What Size Image Do You Need?

As a designer, part of my job is creating assets for blog posts, case studies and user profiles amongst other things. More often than not that means reaching out to someone, especially when it comes to head-shots, and being asked “What size image do you need?” The answer is simple—as big as you can give me.

Size Matters

We’ve all been here before, right? Someone is crafting up your company’s next blog post and an image needs to be created using either stock or an existing photo. Save yourself an email or two by remembering that size matters, bigger is better and it’s not the motion of the ocean that counts in this situation. Send your designer the largest picture you can muster up.

Here are some pro tips to keep in mind the next time you’re asked.


  • PNG, JPEG or TIFF – All are okay, just send away, we’ll deal with it.
  • Always error on the side of larger vs. smaller, always.


  • Crop.
  • Add effects.
  • Adjust or “enhance.”
  • Scale it down or save it in a compressed format—let your designer do it.
  • Send anything smaller than 500×500—error on the side of larger and putting more work on the designer. Cropping in photoshop is > than an email chain.


AI or EPS only please. Sending a JPEG, PNG, or GIF of your companies logo is a great way to add a little frustration to your designer’s day.


Hopefully you’re using an icon font like symbolset but if you aren’t then purchase the largest option and send them the vector versions.

Stock photos

If you’re purchasing stock—go big, unless of course big means $$$$$. But let’s get real, you’re probably using istockphoto.com if you’re purchasing stock, so use the extra credits and get something xx-large—your designer will thank you later. If you’re not using iStock, or the like, then you’d probably want to discuss image options before even having this conversation.

Camera Raw

Again, send away. Unless it’s some crazy obscure format we’ve probably got it covered.

Retina and hi-res

There are a ton of methods for dealing with this situation of which your designer and dev team have hopefully worked out. This is exactly why you should go bigger than the destination size. The designer will most likely want to work with the image a bit to ensure that it meets the needs of the device landscape and the more room you give them, the better the results will be.

But, but, but…

Surely there has to be more, right? Nope, designers are usually really good at working with images. Let them do what they’re good at and save yourself the back and forth. The next time you’re asked for a headshot or something just remember #biggerisbetter and give them the biggest mugshot you can find. I guarantee you’ll see a greater return on your investment and an improved relationship between you and your designer.

Parting Thoughts

In all my years as a designer I don’t think I’ve ever asked anyone to send me a 500×500 image for anything. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever asked for anything smaller than 1024px wide. Why? Because bigger images mean more flexibility. The closer the image is to the destination size, the less room I have to work with. Sometimes I want to crop an image to a specific area or grab a smaller section for texture or something. Tiny images make this more difficult. More-so, sending small images could lead to a time-consuming email thread that leaves both of you sighing.

As a side note, destination size is kind of irrelevant as images need to accommodate a sea of devices nowadays. Like the logo, make the image bigger (but don’t actually make it bigger, just get the largest you can find.)