10 best practices for picture editing

Looking your best

One of the most common mistakes newbies make when adding images to their DIY website is skipping picture editing — and not taking time for image editing can hurt your business.

If you hastily load pictures onto your website without any edits, it lowers the overall quality of your design, distracts from your brand and message, and makes you look sloppy.

However, if you follow a few simple picture editing tips, you’ll be able to really impress your audience and look like the professional that you know you are.

All it takes is some basic picture editing tips and you’ll be on your way to a really strong website for your business.

In fact, if you’ve created your site with a tool like GoDaddy’s Website Builder, then you’re already ahead of the game. Not only can you whip up a gorgeous site in under an hour, but also they integrate with a library of stock photos you can choose from. You don’t necessarily need your own photos to start.

Keep in mind, though, that stock images might need picture editing, too.

What you’ll learn about picture editing in this article

We’re going to cover the following topics in this post:

It’s possible you can get away with less editing if they’re from the same photographer and fit in well with your brand (you don’t need to worry much about adjusting size or cropping because that’s built into the tool.) But if you’re uploading your own photos, don’t skip the picture editing step.

Related: How to use a stock photo 8 different ways

Why is picture editing an important skill for entrepreneurs to have?

If you take the time to learn picture editing, this guarantees that your images are all top quality, and gives you the opportunity to create a clear style on your website by consistently using the same filters, lighting, or adding your logo to the picture.

Consistency is key with picture editing.

 

It’s pretty easy to achieve even if you only have a few initial source pictures to work with. If you’re clever, you can take a single edited photo and use it multiple ways to get more mileage out of it.

When your images look professional, this makes your business look more professional and enhances your “Know-Like-Trust Factor” (or KLT).

You’d be surprised how much of this KLT factor hinges on the quality of your website design and images.

If you take the time to edit your pictures so they look top notch, visitors will trust you more. They’ll get to know your brand better if your images are edited consistently, and they’ll like you better if your site looks amazing.

In the article, “Know, like and trust: The essence of networking,” they described the benefits as, “All things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to those people they know, like and trust.”

So you can see that when you focus on KLT, your visitors are more likely to purchase from you as well as refer you to other potential customers.

If you’re sitting there wondering how to get started, thinking, “how do I edit photos?” and maybe feeling like you won’t have the talent for it, stop worrying.

I promise you can do it!

Basic image editing doesn’t take that many additional resources or formal website design experience. Follow some picture editing best practices and come away with epic results.

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Best software for image editing

One of the main picture editing tips I give to new business owners is to take some time to learn Adobe Photoshop, because it gives you the most control and allows you to use and create mockups, graphics and more.

I’ve been using it for years and it is my all-time favorite for picture editing and graphics. But not everyone is ready for that kind of program when they’re new. Thankfully there are other options out there!

Mobile apps for image editing

I’m a small business owner, too, and often I find myself doing work LOTS of places other than my desk at home. I want to edit pictures when I’m in line at the post office or at the bus stop waiting to pick up my kids. So my biggest picture editing secret? Apps on my phone!

Photoshop does have a mobile app, but I don’t like it as much as the desktop version. So I researched a few mobile apps to use instead and three came out on top (all available for both iOS and Android):

  1. Your mobile device’s built-in image editing tools (comes with your phone). Don’t disregard this resource. You’d be surprised what you can do with tools you already have on your phone right now.
  2. Adobe Lightroom CC. Most people don’t realize that you can use this app for free! You don’t need a paid Lightroom subscription to use it. (Adobe Lightroom Desktop version is included with an Adobe Photoshop subscription so if you want to get the whole shebang, it’s not that expensive.
  3. Snapseed. This free app is my personal favorite! Check out the examples below for a demo on how Snapseed works.

Photoshop alternatives for desktop image editing

The fun doesn’t stop with these options, though, so check out these affordable Photoshop alternatives for even more photo editing tools.

Related: How to use Canva to create branded images in less than an hour

Picture Editing Snapseed Options
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Using color-embedded profiles (if possible)

One reason you might want to use Photoshop is because it allows you to use something called a Color Embedded Profile. (Lightroom allows this,too.)

According to photographer Amy Eaton in the video, “Smartphone Photography Tips for DIY Product Photos — Etsy Photography Tips,” apps that allow you to use a color embedded profile are preferable because this allows your colors to remain true across different website platforms. If you’ve ever uploaded your product photo to your website and were startled because the colors mysteriously looked CRAZY then you need to know about color embedded profiles!

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10 best practices for picture editing

Let’s take a look at 10 best practices for editing images and photos, including:

  1. Use the right lighting.
  2. Limit distractions.
  3. Use a tripod.
  4. Check rotation.
  5. Crop your photo.
  6. Size your image.
  7. Fix darks and lights.
  8. Adjust the color tone/color cast.
  9. Adjust color saturation.
  10. Cleanup.

You might think that all 10 of my best practices are limited to steps you take after your image is already shot. But actually, you need to make sure a few important things happen in the “pre” stage, too.

Your editing job is so much easier when you’re working with great source photos. It’s worth a few extra steps. So let’s start with the pre-steps.

1. Use the right lighting

Picture Editing Lighting]Your photo should be well lit.

This means natural light with reflectors, if needed, or a lightbox. And it’s best if the light is filtered through something like a sheer fabric or curtain.

If you’re using a lightbox, the walls of the box act as a filter. And if you have big fancy photography box lights, they have a filter built right around the light.

It doesn’t matter if it’s fancy or plain, use what you have available and you’ll be off to a great start.

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2. Limit distractions

Keep distracting things out of the picture.

Before you take a photo you want to do a quick scan of the area around your subject. Is there any distracting trash in the background? Or maybe an extension cord, or something on the wall that’s looking odd?

Clear all that stuff away early so you don’t have to edit it out of the picture later.

Your future self will thank you. You want all focus to be on your product or whatever the main subject of your image is — not some random things in the background.

The picture below, for example, has some distractions. There’s a pile of pens off to the side. You’d want to take the time to push these out of view before taking this shot. The wall could be OK alone, but that bead board material has a lot of vertical lines that can detract from your subject. But paired with the backsplash and counter in the dark patterned granite? It’s too much! The glass practically disappears in this location.

Picture Editing Glass Messy Background

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3. Use a tripod

Picture Editing TripodThe more stable your camera is, the sharper your image will be. Don’t rely on shaky hands and arms to take your photos or they’ll be blurry every time!

If you don’t have a tripod, set your camera on a stool or a desk — anywhere solid and steady. Just don’t hold it in your hand.

After the photo is pulled into your picture editing software, then the real work begins. For this next section, I’ll show you screenshots from Snapseed on my phone. The app is very easy and quick to use and I love that you can access it while on the go.

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4. Check rotation

Make sure rotation and perspective look good. Sometimes after you look at a photo you realize that everything is tilted.

This is easily fixed with a simple image rotation, like this one on my phone.

Once you click into the rotate tool in Snapseed, it’s easy to drag and adjust the rotation on your image or click the buttons at the bottom of the crop screen to get other options.

Picture Editing Rotation
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5. Crop your photo

You might have a particular ratio of width to height (like 5:4 for instance) that you need your final image to be, so you can crop it accordingly. Or just crop it so the arrangement in your picture looks nice and nothing important is out of view.

Here’s the crop tool in Snapseed (left picture). Once you click into it, you can drag your box size to crop it accordingly (middle picture) or click on the little button to the left of the checkmark to adjust by ratio (right picture).

Picture Editing CropBack to top

6. Size your image

Make sure your image size is right for your platform.

If you’re posting to a website, you’ll want to find out the best size for your final image needs (example: 1500px x 1200px) as well as file size maximums (actual size in MB.)

Keep these picture editing tips in mind when you’re sizing.

Snapseed doesn’t let you create a particular size in pixels, so pull your image into an outside program like Canva to size to the perfect dimensions for your site.

And be sure to compress the file size of your image to improve page load time on your website.

 

Free online image compression tools like Compress JPEG make it a snap!

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7. Fix darks and lights

Adjust your photo so the darks and lights are balanced. This falls under different categories depending on what application you use. So it could be in a tool called Levels, or Brightness/Contrast or something similar.

You might want shadows eliminated so everything is very bright and white or you might want to play them up.

In Snapseed you can find these features inside of Tune Image. Once you click the button to the right of the X, a little popup appears with options in it to adjust brightness and contrast.

Picture Editing Darks Lights

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8. Adjust the color tone/color cast

Often your photo might be too yellow or too blue so you have to adjust the colors to make it look more natural and true to real life. The best place to adjust this in Snapseed is in the white balance tool. Just click into that and drag the slider until the image looks natural.

Picture Editing White Balance
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9. Adjust color saturation

Saturation is about how much of the color is in the image. A very saturated image looks bright and vibrant. Don’t go too far on the saturation, though — this can be easy to overdo.

Desaturated images remove color the more you desaturate. You can even reduce a photo to black and white if you turn your saturation dial to zero.

Inside the Tune Image menu of Snapseed you’ll find this popup that you saw earlier when we adjusted brightness and contrast. The third option is Saturation. Just drag your finger left or right to adjust, just like you did on the other tool options.

Picture Editing Saturation
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10. Cleanup

Clean up any blemishes in your shot, like spots or dust that might have been on your lens when you shot the picture.

Usually these tools are called Healing Brush or Rubber Stamp or Eraser.

In Snapseed it’s called Healing. Just brush your finger over the area that needs cleanup.

Picture Editing Cleanup
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Closing thoughts on picture editing

Even if you don’t download Snapseed, you should be able to make most or all of these changes in another free app, so try a few out and use your favorite. Have fun!

If you want to get really serious with picture editing or edit multiple images at once, it’s best to invest in a paid tool like Photoshop or Lightroom.

But it’s 100-percent OK if you need to do this on the cheap for now. As long as you’re editing your photos, you’re off to a great start.

So what do you think? Did these picture editing tips help you? I hope you can see that the key to great images isn’t a deep, dark secret. It just comes down to figuring out what edits your photos need and being consistent about it.

Stop hesitating and just dive in, because learning comes from experience.

Pretty soon all your entrepreneur friends will be coming to you asking, “How do I edit photos?” and you can impress them with your newfound image editing knowledge. Have fun sprucing up your site with your gorgeous new images!