How to fix Blurry Photos on your Website and Social Profiles

Images come out of a camera at anywhere from 5,000 to 8,000 pixels wide. If you put this straight onto Facebook or Instagram, it’s going to get crushed into oblivion.

The problem lies within the upload.

It’s of the most common client issues we see at our studio. You’ve done the right thing by paying a professional photographer to produce great images, and you’ve even paid a bit extra for premium retouching – but when it comes time to upload the image, it all falls apart. You’re left with a blurry or discoloured profile image, and nobody gets to appreciate your image for what it is!

The most common reasons we see for this are actually quite complex. They are things that most people wouldn’t even consider when they’re trying to figure out why their images are blurry, small or overly compressed – if they even notice at all.

We’ve put together a few common issues and how to fix them so that all of our clients can get the sharp, defined images that they paid for.

The uploaded image is too large (or too small).

When you receive the final images back from us, you’ll likely receive a few different sizes. One of these sizes may be “high resolution”, which are perfect for sending to printers or graphic designers – but they generally aren’t any good for using on the internet. Their file sizes tend to be very large, which means there’s a large amount of information in them – much more than you need for displaying them at a small size on a computer screen!

When you put a high-resolution file online, there’s a long list of problems that you might encounter. It depends on where you’re uploading them to, and how the website handles the file.

If you’re uploading the image to a website that you own, it may cause the pages to load slowly for your visitors – typically resulting in poor engagement and an increased chance of the visitor leaving your page. On the other hand, if your website automatically resizes and compensates for the high-resolution file, uploading several of them may result in increased server load or disk space usage. These outcomes are undesirable – they usually slow down your entire website, cost you money, or both.

If you upload a high-resolution image a social media website like Facebook or LinkedIn, you hand over the data-crunching decisions to them. Social media websites have algorithms and procedures for ensuring a fast experience for their users, and they usually react to high-resolution files by crunching them down to tiny file sizes. This process destroys fine details and degrades the overall quality of your images, and leaves you with a low-quality photo on display to potential clients!

On the other hand, if the image you upload is too small, the website will need to artificially expand it to fill the space – causing a similar blurry and unprofessional result.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to avoid this issue. We supply you with low-resolution images that are perfect for uploading to various websites. These images are pre-compressed to suit most platforms. We use a specific process to prepare these images in such a way that the target website deems them ready for use, avoiding excessive compression and quality reduction!

The colour space is incorrect.

Colour spaces are a little more complicated but are a common issue when working with professional photographers. Incorrect applications of colour space result in images that appear flat, dull or odd in their colours.

Luckily, it’s not necessary to understand the nuances of colour science to resolve this issue!

Photographers capture images in a format that allows them to edit and retouch images extensively, and sometimes they’ll slip up and provide you with your final images without converting them to a standard colour space! Our processes generally eliminate the risk of this happening, but sometimes we provide images tagged with an alternate colour space, usually for a particular purpose. Sometimes these images are mistakenly used for another purpose – causing them to render incorrectly or underwhelmingly.

There are several common colour spaces that you may encounter when working with photographers – sRGB, Display P3, AdobeRGB and ProPhoto RGB as well as various CMYK profiles. sRGB and Display P3 are destination profiles, supported by devices and displays typically owned by consumers. AdobeRGB and ProPhoto RGB are intermediate profiles, used by professional photographers, retouchers and editors. They provide a more extensive palette for professionals to work with – but without an appropriate software configuration or compatible hardware, they can cause images to appear incorrectly. For example, an incorrectly tagged or processed AdobeRGB image appears desaturated, while ProPhoto RGB images displayed incorrectly turns skin green and skies purple. CMYK images are destined for the printing press and contain a much smaller range of colours than a screen is capable of displaying. When viewed on a device, they look very underwhelming, potentially taking on a candy-like appearance with a significant colour shift.

So, how do you fix that?

The easiest way to resolve this issue is only to use images marked for screen usage. As with the resolution issue, this is easy when you select our low-resolution imagery for use in screen applications.

If you have a specific size or destination for your images, tell us! When we know what we’re dealing with, we can ensure a painless upload or print process for you and your team. While we do our best to get it right with minimal information, it always helps to have the details the first time, and it saves you from unnecessarily using up revisions that could otherwise go towards perfecting your edits.

While there is a long list of other reasons why your images may not appear as intended, these are the two most common. We’re always happy to assist our clients in getting the most out of their imagery though – so if you have a concern about how your images are appearing and you haven’t found an answer in this article, get in touch and we’ll work through it together.

And if you feel like getting technical…

The best way to resize images for web is to use a “bicubic” resize algorithm. This takes into account all of the pixels around each original pixel while it resizes, so that fine details get rendered properly. Photoshop does this by default. To get a really nice upload, you’re best off using a base two, or binary friendly image width. In my observations, this avoids nasty resize algorithms in the majority of scenarios. The best sizes to use under this assumption are 2048 or 4096 pixels wide, and it’s always best to do any cropping within these dimensions prior to uploading it to the platform.

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