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Tips for Saving Your Photographs for Optimal Printing Results

Tips & Tricks

Shutterfly provides award-winning photo books, wall art, photo prints, and other great photography keepsakes so that photographers of all levels can share their personalized memories with the world. In this guest post, they share a few important tips for how to save your digital photographs for optimal printing results.


Shutterfly’s Tips for Saving Your Photographs for Optimal Printing Results

Your amazing collection of digital photographs deserves to be printed with the best possible quality. When you use a photo printing service, a lot will depend on the materials and printing techniques used, of course, but there are steps you can take to help minimize the risk of disappointing results.

© Travis Isaacs used under a CC Attribution License

“Photo Wall” © Travis Isaacs used under a CC Attribution License

It is important to keep DPI in mind when saving files for optimal quality printing. For most prints, ideally, you want your images to be 300 DPI at the size you are printing. Keep in mind that when you enlarge an image from its original size, the resolution will proportionately decrease. To upload a high-quality image that can be used in a variety of different photo projects, you should always shoot at and save the highest resolution possible. Even though you may only want to do a small print now, you will be able to use this high-quality photo on a large photo gift, such as wall art, later on.  If you do have a lower resolution image, all is not lost—you can still get some pretty nice print quality with images as low as 150 DPI. For low resolution images, it is best to order a smaller print size, because it will make the low resolution and any pixilation less noticeable.

©Marcel030NL

“Photo Printed on Foam” © Marcel030NL used under a CC Attribution License.

If you know exactly what you will be doing with the image, it’s a great idea to think about color profiles. If you plan to use the image for different projects, try to experiment with the color profiles using Adobe Photoshop, or its free alternative, GIMP. On Shutterfly, you can use the 3D preview feature to try out how different versions of the same image will look on a specific project.

Compared to sRGB, Adobe RGB has a wider range of colors, and is the one most printers are set up for. If you are going to use your images for a variety of projects, saving it as Adobe RGB is the safe bet. You can always convert the photo to sRGB later without any color loss. Meanwhile, going back to AdobeRGB from sRGB can result in inaccurate color conversion. sRGB works really well for images that you plan to post on your blog or website, but it is not as useful for printing purposes.

©Mustafa Khayat

“My Printed Photos” © Mustafa Khayat used under a CC Attribution License

There are, of course, some general tips to keep in mind as well. As you upload your photos, it is important to create albums as you go. Since your digital collection is likely to grow over time, perhaps over years, this organized approach will save you the headache of trying to search for a photo later. If you make edits to an image, be sure to also save an original in case you want to go back and make different changes later.

We hope these tips are helpful as you print your photographs! What are some of your experiences with photo printing companies? Share your stories and tips in the comments!

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Alexandria Huff is a portrait photographer based in San Francisco. Her tutorials can be found here on the BorrowLenses Blog, 500px, Shutterfly, Snapknot, and SmugMug. She specializes in studio lighting. Follow her work on 500px.

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