Your Photos Look Worse on Google Than On Facebook

The folks at Google+ put a lot of emphasis on supporting photographers during their last announcement. So why do your photos look worse on Google than on Facebook?

Sharing Photos on Social Media Has Risk, But Not The One You Think

Many photographers have a dilemma. They want to share their photos online for others to see, but they are perpetually afraid that someone will steal the photo and use it commercially without any payment. Such cases are rare, but it's happened.

I don't worry about that problem because it has an easy defense. Register your photos with the U.S. Copyright Office. If someone uses your image for a commercial purpose without a license from you, then sue them in Federal court. You'll spend some agonizing months, but will come out the other end with a few thousand dollars in a nice settlement.

Theft isn't the big risk you take when you post your photos on social media. The big risk is that your images will look like crap.

Comparing Photos Posted To Google+ and Facebook

Let's get right to the meat of the issue.  Here are side by side comparisons of my image on my desktop next to the same thing posted on Google+. Click to see it larger.

Your Photos Look Worse on Google+ Than On Facebook

 The original image I uploaded is on the right and the washed out mess on the left is what Google+ did to the photo. Now let's see the same comparison of this photo on Facebook.

Your Photos Look Worse on Google+ Than On Facebook

The image is smaller, but it isn't as washed-out and devoid of contrast as the photo appears on Google+. Both images have definitely lost some sharpness and detail, but Google+ just hit my photo with the ugly stick.

The Impact of Sharing With Social Media

I brought up this topic before with my post on digital sharecropping. The simple truth is that the best place for your message, and your photos, is on the site that you control. Google+ and Facebook are inundated with billions of photos every week. These sites aren't in the business of quantity, not quality.

Most users don't realize what happens to photos that are compressed and digested into their system. If they see a photo that looks rather mediocre, then they're going to make the assumption that you're the one who submitted a mediocre photo. This is far more dangerous than having someone steal your photo. At least a good photo theft shows your photo looks good to someone. The way social media sites treat your photos, they won't look good to anyone – including your potential customers.

Better to bring those people to your site so you can show your work in its best light.

Shark Reef

Way toward the back of Mandalay Bay, you can spend a little time under the sea. In fact, people love to sit on those stones against the glass walls and just watch the fish swim around. Maybe they think it's soothing. I spent my time watching those people watch the fish while silently wishing they would get up and leave. Sometimes you don't want a tourist with a baby stroller and a Sponge Bob t-shirt in your photos.

Your Photos Look Worse on Google+ Than On Facebook



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  • Scott Baxter November 6, 2013   Reply →

    Sometimes I see this sort of thing from one site to the next and wonder if it may be a color profile problem. I often (more often than I expect, at least) encounter photographers who don’t understand profiles, other than for setting one in their workflow and never changing it. They have no idea why or when or how they might be served by converting from one profile to another. I always work in Adobe RGB because I do a lot of printing, and I’m investigating changing that to ProPhoto RGB, but when I intend to post an image online, I always convert to sRGB when I save to JPEG. I usually don’t get surprised by how my images appear doing it that way.

    • William Beem November 6, 2013   Reply →

      I doubt that’s the case here. Like you, I export for specific criteria before uploading, including sRGB color space. Both of the images in the side by side comparisons should be sRGB.

      • Scott Baxter November 6, 2013   Reply →

        Yeah — I phrased it the way I did because I had a feeling this was a variable you would have taken into account. I think your technical skills are higher than average (at least), along with your artistic sense. I see lots of people who are lacking on the technical/post-processing end.

  • James A. November 10, 2013   Reply →

    Something to check. In the setting “auto awesome” is on by default. This setting is nice for people who do not want to post process but, if you already post processed it can mess with your photo.

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