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How To Do Your Own Photo Printing


Photo printing

Photo printing

© J. Bear
You've got a picture. You want a print. Open it in your software and just hit the print button, right? Maybe. But if you want the photograph to look good, need it in a certain size, only want part of the picture, or need to have it printed on a printing press, then there's more you'll need to know and do for photo printing.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: Minutes to print. But it could take much longer to properly prepare an image for photo printing.

Here's How:

  1. Select a photograph. This could be the easiest or the hardest part of photo printing. If you have many to choose from but need only a few you'll have to narrow it down to the ones you really want. There are other considerations as well.

    Are you printing a photograph of a person? If it's for commercial use, consider these tips on how to use pictures of people. There could be some legal issues.

  2. Choose photo-editing software. You may be perfectly happy to print a photograph directly from its folder on your computer. You can even print multiple layouts from Windows. But chances are you'll want to do some editing first so you'll probably use Photoshop or some other image editing or photo-editing software.

    For some quick editing you can do basic fixes and photo printing directly from the Windows Vista Photo Gallery.

  3. Edit a photograph. You may need to get rid of red eye or crop out a busy background. It will vary from picture to picture. Pick the editing you need:
  4. Resize a photograph. You can crop a photo to change its shape and size but there are also other ways to resize it. You may need to resize a photo to fit on a certain paper size or to make it fit your layout when using it in a newsletter, brochure, or scrapbook page. Closely related to resizing are resampling and getting the resolution right for how you'll do your photo printing.
  5. Place your photograph. If doing photo printing from your graphics software this step isn't necessary, jump to step 6. But if you are putting your photograph into a newsletter or a on a scrapbook page then you'll need to import it into whatever software you are using. That might be desktop publishing software or word processing software.

    The best way to do this is to use the import, place, or insert commands in the software. Be sure you have your image the way you want it. It's usually not a good idea to resize, rotate, or crop photos after you place them into a page layout program.

  6. Pick paper. There is a wide variety of papers out there for desktop photo printing. You can get glossy, semi-glossy, and matte finishes. Photos on glossy paper will look more like the photographic prints you get when you develop rolls of film. Photo printing uses lots of ink so you'll want the thicker papers developed specifically for photos. Plain office paper doesn't work well. Use these tips to help you choose the right inkjet photo paper.

  7. Do a Print Preview. If your software offers the option, it's usually a good idea to do a print preview. Do this after setting the printing options (including choosing a printer and setting the paper size and any imposition or special layout options). A print preview can alert you if your image is too big for the paper size you've chosen.

    You may be able to do many tasks in print preview. For example, Print Preview options in Photoshop include scaling, color management, and adding a border to your photo.

  8. Preflight. This step is applicable only to page layout files containing photographs that you are sending out for commercial offset or full color digital photo printing. Your printing service provider will do the actual page and photo printing. You just need to make sure your digial files meet all their requirements.

    Typically, your photos will be part of a digital file containing text/fonts, and embedded printing information.Some things to check for in connection to your photos include missing images, proper image formats, resolution, and color settings.

  9. Print a photograph. The most time-consuming part of photo printing is just getting it ready to print. With desktop printing, depending on the speed of your printer and print quality you choose it can take a few seconds or several minutes to print out a photo. The bigger the picture, the longer it will take. Try not to handle the photo for a few minutes after it finishes printing. Let the ink dry.


  1. With offset color photo printing, you need to provide your printing service with color separations. Or, let them create the separations at an additional cost.

  2. With digital color printing (to your own desktop printer or through a commercial printing service) you don't need color separations. But do talk to your printer about the specific color specifications needed for the type of digital photo printing you plan to do.

What You Need

  • Photograph
  • Image-editing software
  • Printer or Photo printing service
  • Photo paper
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