Costco Photo Center, Part 1

October 31st, 2008 · 21 Comments

Amazingly I saw two things in one day – a blog post and an email from Costco – that made me realize that there must be some great things at the Costco Photo Center that I’ve just never taken advantage of.   For those of you that don’t know, the Costco Photo Center allows you to do a whole host of things with your photos.  First you need to upload some photos that you can arrange into different photo albums and then you can order prints that you can pick up at your local Costco in less than an hour, have prints mailed to you at home, or you can just share your digital photos with others.

I saw a great post about the Costco Photo Center on Loving Life where she talks about how much she likes using Costco to print her pictures, as well as the rather low cost prints.  I mean just look at these prices she lists:  wallets (.39 for 4), 5 x 7’s (.39), 8 x 10’s (1.49) and collages (2.99).  Plus, she points out that the quality is really good.  So, you’ve got easy to order, low cost, high quality photos that are ready in less than an hour.  What more could you want?

Costco Photo CenterAnd if you don’t live near a Costco or want to get something like a really big 16×20 or 20×30 print or a very cool canvas print you can get your images in the mail.  You can even get your photos printed on a huge variety of items too: 6×7½ photo greeting cards, calendars, collage prints, enlargements & posters, greeting cards, handbags, mousepads, mugs, notebooks, ornaments, photo CD or DVD, photo throw, prints, scrapbook size prints, stationery, MyPublisher photo books, and even photo stamps. Perhaps the best part of the Costco Photo Center is that you can use their online software tools to edit and customize your pictures.  This is great if you don’t have or don’t know how to use photo editing software on your own computer.  You can get rid of red eye, crop your photos, lighten or change the contrast on your photos, as well as add a tint or even a border.  So, there’s way more that you can do here than just get your pictures developed.

I think I’ll use this to order some prints that I’ve been wanting to get for this great collage frame that I got (at Costco, of course) but haven’t gotten around to because it needs a big 11×14 photo that I can’t print at home.  I’ll post more about the process (including screen shots of the pages) and the quality of the prints, as well as the pricing, next week in part 2.


Tags: Costco in Blogs · Holidays · Household Items · Travel Share

21 Responses so far ↓

  1. 1 John // 2017.07.10 at 3:12 pm

    I like to have photos printed at Costco. The issue I have is when I create the album and upload my photos. it will arrange them alphabetically. Normally this would be fine, but if I have photos from multiple devices the pictures are arranged alphabetically and not by date taken. Any way to correct this?

  2. 2 Photo Books Costco | Wallpapers // 2015.01.21 at 7:02 pm

    […] Costco Photo Center, Part 1 | Addicted To Costco! – 31/10/2008 · 9 Alan Abrams // 2009.10.01 at 4:49 pm . Canvas prints have been reloaded on the Costco Photo Center website…. […]

  3. 3 Barry // 2014.12.10 at 3:03 pm

    I realize some of these posts are older, but I felt strong enough to post a correction regarding misinformation; dubious at best;

    On 2011.01.15, Daniel recommended using 16×20 and larger prints because of poor quality. That’s such a “blanket statement.” I can emphatically say that Daniel is 1oo and 50 percent INCORRECT !

    I can also pretty much guarantee he was doing something wrong in either his own editing processing, his output /export choices, upload process, or somewhere along Costco’s online process. Daniel’s own description of “grainy” and “splotchy” leads to a quality control issue on his side.

    Costco’s site also actually had a lower resolution upload set as the default upload setting – meaning – Daniel may have uploaded a lower resolution and may not even realized it. In just the last year or two, Costco changed this – making HQ the default setting.

    There is also, however, a small possibility that the particular location Daniel used didn’t have printers calibrated correctly, or some other possible, similar issue.

    First, I’m a professional cinematographer, 23+ years. I’ve personally ordered MANY 16×20 and 20×30 prints, both for clients and my printed photo sales. Their prices can’t be beat (not to mention – awesome return policy!) I’ve even put Costco prints up against a local pro shop I also use, only when I have coupons, special, or a special material I need to use. But my large Costco photos have always been vibrant, crisp and not at all “splotchy” or “grainy.”

    It should also be noted that Costco actually provides instructions & information of what type of printers they use for their larger prints (RIGHT DOWN to the STATE and STORE) and provides suggested output settings from your computer to export your photos by using “printer profiles.”




    Any photog consumer, with the right upload settings can produce large photos, and beyond the normal settings – with this detailed information – ANY avid photographer and pro photographer can practically control their workflow right down to the final details of the print output as if he /she were in the lab /darkroom themselves!

    Along with the detailed links provided – here are some tips I’ve collected along the way of building my relationship with my local Costco lab.

    **** TIPS AND TRICKS ****

    * First tip or trick is directly regards to a photo you absolutely want printed, but may have some “goof” you did. Like a photo out of focus, photo that’s truly grainy, or some other goof-up. In this situation – the CANVAS print is your friend! And many times – even better the larger the canvas. You’ll end up with a canvas photo print resembling an impressionist art piece like Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir, or Degas, and be able to claim…”Yea, I meant to do that.” 😉

    * Get the lab’s direct phone number. THEY HAVE ONE, and will answer directly without having to go through any phone menu. They’re willing to help & often can give you a much better time line of any photo order. I’ve called within only several minutes of uploading my photos.

    I speak with my local Costco lab MUCH more than the 800 photo help number, which also should be noted that Costco has outsourced (U.S. based) their 800 photo help number.

    * Know your Costco photo products, OR AT LEAST check the photo area website. I’m not talking about memorizing it, but at least get an idea. Learn where the settings are, one features and functions are available.

    (ie) Did you know you can create a basic white border /edge around your photos – like photos would come when you developed them in the darkroom. And there’s all sorts of borders. You will, however, have to individually apply this to EACH photo you might be ordering.

    CAUTION: But if you want to store your original photo (See below, creating an online account) you need to make sure to “save as copy” when using Costco’s borders, or any creative online editing features, otherwise your original photo upload will be replaced with your creative edit.

    * I believe eluded here was the option to select different finishes for your photos. That’s at the end, which one is called “Luster” – or in other photo terms – Matte finish. Otherwise, glossy prints are set as default.

    * At the end you can also choose what text you want printed on the back of the photos. It will appear with the rest of Costco’s order information text , date, etc. that looks like a bunch of gibberish. I use it that area to place copyright text and business name.

    * BOTH these last two features can be set and saved AS DEFAULT settings when you create your photo account. I’ve pre-selected the text and photo finish (luster) that I want as default. That way – you never have to worry about those two things.

    This border option can also be applied to your entire order (each photo) in the final order confirmation and payment process near the end. However, you’re only able to select one kind of border.

    * Create your FREE online photo account. Store your photos online so you can simply order or share whenever you want or need. Did you know Costco has been hosting photo clouds for about as long as anyone else – before the photo cloud trend really hit, and over the last couple years have been incorporating other online cloud and photo services into the Costco site.

    * Just like Costco’s great return policy – Costco will accept ALL and ANY photo returns! I’ve rejected 30×20 photos at the counter because of goof up’s I’ve made myself, and it cost me absolutely NOTHING. Try that at your local pro shop!

    There’s lots of other tips and some hoops you have to jump through sometimes when you’re really doing some specific things. (ie – tricking the printers to print a 8×12 on their 11×14 paper) . I could go on, but there’s too many.

    BUT…. as for the QUALITY of Costco’s LARGE PRINTS – I couldn’t speak more highly of them, and Costco’s photo lab’s abilities and service.

    Of course, experience may vary by mileage & store. 😉

    my 2¢

    – – – –
    I was initially looking to see if Costco had yet come up with “postcard” options (not photo cards, etc) which I’ve always wished Costco had just for the fact postage is less. Can’t have everything

    PS – I LOVE Costco’s “poster board” prints. More expensive, but you end up not even needing foam core (if you’re framing your prints)

  4. 4 Mary K // 2012.11.30 at 12:14 pm

    Costco, the company, is a wonderful place and I’ve been a loyal member for what seems like forever. The photo center, however, is managed by an outside source that does not have the quality control that the larger company has. When Costco initiated their photo service some twenty years ago, they were among the top photo printers to be found, and I say this as a professional photographer who was a very steady customer. But as it’s reputation rightfully grew, they outsourced management to various companies that do a pretty good job at MIS-management– poor and inconsistent quality of print production, changing of popular products and formats, , and other bad decisions.Their most recent blunder has been to eliminate the most popular postcard design on their website–the blank card, which offered freedom galore in creating your own postcard from personal photos. Can’t comprehend why the parent company permits such poor decision making and product quality, in a product that carries the Costco name. Why fix it if it wasn’t broken? I hope Costco will get a grip on the Costco Photo Center.

  5. 5 Daniel // 2011.01.15 at 7:14 pm

    FYI – I strongly recommend to NOT buy enlargements from Costco sized 16×20 and larger from their online store because the quality is quite poor with grainy, splotchy prints. Yes, the price is attractive however the quality is simply not acceptable.

  6. 6 JN // 2011.01.13 at 2:12 pm

    Wayne, you must upload photos in the Costco-approved formats, namely jpg, tiff and bmp. No other software-specific formats will work. If Picasa exports photos in any of those formats, you’re good to go. I do not know of any major photo software that will not export photos in those common formats. Good luck.

  7. 7 Wayne // 2010.12.14 at 6:15 pm

    Can anyone tell me how to easily upload pictures to Costco that I have edited in Picasa?

  8. 8 Kimberly // 2009.10.24 at 7:42 am

    Sorry Dave, I don’t have all of those details regarding the canvas prints. However, this is what it says on the Costco Photo Center website:
    Turn your favorite photos into art with these stunning, professional quality canvas prints. Mix and match sizes to create your own family photo wall or give as an unforgettable gift for any occasion.

    * “Gallery wrapped” – ready to hang
    * Special “fine art” protective coating
    * UV light protection – Prevents fading and cracking
    * Easy to clean

    Hope that helps. If not, you can probably call the photo center customer support, 1-866-459-9284, and get more specific information.

  9. 9 Dave // 2009.10.24 at 12:53 am

    How thick is the frame on these canvas prints?
    Are they stapled on the side or back?
    Do these frames come with any mounting hardware?

  10. 10 Kimberly // 2009.10.01 at 5:01 pm

    Oh great, I’m so glad to hear that! Now I can get a couple of images turned into the canvas prints that I’ve been wanting. I cut & pasted the prices for the prints below & wow, they are really reasonable. I mean, there’s no way you’re getting canvas art at such good prices. And of course, not with your own person picture touch. The most expensive size of 16×48 is just under $100.00; and that would be a really good sized panoramic image.
    Ten sizes available including squares and panoramas:
    – $29.99 – 8×10
    – $34.99 – 11×14
    – $39.99 – 12×16
    – $49.99 – 16×20
    – $54.99 – 18×24
    – $69.99 – 20×30
    – $79.99 – 24×32
    – $39.99 – 14×14
    – $79.99 – 16×32
    – $99.99 – 16×48

  11. 11 Alan Abrams // 2009.10.01 at 4:49 pm

    Canvas prints have been reloaded on the Costco Photo Center website. I just noticed this today. Just click on the “Store” link and canvas prints are listed in the left hand column. I think they may have tweaked the pricing a bit, but they are still very affordable. I’m thinking about getting a few to use as studio samples to show the differences between the various sizes. Once a customer sees a 20×30 canvas in person, they just HAVE to have one!

  12. 12 Kimberly // 2009.08.31 at 7:24 am

    Raj, the in-store photo center person told me that they were still doing the photo prints on canvas. But that it is only offered online. However, I can’t seem to find it, so I am at a loss for how to track it down. But if you do happen to find it, let me know!

  13. 13 Kimberly // 2009.08.26 at 8:53 am

    Raj, I haven’t seen the canvas prints at Costco in a while. I’ve got a couple of pictures that I really wanted to do this with, but so far I haven’t found it on their site. I’ll try to remember to ask at the photo center this weekend when I’m at Costco and let you know what I find out.

  14. 14 Raj // 2009.08.25 at 9:10 pm

    Does anyone know how to order canvas prints? I don’t see any option on the Can someone please point me in the right direction? Thanks.

  15. 15 Kimberly // 2008.12.09 at 11:28 am

    Michele, I feel horrible for you! I wish I had a magic solution for you to be able to get all of your photos back. We lost a bunch of pictures from a vacation to Switzerland last year (from our own stupidity) but it makes me really understand how much this sucks for you. Of course, on a much smaller scale.

  16. 16 Kimberly // 2008.12.09 at 11:25 am

    PhotoGuy, you need to read the follow on to this post, Costco Photo Center Part 2. It walks through all of the steps in the process, with screenshots. But the screen that you are looking for comes in Step 7 when you are Reviewing your order. There’s a small pop up screen that allows you to put some text on the back of your photos, as well as letting you choose to have them NOT auto correct your photos.

  17. 17 Photoguy // 2008.12.08 at 3:34 pm

    Sara B said:

    “I’ve noticed that sometimes they print a bit dark, but that can usually be fixed by making sure that you choose to print “as is” and disable the “auto correct” feature.”

    Can someone help me find these settings? I’ve looked all over but so far can’t find them.

  18. 18 Michele Burnside // 2008.12.07 at 2:31 pm

    WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Before you count on Costco to hold all of your life photos that cannot be replaced, THINK AGAIN, AND AGAIN, AND AGAIN!!!!!! I have been using Costco for over 3 years for all of my photos, and yes they offer great service but….. THE UNTHINKABLE HAS HAPPENED!!!!!!!!! THEY HAVE LOST ALL OF MY PHOTOS!!!!!!!ALL OF MY PHOTOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My account is gone, I don’t exist to them anymore. I cannot figure out how this is possible. My life is on there. Yes I did download some to a disc before I sent them over, but then I just started to rely on them so much and believe in them that I got a little lazy I guess. I trusted too much, now I have LOST MY LIFE OF PHOTOS FOR EVER,,,,, GONE WITHOUT A TRACE……
    I called technical support and they apologized , that’s it apologized, Said there was nothing that they could do and I would just have to open a new account and start over. THATS IT!!!!!!!! I can’t believe it!!!!! How is this possible???????? Is there anyone out there that has any ideas on how I can get them to find my photos???? I just don’t see how they are there one day and then they all and my account completely vanish the next with out a trace. If anyone has any ideas please contact me. I WARN YOU ALL!!!!!! If your photos are as precious to you as mine are to me PLEASE TAKE MY WARNING AND DOWNLOAD YOUR PHOTOS TO A CD YOURSELF. DON’T COUNT ON COSTCO, YOU COULD BE VERY SORRY!!!! I AM!!!

  19. 19 Sarah B // 2008.11.03 at 5:51 pm

    I was raised in Costco. Not literally, of course, but my family does most of their “major” shopping at Costco and we’ve been using Costco’s Photo Center for printing for years. They’re pretty good. I’ve noticed that sometimes they print a bit dark, but that can usually be fixed by making sure that you choose to print “as is” and disable the “auto correct” feature.

    Besides quality, convenience, etc that Costco (and admittedly probably other stores that offer online uploads and ordering) I recently discovered another great reason to use their services… My computer software program crashed last week. I got my computer up and running again, but in the process I lost ALL of my pictures that had been on my hard drive. I had been meaning to back them up on CDs, but for one reason or another hadn’t done it. Then I remembered that Costco can put your pictures on CDs for you at the same resolution that you uploaded! Thankfully I had printed almost 700 of my pictures (a small fraction of what I lost) over the last couple of years using Costco, and the pictures were still on my Costco Photo Center account! Thanks to this feature (and my scrapbooking tendencies) I will be able to “recover” some of the pictures that I thought would be lost for good. Now I am considering uploading to Costco’s site even if I don’t plan on printing immediately as another back-up… just in case. 🙂

  20. 20 Photo lover // 2008.11.03 at 4:40 pm

    This post could not be more timely. I ordered 70 5×7 prints and 30 8×10 prints for an event this coming Wednesday. We are having an Olympic gold medalist speak at our company and we needed photos for her to sign. Well, I ordered them on Sunday to pick up on Monday. I was surprised to see that they would be ready by 2:00 on Sunday, even though it was 9:00 a.m. Unfortunately, I did not change my lustre setting to glossy and really needed the high gloss photos. Lucky for me, I emailed customer service and told them my delimma. I also called 15 minutes prior to opening and caught a customer service rep. I told her my delimma and she said no problem, I’ll get the message to the printers. I told her I would pay for the unusable photos but I really needed a set in glossy.

    I showed up 2 hours later and all of my photos were fantastic and glossy. They did not charge me for the 100 photo mistakes. Also, upon my arriving home, I received a voicemail from the person who received my customer service email. He told me to go ahead and reorder the glossy prints and I would not be charged for the lustre prints. Not only were they consistent in their policies, their customer service on a Sunday was impeccable. Yea, Costco. What would I do without you?

  21. 21 mamacita // 2008.10.31 at 1:45 pm

    I’m looking forward to your report. I was planning to use Costco for our Christmas card photos.

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