A Picture is Worth (Sixty) Thousand Words

Did you know that people process images 60,000 times faster than they process text?

The power of images comes from the fact that they affect us on an emotional as well as an intellectual level. We also process visuals in our long-term memory, so they make a lasting impression.

What does all of this mean for you and your business?

When it comes to getting and keeping your clients’ attention, the images you use are just as important—maybe even more important—than what you say.

It’s because images are so powerful that the quality of the images used in graphic design is so important.

For example, it might seem to make sense that an inch-tall logo or head-shot that you grab online would work just fine at the same size in a printed piece, but the truth is that almost none of the files that can be pulled off a web page (72 pixels per inch) are going to have enough pixels for print work (250-300 pixels per inch).

On top of that, part of putting images on the web means making the file size as small as possible. This means graphical compression in the form of jpegs, png or gif files. So, in addition to being lower resolution, an image pulled from the web is poor quality, with color shifts or loss of detail due to the format it’s saved in.

Even if you make it past all of that and find a high-quality image online to “borrow,” there are legal issues to consider. Images in Google search results may well be copyrighted, and nowadays, companies can employ sophisticated tools to search the internet for images that look similar to theirs, making the chance of discovery much greater.

Happily, there are ways to ensure your images wield their power effectively, and make the lasting impression you want them to.

Partnering with a professional graphic design team is half the battle. Your team can help direct you on the technical specifications of any images that are required, as well as resources for where to obtain them.

There are also a few tips that can help you pack the most visual punch:

  • Always go to a stock-photo agency. For most usages, “royalty-free” photos will work fine and cost you under $25 a piece, though if you want something truly striking, you need to be willing to pay a bit (from10x to even 100x) more.


  • Many agencies provide varying resolutions for the same price. Always get the highest resolution, especially if you may use it again in the future.


  • Pictures are usually defined by their pixel count, so if an image is 3600 x 2400 pixels, it should be fine for use as a sharp 12″ (3600/300) x 8″ (2400/300) print that’s to be viewed at arm’s length. It’s probably even fine at 16″ (3600/225) x 10.6″ (2400/225), as long as the original image is nice and crisp. If you’re moving onto a poster or mural, you should shoot for 100 pixels per inch for final artwork.


  • If you have questions, or run into challenges, communicate with your graphic designer to ensure the images you are putting into the design will result in a high-quality finished product.




How do you use images to communicate your vision? Do you have any favorite sources for high quality images? We invite you to join the conversation!

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