Why Photobook Press Asks Photographers to Use sRGB as Their ICC Profile for Photos in Photo Books

by Photo Book Expert on September 08, 2023
Photography is an art that delicately captures moments, landscapes, and emotions, freezing them in time. When photographers decide to convert their digital masterpieces into physical photo books, they are often met with the challenge of ensuring their photos look as stunning on paper as they do on screen. One crucial element that plays a significant role in this translation process is the use of the right color space, specifically the sRGB ICC profile. But why does Photobook Press, and many other printing services, emphasize using sRGB? Let’s dive in.

Understanding ICC Profiles and Color Spaces

Before we delve into the specifics of sRGB, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of ICC profiles and color spaces. An ICC (International Color Consortium) profile is a set of data that describes how colors should appear on a device. These profiles help maintain color consistency across various devices like monitors, printers, and cameras.

Color spaces, on the other hand, are specific organizations of colors. They determine the range (or gamut) of colors that can be represented or displayed. The most common color spaces in photography include sRGB, Adobe RGB, and ProPhoto RGB.

sRGB: The Universal Standard

1. Widest Compatibility: sRGB, which stands for "Standard Red Green Blue," is often touted as the universal color space. This is because it's the default color space for most consumer devices, including web browsers, TVs, monitors, and even some digital cameras. When photographers use sRGB, they ensure that their photos will look consistent across the broadest range of devices.

2. Printer-Friendly: Most photo book printers, including those used by Photobook Press, are optimized for sRGB. Even if printers can handle broader color spaces, the default and most predictable results come from sRGB images. This ensures that the colors in the printed photo books closely match what photographers see on their screens.

3. Avoids Color Mismatches: sRGB has a narrower color gamut compared to Adobe RGB or ProPhoto RGB. While this may seem like a disadvantage, it's actually beneficial for print. Broader color spaces may contain colors that printers can't reproduce. When photographers use such color spaces, they might see unexpected shifts in color when their work is printed. With sRGB, what you see is often what you get.

The Pitfalls of NOT Using sRGB for Photo Books

While it might be tempting for photographers to stick to the larger color spaces because of the broader range of colors they offer, this could lead to some issues:

1. Unpredictable Color Shifts: As mentioned, broader color spaces might contain colors that the printer can't reproduce. This results in the printer trying to approximate, which can lead to shifts in color, making the final print look different from the digital version.

2. Saturation and Brightness Issues: Colors that might look vibrant and rich in Adobe RGB or ProPhoto RGB might end up looking washed out or overly bright when printed if the printer is not calibrated for those profiles.

3. Added Complexity: Working with broader color spaces requires a deep understanding of color management. For those who aren’t professionals or lack the experience, this can add unnecessary complexity to the printing process.

Making the Most of sRGB

Knowing that sRGB is the recommended color space for photo book printing doesn’t mean that photographers should shoot or edit exclusively in sRGB. Photographers can still shoot and do initial edits in broader color spaces. However, when preparing images for print, they should convert their photos to sRGB to ensure compatibility and predictability with the printing process.

Additionally, using tools like soft-proofing in photo editing software can help photographers get a preview of how their photos might look when printed. This provides an opportunity to make any necessary adjustments before sending them off for printing.


In the intricate journey from camera to photo book, maintaining the authenticity and vibrancy of a photograph is paramount. While there are numerous color spaces available, sRGB stands out as the most suitable for photo book printing, given its universal acceptance and compatibility with printers. By understanding and leveraging the strengths of sRGB, photographers can ensure that their printed masterpieces faithfully represent their vision. So, when companies like Photobook Press recommend sRGB, they're ensuring that the stories photographers tell through their photos remain as vivid on paper as they were in the moment they were captured.