There are several reasons why you could be having trouble with your photos. The most common offender happens to be what you are looking at right now.
Today's monitors are much brighter than those from even 10 years ago. This affects almost every aspect of your design.
Photos: The pictures and art that you select to include in your paper may print darker than you expected due to the fact that the images are lightened by your computer screen. This may cause you to under correct the image.
Color: The color may be off as well. Screens are in Red, Green, and Blue (RGB). Projects are printed in Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (CMYK). Even if you design in CMYK, you are judging the color while looking at a RGB monitor.
Some things to try:
Computer Screens: To help accommodate for the bright screens try:
Printer's Color Profile: Ask your printer for their color profile. The profile is created starting at the press and works backwards to composition/design. The profile takes how the press handles CMYK at different percentages and contrasts and helps the design software accommodate for those intricacies. This will darken programs like Photoshop when you are adjusting images. (Don't worry. It won't darken anything other than the software you have applied the profile too. ie. Photoshop or InDesign).
Monitor Adjustment: If you can't, or don't want to, mess around with color profiles, you can start by simply darkening your screen. How this is done varies by computer all-in-ones, monitors, or screens. Once you figure out how to darken your monitor; open a blank document in InDesign, Photoshop, or Word. Then hold up the newsprint you are printing on, and adjust the monitor until it closely matches the newsprint.
Color work: Since exact color matching isn't possible, you will need to be diligent in your color selections. Each printing press prints a little different. What may give you an awesome blue on one press, could be purple on the next.
Press Color Swatches: Ask your printer for printed color swatches. Not all printers do this. If you find yourself at a plant that doesn't print swatches, no worries, just ask your printer for a good mix for a medium blue, a true red, or whatever color you are looking for. As Prepress is tightly wedged between Design and Press, they'd be a good department to ask.
Simple Colors: Each of the process colors (C,M,Y, and K) is burned onto its own plate. These plates are put on the press, rotated front and back, and slid side to side to get the colors in register. (With the press running, I might add!) The more process colors you have in text, art, or photos, the harder it will be to achieve perfect registration. To help with registration, try making colors with as few process colors as possible. For example: if you need a medium dark red; you could try: C10%, M100%, Y100%, K10%. That is 4 colors to register. You can achieve the same color with C0%, M100%, Y100%,K20%. Now, you only have 3 colors to align. Registration helps keep your designs crisp. The fewer process colors, the "easier" it is to register.
Reversed Text: If you want to print white letters with a color background or photo, be sure to keep the font large enough to register. If you use a small font (smaller than 12) or a thin/light font such as Futura Light, it will be extremely hard to register, if not impossible. For reversed fonts, choose regular or bold fonts at 12pts and up. The color that you have in the background is important, as well. If you use that same 4 color medium dark red, it will be harder to register the reversed text than if you used the 3 color dark red.
This sounds nit-picky, but every little bit of effort that the designer puts into helping things register, makes the entire page/piece look more crisp and professional.
Date the Job Prints
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Contact Name for Emergency
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Page Numbers with Color
Type of Printed Piece Broadsheet/Tabloid/Book
Weight of Paper Newsprint/35#
How Many Inserts/Name of Inserts
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