Photos your designer doesn’t want you to send them

Experienced designer

Here designer Annette Peppis shares tips on how to supply designers with good pictures. 

I have lost count of the amount of times I am asked by a client to design a high-end publication or a book cover – only to be supplied with sub-standard pictures. Often, the type of images you need are not readily available in photo libraries so a different approach has to be taken. Here are some guidelines for you to ensure your marketing materials are up to scratch and your products and services are shown to the best possible advantage.

1) Use a pro

If you can stretch to it, use a professional photographer. You will pay more but it will be well worth it. Still-life photography becomes much more cost effective if you have a batch of items to shoot, so plan carefully and make sure you don’t miss anything out. While you’re at it, you might want to get a professional headshot done too!

2) Take high-res pics

If a photographer is beyond your budget and you are taking the shots yourself, make sure that they are of a high resolution (large file size). Low-resolution photos (72 dpi) will do for the Internet or e-documents but files for print need to be 4 times the size (300 dpi) to reproduce well. My compact Nikon has controls to allow me to change the resolution of the photos I am taking. It is set on High by default – I can always reduce the size in Photoshop later if required.

3) Light your subjects well

Good lighting is essential to show off your products and capture the colours accurately.

4) Use a tripod

If your hands are as shaky as mine, this is a must!

5) Plan in advance if you need cutouts

Asking me to make a cutout from an image which has a very busy background is difficult and time-consuming. If you think you might need a cutout of your product, shoot against a white background. A large sheet of white paper under and behind the item will suffice, as will a white sheet (but try to make sure there are few or no creases). It may sound obvious, but make sure that none of your image is cropped off (see photo below).

6) Don’t rely on Photoshop

It’s a wonderful tool, but you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear!

family with cropped feet
The background of this picture is quite busy, making a cut-out more difficult to do, and the feet of the grandfather and granddaughter are cropped off, making a successful cut-out impossible.

Annette Peppis is an enthusiastic early member of BookMachine. Annette helps publishers attract more readers by creating a professional look that builds their business and reflects their values, and offers smart and stylish solutions. You can read Annette’s blog about about graphic design here.

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