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I just started doing baby photography and did photo sessions for my first few clients.

I have 2 questions that I'd appreciate your help with:

  1. My exported images never look as good as the images on the Lightroom screen - what should my settings be?

  2. I will send the images to clients via programs like WeTransfer and the clients will have the authority to print the images themselves. What should my export settings be to send my clients the images for print?

Thank you!

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    Regarding 1, what export settings are you currently using? In paticular, if you ae using a color profile other than sRGB, it is possible your image viewing program doesn't understand it. – fkraiem Mar 7 '18 at 23:25
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    In addition to what fkraiem said, are you downsizing at all in the images you give? For example, maybe you don't give full res, but half res (still good enough to print, just not a full res file) – Hueco Mar 8 '18 at 0:03
  • Thank you for your reply. My settings are jpeg, sRGB color space, quality - 100, sharpen for checked and screen & standard selected for sharpen for, limit file size is unchecked. – Eileen Mar 8 '18 at 13:10
  • This is too broad. It depends on print process, the images, the look you're going for. I mean "clients to print the images themselves" - okay are they high end clients printing it in a lab or is this someone using their $100 home printer that's never been calibrated? – RyanFromGDSE Mar 28 '18 at 13:20
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1. My exported images never look as good as the images on the Lightroom screen - what should my settings be?

Do you want to export those images for saving LR edits as non-RAW/XMP-versions, post-processing or are those images the ones you want to send to your clients?

Whenever I export images e.g. for editing outside of LR I use .psd (when I need to edit them in Photoshop) or .tiff (if editing needs to be done in a non-PSD-compatible program) as image format, sRGB color space. To ensure the dimensions of your image stay the same, leave resize to fit unchecked.

Using a lossless format like TIFF is important if you have to edit your images at some point later because formats like JPG use lossy compression. That means that everytime the image is saved, compression algorithms are run to reduce the file size. This results in data loss every time you make a change to the photo and save it (even at quality 100!).

If you don't want to edit them later, you can export them as .jpg. To achieve maximum quality exports my settings are the following:

LR .jpg export settings

2. I will send the images to clients via programs like WeTransfer and the clients will have the authority to print the images themselves. What should my export settings be to send my clients the images for print?

If you don't mind that your clients have the full resolution image, you can use the .jpg settings from above.

If you rather not want your clients to have the full-res image, you can activate "resize to fit" and set the desired export size. LR won't stretch your image if the defined width/height is bigger/smaller than the original image width/height ratio (example resize to fit "Width & Height": an image with a resolution of 1000x1500 px will be exported at 1000x1500 px even if the settings are w:1000 h:5000 px).

Whenever "resize to fit" is activated, I normally check "don't enlarge" to prevent LR from upsampling. In rare cases, when the original dimension of the image is a bit to low to achieve 300 PPI (or whatever density is needed) at the desired dimension, I uncheck "don't enlarge", check "Output Sharpening" (set the type to whatever you want to do with the image) and set the amount to "Standard". As far as my experience goes, LR is generally better at upsampling than the printer / other programs.

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Your screen has a defined set of colors that it can display, and this often differs from what most printers can reproduce. Often your print looks duller or muted compared to what you see on the screen. In addition, our screens are backlit, and this can also impact the differences you see with a print.

The best solution to this problem is to 1) calibrate your screen, and 2) softproof your images against the printer profile.

Calibrating your screen means using a calibration unit like those from Spyder, XRite and others. This will ensure that what you are seeing on screen is consistent and as accurate as possible. Most will also adjust brightness and gamma as well, also important in judging colors. (by the way, if you are not using an IPS or IPS variant monitor, you will likely have poor results, as with other monitor technology, such as TN, colors vary depending on your head position).

The next step is to import in your printer profile. Most services publish their printer profiles, and even places like Costco provide theirs. You import this .icc profile into Lightroom, and while in Develop module, choose this as your soft proofing profile. This will show you a more accurate view of what your edits are translating to in print. Most often these profiles are also provided with variations depending on paper being printed, so choose the profile that matches your intended paper. A quick call to your printing service will tell you what printer type is being used, and available papers.

While you are limited to what the screen can show, you will have better results in final print. In addition, after you see how the prints turn out, you can adjust your edits to ensure consistent results, only possible because you calibrated your monitor (and you do it regularly).

For more on how to import your .icc profile, this blog post is helpful.

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