Image Specs for Trade Show Displays

by Bob Chapa on October 9, 2014

Images for trade show displays need to meet certain specs if you want them to look good. It’s not just a matter of snapping a photo on your phone or buying an image from a stock photo site. And you certainly can’t download photos from the Internet, because you could violate copyright.

Here are three things you should know about photos for your trade show displays.

1. They must be 300 dpi at final print size

DPI refers to dots per (square) inch in a photo. More dots means better quality. Most photos come in one of three sizes, 72 dpi, 100 dpi, and 300 dpi.

Tabletop model trade show displayYears ago, the screen resolution for computers was 72 dpi, so photos didn’t need to have high resolution. Recently, monitors have gotten better, like Apple’s Retina display, so the resolution needed to be higher. But printers can print high quality work at 300 dpi; 72 and 100 dpi prints look terrible. Since we’re printing your trade show displays, the photos have to be 300 dpi.

More importantly, you can’t just get a 300 dpi image that’s only 3 inches by 3 inches. If we enlarge it to 9 x 9, the resolution is now 100 dpi, which will look jagged and pixilated. Your image needs to be 300 dpi at the finished print size. That means hiring a professional photographer or designer, or buying images from a stock photo site.

2. They have to be appropriately licensed.

If you only know one rule about copyrighted images, it’s this: if you don’t have permission from the owner, you can’t use it. That means you can’t copy your favorite image from Google, or use a photo from a magazine or book.

You can buy your images from a stock photo site like Getty Images or iStock Photo, or hire a professional photographer. Stock photo sites sell licensed copies of photos. Professional photographers give you the work you paid for. The one caveat is to make sure you buy the correct size. If you’re not sure, ask us.

3. We can often buy them for less.

Since we produce so many banners, business signs, and trade show displays, many Signarama stores have a stock photo account. We all buy so many images, we can get them at a lower price than you could. Let us buy your images for you and save you some, or even a lot of, money.

When creating trade show displays, it’s important to talk with your Signarama representative early. We can help you with the design process, help you avoid pitfalls, and help you get the right images. We can make sure the images for your trade show displays are the right resolution, can be used in this manner, and save you the most money possible.

For more information on trade show displays, visit the Signarama website. You can also find your local Signarama store with our online store locator.

This post was written by...

– who has written 16 posts on Signarama Blog.

is president of the Troy/Madison Heights and Southfield SIGNARAMA locations. He specializes in corporate signage packages, national brand roll-outs, and project management of sign conversions, particularly with mergers of large companies. Bob is also a loyal Tigers fan, and is looking forward to the 2014 season, and a return to the playoffs.

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