Stock photos for print

Hello Designers,
So I was going to Unsplash because they had free pictures, many at 300 ppi. Now they have proclaimed that ppi/dpi doesn’t matter. Because they’re forgetting about print. Where it definitely matters. Now most of their pictures are at 72.

Now I need to figure out a new source for stock photos for printed materials. I don’t get a whole lot of jobs that require me to search for stock photos, so a subscription is out.
My clients would all be using these for professional purposes, so I need Royalty Free for commercial use - and not a bunch of confusing jargon. I pay for photo, I use photo as needed. Reading t&c is not my forte as my eyes usually glaze over.

I don’t really want to deal with charging clients for stock photos, but not sure what other choice I have. I feel like many clients don’t understand that you actually have to pay for pictures (probably because of the abundance of free photo sites, and clients not understanding print quality).

Anybody got any suggestions? Thanks!

Um, well, that’s not really the case.

What’s important is the number of pixels in the image. If there are, say, 10 million pixels in the image, it makes no difference whether it’s been saved at 72ppi or 10,000ppi. The only time the ppi becomes relevant is when you prepare that image for print, in which case that 10 million-pixel image would be downsampled (rarely upsampled) to a resolution in which 300 pixels would be allocated for each row of halftone dots on the printed material when being printed with a halftone dot frequency of 150 lpi.

I don’t know anything about Unsplash (never heard of them), but from your description it just sounds like they’re no longer bothering with the ppi designation because it isn’t relevant to a digital file and only becomes relevant when the image is sized for print output. In other words, just download their largest image, then when you need to size it for print, make sure it’s large enough for you crop it to 300ppi at the size it will be printed without having to upsample (enlarge) it.

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Hold. The. Phone.
I thought I couldn’t do that?! This is excellent news, but on a previous thread … wait. I’m re-reading it.


I thought before you were telling me that I can’t take a 72ppi photo and resample to 300 and have it look fine for print. But, I’m gathering now that it was about the size of that particular image.

Sometimes my poor little brain gets overloaded with information and I misunderstand.

Carry on.

(resize to 300 ppi not resample)

Resizing involves resampling when the total number of pixels in the resized file is different from the original.

For instance a pic at 72dpi reduced to 24% in size will be 300dpi. So the original pic needs to be physically bigger than you need to print at.

Another important thing to remember, is that the now-ubiquitous 300 ppi rule of thumb was originally specified as a dumbed-down catch-all aimed at people with no understanding of how print works. Very often, you can get results that are just fine with less than 300 ppi.

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Most large format machines are optimized at 150ppi.
Though I rarely see that. Even for lambda prints (digital wet photo prints) which optimize at 200ppi.
The results depend on the image.
I have to say, even tho these sites give their image sizes in pixels, that it isn’t a far stretch of the imagination that some free site imagery (and some pay site!) has been manipulated by the content provider.
GIGO rule applies.
(Garbage In, Garbage Out.)
Don’t be shy about telling a stock site their image sucks and get your money back, if you pay for one.

Thanks guys!
I used to take 72 ppi photos and resize them to 300 and have them turn out fine all the time. I got confused from the other thread and thought I’d been doing it wrong, or at least not how you’re “supposed” to be doing it.
I worked briefly in a sign shop and we did a lot of large format printing, most of which were at 150ppi. I have a really awesome wall mural that I printed there. It would have been about 25" wide at 300ppi but I made it at bout 9’ wide and it looks great even up close!

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