Remember the story about the 3 Blind Men who are shown an animal and asked to describe it? Of course, being blind, they use their hands to feel parts of the animal and then describe what they think the animal is. The first one goes to the front and reaches out to the animal he says, “This is long, thick and strong like a python snake!” The second moves forward, feels the side of the animal and says. “This is tall and wide, like a wall!” Then the third goes to the back and says, “No, this is long and thin, like a rope!”

Meanwhile what the men don’t realize is that they are meeting an elephant, not a python, wall or rope. Communicating the proper appearance of digital images can be a lot like this. When there is no tangible image what we see depends on how our systems are setup. Without following proper color management procedures, or paying close attention to what the others in the workflow are doing we become like the blind men, describing something based on just a small part of the whole picture.

Fortunately the answer has gotten a lot easier in the last several years. Advances in software and hardware has made trusting what you see on your screen possible. By calibrating and profiling your displays using any one of the reputable packages available these days we can know that we are looking at something pretty close to “The Truth”.

If it stopped there life would be easy. But, of course, life is not so easy. In the vast majority of times there are others in the chain we need to deal with. Making sure your image is treated properly and winds up looking like you planned is one of the big challenges in the modern digital workflow.

Here communication is key. Knowing who to talk with, and what questions to ask can be critical to the process. How do you know what the client needs? And how can you get it to them in a way that makes getting it right easy? This is where groups such as UPDIG and DISC come in.

UPDIG, (the Universal Photographic Digital Imaging Guidelines,, is an industry-wide group created by a consortium of photographer’s groups such as APA, ASMP.EP.PPA and many more throughout the world that is focused on determining the requirements for digital images in the various parts of our industry. The folks working on UPDIG have created many resources for photographers and clients including guidelines and “Best Practices” documents for both image creators and those receiving digital images.

This work, begun at the 2004 PPE show, is on-going and continues to grow in both scope and reach. Go to their website,, to learn more about the group and to download the guides and best practices, then put them into practice and share them with your clients, and anyone receiving your digital images. Remember, communication is key.

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