Inside Scoop: Making the Most of Digital Photos

Photo save-the-dates have become one of the leading trends in wedding stationery. The key is ensuring that the photo file you send your stationer is capable of producing the best possible printed image quality.

A photograph that looks crisp and clear on your computer monitor may not necessarily print at that same quality. The reason is that most computer screens are low resolution (or, designed to showcase small photo files), while printers are high resolution (or, designed to work with large photo files). If you try to print a photo file created for computer viewing on a good quality printer, chances are you’ll end up with a grainy, blurry photo.

So how can you be confident that the photo you choose for your printed stationery will print with the clear, professional quality you see on your screen? The secret is in the photo’s dpi, or “dots-per-inch” measurement, also known as the “resolution.”

Dots-per-inch refers to the number of pixels (or tiny little dots) that are used to make up your picture. The more dots used, the clearer the picture when printed. For example, pictures viewed on the Internet are usually 72 or 96 dpi, which is a fine number for clarity when viewed on a low-resolution computer screen. But when printing on a high-resolution printer, a dpi of 300 or higher is needed to ensure a crystal image. This is because a printer requires more tiny little dots spaced much closer together than the computer screen does to deliver a good quality photo.

Determining your photo’s dpi is fairly straightforward:

• Right click on the photo to view the photo’s “properties” and identify the photo’s dimensions (such as 1200×1800).

• Divide the digital dimensions by what you need the photo’s physical dimensions to be when printed (such as 4×6 or 5×7). The resulting figure is the dpi.

• For example, if your photo’s digital dimensions are 1200×1800 and its physical size is 4×6, divide 1200 by 4 and 1800 by 6 to equal 300 dpi.

If you’re using an image provided to you by your photographer, or even taken with most standard quality digital cameras, chances are the dpi will be at least 300. However, be sure to ask your photographer for a file of the original image. If you attempt to copy a photo from a preview or slideshow, you will probably end up with a low dpi image that was generated specifically for computer viewing. (Working directly with your photographer will also ensure that you have full permission to reproduce and use the photo!)

And if you’re using a photo taken by a friend on a personal digital camera, remember that cropping and zooming in on the image can affect the photo’s dpi. So capture that original image as closely as possible to the size and positioning of the final look you want.

Of course, if you’re working with us here at The Green Kangaroo, our team is always available to walk you through questions on photo files to help you be confident in your finished product!

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