Is there a difference in Web vs. Print?

I had a great weekend, I hope everyone else did, too.   I shot a wedding for a friend at work.  It was a lot of fun. 

I showed up at 8:15 am, about 45 minutes prior to the ceremony, I wanted to check the lighting, etc.  The groundskeeper was up and doing all of his daily maintenance beginnings when I asked him about this particular wedding.  He told me the wedding was scheduled for 3 pm.  This was a little different than what the groom had mentioned.  The groom  said the wedding was scheduled for 9 am.  So, a quick call to the groom on the cell…  “What time’s the wedding again?”  “9 o’clock”.  “That’s what I figured, I’m here already,  I’ll see you when you get here.”  No need to get him even more worried.

It seems there had been some earlier confusion about the  ceremonies schedule because of musician conflicts, etc.  So 45 minutes prior to the ceremony, the priest is still in bed, (he had a going away party with his congregation the night before, last weekend in town).  The building had not been opened or cleaned, it was a small chapel with a rock grotto up above the altar.  And the groom was proceeding merrily on his way unaware of any of this.

I did what I could to help the custodian prep the building.  He did a fantastic job of knowing what could be done and what would just have to be skipped due to time.  As you may have expected the wedding started a few minutes late, but nobody carded because, when was the last time you’ve ever been to a wedding that started on-time or without drama of some sort?

Snowgeese in Flight, Bosque del Apache

Web vs. Print

Have you ever tried to email someone an image and when you sent the email, or when they eventually got the email, you found out that it took them 30 minutes to try and download the picture, or they couldn’t get the picture because it was too big for their email account?  If you’re going to take the time to share your photos, make sure they look right for the type of display you’ll be using, printed photos or computer images.  These types of displays have different settings or resolution.  Resolution is nothing more than the number of dots in the picture within a given measure, usually an inch.

If the person you’re giving the picture to plans to print the image you’ll use one set of settings, if it’s part of an email  or just the picture, you’ll want to make sure your picture is set for that type of display.

Most programs will allow you to use a “Convert for email” button or something similar.  When you’re familiar with how that button works, a description of the settings this changes is given below.  If you’re not interested in all of the technical gobbledygook, then jump to the bottom for the quick cheat sheet specs.

When showing off your images on a web page,  you have to think about average monitor resolution.  The normal setting  these days is 72-96 dots per inch (dpi).  When displaying printed pictures for regular viewing, typically 4″ x 6″, the resolution is 240 dots per inch to 300 dots per inch, depending on the megapixels on your particular camera.  So, in order to keep your web pages loading rapidly, these images have to be changed to the right settings.

On top of changing the dots per inch, (resolution) of the pictures, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the right color setting for the media or type of display you’ll be using.  Without getting too technical, you’ll want to use your particular brand of image-editing software, Picasa, Elements, Paint Shop Pro, Photoshop, GIMP, etc.  All of these programs either have settings to convert automatically, or with a little looking you can find the settings I’m referring to.  The settings you’ll be changing are Convert Color Profile and the Image Size settings.  If you are having trouble finding these, just do a quick search for these topics in your image-editing software help menu, which is found on the far right of your menus up top.

For displaying pictures on the Internet, a slide show, television, projector, etc.:

Change your image size to 72 or 96 dots (pixels) per inch.  Changing the size of the image should always be the last thing you do, after you’re happy with the way it looks.  One of the settings it will ask you if you want to do is resample the image.  Resizing the image will allow you to change the size of the dots in the picture.  Resamplingthe image will change the number of dots in a picture.  You can resize the image repeatedly without affecting the overall quality of the picture, but if you resample the image, the image can start to look bad very quickly.  So, when you see the resample option, if you’re going to use this, use it sparingly and as the final step of your editing process.  Resizing can usually be done repeatedly and with few harmful effects.  Resample changes your picture, resize changes the size of the dots in the picture.

When changing the color settings, for display on the monitor, projection, internet, or television, change the color settings to sRGB.  This is a clipped color setting that was created just for using display media like televisions or computer monitors that best matches the available colors for those devices.

For print, always use Adobe RGB and 240 to 300 dots per inch for saving and printing your photos.  I always shoot for print and convert for electronic media later.  It’s easier to have information that you don’t need, than to  try and add that information.

Email:  72-96 dpi, sRGB Color Setting, no larger than 800 pixels wide or 600 pixels tall. 

Print:  240 – 300 dpi, Adobe RGB

As always, whatever medium you use, double-check it to make sure it meets your expectations before you post or email it.

Take care,


Digital Photography Basics , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Great advice Dewayne. I don’t like going to web sites where the owner hasn’t downsized the photos to make the quicker to view. In this day and age, I think that everyone that owns a web site should be familiar with this already.

    Tim Van Milligan, helping you Make Money Online, God’s Way!

  2. Hi Dewayne,

    I am just now in these past 6 months working more on resizing the resolution of a number of the images at my main website. However, when I work with small business owner clients who have the need for more photographs of their work, they need to display a portfolio of work.

    Happy Dating and Relationships,

    April Braswell
    Cyberdating Expert and Online Dating Coach

  3. This is great advice. What do you recommend for archival purposes for those shots of the family and vacations that you don’t need to blow up to poster size?

    Seize the Day,

    Simple Family Survival Tips For Disasters and Emergencies

  4. I still have to have my kids help me to ad attachments to an email I apriciate your advice and find it helpful because I am working hard to understand all the technology so I can implement as fast as possible.

  5. Shane

    You can always reduce the size and keep the high quality/high resolution picture for your archives but you can’t enlarge a lower quality/low resolution picture without paying the price.

    Hypnosis – Change Your Thoughts and Change Your Life –

  6. Thanks Dewayne! I even took notes on post! Got a picture up on my website late yesterday for the first time. I did resize it but wasn’t sure how to do the dpi part. Now I know! Thanks!

    Peggy Larson
    Quilting – Colors and Fun!

  7. Thanks for the information. I always have trouble when I try to resize a photo too many times. It gets all blurry. I never knew about “resampling.” It sounds like thats what I needed to do to fix the pictures.

    Lisa McLellan
    Babysitting Services, Nanny Services, and Nanny agencies

  8. It took me a long time to learn how to modify my photos forthe web. With all the pictures people are taking this is good advice to have.

    Steve Chambers, Body Language Speaker

  9. Great post in that this is something that has happened to all us at some point. now we know how to solve the problem and get those nasty emails loaded with pictures downloaded.

    Jen battaglino

  10. Dewayne,
    Thanks for explain this, I am learning how to do more with my photos and putting them online. How does one go about protecting their photos from being used or misused without permission?

    Direct Selling Advice, Leveraging Relationships for Long-term Profit

  11. Thanks Dewayne for this info. I’m going to bookmark this page for further reference when I need to look more closely at these issues with regards to photo resizing and resolution

    Mixing Romance, Feet & ESL lessons
    Enjoy Being Online here!

  12. Another cool post about photography, thanks for the dpi lesson. I have had a few of those 30 minute to open pictures sent to me, will have to forward the post on to the offenders.
    Scott Sylvan Bell

  13. Thanks for the great advice on web vs print for your photos.
    Like you mentioned, I dread those sites that take forever to load because one photo is not sized properly.

    Mandatory reading! Maybe you should write an ebook on how to prepare photos properly for web site use? I’m pretty sure many of us would buy a copy!

    The Success Secrets

  14. I’ve had lots of trouble emailing large images in the past. I found a great program that allows a simple resize of large images.

    What is Adobe RGB?

    Sabrina Peterson, NASM CPT,CES
    Corrective Exercise for Every Body

    • When working with images you want the right color type for the images you will be using, you want as much color information as possible in the file. If an image iis made using a clipped or cropped color setting, you won’t have the full range of tones or tonal values in the picture. The sRGB color spectrum was invented by Mocrosoft and is best suited for display on computer monitors. Adobre RGB was created specifically for printers and printed media, so if you’re going to use your pictures in print, Adobe RGB saves more of the color information, because it is a larger color scheme. Gee whiz information: RGB = Red, Green, and Black. CMYK the othertype of color space = Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Blac(K). Thesae are the two primary ways you will hear people refer to color specturms or types of color.

  15. This is something that I had no concept of until about a year ago, when I started doing more web work on our website. Now I realize that all of those photos I had trouble with weren’t due to a slow internet connection, but more than likely because they weren’t at the right resolution.

    The wedding story was great – and you are right, no matter what, there is always drama.

    Fun and Free Activities

  16. Loved your story about the wedding! My dad was a minister and we kids have loads of “wedding gone wrong” stories. WE are just kind of waiting for him to die to publish the book to protect the names of the guilty…
    Sonya Lenzo

  17. gary mallin

    Thanks D. That is probably the 10th time you have told me how to email digital photos, now I will print this and probably lose it and ask you again, “How do you email pictures?”

  18. I screw up sending attachments with photos all the time. I am going to have to print off your posts and put them in a notebook.

    Safety Is Everyones Business

  19. great information

    I wasn’t aware of the prepare for email button.