5 Steps to Preparing Your Files for Printing

At GPP, we spend a lot of time teaching photographers, from amateur to professionals, how to realize their creative visions and achieve a beautiful image. But what do those select few special photographs amount to if they remain on an SD card or a hard drive? In order to fully realize the creative process, it’s essential to print your work. If that sounds daunting, you’re in the right place, as we’ve put together this handy guide to walk you through the steps.


1 - Know Your File Types


Simply put, TIFF is the format that’s best for printing, but failing that, a JPEG can serve as the next best option. We suggest you use TIFF files because they can be compressed without sacrificing the quality of your image. When it comes to printing JPEG files, you need to carefully consider the quality and resolution of your image before getting your photo printed.


2 - Keep Your Colors Consistent  


Between the digital file and the final print, there are a few ways in which your colors might play tricks on you, which is why newcomers to printing can be disappointed by their print looking different from the image they edited at home.


The first question is whether you’re working on a color calibrated monitor. If you’re working on an uncalibrated Macbook, for instance, the images may have a blue tint which may not be visible to the naked eye, so if you edit your file on such a screen and then send it for printing, the final result might be warmer than you expected. Having your screen brightness on a high setting can also mislead you into expecting a brighter image.


At GPP, we use an Eizo color management monitor, and regularly calibrate it, to ensure color accuracy, meaning that what you see on our screen will be very close to the final print. If you want to be certain about your colors, you can always come in person to place your order and view your images on our Eizo monitor first. If you want to start working on a calibrated screen from home, we can also advise you.


Another consideration is the color settings in your camera as you shoot. We recommend keeping your camera set to Adobe RGB, rather than sRGB, if you want to print your images, as those will be more vibrant and color-accurate.


3 - How big can I print this?  


The most common question our printing customers ask us is: how big can I print this file before it loses its sharpness? To some extent, it’s a matter of personal preference, but a good place to start is figuring out what dimensions would make your image achieve 300 ppi (pixels per inch). (Sometimes “dpi” and “ppi” are used interchangeably, although they are not quite the same thing.)


To find out, while in Photoshop, select “Image Size” as a choice under Image, and uncheck the box that says “Resample Image.” Under “Resolution” enter 300 as the value for Pixels Per Inch, and make sure it’s set to inches rather than centimeters. The resulting dimensions above will tell you the optimal size for printing, given the resolution of the file. If you want to print larger, you may, as long as you’re okay with knowing that some quality will be sacrificed.


To gain a better understanding of how you can change image dimensions correctly and navigate your way through essential editing tools, join our Adobe Photoshop Level 1 workshop.


Need help with this? Come place your order in person, and we’ll show you how it’s done.


4 - Choose Your Paper...or Canvas


We have a very wide range of papers to choose from at GPP, which you can browse through here. Your paper choice will depend on your intended use for the print, and the first decision will be whether you want to print on photo paper or fine art paper, which is archival. What do we mean by archival? When handled correctly, our fine art papers are guaranteed not to fade over time, so it’s highly recommended for wedding photos, family photos, artwork that you may be selling, or anything that you want to last! Given all the options, sometimes it’s best to come in person so you can see our samples for a better idea of the texture.


Alternatively, you can forgo paper and print your image on canvas instead! Our canvas is stretched onto wooden stretcher bars and fixed with hanging hardware, which means it’s ready to display the moment you get home.


5 - To Border or Not to Border?


If you want custom framing for your print, always add a 1 cm white border around your image, as this gives the framer something to work with when they mount your photo. Wider borders can also serve an aesthetic purpose, and you’re welcome to add the dimensions of your choosing.



Ready to get started? Try out our online order form, and feel free to use the “Estimate” function to test out the pricing of different papers and dimensions before placing your order.


If you have more questions, you can call us at 04-380-8545 or drop by GPP in person for a chat with one of our friendly team members. We are open from Saturday - Thursday, 10 am - 7 pm.


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