Vipul Arora from The Smile Store wrote to me telling me about his venture and since I love seeing my photographs in print, I was intrigued. India desperately needs quality providers of prints. I already am a fan of Canvera but there are smaller things that I would like that Canvera doesn’t do because I would assume their focus is different.
June, 2018 UPDATE : I no longer photograph weddings. I am no longer able or willing to recommend Canvera’s products or services. Since 2012, when this blog post was published, everything at the brand has deteriorated steadily. I currently order individual prints from ZoomIn. Use promo code NAINA2018 to get Rs. 100 waived off your first order. I haven’t ordered a print book in a while but if I did, I still recommend Blurb. If you’re aware of other suitable options ( quality over price ), please share in the comments or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The cute square package arrived two days after Vipul had confirmed my order. [ The prints were provided by The Smile Store at no charge for this story. ] I uploaded my digital files to Dropbox and emailed a link to them for download.
A hand-written note is always appreciated.
They definitely put in a lot of effort into the packaging. The paper used was textured and looked like recycled paper.
The quality of the prints however? Not impressed. This shiny paper. I’m guessing it’s a digital print. There was more than 3 rough edges where the prints had been not cut cleanly and one sticker. [ The Smile Store has large squre prints, mini polaroid prints, stickers, posters and greeting cards. ] I was quite excited about the greeting cards but they didn’t feel like they would last too long.
Above are the mini-prints that are supposed to emulate a Polaroid. Unfortunately, the colors, all across the board were off. The reds were too deep and the prints didn’t feel crisp. I was looking at their offering more from the point of view of a photographer – they don’t fulfill those expectations.
Vipul manages the entire operations from receiving orders to packaging and the printing is outsourced to a local press. Operations were started in January 2013 in Mumbai, where The Smile Store is based. Vipul is looking at expanding his product offering and I’m hoping there will be a high-end / high quality grade of paper and printing that they will provide.
I love the idea of the Smile Store and how they refer to the prints as “Lil Squares of Happiness”. I also appreciate Vipul’s entrepreneurial spirit and his heart is in the right place. If I had to recommend the products of The Smile Store, I would recommend them for events like birthdays and more intimate, small-scale settings where you don’t expect the prints to last too long. Stickers for personalizing your diary covers maybe and greeting cards – I’d say more note cards – to say “thank you” etc. Or maybe even event invites.