

Once they have checked the order and made any needed adjustments they’ll send the order to be printed.

Step Three: Print Me!

The QC will “send” the images to be printed via their computer terminals and our printing software. The QC is able to determine which of our printers receive the files based on paper type and print size.

The process from QC to printer can be as fast as three minutes, so we’re moving pretty quickly around the room trying to keep up with the machines.

Prints come off the printers cut and ready to be checked for color accuracy, flaws and counted for packaging. But before we can package them for shipping we have a QC take one more look at every print for color matching and to make sure there are no issues with printer calibration.

Once the QC signs off on the print we have one of our pre-checkers go over the order looking for print flaws, damage, typos, uneven borders… really anything that could go wrong, they’ll catch it. (Notice we’re still talking about human beings doing a job, not a machine)

After the prints have been checked this last time they are counted, the paperwork is stamped as “inspected” and the order is ready to move to the next department in the lab, whether that is framing, mounting or packaging.

So there you have it. The process to enter, print and package an order takes about as much time as it took me to write this blog post, depending on the day.

Stick around for more sneak peeks and random fun inside looks at what goes on at Mpix.