As all of our current clients know, we always ask for high-res photography when they submit their content for any particular print project. The reason why we ask is simple; high-res photos produce sharper and more color-accurate image reproductions than low-res photos. They are simply of a higher quality due to their higher resolution.
What is resolution? Putting it very simply, it is the measurement of the size of digital objects (your digital photo) when converted to physical objects (your business card). Printers, both inkjet and laser, measure resolution using DPI, or Dots Per Inch. The recommended resolution for most print jobs is 300dpi. That means that for every inch of photo to be printed, there are 300 points of color. In other words, a high-res image.
Refer to the simulation below. We have two copies of the same image, the same physical print size (1.5″x2.0″). One’s resolution is 72dpi, and the other’s is at 300dpi. As you can see, the 300dpi high-res version of the photo is much much clearer, and more detailed. Having 300 dots of color per inch of paper really pays off when compared to only having 72 dots of color.
The above images are 1.5″x2.0″, suitable for headshot on a business card, for example. If the 72dpi image looks bad at that print size, imagine if it was the only photo you had and you needed it to fill a full sheet of paper. The print quality would be terrible.
What can you do to avoid low-res photos? When taking your photos use the highest possible quality settings. The bigger the numbers, the better. Or, hire a professional and have it all taken care of.