It seems like a lot of you already use the Photo Center, so this post might be just a big repeat for you. But for all of those that haven’t used it yet, I’m going to step you through the process, with screen shots, of adding pictures to the spot and ordering prints.
- Log In or Create a New Account: If you’ve been here before, you can just put in your email address and password and you’re good to go. If you’re new to the Costco Photo Center, then you’re going to have to sign up for an account. Their sign up process is great, and quick, with just a few fields to fill out: first and last name, email address, and password.
- Create a New Album: If you don’t have an existing album that you want to add your uploaded photos to or want to order your prints from, then you will need to create a new album. There’s a big block on the page that says “Create a New Album” that you click to do just that.Once you’ve clicked the link to create a new album, you’ve got a few simple fields to fill in to give your album a name, date created, and a brief description. At the bottom of this page there is a link to upload into an existing album instead (giving you an out in case you clicked the wrong thing) or upload photos into your new album.
- Upload Photos to Album: After you click the link to upload photos to your newly created album, you must first agree that the photos your’re uploading are not copyrighted by someone not you. If you have photos from a professional photographer you can get a release form in PDF that the photographer and you must sign before you can get your prints through Costco. After you agree to the copyright statement, your next step is to wait through the process of the site loading the photo uploading software. Once the page loads, you can click the Select Photos button to start adding photos to your album. You get the option of browsing around your local drive to select photos, but the annoying thing (and bad usability) is that you can only select one group of photos at a time and then you have to go through the whole process to get the next batch uploaded, meaning you’ll have to choose the album again and wait for the upload page and then find the right local directory. So, if I were doing this again, I would have all of the photos that I wanted to upload to the same album in one local folder to ease the pain of uploading from multiple folders. Each time you upload photos you can choose to upload your images using the ‘Fast’ or ‘Full’ version; this just changes the resolution of the photos that you upload. The ‘Fast’ version is fine for prints up to 8×10 but you’ll need to use the ‘Full’ version if your plan is to get prints that are larger than that. I uploaded all of my photos using the full resolution and it took a few minutes, depending on the number of photos I uploaded obviously, but not so long it irritated me. Also, there is a progress bar and an estimated time that it will take to upload your photos. This is great and so few places handle this part of the upload process this well. I’ve got to warn you, it will let you upload duplicate photos with the same exact name. And unfortunately, my browser crashed when I was trying to delete some photos from my album (I’m using Safari). It deleted the photos but crashed my browser in the process.
- Interact with the Photos in Your Album: Once you have some photos in your album you can order prints, share your photos, play a slide show of your images, or do some photo enhancement, including rotate or flipping your images. If you click on a particular photo, you get the options to do any of the editing, cropping, add a border, or do the fun things (this consists of changing the tint). You can make any changes to your image and either save it as a replacement or as a copy. This is a great feature because you can make all kinds of changes to a photo to see how it would look without necessarily losing your real/original photo.
- Order Prints: Once you have enhanced or edited your photos, you are all ready to order prints. I chose to go through each of the photos that I had uploaded individually and add them to my cart one at a time. Alternatively, you can click on the ‘Order Prints’ menu option at the right-hand side of the page and select multiple photos from multiple albums at one time. You can choose one photo finish option for your photos: glossy or lustre. For each picture that you add to your shopping cart, you have the option to individually select the sizes or you can choose the size for your entire order. As you choose the sizes of your photos you get a nice running total at the bottom of the page. Also, on this page you can order a photo CD ($2.99 each). Here are the prices for the print options you have:
- 4×6 $0.17ea
- 5×7 $0.39ea
- 8×10 $1.49ea
- 8×12 $1.49ea
- 11×14 $2.99ea
- 12×18 $2.99ea
- 8×8 $1.49ea
- 12×12 $2.99ea
- wallets(4) $0.39ea
- 16×20 $9.99ea
- 20×30 $9.99ea
- Delivery Options: Once you have selected the photos and sizes that you want to order, you continue to the page where you decide if you want to pick up your order at your local warehouse or receive your photos in the mail. If you order the large, poster sized images your only choice is mail order for those. You will also need to enter your Costco membership number and your phone number on this page. If you choose to pick up at a warehouse, you will have to choose the location on a separate pop up window.
- Review & Place Order: I chose to pick mine up locally, so my next page asked me to select a pick up time (at least 2 hours in the future) and review my order and options. It also gives you the total price, including tax. You do get a couple of last options to choose from, as well. One option is to have text printed on the back of your photo with the order number, photo name, and a custom text entry that can be 15 to 30 characters depending on the other info you want printed on your photo. The other option is for AutoCorrecting of your photos. This will change the color balances (is my guess because they don’t really explain it at all) of your photos when they are printed and that might not be a good thing, especially if you use a photo editing tool. I added some stuff to print to the back and decided to forgo the AutoCorrect option. After that, you just have to click on the ‘Place Order’ button at the bottom of the page and your prints will be ready and waiting for you at Costco.
Due to the really long length of this post and the fact that I’d like to get it up sooner rather than later, I’m going to make a third post on the quality of the Costco Photo Center prints that I received with this order.