Free the PNG

Two PNGs are combined into a single composite image.

Two PNGs are combined into a single composite image.

Again this year, I ordered school portraits from Lifetouch, including the “high-resolution” CD. Unlike previous years, however, Lifetouch is now giving parents an opportunity to provide feedback on their site and product offering. If you have children and are wondering what to say to Lifetouch, I have a couple of thoughts. Feel free to add additional suggestions in the comment section for this post.

1. Free the PNG. Lifetouch removes the background from each photo they take and then saves the photo as a PNG file. Unfortunately, they do not make this file available to customers, even on the disk that supposedly contains high resolution photos. The PNG file is important because it allows you to combine photos of multiple kids on a single page, making it look like they were actually together when the photos were taken. The PNG file also allows you to bring a photo into Artisan and select a custom background of your own choosing, giving your photos a unique appearance (see example above).

2. Multiple kids. Recognize that families may have more than one kid. Provide the opportunity to order products and packages that contain more than one child’s photo. For more on this issue, see Lifetouch Reinforces One Child Policy (satire).

3. Multiple years. Lifetouch takes photos each year. Keep all photos for each child in a single account and combine them into a collage, mug, mouse pad, or other photo gift.

I have tried writing to Lifetouch in the past without success. Maybe if Lifetouch gets feedback from lots of parents, they will finally update their antiquated business practices and address the needs of today’s customers.


About Mark Mizen

I have over twenty years professional experience in all aspects of photography and digital imaging. I am Chair of the ISO WG5 TG2 committee responsible for physical properties and durability of imaging material and am currently with HID Global working on systems for security printing for IDs, licenses, and credit cards. Previously, I was Director of Digital Development at Creative Memories from 2009 to 2012 and was responsible for the Creative Memories digital products and services. I also established and directed the Creative Memories Technology Center, which evaluated new products prior to product introduction, assisted with production difficulties, and provided technical information to support product sales.
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2 Responses to Free the PNG

  1. Monica Lee says:

    I’ve wondered what the point of a PNG is. This helps a little.

    • Mark Mizen says:

      To an extent, PNGs are like JPGs but with the ability to maintain transparency for selected parts of the photo. Think of it as digital scissors. PNGs don’t have the same file compression algorithms that are used with JPGs, but with the availability of relatively cheap storage that is not much of an issue.

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