Save the dates come in many shapes, sizes and materials. Photo cards seem to be the most popular type of save the date, whether it is a postcard, a card with an envelope, or a magnet. But how do you know you are picking the best photo for use on your save the date? I’m here to help you with that today.
If your wedding photography package includes an engagement session then a lot of what I’m going to talk about isn’t be a problem for you. Just make sure you have the release form for your photos. This gives you permission to have your photos printed.
If you don’t have professional, high-resolution photos, all is not lost. My bookmark save the dates all contain photographs and have become the most popular version in my entire shop for the past several years. While most of the couples I work with have professional photos, there are a number of people that do not. While not all of photography looks equal, I hope these tips will be helpful for you whether you and your significant other have professional photos to use or not.
Choose a Photo with Good Lighting
Aside from cropping, which we will cover in just a minute, the number one problem that I see with couple photos is poor lighting. As a general rule, colors will print on paper a bit darker than they appear on a computer screen. Usually a photo taken outside in natural light, even taken on a cell phone, will print and look better than a photo taken inside.
Choose a Photo with Plenty of Negative Space
Along with good lighting, the most important thing to keep in mind when picking photos is to make sure the photo isn’t cropped too close from the beginning. In nearly 100% of the cases, your photo will not perfectly fit into the space available for the photo. This means that some cropping will be required to make the photo look the part. When the photo is already cropped too close, there isn’t anything left to crop and too much of the photo will be cut off.
Choose Clean Backgrounds
One of the biggest things than can ruin a good photo is if it is taken against a distracting background. While sometimes those in-the-moment photos can’t be staged, if you know you are having photos taken by a friend or family member on their phone, take a look at what’s behind you. You want to be the subject of the photo and the focus, not people and things going on in the background.
Be Aware of Size
If you don’t know a lot about graphic design or aren’t super computer literate, you may not realize that images you view on the web and images used for printing require different resolution settings. Ideally, the desired resolution for quality printing is a resolution of 300, where as images formatted for the web are usually a resolution of 72. Simply put… the higher the resolution, the more detailed, and the more clear and crisp an image is.
A telltale sign of size is the actual file size. Thumbnails saved from the web like facebook or instagram may be too small to use, even if the lighting and cropping appears to be perfect. If your photo has a file size of 1kb or 40kb, it will almost definitely be unfit to use for printing. If your photo is 500kb, check with your designer to see if it’s okay to use. Remember, your designer is a professional and is there to help you make the best decisions possible, to receive the best quality results.
Size isn’t an issue if you have professional photos because your photographer will provide you with print-resolution photos to use. Today, even photos taken with a cell phone can be good enough for print. Ideally you would want to make sure the camera is set to capture photos at the highest resolution possible, but if the lighting, spacing, and backgrounds of the photo are kept in mind the picture will come together beautifully even if the “photographer” isn’t a pro.
While a lot of my customers send professional photos for use on their save the dates, I would say that a good 40% send me photos that they either took themselves or that a friend or family member took with a phone or other device. If you don’t have professional engagement photos to use it may not have the same end results, but that does not mean you can’t get those fun, photo save the dates you’ve been dreaming of with a picture captured on cell phone.
If you are considering a photo save the date but don’t have professional photos and want an opinion on a photo you’d like to use, send me an email with your photo and I’ll be happy to let you know what I think!