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Studio Insights

How can I know if a photo will look good when printed?

There are a few basic guidelines to follow when choosing a photo, whether it is for a holiday card, a birth announcement or a photo gift.

When looking at photos, the following areas should be evaluated:

1)      Resolution
2)      Exposure
3)      Sharpness
4)      Composition


Every digital photo is made up of lots of little dots called “pixels”.  The more pixels in your photo, the more detail it can hold.  The Stationery Studio requires a minimum number of pixels when uploading pictures to our site to make sure enough detail will be in your photo when it is printed.

“But it looks good on my computer…”

Just because a photo looks good on your computer does not mean it will look good when printed.  When a photo is printed it needs more pixels (dots) to look sharp than when it is viewed on a computer. 

Whenever possible try and use the original image from a camera. It is best to avoid using images from social media websites (such as Facebook) as they usually reduce the number of pixels in an image.

How many pixels do I need in my image?

Well, that depends on how large the image is going to be printed.  As a rule of thumb, we recommend 300 DPI (dots per inch) for printing.  For example, if your image is going to be printed 2” x 2”, you would need a 600 x 600 pixel image.  If you were going to print a 4” x 4” photo, you would need an 1,200 x 1,200 pixel image.

How do I find out how big my image is?

For Windows users: Right-click on the image in Windows Explorer and select “Properties”.  Under the Properties popup, select the “Details” tab and it will show you how many pixels are in your image (see below).

For Apple OS X users: Either hold down Control plus click, or put two fingers on the trackpad and click or tap (if set up) or go to: System Preferences->Trackpad->Point & Click->Secondary click and pick the option you want.; then select “Get Info”.  Under “More Info” will show you how many pixels are in your image (see below).

Mac Info

Exposure (i.e. lighting):

Exposure refers to both how light or dark a photo is, as well as the balance between the light and dark areas (contrast).  Below are some examples of examples of what to avoid.


Sharpness can refer to either a) whether the subject of the photo is in focus or b) how much detail is in the picture. 

Why doesn’t my image look sharp?

There are a couple of reasons why an image might be blurry.

When the picture was taken it was out of focus The subject was moving when the picture was taken The image was originally very small and was then enlarged

When looking at your pictures, it is important to zoom in to at least 100% and look at the important areas of detail (such as a person’s face) to see if it looks good.

For Windows users: Right-click on the image in Windows Explorer and select “Preview”.  When the preview window pops up, click either of the zoom controls on the bottom left corner of the preview window.

For Apple OS X users: The default option when clicking on the image is Preview

Mac Zoom

How can I fix a blurry image?

Unfortunately, if an image is out of focus when it was taken, there is not really anything you can do.  As for images that started out small and were then enlarged, your best option is to try and find the original image as it was taken on the digital camera.


Composition refers to how the photo fits in the space provided.  Is the photo going on a tall skinny holiday card?  Is it going on wide blanket?  You want to make sure that your photo will fit comfortably without having to make the photo too small or cutting off important areas of your image (such as having the top of someone’s head not showing up on a holiday card).

©2018 The Stationery Studio, LLC

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