We send all kinds of files back and forth to clients and vendors every day — Word documents, spreadsheets, images, PDFs — whatever you can imagine! But the need to email photos isn’t exclusive to custom media companies. We frequently send and receive electronic files with people who aren’t members of a creative profession — and of course with our friends and families. We’ve found that outside of the small circle of us who regularly use electronic images in the course of our business, the proliferation of point-and-shoot digital cameras has led to some bad habits as we try to share images.
Make sure you are sending your electronic images in the best way using these tips.

  • Get the right size image to start with. Digital cameras have different size settings. If you plan to ever print your pictures — whether at the photo store or in a magazine — you need to use at least the medium setting, and ideally the highest quality and size settings. You’ll get fewer pictures per memory card that way, but memory is cheap. And a photo too small to print can be worthless.
  • Step 2 of sizing is critical, though. When you’re considering sending a photo to someone else, know how they will use the image. If they need to print it, be sure you send the original, full-size file. Depending on the image viewing program you’re using, images may print much smaller than they appear on your screen. So send the biggest image you can.
  • But … when you’re sending large images, email is rarely the best option. Many email servers will bounce large files, and even if your files get to the destination, downloading a multi-meg file can take many minutes. While the download is in progress, the recipient may not be able to send or receive other messages. Upload your photos to a photo-sharing service like Flickr, or use an FTP service if you or the recipient has one available.
  • On the other hand, if you know the recipient won’t be printing the image, for heaven’s sake, size it down before emailing! Need a quick, cheap way to downsize images? Google image resizing and take your pick — there are lots of free utilities to choose from. Keep in mind, it’s not the dimensions that are at issue — it’s the size of the file. You will need to lower the quality setting to reduce your file size. This will also reduce the dimensions, but a high-quality setting on an inexpensive point-and-shoot camera will still give you an image too large to view on most computer screens. So if the file size is big, you’ve got lots of flexibility in resizing.
  • Likewise, many video files are large enough to stall email. So what to do if you find, or receive, a funny video and want to share it with your friends? Resist the urge to email the file. Instead, use a search to locate the video online, using keywords from the title or what happens in the video. Chances are high you will locate it in a minute or so, and can send the URL to your circle. If it’s an original video, upload it to YouTube for sharing, rather than clogging up inboxes.