7 essential last-minute checks to make before you share photos online

Sharing photos online is kind of like painting a Mona Lisa or Girl with the Pearl Earring, rolling it up into a bottle and tossing it into the ocean.

OK, perhaps that’s a little extreme. As a photographer in the digital age you do at least retain your original image file. But sharing photos online is a bit of a gamble. That’s why it’s important you make sure you’ve done everything to protect yourself – and your images – before clicking that button to upload them into the ether.

Here, we’ve compiled 7 of the most essential last-minute checks you should make before committing your images to any photo-sharing website.

Stop! Did you remember to change the resolution of the photos you want to share online from 300dpi? Most cameras produce images with a default resolution of 240 or 300dpi, which is not only far too big for most photo sharing websites (particularly because it will quickly exceed any size restrictions you may be limited to), but photos at this resolution can be widely printed. And stolen. As we know, the internet is rife with IP thievery, so reducing your image resolution to the web standard of 72dpi is a good way to both protect your copyright and save space.

In addition to resolution, think about the actual size of the images you’re about to post. You can expect images straight from the camera to be upwards of 3000 pixels along their longest edge. Which, again, like the resolution conundrum, means you will quickly run into space issues and be exposing your best work to potential thieves. That said, you also want your pictures to be consumed and enjoyed.

There’s nothing more frustrating than visiting a photography website and seeing brilliant images that are the size of a thumbnail. A good rule of thumb is to make your images no bigger than around 1000 pixels along their longest edge. This gives your fans pictures that are big enough to be able to enjoy the fine details, but still too small for someone to steal and print off as their own.

Save a new version
Stop! You’ve just changed the size and resolution of your images and are about to save them. Do you think you’ll ever sell this photo or want to a higher resolution version for any reason at all? Most likely, yes. So give yourself this future option and save any editing as a new version, preserving your original hi-res file.

Image metadata is often the last thing photographers think about – if they think about it at all. Because the principles of SEO are so far removed from the creative process of making pictures, it’s often difficult for photographers to see the benefit in updating an image’s metadata with search-friendly keywords. But when sharing photos online, every little advantage you can give yourself helps.

The photographers who tag photos with terms relating to the subject, style and genre of photography they want to be known for are more likely to be found by people searching for those types of images than someone who uploads an image with no metadata at all.

Colour information can be stored in a number of different ways, and because print ruled for so long, CMYK was long the default mode with which to save image files. But well into the digital age of sharing photos online and producing digital content, RGB is the mode you will find you use most. In short, just remember that CMYK should be used for any images being used for print publication, and RGB for anything digital. Before you share your photos online, make sure your image is saved as RGB. Otherwise, some web browsers aren’t able to display CMYK images and all your hard work will go to waste.

There are a lot of mixed opinions on watermarking, and we made our feelings on the question of should you watermark photos quite clear. But whatever your opinion on how big or opaque a watermark should be, most of us can agree that it can’t hurt to at least have some very subtle branding – a url for your photographer website, for instance – embedded in the border or margins of your photos. If you’re confident in your work and want people to see more of it, then a simple url can prove to be a nice viral advertisement. Many photographers will add this layer of text, but when you’re working in a hurry sometimes you can forget to flatten the image or images before sharing photos online. Always check! Otherwise your hard work is like a sidewalk that ends in a brick wall.

Privacy settings
No matter where you share photos online, every social website will have privacy settings that control who, what and when people see your images. Maybe you shot some saucy portraits at the weekend and only want certain Facebook friends to see them. Or maybe you are happy for some of your still life projects on Flickr to be used by press in exchange for an attribution, but others you want payment for. Every photo-sharing website has its minutiae, and it’s important to know these in advance. Before you share photos online, make sure you know your given site’s privacy and copyright policies and how best to protect yourself.

We hope you find these tips for sharing photos online useful – let us know below…

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