Digital Photography for Press 101

Digital Photographic Images for Press Output

A guide by Sally Flegg from Sally Flegg Photography

Sally Flegg Photography


A good shot can sell a story as much as the text.



Use the highest quality setting option with the least amount of compression.

If you have time to work on the file the best image capture format is “Raw”.


Post Production

After you have captured the file in Raw you will need to post produce the file with software such as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom or Capture One Pro.  Although this is time consuming it gives the best quality file.

A lot of news journalists do not have time for the post production due to the rapid turn-around time on stories so the next best file capture is high quality TIFF or high quality JPEG.

Different publications use different printing presses and platforms to distribute their papers and magazines.  If you don’t know the image sizing specifications they should be discussed with the editorial office prior to digital file submission.

Digital images should be submitted in the final size desired. White space around the image should be removed.

If you do need to resize files you will need to have a copy of Adobe Photoshop or equivalent photo editing software.

Photoshop and it’s ilk can be expensive software but there are stripped down versions that are a lot cheaper and give the main photo editing tools that are needed.  Eg:  Photoshop Elements.


Colour modes

The two most common colour modes are CMYK and RGB.

CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, black. These four represent the colours of inks used in printing presses.

RGB stands for Red, Green, Blue.  These colours are made up of light and are used in the displays of computer monitors, digital cameras, TVs, etc.

All color modes are accepted, but all printed images are converted to CMYK.  A colour shift is typical when converted because the range of colours in the RGB colour spectrum is larger than that in CMYK mode. That is why green appears more pure and vibrant on a computer monitor than a printed combination of the Cyan and Yellow inks.


Resize for DPI

If you’re asked for a file to be resized for DPI.  DPI stands for Dots Per Inch and the higher means higher quality and larger file size.

For printing presses its usually 300dpi and for online it is 72dpi.

Most of the images used by journalists these days are for online content which again is generally only 72dpi.  This also makes it a bit easier to transfer files and email them as they are smaller much at 72dpi (less than 0.5MB, Megabytes).

Bigger files such as the 300dpi files for magazine can be 20 megabytes or larger and will take longer to send.  Many companies and email systems have limits on the size of files that can be sent and receive.  You may need to use a service such as Dropbox or You Send It to make these large files accessible to your publications.

With the National Broadband Network – NBN rollout in progress throughout Australia, allowing much faster throughput on the internet (especially for uploading) this will help us send large files much faster than we can currently.  But until it’s in your area and for those you are sending to,  you will need to make sure you have a laptop and basic file resizing software and a internet connection to get the shot across fast.

Because time is of the essence in breaking news, if someone else gets the shot and story in before you they will be run first.



  • In terms of equipment going with Canon or Nikon digital SLR’s are the standards for photojournalists.
  • You don’t need to break the bank.  When breaking news is happening most journalists will say the best camera is any camera that you have in your hands.
  • Multimedia Newsrooms now expect more than just still images.  These days the ability to capture video-either full-length interviews or just a 30
  • second clip to post online is expected. If your camera can do this you have a competitive edge.
  • And if you can buy a zoom lens (28-135mm) is a good range.
  • Built in flashes (even on good SLR’s) don’t cut it.  You should definitely purchase an on camera flash.
  • A basic photographic course is probably a good place to start as well.
  • Most of the automatic program modes on cameras give great results now days and as you get more confident you can start trying out manual modes.
  • Just remember getting the shot is the most important thing so start simple and experiment outside of jobs, not on the job to start with.


Your Rights and Permissions

Know your rights when it comes to photographing in a public place in Australia.  We are currently allowed to take photos of people and objects without permission in public places, as long as it will not be used in advertising.

You will need a model release form if you might be using the shots in an advert or to make financial gain.

Be mindful of what is proper and within the limits of decency.  eg: children’s playgrounds/schools/change rooms/bathrooms will need permission)

Also if someone has asked you to not take their photo in a public place and you continue to chase them and take photos you might be up for a

harassment charge.

Privacy laws do change from time to time so it is important to keep familiar with them in this industry.



If you took the shot you automatically have copyright of it, copyright lasts for 50 years after the shot has been taken.

Publishers might request you to sigh a form to waiver copyright on your image, most news outlets will have a budget to buy images this is negotiated per image (depending on demand for the image)

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