Preparing your images for publication

Artists and galleries, you’ve been working hard. And one day a writer is going to call you. That writer might be someone like me. Someone calling to interview you for a feature article in a newspaper or magazine. That writer will schedule an interview to talk about your art and will take the next day or two to write up a thoughtful intelligent article promoting your work. That writer is also going to ask you for high resolution print ready images. Will you be ready? You had better be, because there is a great chance that you may lose an opportunity to show your best work to a wide audience if you don’t have goods.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve interviewed an artist or gallery and they aren’t prepared with high resolution quality print images to accompany the article. Not only will you need these images in case of fame, but you’ll also need them for advertising, direct mail marketing, postcards, and portfolio and exhibition requirements.

I write this post because just recently I interviewed an artist. I was assured that she had high res photos of a certain piece of work which was to be mentioned in the story. I wrote up the story while waiting for the images only to find out that the artist only had low resolution images. This puts the artist/gallery in a poor marketing situation (because low res images look like hell in print) and it endangers the writer of missing deadline if the writer has to wait for you to prepare imagery. “Can’t you take the image off my website?”  Answer: NO!!  Here’s why…

Images prepared for the web are low resolution images. They are usually compressed to 72 dpi and about 1000×1000 pixels in size at the most. Images for the web are not suitable for print publication because they are teeny tiny or will display with those nasty jagged edges. You need images which are at least 350 dpi and approximately 8×10 inches in size. (Smaller photos such as 4×6 will also work but just in case that writer wants to splash a BIG photo of your work for a page spread… well, you know where I’m going with this, so just in case, keep those 8×10’s handy)

Here’s how to prepare your photos for print:

Selecting images.

You’re a professional artist or a professional gallery and these images should NOT be snap shots. You are selling high end ART… show your art to it’s best advantage and show that you are a professional. If you can’t take the photos yourself, hire a photographer. (Just a little plug here… yes I’m available to photograph your work.) It’s well worth the money to show your work in it’s best light. A professional photographer will provide you with gorgeous detailed imagery. The photographer will crop out any unnecessary background chaos and use post processing to ensure the color pops and that the image is crystal clear and color accurate. Also that photographer will take high resolution photos and will also usually provide low resolution images if you need them for the web as well.

Select images which are interesting, compelling and marketable. Quality content and clear bright images are essential. Ensure that all horizon and vertical lines are level and that the art sits straight and proud. Crazy angles, unless it’s a fine art photo, are not the best choice for publication. Photos of your art opening should include people… lots of people. But if the people don’t look their best, skip the photo and select another. Again I emphasize quality quality quality and HIGH RESOLUTION.  If you have a photo on your hard-drive and are not sure if it’s high or low res, look first to it’s size to give you a clue. If it’s size reads something like 620KB… This is most likely a low res image. Start looking for images that are maybe 3, 5, 10mg. From there you can weed out the low res from the high.

Creating photos on your own.

There are two things you need to be aware of here. First is the image size (dpi = dots per inch) and the image’s dimensions (1000×1000 pixels or 8 x10”). Your camera setting will provide you with a couple of options for this. Select the largest or highest quality setting. You can always make a large photo smaller but you can’t make a small low resolution photo bigger… or at least you can’t do that and expect a solid successful print.

You’ll need some photo editing software and there are several great ones available. Make sure to crop your photo and depending on your Lightroom or Photoshop skills you can tweak the photo for clarity, vibrance, brightness, contrast and more.

When you have collected a variety of shots for your promotion needs put those in a folder for marketing and promotion. Keep the high resolution images in one folder and the web ready images in another. This way you will be ready to go in a moment’s notice when that special writer comes calling.

Oh… and one more thing. Very Important. Don’t forget to include the title, size and medium if you are submitting photographs of artwork. The publication is going to want this information to include in a caption or in the copy.

In the case of the artist I wrote about above… well, she had a new work which she very much wanted to promote. However, because she didn’t have the image prepared, we had to change the copy and display an older image. What a shame and what a lost opportunity. Don’t let this happen to you.  So even if you have images… spend some time organizing them into folders and subsets so you are not hunting around your hard-drive looking for the ONE photo that you know you have somewhere.

Good luck.

Did you like this article or do you know a friend who might benefit? Please feel free to comment and to share.



  • Olga

    Thank you. I found this article helpful!

    April 02, 2012
  • Thanks so much for this post, it has answered so many of my questions. Keep it up

    December 05, 2011

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