How Do I Download Quality Portraits of Famous People From the Internet?
January 12, 2019 5:02 PM   Subscribe

I am building a Heroes Wall in my home office and want to download high-quality resolution portraits/photos of my heroes from the Internet to frame and hang for an inspirational gallery. How can I best do this to create photo-quality images and ensure the images will fit the frames I purchase?
posted by Lipstick Thespian to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The biggest hurdle will be finding images that are high enough resolution to print nicely. What that resolution is comes down to how far you/the viewer will be from the pictures and how picky you are about how good they look. Images that are online are generally low to low-ish resolution, and higher resolution stuff often has watermarks on it. Depending on what era and country your heroes are from, you might be able to find high quality portraits available for download from national museums.

For my own stuff, I do everything at least 300 pixels per inch. You could probably get away with around 150. If you want a 4x6 print, the image should be at least 600 pixels by 900 pixels, but the higher, the better. Usually, when you search for images in google, it tells you the resolution of the pictures, but you can also see it in your photo editing software.

As far as making sure they fit your frames, you'll need to use software (photoshop or a less expensive equivalent) to crop them to the size you want. Unfortunately, the proportions of frames aren't standard (4x6, 5x7, 8x10, 11x14 are all different proportions). And the proportion of the images you find may not match any of those frames, so you may have to creatively crop the image to fit.

You'll most likely need to print these on your inkjet printer, as most stores/services won't print copyrighted pictures. Use photo paper (I personally think matte or satin looks better than glossy, which can look a bit cheap), and use the "best" quality setting on your printer.
posted by jonathanhughes at 8:09 PM on January 12, 2019

Google Image Search lets you restrict your search by size of image. Click "tools", and a bunch of dropdowns will appear, one is "Size." "Large" should be fine, but you can also do a "Larger than..." and try different sizes. Bigger is always better- 300 pixels per inch is good but 150 will look totally fine, especially in a collage.

Sometimes the Wikipedia page of a famous personage will have a nice photo of them (and usually in high res, if you click into it you can find options to download the full resolution), but very often if they're not super famous it will be an awkward picture that a fan took of them at an event, since Wikipedia only uses permissively-licensed photos which usually excludes professional headshots.

As for the cropping issue, it can help to find images that have dead space around the edges so you aren't having to crop off someone's head to get it to fit the print size.
posted by BungaDunga at 10:22 PM on January 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

When I find a picture I like that's too small I throw it on TinEye and find a higher resolution.
posted by bongo_x at 1:03 AM on January 13, 2019 [2 favorites]

You might also look for a press kit or media kit on the person's website, which generally includes photos that are high enough resolution to look good in print.
posted by ITheCosmos at 10:22 AM on January 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

You can always buy the prints too. Lots of famous photos of famous people can be bought pretty cheaply as prints. Or, depending on vintage, the Library of Congress (or other national libraries) are good high-res depositories of historical photographs.
posted by klangklangston at 11:01 PM on January 23, 2019

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