Digital photography is fantastic. It offers so much more convenience than the transparencies, prints and negatives we used to use - and this is particularly true for studios like us and for our clients. It makes collecting, storing and using photographs effortless - and with email and the internet those images are much easier to distribute instantly to wherever they need to be.
But it also creates problems for us - and one of the biggest of these is the way it fools people into thinking that because they have a digital image that looks good on screen it will be suitable suitable for use in print.
We are often sent images to put into brochures, onto adverts and even onto exhibitions that have simply been taken from the internet - and unfortunately it just doesn't work.
So why can't we just use the image - especially when it looks so good on screen? It all comes down to the image's resolution - the higher the resolution, the clearer the image.
The problem is that on screen we view images at a resolution of roughly 72 pixels per inch - and this means that even a low resolution (or low-res) image tends to look good on the screen. But when we print images in brochures etc, these images need to be much higher resolution - ideally at least 300 pixels per inch.
That might not mean much to you - but what it basically means is that if you look at the image at the top of this article - a photo that looks like the eye top left on screen, could end up looking like one of the eyes at the bottom if we reproduce it at the same size in print.
You can see why it is confusing for clients - they look at the image on screen and it looks beautifully crisp and about the size they want to use it - so when we tell them it isn't good enough quality for print it seems like we are just giving them a problem.
It's made worse because it's hard to find out the resolution of an image without a photo editing programme like Photoshop - and not everyone has access to Photoshop.
But you can get a good idea from just the size of the image file on your computer. Typically images will be supplied as JPEGs, and an A4 (210mm x 297mm) image at 72 ppi will create a JPEG of approximately 500kb or half a megabyte. To use that image at A4 in print, however, we need the image to be 300 ppi, and at that resolution the JPEG will be around 3.5 Megabytes.
So even if you don't know what resolution the image is, just by looking at the size of the file, you can get a good idea of whether it will be suitable for print.
The bigger the file, the better the result.