If you are reading this post, than you have undoubtedly been in this situation. You’ve hired a web design company to build your company’s new website. In the process of building the website you’ve been asked to supply some images. Perhaps your web designer needs some pictures of your co-workers for the website’s About Us page. Maybe they need some pictures of projects your company has worked on for the site’s portfolio page. So, you collect all the necessary images and send them off to your web team only to have them tell you, ”Well, actually we were hoping to get high-res images.”
So, you’re probably asking yourself, “What exactly is a high-res image, how am I supposed to be able to tell the difference, and how do I get these high-res versions?”
If you’re not a graphic designer or professional photographer, then telling the difference can be a very tricky task. The most obvious way to determine the quality of an image is to use some sort of image manipulation software, such as Photoshop. That’s what I would do, but how many people really have Photoshop just lying around in their computer software collection? Using Photoshop simply isn’t a realistic solution for most people. This is why I wanted to focus this week’s blog post on areas that can be helpful when choosing photos for your website.
How big is the file size?
This is going to be your best clue about the quality of your image. The larger the file size, the more likely the image is high-res. Typically, a nice quality image is at least 1MB in size. Not to say you can’t try smaller images, but if you notice that the great photo of your boss you wanted to use is only 17K, then you might just be out of luck.
What about a picture I took myself?
Quite often people ask me how many megapixels their camera has to be to take a nice picture. The reality is, not many. Megapixels are sort of a strange thing for the consumer digital camera industry to get hung up on. Just because you shoot a photo with a high megapixel camera doesn’t mean you’re going to get a better image than a photo taken with a lower megapixel camera. It just means you are going to make a physically larger photo.
Now would be a good time to tell you that I am not a professional photographer or camera expert, but in my experience with the web you shouldn’t worry about the camera that shot the photo (the exception to this is listed below), as much as the aesthetic quality of the photo itself. If your camera is creating pictures that you are aesthetically satisfied with and are roughly one megabyte in size, then you should be in good shape.
Is it cool if I just take a photo with my iPhone?
No. You or your web designers will not be satisfied with smartphone photos used on your new professional website. This can be confusing, since many smartphones claim to have high-quality cameras that are comparable to standalone digital cameras. This isn’t completely true. Smartphones generally have low-quality lenses and light detectors that produce unprofessional images.
That being said, smartphone cameras are great for taking photos to upload to places like Facebook, your blog, Flickr, etc., because visitors to these channels are not necessarily expecting high-res photos.
What about images I’ve taken from the web?
Typically this isn’t going to work either. There are exceptions, but as a Best Practice, I would avoid using images you have saved directly from the web. Once an image goes up on the web it has usually been optimized to the smallest file size possible for that particular usage, which makes it difficult to reuse the image in a different application.
The best way to get high-res images:
The best solution for providing your web designer with high-res photos is to use photos taken by a professional photographer. Photographers are truly the unsung heroes of web design. Not only will a photographer be able to deliver high-res digital photos for your designers, but they will also ensure that you are getting great looking images.
Be sure to ask your photographer for the high resolution files. It’s not uncommon for photographers to create low-res versions of their images so they can easily be emailed to clients. In order to get the final high-res images, you may need to request that your photographer burn the images to a CD or uploads the image to an FTP site. This option does cost a little bit of money, but can often be worth the expense in the end.
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