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Digital images 101

High-quality, attractive photos of your projects and products are essential for showing off your company’s services. Photos should play a central role in promotional materials, ads and editorial content. Regardless of how you use your photos, they are a key component of how a potential customer is able to judge your work; a lack of good photos can send the wrong message.

Going digital
Digital cameras are more versatile for work purposes than film cameras. You can easily delete shots that didn’t turn out well; you won’t run out of film; and you don’t have to scan photos or get film developed, although you can have prints made if you choose.

The capabilities of your digital camera make a huge difference to the quality of the photo you will be able to take. Quality is generally measured by resolution. Resolution refers to how many pixels or dots per inch (ppi or dpi) a digital photo contains—in other words, how much detail the image is able to show. Pixels and dots per inch are essentially the same measurement, with the term “dpi” more common in the print world and “ppi” used more for web publishing.

A high-resolution photograph has 300 dots or more per inch and can be used for printed pieces. If the dpi is lower than 300, the image begins to look grainy and blurred when sized appropriately for print reproduction. It may look sharp on your screen, but print standards mean the image will need to have at least 300 dpi when it is approximately 4 by 5 inches.

In order to take good, high-resolution images, your digital camera should have at least 4.0 megapixels, but 6.0 and higher will produce even better photos. The images’ file sizes should be at least 1MB or higher; the quality generally corresponds to the larger file size. For example, a 1MB photo could be of borderline quality for print reproduction, but a 12MB photo will most certainly be large enough. Take photos of your work in the highest resolution, and thus the largest file size, that your digital camera allows.