Optimize Candidate Photos

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Optimize Candidate PhotosWhen including candidate photos on the ballot, those photos should be sized to 100 pixels wide x 120 pixels tall. This guarantees two things. One, the images will have small file sizes and load very fast on the ballot. Second, they will appear nicely sized and positioned inside the candidate biography window and won’t be so large they push the biography itself out of the way requiring the voter to scroll more than necessary. Or worse, scroll horizontally as well as vertically.

For the record, photos which do not match those dimensions are automatically sized to them by the system at the moment the photo is uploaded. But it’s never a good idea to rely on the system to size your candidate photos. The system 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. Of course, the simplest way to ensure the photos are sized to 100x120 is to ask the candidates to provide them to you already in those dimensions. When that doesn’t happen, you likely have software already pre-installed on your computer that’s perfectly adequate for the job. Don’t fear if you’ve never done it. This isn’t heavy, expert-level photo editing and it doesn’t require Adobe’s expensive, flagship photo editing software, Photoshop to do it.

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.

If you’re on a Macintosh, 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.