Turning your precious photos into something you can cherish for a lifetime is often something we forget to do. In a digital age, it’s easy to rely on the amazing advancement of technology to keep our history safe, even though we are all aware of how temperamental it can be at times. You’ve poured your heart into capturing the perfect image, so why not take the time to preserve it forever?
The answer? Print it! Whether you’re particularly fond of a photograph you captured on holiday or are just looking to document the ‘firsts’ of the new addition to your family, creating something physical provides a joy that we’ve come to neglect.
If the thought of printing your photos fills you with dread, or you’re just not sure where to start, there are a few things you can do to ease yourself into the process (although, trust us – it’s nowhere near as tricky as you may think.)
Prepare in Advance
Depending on what product you’d like to print, from wall art to phone cases, it useful to collate your favourite image(s) beforehand. For example, if you’re after a Framed Photo Print, you’ll probably only need one photo. However, if you’re creating your very own Photo Book, you’ll need more than just a few!
Take the time to sit and sift through your favourite images and then save them in a clearly named folder that you can easily access. When the time comes for you to upload your imagery, you’ll thank yourself for avoiding the endless scrolling. Having a dedicated folder also allows you to store numerous options, so that you can play around with the imagery you choose to print without all the fuss.
Focus on Composition
As you’re collating your photos, always think about which one will suit the product the most – a good print is a considered print. This highly centres around considering the layout and composition – is there a lot of blank space that unbalances the aesthetic of the photograph?
A general, yet effective, composition technique is the ‘Rule of Thirds’, which can instantly improve the quality of your print.
Imagine your image is divided into two horizontal and two vertical lines, creating a three by three grid. Place important elements within the picture close to one of these lines, or near to one of the four intersections of the grid. Positioning your subject off-centre looks much more natural than placing it in the middle of the frame and will look great once printed too.
Figure Out the Aspect Ratio
Aspect ratio is the proportional relationship between the width and height of an image. It is important to consider when it comes to printing as if you must calibrate the shape of your image to the shape of your print. For example, if you have a square photo and you try printing in a rectangle format, you may stumble across some issues, so try and crop the photo to match the ratio so you aren’t disappointed with how the print turns out.
The two most common aspect ratios created by digital cameras are 3:2 and 4:3 – the first number representing the width of the image, while the second number is the height. The dimensions of your print are close to the aspect ratios, for example, 4×6, 5×7, 8×10 etc.
Top tip: To find the best aspect ratio for your desired print, simply swap the numbers, so the width is the first measurement. Then, reduce the numbers to their lowest values.
Once you know the size of your print and the aspect ratio, crop your image in software such as Adobe, Lightroom or Photoshop before sending it to print.
Know Your Screen Resolution from Your Print Resolution
Seeing an image on the screen can be very different from what it looks like when it’s printed, which means you need to consider the size of your images before sending them to print. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a pixelated mess and a disappointing finished product. Once you’ve chosen and sorted your photographs, you’ll need to check the size to make sure you receive the highest quality print.
There are a few things you can do to figure out how large you can print your photo. First, open the image file to find the dimensions of the photograph. If you’d prefer, and have access to, you can use Photoshop. Simply head to the Image Size dialogue box, Image menu and select Image Size. Once you have found the dimensions, multiply them to receive an estimate of the image’s megapixels.
So, for example, if the image is 1180 x 890, multiplying the dimensions equals 1,050,200.
In number terms, 1 megapixel is equal to 1,000,000, and a general rule is that 150 pixels (1500000) per inch (PPI) is the standard resolution for high-quality prints.
Therefore, the 1180 x 890 image isn’t fit for a large quality print, as it falls shy of 150 pixels. To see what print size is suitable, divide the image width and height by 150.
Using the previous example, dividing 1180 by 150 and 890 by 150, leaves us with 7.8 x 5.93. To avoid decreasing the quality of your image, this tells us that we shouldn’t print it larger than 8x6in.
High-quality images are naturally the preferred choice – the higher the resolution, the better. But there’s no need to worry if your chosen image(s) wasn’t taken on a DSLR camera. With the right design, it is possible to print and enjoy photos from your phone. For example, if you have a handful of images that are on the smaller side and not of the highest quality, consider printing them in a Collage.
What’s the Difference Between PPI and DPI?
In a simple sentence, dots per inch refers to how the print looks, while pixels per inch refers to the data input of the photo – but let’s delve a little deeper.
Pixel is the term to describe picture elements, which are the small squares of colour that make up your image. If you zoom in on the image too far, you expand the size of the pixels and you’re left with unsightly, blurred edges. In terms of quality, the higher the pixel density, the better. An image with 400 PPI will be of a higher quality than one with 89.
DPI, on the other hand, describes the physical dots of ink per inch on a printed or scanned image. DPI is measured as printers do not display colour in pixels but in layered dots of CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black.)
Best File Formats for Printing
Depending on what you want to print, you’ll need to consider the best file format for your needs.
PDF, Portable Document Format, was developed by Adobe to ‘create, manipulate, print and manage’ digital documents and is the preferred file format for most files. PDF captures formatting information from a variety of applications which enables documents to be printed as they were intended on a screen. To save your document as a PDF, open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat and go to File > Save as Other > Press-Ready PDF.
JPG, short for Joint Photographic Experts Group, is a file format that is ideal for printing images and small files. For example, you’d use a JPG for websites, email or small prints.
TIFF, or Tagged Image File Format, is an industry-standard file format that is favoured when printing high-resolution images. TIFFs use ‘lossless compression’ in order to maintain image quality and is often used for printing professional photography.
Over to You…
Once you’re happy with the results, it’s time to get it printed!
Regardless of how you choose to print the photos that mean the most to you – be it a piece of Wall Art, a Canvas print or in a photo book – make sure you display it with pride.
Wanting a solution to store all your photos on before printing? Why not invest in a high-capacity USB Flash Drive?
Author Bio: CEWE are a European market and leading, innovative print and online service provider. With over 50 years of experience, we are renowned for our dedication to outstanding print quality and our CEWE PHOTOBOOK. CEWE also offer a wide range of high-quality Wall Art, Calendars, Gifts and Prints.