What’s So Special About High Res Images?

You’ve chosen your photographer. You love their work and want them part of your special day. We get pretty excited about your session, too, and then start throwing all kinds of Photospeak at you so we can give you the very best experience we can. Lots of choices can be very confusing. I’m here to clarify those terms for you. The first I’m tackling is High/Low Res Images.

Firstly, what exactly is a High Res Image? Your images are made up of tiny dots called pixels. Resolution is a measure of how closely those pixels are packed. Its a continuum, not a scale of perfection.High Res is just short for High Resolution. The higher the resolution, the more detail there is in the image and the larger a photo can be printed and still look good. You may have tried to print a photo from an image you captured from Facebook, and it turned out a bit like the one below. Its a bit like taking something on a piece of elastic and then stretching it out, you get the “white bits” in between the colour. The image is said the be “pixelated”. It looks pretty awful not something you want to display on your wall.

Wrong resolution!

So, High Res images are the choice of champions? Not necessarily. It depends on how you want to use your images. Social media and the entire interweb for that matter,  work best with lower resolution images. They load quicker and Facebook has special magic algorithms so they look awesome. Prints love images of a higher resolution. Simple as that.

 I need High Res to make prints, then? A little more about resolution to help answer that. There are basically two measures of resolution: pixels and dpi (dots per inch). 72 dpi is more than adequate for anything on the internet, including social media. My Gallery photos are 72 dpi because that works fine and loads quickly so you can see them easily. The higher resolution images I give you will be at 300 dpi. This is used by all photo labs and is also the industry standard for magazines. The more important numbers you need to know are the pixels, since this will determine how large you can print without your photo becoming pixelated. Its written like this “1500 x 2100”. This would print a 5×7 photo sharply, and a 10×14 poorly. It could be cropped to give a reasonable 6 x 8.

High Res can mean different things to different photographers. Ask your photographer at what size your High Res images will be presented. This table shows you what sizes you should be receiving to print your photos. As you will see, you can stretch photo images a little and still make a good print. However, if you are wanting a memory for your wall, or to print on canvas, I would suggest you only use the resolution recommended for 300 dpi.

resolution-for-print
Table from http://photographyelement.com/understanding-resolution/

Talk to your photographer about how you want to use your images. High Res images are actually not the best choice if you want them exclusively for use on the web, Facebook and social media in general. In this case, a USB of your images, at a low resolution will be perfect, and should be ready pretty quickly. They will also be fine for albums and photo books. The thing to ask your photographer here is if the images will be specially edited for web. “Out of the camera” looks adequate, but particular editing techniques can make your web images really stand out. If you want to make prints, speak with your photographer about how you want to display your prints. She can then size and edit your images for optimum effect as prints and canvases. She may even suggest new products to make your printed images stand out even more. That’s one of the reasons I like to have a chat with you before your session. If I know how your images will be eventually viewed, I can tailor both the shots and the post production to a personalised package that suits you best.

Ever wondered why photographers talk so much about editing? I’ll tackle that one in my next blog in this series. If you found this helpful, please share with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. If you’d like to read more in this series, please add your name to my email contact form below, and you’ll receive each one in your email box, fresh from the press!