I have this client that is having a very frustrating time. I took some pictures for their clothing line. I formatted them for social media posting and copied them to a USB. I gave her the USB and for some reason the images look completely different on her computer than mine. She insists on doing more editing herself with cheap software, is this compressing the images? They are very blurry. She tried to upload to facebook, and again they are blurry. The pictures look great on my computer, and I have no problem uploading them into facebook. What is going on here? The images are jpeg. Should I convert to tiff?

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    "Completely different" in just the blurriness, or in some other ways too (like, color changes)? Does the blurriness look like JPEG compression artifacts, or is it smooth? – mattdm Apr 3 '18 at 13:31
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    I've posted a more general answer, but if you want something more specific then some sample images would certainly be useful. Perhaps the original photo jpeg, plus a screenshot of the image your client produced and also a screenshot of the original photo on your own system. (screenshot helps because it shows us what's being rendered and ignores color profiles stored in the image file) – caesay Apr 3 '18 at 13:39
  • Does your client unknowingly have any filters active in her software for softening the image which should be de-activated. – Stan Apr 7 '18 at 16:38

The first thing I would do is make sure you're exporting the photos with a sRGB color profile. If you use a tool such a photoshop or lightroom, your default color profile might be ProPhoto RGB which is great for print, but doesn't necessarily translate to other devices or to the web. If this is the problem, it could cause colors to appear a different hue, or even become faded when viewed on other devices.

The second thing you can try is export png, tiff, or bmp instead of jpeg. While this won't necessarily make a noticeable improvement for most photographs, it will preserve the quality of the image if your client insists on editing them herself. Each time you edit a jpeg you lose some of the detail due to the image being re-compressed in a lossy way. This does not happen with other lossless formats.

The last thing you can do is make sure the monitor you use, and the monitor your client uses is color-calibrated. Your monitor may not have come color accurate out of the box, and the intensity of the R, G, and B pixels in your display can change unevenly over time. You should re-calibrate your monitor on a regular basis, possibly monthly if you use it a lot and want your post-processing to be accurate.

  • tbh, if you're working for web, you shouldn't even be starting in ProPhoto, start in sRGB. Of course, if the system's not even calibrated, then it's all just guesswork anyway. – Tetsujin Apr 3 '18 at 13:34
  • @Tetsujin I disagree. It's always better to work with the most detail you can, regardless of what the final output is going to be. That is, high resolution, high bit-depth, wide-gamut colour space. When exporting an image, it's just prior to that point that you would resample, convert to sRGB, etc. – osullic Apr 3 '18 at 14:35
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    @osullic: I actually agree with Tetsujin, I only change to ProPhoto if I'm specifically planning on printing an image (super rare). – caesay Apr 3 '18 at 15:01
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    I am also on the "work in the space you're targeting" side of the argument, here. :) – mattdm Apr 3 '18 at 15:27
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    @osullic Color space doesn't work the same way as bit depth or resolution does. You actually lose color fidelity when working on a wider color space and translating it down to sRGB, because to accommodate the wider color gamut using the same number of bits, the gradations between each unit are higher with larger gamuts. And that doesn't even begin to take into account that you may be basing your editing decisions on colors you see that don't even exist in the sRGB gamut. – Michael C Apr 4 '18 at 0:02

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