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I recently had my sons newborn shoot done and the photographer has sent me all his images in kB, is this right as I have always received MB files from previous ones. Will the quality be ok when I go to print a large size picture?

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    What was the 'fee structure' (EG: 1/2 hour + 10 prints for $300), how many photos were taken? -- Maybe she shoots 100 photos and sends them all in tiny JPGs so you can choose the 10 you want to actually pay for, then you get 10 prints of a specified size and a promotional USB Keyfob with high resolution (MB) versions for you to print yourself (or elsewhere) if you wish. Low resolution (KB) images that are watermarked are either not the finished product or there's a problem with what is expected that people would accept. – Rob Jan 31 '18 at 8:46
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    Check the wording of the contract/invoice/licence agreements. I routinely send images in kB rather than MB (by providing in lower res), just because it's a lot easier to email a smaller data file without either client rejecting it. My invoice/licence agreement also stipulates if they want higher res versions then they can have them free of charge. – Crazy Dino Jan 31 '18 at 12:43
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    Hi everyone thanks for commenting so far, we paid $350 for the session and we signed a contract to say that we would have access to all digital files - ( own them ) we did the same with another photographer, who sent the images in MB. When I went to a canvas store to print they said these weren't mean to be enlarged and quality would be low. When I asked the photographer she said that she always sends files in KB and it shouldn't be an issue, I asked for the unedited ones - she said she deleted them and doesn't have them now so all I have is the Kb pictures. – Laura Heden Jan 31 '18 at 14:22
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    The problem won't be they're in kB. A filesize is NOT representitive of quality. What you need to do is check the properties for the resolution (pixel dimension height vs width) and potentially the DPI. It's very likely she gave you lower res copies you'd be unable to print in order to upsell you prints. It's common business practice. – Crazy Dino Jan 31 '18 at 15:39
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    @MarkRansom all depends on the data held in the image... I just exported a JPEG 3600x2400 (so 12"x8") but as it was shot on white seamless the file size was 360k.. the images above all feature similar colour tones... – Crazy Dino Jan 31 '18 at 19:28
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KB and MB are units to measure the amount of digital information. Without getting into technical details, what is important for you to know is that a megabyte (MB) has about 1,000 times more digital information than a kilobyte (KB).

If a photographer provided a 1KB image to you, you have reason to be worried. If they provided a 900KB file - that is not very concerning. Keep in mind that the units can be used to describe the same amounts, such as 0.9MB ≈ 900KB.

In general, if the images look fine on your screen I would assume your photographer knows what they are doing and shared with you images to fit the use case for which you purchased them. If you purchased images to print, the photographer should provide images suitable for printing. If you only purchased rights to digital images without the intent to print, that is a different case.

  • Hi thanks for this response, we paid for images to print - they range in size from about 200kb - 700kb. I asked for the unedited images just so we have them in MB to print and also offered extra money just so she could send them but she has said she has deleted the original pictures. I had a bad feeling when. She took 2 months to send - after his session so we have used someone else for his milestone pics since. I am just upset that I won't be able to print off good quality pics of my son or get them on a canvas- do you think printing at 16x18 will still mean the quality remains? – Laura Heden Jan 31 '18 at 14:37
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    The resolution of the pictures matters more than the file size. When you open these in a editor or viewer, you should see an image size like 2592x1520 or similar. This is the size in pixels. So what is that size? Also, I have no idea why they would delete your originals so quickly. – JPhi1618 Jan 31 '18 at 14:55
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    @LauraHeden I don't think you understand. MB vs KB is like pounds vs. ounces, they are just different units of the same thing. Don't worry about that, just be concerned with the resolution, that's what determines your printability. Also, don't expect any professional or even serious amateur to give you the unedited images. That being said, it is surprising that they deleted the originals, that's not typically done either. – Robin Jan 31 '18 at 17:32
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    Hi everyone again! Thank you for all your comments I have just gone in to check one of the images and it's as follows - width 2084x height 1528 pixels, resolution 300 - is this going to be ok if I tried to order a 16x18 canvas quality wise? Thank you all so much! – Laura Heden Feb 1 '18 at 5:34
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    @LauraHeden 2084x1528 is 3 megapixels. No professional photographer would be caught dead using a 3 megapixel camera today, it's obvious that the image has been resized. With that said, the texture of the canvas will obscure fine detail anyway, so the print might look OK; I'm afraid the only way to know for sure is to try it. – Mark Ransom Feb 1 '18 at 19:18
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As some other answers have already pointed out the measure unit means nothing in itself, although it's obvious in this context that you meant something entirely different. While it's true that you can measure the size of a file both in KB and in MB, in this context you clearly mean "the pictures are less than one megabyte"

That said, as everyone wrote, the size of the picture itself is not a straight index of quality: most image formats perform some kind of compression, which means they use a plethora of mathematical algorithms to store a bigger quantity of information in a smaller file; this can happens by trading off the quality of the picture, and on the other hand it heavily depends on the information stored in the picture itself, so sometime you can happen to have a small file with an high quality image or a big file with a poor quality image.


Finally, all cleared, let's come to the core of the question: will you get decent enough prints from this picture?

Well, quality is way subjective, and on top of it it depends not only from the size of the print but from the distance you plan to look at them. So here it comes some starting point, to at least have a rough measurement; just remember nobody can measure your expectations :-)

The magic word in printing is "DPI", which stands for "dot per inches"; this is a measure of how many "points" we fit in a inches when printing.

Let's take a 2084x1528 pixels image and print it at 300 DPI. Math it's easy:

  • 2084 / 300 = 6.94 inches
  • 1528 / 300 = 5.09 inches

So at 300 DPI, for example, you can print your pictures at a size of 7x5 inches. Stay with me, we are nearly finished.

I used 300 DPI 'cause is a way common number when it comes to high quality printing, but that's not a magic number. What's the next step? Well, pick your quality!

As I wrote most of it comes from your own expectations, but you can always start with some "scientific evidence". Taken from one of the many website reporting this table, here is a list of common DPI numbers you can use a starting point for your decisions:

Common DPI Table related to viewing distance


Finally, two additional advices:

  1. You can always print one single picture and see the result. On a different note, the photographer said she trashed the originals, so you have no other choices. On a different different note she may be hiding to you that she still has the files, and if you order prints from her you'll get a better result. On a different different different note, this is a terrible photographer: a professional puts its logo in a way which doesn't draw away the eyes from the subject of the picture, here she did the total opposite. And she trashed the original, which is a bad thing for her to do
  2. As a last resort, you can actually try to ask someone to enlarge the picture while applying a good sharpening algorithm, so that when printed it could ("could") give a better result. Again, "could".
  • +1 to all of this, but it's also with adding that high jpeg compression is another way to squeeze file size down without reducing pixel resolution, and the resulting compression artifacts will also affect how a print looks. – mattdm Feb 1 '18 at 11:05
  • I'm glad you spotted the actual resolution posted as a comment to another answer. It's possible that the photographer was simply ignorant of this information; if her customers all received 8x10" prints they might not have noticed anything was wrong, 191 dpi is still pretty good. – Mark Ransom Feb 1 '18 at 19:13
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Your intuition is right. Modern cameras produce higher resolution than pictures you posted. Also the photos have the photographer logo, so the image is a result of post-processing in a graphic editor. For example the child skin on forehead looks edited (fashion magazine like smooth).

Best is to ask the photographer also to send you the original camera files. They might not look as fancy, but they are like negatives, preserving all information from the photo.

If you like the visual edited result, then maybe ask the photographer to send the image saved in PNG-24 format (it contains more information than Jpeg). Or if the photographer agrees, the original graphic editor files (e.g. PSD or TIFF).

  • Something is definitely wrong when someone feels the need to airbrush a baby's skin. – xiota Mar 10 at 3:07
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I had a bad feeling when. She took 2 months to send - after his session so we have used someone else for his milestone pics since.

You did well to find a different photographer for further photos.

When I asked the photographer... for the unedited ones - she said she deleted them and doesn't have them now

Deleting photographs in this manner is unprofessional, and indicates she simply does not care about her clients. It's also possible she does not want anyone to see them unedited or without blatant watermarking.

we paid for images to print - they range in size from about 200kb - 700kb.

I'd expect problems printing files of that size regardless of resolution. Either the resolution would be too low or there would be significant artifacts, such as banding. Likely both.

I have just gone in to check one of the images... width 2084x height 1528 pixels, resolution 300

Her practices are clearly substandard. Long delivery times, overcompression, resizing to unusual dimensions, and watermarking in the central image area.

Image dimensions normally have values that are divisible by 16 to work optimally with the JPEG compression algorithm. The nearest appropriate values should be 2048x1536.

we signed a contract to say that we would have access to all digital files - ( own them )

Check the wording of your contract. If it does specify all digital files, that could include unedited versions and intermediates. The photographer would be in breech of contract. She needs to provide the images as specified in the contract. Remedies may include refund, mysterious file recovery (from the "Trash" can), retakes with proper delivery, and lawsuit. It seems retake is out since your son hasn't stopped growing and this photographer can't deliver photos in a timely manner. Also, the costs and stress of a lawsuit is likely not worthwhile for a $350 photoshoot.

Consider this an opportunity to revise the contract to specify you want original unedited as well as edited finals with no watermarks. You may also need to specify that images should be in the full-resolution produced by the camera with minimal compression settings (JPEG 95 or higher). Also make sure "own them" means full copyright assignment.

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