February 22, 2010

Over at She Writes...

I'm getting all practical with today's "Countdown to Publication" post over at She Writes. An excerpt, from a section offering tips on author photos:

I really enjoyed Randy Susan Meyers' recent post on "Photoshop-Botox for Author Photos." An additional thought, based on my days at a magazine where I was in charge of photo-editing: Be careful of poses that are difficult to crop. Bringing your knee or your hand up by your head may look really cute when we can see the full-body posture. But if I've got a box in layout big enough for only your face, a random knee floating by your left ear--or an index finger thoughtfully crossing your chin--is going to look mighty strange.

Every author photo is really four photos: the color version, the grayscale version, and for each of these, a "big" and "small" version--a print-ready file of 300 dpi, minimum 4x6 inches, as well as a web-friendly version at 72 dpi, minimum 2x3 inches. Why multiple file sizes? Traditional printing processes require a lot more "dots per inch" of ink in order to define an image, whereas our eye registers a picture on screen using much less data. Those who work online don't want to have to upload hefty files that clutter their server space; printers forced to run less than 300 dpi end up with grainy or blurred images. JPG is the current standard format (a few publications request TIF, but can usually deal with JPG in a pinch). BMPs from Paintbrush are not acceptable, nor are GIFs--it's a function of file size, compression, and palette management.

Name your file "[Last name][First name]" (i.e., "DoeJane") or, if a credit is needed, "[Last name][First initial]Credit[Photographer First name][Photographer last Name]" (i.e., DoeJCreditMattBell"). I can't tell you how many author photos go to magazines having just been ripped from a digital camera--with the nondescript, overly long file name to boot. If a file like that gets saved to a folder, it's really tough to find again. And in the last-minute stages of proofing, it's really handy to have the author name (and photographer credit) embedded for reference.

You can read the whole post here.


Jason Crane said...

That was an extremely useful column. Thanks very much for writing it.

All the best,


Kristin said...

I love your post and plan to link to it soon.

Since you mention photos, I thought I'd ask this question, in case it's simple.

I have had a journal publisher ask for a batch of photos of high resolution, 300 dpi or more. I have until June to get this done, but I immediately went to my photo file. My thought was that I'd send them in digitally, but perhaps that's where I'm getting confused.

I have a digital camera, and I've taken scores of pictures, but I can't figure out how any of it translates into dpi. Or perhaps it only translates into that when I print? Perhaps the camera thinks in terms of something else?

If there's an easy way to figure this out, I'd be grateful for the tip.


Jessie Carty said...

i always just use paint to try and shrink my .jpgs into smaller .jpgs. You can use the resize feature but i don't remember how to tell specific dpi. sorry on that one!

Sandra said...

Hi Kristin,

Your question is totally reasonable!

First: digital cameras often talk "PPI" (pixels per inch) instead of "DPI" (dots per inch), They are comparable--no need to do a numeric conversation--and now you know that when you're shopping for cameras and they describe the model in terms of # of "megapixels," they are telling you how high a resolution picture the camera can take.

Two: the DPI (i.e. PPI) of an image can change when you scale the image. So, let's say you have a 4x6 image taken at 72 DPI. If you resize that image as 2x3--without reducing the file size, which is usually a checkboxed option--you now have a 144 DPI image, i.e. the same number of "dots" in half the space.

For whatever infuriating reason, most cameras are set at the default of taking photos at around 200 PPI for a 4x6 image. That's not a problem when your publisher only needs to use the image at a smaller size--say, a thumbprint headshot on the back of a book cover. They size it down, the PPI goes above 300, no problem. It's a problem, though, if you need to use the image at the size it was taken, or larger.

This is something you can probably tweak through your camera's manual settings. Manufacturers aren't evil--they have the PPI set low because so many people only use photos for viewing online, in digital camera frames, or in mid-grade photo printouts where 200 is sufficient resolution. That way each photo doesn't eat up space on your memory card.

I hope that's helpful. Good luck!


Kristin said...

Thanks so much--your reply was very helpful!