Please note: This article will not discuss the intricacies of operating a camera, or capturing an image. For tips and techniques on achieving a quality image in camera, please visit the Product Photography blog post.
One of the biggest misconceptions about product photography, as concerns the self-employed, internet-based business owner, is that the image is perfect, or at the very least acceptable, in camera every single time. However, what is often misunderstood is that the image, not the product, is the backbone behind the successful or failing internet business. Because a customer cannot touch, taste or smell the product before purchasing, the image is its own salesperson, and as much care should be taken towards producing a powerful image as in producing a powerful product. Though some consideration needs to be given towards the photographic equipment used, the goal of producing a great image doesn’t stop with ones camera, setting or props. Unless every condition is ideal, most images will need to be processed through editing software. This article will discuss types of software, and the editing process used to finalize images for product photography.
Choosing a Photo Editing Program
There are many photo editing programs on the market, though most provide far more options than a product business owner will ever need. My advice: if you aren’t educated in graphic design, skip Photoshop and settle for a simpler Adobe product. Lightroom 3 is a good alternative, currently available for as little as $60, and is more user friendly than the entire Photoshop suite or Lightroom 4. It has just been announced, however, new Adobe products will no longer be available for purchase but only accessible with a monthly leasing option.
Four free options are Serif Photo Plus, Picasa, Gimp and PhotoScape. Serif is a highly praised free program, recommended for the prosumer, with some features similar to Lightroom. It requires an account to download and the process prompts the user to install an unnecessary tool bar, but may be acceptable for a quality free program. Not available for Windows 8 users. Picasa is an acceptable free program, but better suited to editing family photos for fun, and less suited to professional imagery. The options are preset or otherwise incredibly limited, allowing less user control than is necessary for quality images. Gimp is advanced shareware, with a range of options similar to Photoshop, best used for photo manipulation than for editing. The program is “space heavy” on ones hard drive, making functionality on small devices such as tablets and netbooks almost impossible, and requires a considerable learning curve to master. For the purposes of this article, the focus will be on PhotoScape, which provides the most options for product image editing, while requiring minimal experience.
It should be noted, according to Digital Trends: “PhotoScape software is free to download. But it’s part of the Open Candy network, and runs ads for other “recommended” software. This is isolated to PhotoScape, and won’t infiltrate the rest of your computer with adware….”. I have used PhotoScape for years and have never had issue with my virus detection software or computer as a result of this product download. However, I recommend avoiding CNET for your download, since malware has been associated with that particular source. Always download programs only after thorough review of the source.
Editing The Image: Crop
Editing The Image: Color
Editing The Image: Contrast, Depth & Brightness
Editing The Image: Region Brightness and Blur
Editing The Image: Clone Stamp
Editing The Image: Watermark & Text
The Finished Image