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Optimize Candidate Photos

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Optimize Candidate PhotosWhen including candidate photos on the ballot, photos should be sized to 100 pixels wide x 120 pixels tall. This guarantees the images will have small file sizes and load very fast on the ballot and will appear nicely sized and positioned inside the candidate biography window without pushing the biography itself out of the way requiring the voter to scroll more than necessary. Or worse, scroll horizontally as well as vertically.

Photos which do not match those dimensions are automatically sized to them by the system, but it’s never a good idea to rely on the system to size images. It isn’t aware of a photo’s subject matter and is likely to resize in a way that isn’t desirable. All it knows is it’s been given a file which needs to be 100 pixels wide and 120 pixels tall and it will do whatever is needed in order to make it match those dimensions with no regard to how the photo’s subject is contorted. Therefore, a human should handle this task before loading them into the system.

The task of sizing these images is simple enough for a person who knows how to do it, but it’s also simple enough even for a first-timer. You likely have software already on your computer that’s perfectly adequate for the job. Don’t fear if you’ve never done it, we're not talking about heavy, expert-level photo editing here.

Because software changes over time and this article is intended to live indefinitely, I’ll not provide step-by-step instructions specific to any one piece of software. This article will be future-proofed by mentioning a couple programs that regularly appear on the various flavors of Microsoft Windows that will work, and also how to do it with a Macintosh. If you’re on Windows and have Microsoft Office installed, you may find Microsoft Office Picture Manager already installed. If you don’t have Picture Manager on your machine, you may wish to use a program called Paint. Even with Picture Manager installed, you may find Paint is easier to use anyway. To see if Paint’s on your machine, go to the Start menu, select All Programs, go to Accessories and there it should be. For instructions on how to use Paint to crop and resize images, try submitting something like “crop resize images using paint” into Google to find step-by-step instructions that are current to the date on which you need to perform the task.

For Macintosh users, Preview works to crop and resize images. Again, just submit to Google something like “crop resize images preview macintosh” for instructions.

Regardless of operating system or program used, there are a couple best practices to always keep in mind. Crop photos to be just a head shot. In other words, if working with a photo that shows the candidate head to toe, or even head to waist, it’s probably best to crop just to show the head down to below the shoulders. 100x120 just isn’t enough space for more than that. The sample ballot on this web site is a perfect example of how to crop images. Secondly, photos should always be saved as .jpg images. When you go to save the image, you may see other options like .png or .gif. Saving images in those format would be wrong, and they must be saved as .jpg images.