Digital cameras, cellphones and other portable devices make it easy to take photos. With just a few clicks, you can share a precious moment with friends and family halfway around the planet. But the new technologies also create new concerns, especially when it comes to printing those photographs.
To make it easier for you to share photos online, many cameras and computers come with software that compresses or shrinks the size of your digital images. This means your photos will upload and download faster but that’s because a lot of digital information has been sucked out of them. Although your photos may still look good on your computer screen, they will be grainy or pixelized if they are printed in a magazine. In order to look good in print, photos must be high resolution; the image file must be at least 1 MB in size.
If you would like to submit a photo for publication, you need to make sure it is large enough. Ensure the program you use is downloading your photos in their original size or do not use the program that came with your camera. Instead, learn how to treat the camera as an external device and copy-and-paste the image files to a folder of your choice. Then, if you decide to submit them by email, attach them directly to your message the way you would a text document.
First thing: Set your camera to take images which are at least 1 MB in size (3 MB is also fine). That will allow you to print an 8×11 version of the image. Unless you want to turn each photo you take into a poster, you don’t need a higher setting.
Second: Most cameras do a lot of things; get to know your camera. There are settings for a variety of light scenarios including nighttime, candlelight and snow. There are settings for portraits, landscapes and close-ups. Play with these—it’s digital, you can look at your various experiments on the computer and see which ones worked. And most digital cameras allow you to take a photo the old fashioned way, through a view-finder. This really is the best way to do it; it makes you focus on the shot. Holding a camera at arm’s length instead of steady by your eye means many photos can be out of focus or jiggly.
Third: Folks are often excited that they’re submitting a photograph and they don’t actually think about the photograph itself. You’re honouring a person who may have served your congregation for half a century. Make sure they’re in focus. Make sure they take up at least a third of the picture frame. Think about the shot—do we really need to see the floor and the table? These two elements comprise half the frame in the majority of People and Places submissions. If the floor and the table are the subject of the story, then by all means, include them. But if not, walk up to the person. Don’t be afraid of them. Walk right up to them and take a photo. Also, look at what’s behind them. Posters, brightly coloured walls, things hanging, etc., have a way of detracting from the subject.
Lastly: Remember, to chose which submissions appear in the magazine, all submissions go through a lottery process each month. Often that lottery has been easy; the majority of images we receive are not high enough quality to be professionally printed. They go straight to the website. Those remaining are picked randomly—four to six in the magazine. To ensure you have a shot at a spot in the magazine, follow the guidelines above.
Coda: Have fun! Serve God!