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READ THIS FIRST - Posting guidelines and FAQs


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This section is all about presenting your finished photos to the world.  Printing them, posting them online, or giving them to your customer.  Sizes, file formats, cropping, sharpening, etc.

  1. One question per post, please.  If you have more than one question to ask, please ask them in separate posts.  
  2. No posting for constructive criticism:  This is not the place to post a general question like "how does this look?"  My team will routinely delete these kinds of posts.  Only post if you have a specific question.
  3. Search this forum and the resources section of my site before posting:  You might find your question has already been answered.
  4. Scroll down this page and browse the FAQs to see if your question is covered.
  5. Lastly, there may be some situations where I can’t answer a question because it coincides directly with my print sharpening class.  I give away a lot of information, time and expertise for free, but I am also trying to make a living and support my family.  Thanks for your understanding.

IMPORTANT REQUEST: If you have printing experience, please take a moment to submit reviews of any printing labs you've used - both the good and the bad.  This will help other members who are trying to choose a lab for themselves.

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Frequently asked questions about output:

Q. Pretty much any question, ever, about selling digital files to clients.
A. Here.

Q. Pretty much any question, ever, about photos on websites.
A. Here.

Q. How big can I print my photo?
A. As long as the focus and quality are great, as big as you like.  As big as a house if you want.  Read this article, and this one, and this one.

Q. I saved my photos, then viewed them, and they look different!
A. Not all programs are colour-managed.  Windows Viewer will make your files look different from how they looked in Photoshop, and so will Google Chrome and Microsoft Internet Explorer.  On your computer, browse your photos in a colour-managed program like Bridge.  On the internet, use a colour-managed browser like Firefox.
Furthermore, always make sure your files are in the correct colour space.

Q. Can you recommend a print lab?
A. We're gradually compiling a collection of lab reviews here.  Hope it helps.

Q. I'm uploading my photos to the lab for printing, and they look AWFUL on screen!
A. Relax.  It's just your lab's online ordering software (usually ROES), it does that to everyone.  As long as your screen is calibrated and your files are in the correct colour space, you have nothing to worry about.

Q. Why do my photos look bad on Facebook?
A. Well, because it's Facebook.  Read more here.

Q. What's the procedure for sending my photos to the lab to be printed?
A.  First, flatten the layers of your master file.  Then crop your photo as desired, to the exact size and resolution you'll be printing.  Next, sharpen the photo appropriately.  Finally, save as a Jpeg, then upload to your lab.

Q. Why is part of my photo getting cut off when printing?
A. It's the classic "8x10 problem", though it can happen with most print sizes.  Read all about it here.

Q. My client printed their images, and now they're complaining that they look bad.
A. This can happen for a frightening number of reasons.  First, they generally print them at cheap places like Snapfish or Walmart or wherever.  Second, they often attempt to print the low res files you gave them to use on social media.  Sometimes the files have been shrunk in the process of emailing them.  Sometimes clients try to print them from their phones!  Sometimes they've tried to add some kind of awful instagram-style filter and printed that.  I don't want to say "I told you so", but ... I told you so.
The first step in diagnosis is to ask the client to send you the file they had printed.  If it looks different in size or colour to the file you sent to them, you know something has gone wrong at their end.  If it looks the same as your file, then either you messed up the colour space (fix it and apologise profusely), or the lab messed up the print (encourage them to use a better lab).

Q. I need to print a huge banner.  How should I prepare the file?
A. This is a question you'll need to ask the printer directly.  They'll have specific requirements for colour, resolution, vector art, and so on.

Q. I need to display my images on a projector at a meeting.  What size should I make them?
A. If possible, find out the resolution of the projector being used.  If that's not possible, I think it's a good bet to go with the "HD" standard - 1920 pixels wide.

Q. I'm printing business cards/flyers/or other marketing materials and my printer is asking for CMYK.  What do I do?
A.  Read about CMYK here.  Don't take any chances - post immediately if you need my help.

Q. I have an iPhone picture that I want to print large.   How big can I print?
A.  Modern phone pictures tend to have plenty of pixels, so your main concern is the focus and quality of the image, rather than its size.  Examine the photo closely and critically.  If the quality is good, print it as huge as you like.  If you're not sure, post it for me to help you assess.

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