How To Upload High Quality Photos to Facebook And Fix A Common Mistake

We've all been there, we work so hard preparing, shooting, editing or whatever it may be when we're involved in taking photos. After everything is finished and the photos look amazing, we cannot wait to share our photos to the world. But are they the highest quality possible?

Too often as I scroll through Facebook, I see photographers, model, makeup/hair stylists, etc sharing their hard work... all to be left with compressed and rather pixilated photos. It is well documented that Facebook "destroys" or compresses image quality when uploaded to the platform. So what is the root to this problem?

Exporting Photos from Lightroom for Facebook 

The root of this problem is better known as "compression artifacts." While we all enjoy the ease of posting unlimited images free of charge to our friends and followers, Facebook compresses their images in order to reduce file size, hence save bandwidth space.

Since you're probably already aware of this issue, how do we overcome this? After experimenting with different uploading methods to the platform, I've found a solid export preset on Lightroom that I use on a daily basis. Before I share the preset I've made for Lightroom, I’d like to make clear that there are multiple ways to get to the same desired result of high quality photos for Facebook. This is simply the method I’ve found more suitable for my workflow.

The key here is set the pixels to the longest side at 2048 px. This is what Facebook considers the "high quality" dimensions when uploaded to their platform. I have read in other places that setting your "Quality" option at 60 renders good results, but from what I have found, setting at 100 works fine. The final crucial setting is the "Color Space," setting at sRGB is important because if the Color Space option is set to a different color profile, you may see color shifts when exported.

An additional method I found useful was from photographer, Erich Caparas, and how he exports his photo from Photoshop. 

Another GREAT resource from here at Fstoppers is Nino Batista's in-depth article from last year about how he experimented uploading his photos to Facebook and how to render great results! 

Uploading Photos to Facebook

Now that we've exported our photos via Lightroom, what is a common mistake to avoid when uploading to Facebook? Simple. Post your images from your desktop or laptop opposed to your mobile device. 

Below is a comparison of the same image file, one uploaded from my desktop and the other uploaded from my iPhone onto Facebook. Look closely, can you see the difference? 

There's a significant difference in size when uploading from your phone vs. uploading from your computer. The smaller photo was uploaded from my mobile device onto Facebook, while the larger, crisper photo was uploaded from my desktop. These images were both at 100% and untouched.

The difference between sharpness quality is night and day. Even though most photographers upload from their desktops, I see this all too common from other team members involved in the creative process. Just make sure to make a friendly reminder on why this is important. We all work very hard on creating the best imagery as possible; we shouldn't leave out the presentation of our work as part of that process. 

Do you have your own method use? Share your thoughts!

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55 Comments

I got sick of Instagram doing something similar to my photos so I eventually tinkered around and came up with 2000 pixels on the long edge, good to see I got pretty close to this on my own!

Although: "Even though most photographers upload from their desktops..." how? I've seen articles about this but they always seem to center around the same workflow in the end anyway, getting images to your phone.

Nick Pecori's picture

The quote that you referred to from the article was regarding uploading to Facebook, not Instagram. Thanks for reading! -Nick

Ah yeah good point

Stepan Maxa's picture

But Instagram's default size is now 1800 px

Good to know, I was just eyeballing things and got close enough with the 2k I'd say :). But I'll try 1800 and see what that looks like now

Instagram's resolution is actually 1080

Stepan Maxa's picture

Sorry, my mistake, mistype

The article talks about Facebook, not Instagram...

Nick Pecori's picture

Thanks for the resource Dominik!

That video of Erich Caparas: he suggests using "assign profile" when mentioning srgb. That's just plain wrong, when assigning srgb to an argb file you just get the same color shift which you would get from posting argb files on the web. You should use CONVERT to profile instead.

Kyle Ford's picture

Exactly this. If you assign, it's just like the browser interpreting the colorspace incorrectly.

Actually he DOES convert the profile. That is what I saw in the video.

Rui Bandeira's picture

I now prefer not to have images uploaded to Facebook...
Let's face it... I prefer having tragic on my site instead of having tragic on Facebook, so I upload the images to my site, on the blog page and I share the link to it on Facebook, users will see one image on the post and they will be redirected to my site.

Anders Madsen's picture

Agreed, but that just opens an almost just as nasty can of worms: How to crop an image on your website so Facebook doesn't perform additional cropping and presents a thumbnail with parts of your original image missing.

Considering that the crop may be different on mobile and desktop devices, that quickly turns just as ugly as resizing and compressing an image for posting directly on Facebook...

Rui Bandeira's picture

I crop the images with 1200px on the larger side and it works fine for me.
If I font like how Facebook presents the thumbnail I will make one image just for the Facebook sharing.
You can check it out on my Facebook page www.facebook.com/ruibandeirafotografia

Scott Stebner's picture

That all depends on what your analytics say. In general, my research shows links get far less engagement than photos posted with a link pasted into the post. Not all people are this way obviously since there are outliers, but it's important to also measure how different forms of content drive engagement and click throughs to your ultimate goal for your website.

True. But I measure this as how many really cares about the image. it's easier to "like" an image on facebook than to click the link. So they who really want to see the image, will click the link. That's one way to measure "real" engagement.

True. I guess my research just tends to find that the display of an image with a link inserted is more preferable than a link in general. Therefore, it's important to maximize any potential advantages for a photograph :). The big thing is that we're all paying attention to the metrics, so good job :)

I did that for awhile and got A LOT less views/likes/etc. (engagement) FB is a jerk like that. Not only do they limit your content views (especially page posts) but it's even less if it's not something you directly posted to FB. (with out paying for views of course)

Rui Bandeira's picture

for me it works.
first Facebook is not were most os my new clients come from, the new clients usualy come from my web site and google seartch, i ask to almost all new clients were they found me...
but also i see that whem i share these links in to my facebook page i get lots of vizits to my site coming from facebook...
so for now its working fine for me

"they limit your content views"
Now why do you think they do that? I have liked almost 2000 pages since I joined facebook. How on earth can I see every update from all those pages every time I log on? So of course not every post is getting a view from every follower ;)

@Nick Pecori : 100% jpeg compress dont work ... facebook always resize jpg and pngs too to ~78% jpeg compression level.
Just upload a black to white gradient test image and you will see....

You should not have to do all this to get a decent image posted. Most people don't have the ability or technical skill to do this. These companies need us more than we need them. When do we stop creating work-arounds for things that don't work the way they should out of the box.

Ben .'s picture

You guys posted an article only a few weeks back that was your "social media cheat sheet" that had all the info you need to resize for all social media aspects. The info in that contradicts the info in this. For example, facebook according to that facebook requires 2000px long edge yet this article says 2048.
So which of these supposedly has the correct information?

I post my images at 1000px on facebook, and 4000px on google+.

I personally use 1920px for Facebook uploads, exporting from Lightroom as PNG file, with Magic Export plug-in. No problem with image quality loss.

Clients usually prefer smaller file sizes. I set quality to 85 and it's fine, Facebook compress more than that anyways. I have also tried 60 without noticable quality issues. Photographylife has more detailed article on quality and resizing for facebook. When uploading image with text, .png is best. Facebook also accepts TIFF, but I haven't tried that yet.

Sorry, but there's no night and day to that phone vs. desktop. The phone is slightly lighter and cropped a bit different, but that's all I see. The eye is sharp in both. There's a bit of extra artifact in the phone, but I had to look really close to see it. It's more like a noon and 1 o'clock difference. :P

This is only noticeable from viewing on a desktop. There is a big difference in sharpness. When I opened both mobile and desktop photos into Photoshop, the mobile upload was significantly smaller than the desktop upload.