General Digital Photo Publishing Considerations
The process of exporting or saving your final files from your photo editor is called publishing. You might need to publish your work for any number of reasons: to print, upload to the Internet, send via email, or to use as a new desktop background. The sky is the limit.
Read your software manual to find out the exact steps required to export or save your work. However, consider some general thoughts:
Preserve original material. Never save and overwrite original files. Always track names and versions so that when you select Save As, you aren’t making a big mistake. JPEGs in particular suffer from lossy compression — they lose some quality every time you open, edit, and save them. If you’re working with JPEGs, open, edit, and save as a lossless file type such as TIFF or a working format such as Adobe’s PSD.
- Preserve working copies. If you need to export your photo to an editor like Photoshop and create things like multiple layers, masks, and adjustment layers, do yourself a favor — save those working copies. If you flatten (compress all the layers into a single background layer) or delete them, you can’t easily go back and change or update your work.
- Consider quality. When saving and exporting, you’ll have several file type and bit depth options.
- When emailing or uploading to the Internet, use JPEG.
- When printing or archiving a high-quality copy, use TIFF.
- Enter copyright and other descriptive information in metadata. That’s what metadata is for. If you publish your photos to the web, think about adding this hidden layer of protection to your photos.
- Add a visible copyright or watermark. This is another way to protect your photos. Whereas copyright and descriptive metadata are invisible, a watermark, mark, or copyright on a photo is visible for all to see. Here, a copyright watermark was created in Lightroom that stamps the photographer’s information in the lower-right corners of photos as you export them.
- Strip metadata, if you want. On the other hand, you may want to strip out any metadata to protect your secrets. Not all applications remove data, but you can save copies of final files to a format that doesn’t have metadata and then open and save those versions to your final format.
- Resize for the web. Unless you want your full-size photos to be posted somewhere online, such as at Flickr or SmugMug, you should resize images to make them quite a bit smaller. On the web, 24 megapixels is serious overkill. (The pixel count is the total number of picture elements, or dots, in a photo; in this case, 24 megapixels stands for 24 million pixels.) Some sites may reduce the size of your photos anyway.