How can I change the resolution of a photo?

Digital images are very versatile for any sort of project you may be working on. The images can be used for print, web or incorporated in a video. What makes them even more versatile is the ability to purchase the largest size image available and use the image over and over in all types of media and sizes.

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Understanding Image Resolution

When resizing an image, you need to understand resolution and how the number of pixels and size of the file affect the sharpness of an image. The number of pixels an image has is directly correlated to how an image displays. The more pixels an image has, the sharper the image will be. However, the more pixels in the image has also made the file size bigger.

Large file sizes and high resolution are okay, and necessary when you are looking to create large print files. Unfortunately, you cannot add pixels to a small image to make it larger while maintaining its sharpness. This is why it is important to buy the largest file available and scale the image down as needed. Consider your project. For example, you are promoting an event and need to create a large poster, a website, and an embedded email ad. When you purchase your stock image, going with the largest file allows you to complete all of these pieces for your event promotion. Since the internet displays images at 72 PPI (pixels per inch), you can scale down your large image, as to not waste your allotted storage space. Your email ad shouldn't be a large file size, so it is important to scale down the image for use in your email ad.

How to Change the Resolution of My Image

In order to change the resolution of your image, you will need a photo editing program (Photoshop, Windows Paint, Picnik, PhotoScape, etc.). To change the resolution, there are a couple of things you can do. If you need a hi-resolution image, but at a smaller size, you can simply change the scale of the image to what you need, assuming your image was of high resolution, to begin with. If you need to resize your image for email or web, you can change the pixels or the image size, which will change the resolution of the image.

Our guide about common photo sizes – and what each size is commonly used for – will help you out as well.


Cropping the image will also reduce the file size. If there are unimportant parts of your image, it might be beneficial to get rid of the parts you don't need. Another option is to create a blank document with the appropriate image dimensions and PPI – i.e. a 3×5 image at 72 dpi. Then with the original image next to the blank document, you can drag the image into your new, blank file. If you scale the image to be within the borders of your file, you will have exactly what you need. However, if your image ends up being smaller than the document you created, you will not be able to have a quality image at that size if you need to enlarge the image.

This information, as well as other tutorials and information, is available to you, the stock photo buyer, in our tutorials section. If there is any other information that we could help you with, please contact us (or leave a comment) at any time for the answers you need. We strive to be the leader in information for the stock image buyer community.

Avatar of Amos Struck

Amos Struck

I am a publisher and entrepreneur in the stock imagery field. I focus on providing knowledge and solutions for buyers, contributors and agencies, aiming at contributing to the growth and development of the industry. I am the founder and editor of Stock Photo Press, one of the largest networks of online magazines in the industry. I am the founder of Microstock Expo, the only conference dedicated to the microstock segment. I created several software solutions in stock photography like WordPress plugins. Plus I am a recurrent speaker at Photokina Official Stage, and an industry consultant at StockPhotoInsight. I am passionate about technology, marketing and visual imagery.

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