A couple of weeks ago, we sat down with one of our long-time Picsera clients. This client is a top 250 Internet retailer that is making waves in the eCommerce world. As the friendly banter ensued, our client said something that stood out, “The decision to outsource photo editing is a complete no-brainer for brands and retailers. I have no idea why anyone would try to do it in-house.” This didn’t stand because we had never heard it before. To the contrary, it stood out because we hear the same sentiment expressed over and over again.
But, while our client — and many others — are certainly convinced that it’s a no-brainer to outsource photo editing, maybe you’re still a little skeptical. You might feel that having full-time employees will enable you to achieve a higher level of quality, result in faster turnaround times, give you more control over the process, or even reduce your costs. In this article we discuss why the exact opposite is true and present the top 5 reasons that make it a no-brainer for brands and retailers to outsource photo editing.
When you edit millions of images across virtually every eCommerce product category, you tend to get good at it. Actually, you get really, really good at it. And, the differences between editing lifestyle, apparel, furniture, jewelry and packaged goods images are like night and day. Perfecting the ghost mannequin technique for apparel, retouching a piece of fine jewelry, clipping stray hairs from a model, knocking out the background, and compositing images all require different levels of expertise and specialization. If you plan to hire one or two in-house resources, it’s rare to find an individual who is proficient in all of these areas.
At Picsera, we build centers of excellence and certify staff for different types of eCommerce product categories and photo editing techniques. We take best practices and ensure they are applied across clients so that everyone benefits from the collective years of experience. We’re not suggesting that an experienced photo editor couldn’t get the job done. But consider whether your objective is to just “get the job done” or if your quality standards are higher than that. The difference can have a significant impact on user engagement and sell-through rates on your website.
Speed is everything these days. Unedited images certainly can’t stand in the way of a new product launch. If you’re thinking about building an internal photo editing team, think about whether you would be able to staff it 24 x 7 and what you would do when a key resource calls in sick, resigns or goes on extended leave. How would this impact your ability to quickly turn out images without sacrificing quality? Would you be “stuck” with no time to recruit, hire and train a new resource?
Picsera operates a photo editing assembly line that runs 24 x 7, turning out thousands of images each day. Editing specifications are documented so that in the event of unexpected absences the assembly line can continue to operate at the same level of quality without missing a beat. Unexpected absences don’t happen every day, but they are a fact of life and they do happen. The key is being prepared so there is zero impact to your photo editing capabilities when these situations do arise.
One of the most compelling reasons to outsource photo editing is the ability to increase throughput on-demand. Say for example that you typically need 1,000 images edited per month, but ahead of peak sales seasons this might increase to 3,000 images. Or, for special projects like a website overhaul, you might need 20,000 images edited as a one-time event. When you outsource photo editing, there is no need to hire or interview. At Picsera, our clients simply give us a courtesy call or send us an email to give us a heads up.
Because we have hundreds of photo editors and retouchers working 24 x 7, we can flex capacity up and down. This helps if you have seasonality to your business as well as for addressing special projects when they arise. The convenience of being able to scale on-demand is the aspect brands and retailers tend to appreciate the most when it comes to their decision to outsource photo editing. No business is completely even throughout the year. There are natural ebbs and flows and special projects, but you don’t need to worry about staffing levels or turnaround times when you outsource photo editing. You’re completely insulated from those headaches and can put your focus on other areas of your business.
4. Consistent Quality
Consistency across images is extremely important — colors, margin, alignment, and editing techniques all need to remain consistent. The good news is that photo editing companies like Picsera are accustomed to creating specifications and checklists and automating quality control steps. This enables us to offer our clients the aforementioned benefits of expertise, speed and scale, but also the guarantee of consistent quality. At Picsera, we go to great lengths to keep consistent resources assigned to each of our clients, but even when resources change, the systems and processes that are in place enable us to achieve consistent levels of quality.
Naturally, when deciding whether or not to outsource photo editing, cost is going to be a key consideration. The top 3 things to keep in mind are that (a) salary is just part of the cost of a hire (b) you need a team, not just a single editor and (c) delays can result in significant hidden costs.
A. Salary is just part of the cost of a hire
There is a long list of costs that you’ll incur, but these are the 5 main categories to keep in mind:
- Salary — According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a photo editor is $36,811 and a senior photo editor is $44,795.
- Equipment — A computer, monitor and accessories will likely run around $2,000, but of course it depends on a variety of factors.
- Software Licenses — Budget $300 or so for Adobe Creative Cloud and other software applications that might be needed.
- Office Space — If you intend for the person to work in an office, factor about $2,000 per year for office space, although this could be much higher in certain cities.
- Benefits — If your company provides comprehensive benefits (e.g. Medical, Dental, Disability, 401(k), etc.), this typically comes out to about 30% of total compensation.
Overall, you’re looking at a total annual spend of $40,000 – $75,000 per photo editor depending on the seniority of the resource, the location, whether or not the person will telecommute or work from an office, and whether your company provides comprehensive benefits or not. There are soft costs that you could factor in like on boarding time, down time when the resource doesn’t have a full workload, etc. These are all worthwhile things to consider, but become harder to quantify in dollars and cents.
B. You Need a Team, Not a Photo Editor
This is where it starts to get really expensive. You need at least 2 photo editors to have a legitimate operation. It’s just too risky to rely on a single resource. But wait, you need someone to manage these resources as well. Maybe not full-time, but at least a portion of their time needs to be allocated to the cost of in-house photo editing. And just like that, you’re already well over $150,000 a year with a part-time manager, a senior photo editor and a junior photo editor. Never mind whether the breadth of expertise, quality, speed, scale or consistency are there. From a cost perspective alone it simply doesn’t make sense.
C. Delays Can Result in Significant Hidden Costs
If you’re not getting your inventory online fast enough, you are missing out on sales. Take for example a product that you sell 1,000 units of per month at a $40 margin. A delay of just 1 week in getting the images online will hurt your bottom line by more than $8,000. If you sell seasonal items like apparel, then your items need to be online early enough in the season in order for you to increase your chances of getting the most sales.
The Punchline on Deciding to Outsource Photo Editing
Making the decision to outsource photo editing offers eCommerce brands and retailers a number of advantages. Expertise, Speed, Scale, Quality and Cost are the most significant benefits. And, since the bulk of eCommerce image editing work is repetitive and objective, it’s a perfect fit for the outsourcing model.
Click here to learn more about how easy it is to outsource photo editing with Picsera.
Are you thinking about redesigning your jewelry website? The good news is that there are number of great options available when it comes to jewelry website solutions. But before you begin evaluating the various jewelry website solutions in the market, it’s important to revisit your sales and marketing strategy to consider whether you may need more than simply a jewelry website.
Start with Your Sales & Marketing Strategy
As part of the process, first define your sales and marketing strategy. How do you plan to reach potential customers? To what extent do you plan to generate leads digitally as opposed to face-to-face? While jewelry trade shows are likely a part of that plan (check out our list of jewelry trade shows for 2019), you’ll want to have multiple sources of lead generation. Once your sales and marketing plan is in place, you can then determine the role your website needs to play in executing on that strategy. For example, if you are a wholesaler selling B2B, your website may simply need to be an online lookbook. This works if you need your buyers to be able to view your designs and make inquiries, but ultimately you know a conversation will be necessary in order to close business.
In a retail environment, however, most jewelry companies need their website to support a full eCommerce experience. This means up sells at checkout, abandoned shopping cart reminders and many other features that drive transactions through the website in volume.
Do you Need More than a Jewelry Website?
In addition to website design and e-Commerce features, many jewelry website providers also offer lead generation and Internet marketing services to help you increase your website traffic, grow your list of Instagram followers and expand your Facebook audience. Services often include search engine optimization, pay-per-click management, remarketing, email marketing and ad design. Consider whether these expanded capabilities are important to you before selecting a provider. While these services can always be procured separately, you may prefer to deal with a single vendor.
Jewelry Website Solutions
To help fast track your research, we’ve put together a list of the top 6 jewelry website solutions (ordered alphabetically) that you should consider if you’re thinking about redesigning your website.
4. Lion Sorbet
Every jewelry website needs stunning images. To learn more about Picsera’s jewelry photography and retouching services, go to https://jewelryphotography.picsera.com.
While you’re busy ringing the cash register for this holiday season, we’ve put together a list of the top jewelry trade shows that you’ll want to have on your radar for 2019. January is a busy month gearing up for Valentine’s Day with shows in Miami, New Orleans, Scottsdale and Tucson. Then in March, New York takes center stage with JA New York Spring, while Toronto hosts The Gem Expo the following week. After that, it’s off to Nevada for Las Vegas Jewelry Week with JCK Las Vegas 2019 — the largest jewelry trade show in the Western hemisphere — and JIS Exchange. We close out the season back in New York with JA New York Summer and finally we wrap up with JIS Miami in October in preparation for another strong holiday season.
Here is your list of the top 10 jewelry trade shows in North America for 2019 (in date order).
1. Jewelers International Showcase
Location: Miami, Florida
Venue: Miami Beach Convention Center
Dates: January 19 – 21, 2019
Besides being in Miami in Winter (well done JIS), the January show is the 2nd largest JIS show of the year and one of the largest jewelry trade shows in the Western Hemisphere between the holiday season and Valentine’s Day. The January Show is timed specifically for buyers to restock inventory after the holidays. Everything from key items to the hottest fashion trends that are flying off the shelves and out of the showcases can all be found out at the JIS January Show. Click here for more information.
2. New Orleans Gift & Jewelry Show
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Venue: New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
Dates: January 24 – 27, 2019
The New Orleans Gift and Jewelry Show is a cash and carry show as well as order writing. This southern market was established in 1952 and has grown to be recognized as one of the largest shows of its kind. This show attracts 13,000 buyers and has 400 booths. Click here for more information.
3. The CENTURION Jewelry Show
Location: Scottsdale, Arizona
Venue: The Phoenician
Dates: January 26 – 30, 2019
The CENTURION show includes more than 150 top exhibitors from the best diamond and diamond jewelry manufacturers to pearls, fashion forward colored stone jewelry and everything in between. Click here for more information.
4. JOGS Tucson Gem and Jewelry Show
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Venue: Tucson Expo Center
Dates: January 31 – February 11, 2019
Tucson Gem and Jewelry Show has been a top destination for gem and jewelry industry professionals for the last 56 years, and it is one of the main show destinations for industry related business buyers from all over the world. During the show, the city of Tucson turns into an enormous marketplace dedicated to gems, jewelry, and minerals. Click here for more information.
5. JA New York Spring
Location: New York, New York
Venue: Javits Center
Dates: March 10 – 12, 2019
Only one leading jewelry trade show calls New York City home, and that’s JA New York. For over 100 years, JA New York has brought the jewelry industry together on the east coast for three focused days of buying, trend spotting, treasure-hunting and business-building interaction. Smartly styled and cleanly edited, this show features a curated, eclectic mix of the season’s best jewelry buying opportunities— from diamonds to deco, gold to every gemstone available in market, you’ll find the most comprehensive collections in the market. Click here for more information.
6. The Gem Expo
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Venue: Hyatt Regency, Toronto
Dates: March 16 – 17, 2019
Toronto’s Gem, Mineral, Bead & Jewellery Show is Toronto’s hottest Gem Show for top “LOCAL” jewellery designers and artisans as well as the perfect place to find precious and semi precious stones, including Rubies, Sapphires, Emeralds, Aquamarine, Moonstone, Tourmaline, Baltic Amber, Pearls and many others. Click here for more information.
7. JCK Las Vegas 2019
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Venue: Sands Expo & The Venetian
Dates: May 31 – June 3, 2019
JCK Las Vegas is the jewelry industry’s leading annual trade event uniting over 30,000 of the world’s most influential industry professionals, including more than 11,300 domestic retailers and 3,500 international retailers. With all-encompassing expansive collections of finished jewelry, gems, timepieces, services and more, this is the flagship event of Las Vegas jewelry market week and a premier destination for those looking to discover what’s new and next in the fine jewelry market. Click here for more information.
8. JIS Exchange
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Venue: Sands Expo & Convention Center
Dates: May 30 – June 3, 2019
JIS goes back to Las Vegas during iconic Las Vegas Jewelry Week. JIS Exchange is a jewelry trade event that brings together the best of at-show delivery from JIS Miami and JCK Las Vegas – two of the largest trade shows in the Western hemisphere – in one convenient location during the popular Las Vegas Jewelry Week. JIS Exchange offers a unique experience providing immediate delivery of finished jewelry at all price points. Click here for more information.
9. JA New York Summer
Location: New York, New York
Venue: Javits Center
Dates: August 11 – 14, 2019
Beginning in 2019, the JA New York Summer show will be co-located with the NY NOW Show. NY NOW is the leading market for gifts, personal accessories and home décor, and it is traditionally visited by thousands of specialty retailers on the hunt for new and on-trend products. Click here for more information.
10. JIS Miami
Location: Miami Beach, FL
Venue: Miami Beach Convention Center
Dates: October 4 – 7, 2019
The JIS October Show – the 2nd largest Jewelry Tradeshow in the Americas – brings together a variety of manufacturers, wholesalers, and brands during one of the most important buying/restocking seasons of the year. Exhibitors from popular domestic and international jewelry producing regions – including Italy, Hong Kong, and Brazil – come ready to display their latest sample line(s), present large inventories of finished merchandise, offer some of their best pricing specials of the year, and dedicate time to furthering relationships with new and repeat customers. Click here for more information.
Stunning jewelry images make all the difference in the world. Click here to learn more about how Picsera can help you.
Learning how to photograph rings is part art and part science. Rings are beautiful, sparkly pieces of jewelry that people love to wear. But they are also small, finicky little items to photograph because of their tiny, intricate details. As with most trades, a craftsman is only as good as his or her tools. Jewelry photography is no exception. If you don’t have the right tools when you go to shoot, you will wind up disappointed with your final images.
Sure you can fix up images in post-production with great photo editing, but the recipe for truly stunning images is great photography plus great photo editing. Today we’ll show you how to photograph rings that showcase the value of your jewelry, create a great buyer experience, and entice your customers to purchase your items. (more…)
Removing the backgrounds from your images shouldn’t have to be difficult or expensive, but the fact of the matter is, even a DIY approach will cost you.
Adobe Photoshop supposedly makes removing backgrounds easy and many people find it fun to do, but it comes with some caveats. It’s certainly a great skill to have, and once you establish a workflow that works for you, you will be able to take control of your image formatting needs. However, what many people don’t realize is that there is a significant learning curve involved and the software is neither free nor cheap.
Everything is easier when you are speaking the same language
Photoshop is the gold standard for the design industry. With it, you should be assured of a professional-quality result.
If you need to do some background removal and want to do it yourself, you need a professional tool and Photoshop is the one. You shouldn’t even bother with Photoshop Elements, or any free or “lite” versions of any other photo editing software because they simply don’t do what Photoshop does at the level of quality it allows you to output, plain and simple.
The reason Adobe Photoshop is so popular is that it is absolutely indispensable for photo editing. You can access image editing tools to do just about anything you can imagine. There are so many tools, in fact, that the vast majority of Photoshop users don’t ever use the app to its fullest advantage. It’s an entire universe of image editing at your fingertips and if you are in the business of graphic design, it’s the only way to go.
Photoshop is available through Adobe as a subscription. It can be purchased on its own or as part of Creative Cloud, but if you aren’t using it on a daily basis, if you don’t do graphics for a living or if you’re just going to use it once or twice, it may not be worth it. Most Adobe plans start with a free trial, then they want you to commit to a year’s worth of access, which you won’t be able to cancel without paying.
Still interested in what Photoshop can do for your background removal? Read on!
Background Removal Part I: The Tools
Photoshop offers several tools to help you with your background removal tasks. Here is an overview of the most useful ones along with some typical use cases:
1. The Lasso Tool
The lasso tool helps you to isolate objects to keep before you can knock out the background. It wraps around the objects you want to keep so that you can effectively eliminate the rest.
Typical use case for the lasso tool
Use the lasso tool for cutting out objects or isolating objects in preparation for background removal. The best use case for the lasso tool is if the object to be knocked out is angular and has a lot of straight lines.
Pros and Cons
Unfortunately, the paths you create with the lasso tool are not editable. Also, they are not the most precise for cutting out images and creating clipping paths as they can’t produce smooth curves.
On the plus side, the lasso tool is easy to use, and it totally does the job, given the right raw materials. The simpler the object is, however, the better. When you get into working with more complex objects, however, you may need a different tool.
2. The Pen Tool
The pen tool in Photoshop is used in a very similar way to the lasso tool, but instead of relying on straight lines in order to isolate your object, you are physically drawing around it, either with your mouse or with a tablet pen. This allows you to be more precise.
Typical use case
If the object is complex or has a lot of curves, the pen tool is the way to go to get great smooth edges. Some examples might be earrings, complex curved product or anything that has irregular, straight and curved without the need to selectively feather edges.
Pros and cons
On the plus side, the results you can expect from the pen tool can be very precise. Additionally, all the lines you create are editable, which makes it easy to fix or refine your work.
On the negative side, you will need to spend A LOT more time and effort on making your outlines. This time that you might not want to devote when editing numerous images. At its very best, tedious and mind-numbing repetitive work.
3. Magic Wand Tool
Many Photoshop newbies use the magic wand tool with abandon because it just seems too easy … keep in mind that if it seems like it’s too good to be true, it probably is. In theory, all you have to do is click on the area you want to select and Photoshop will create the outlines. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always happen that easily or painlessly and doesn’t always deliver the quality you are after with broken selections and edges that are not smooth and clean.
Typical use case for the magic wand tool
If you have super-clean, high-resolution photos that are already isolated on a white background, the magic wand tool just might work. However, if you’re reading this, you probably need to have a more complex background removal selection as an end result, not as a starting point.
Pros and cons
Plus if you have an ideal image situation, such as we mentioned above, the magic wand tool will probably work just fine.
Negative If you don’t have an optimum image, your results are not going to be great and you’ll either have to settle for less than what you need or start from scratch with another tool.
Doing it right the first time is always best, so before you begin, make sure you are using the right approach.
4. Quick Selection Tool
The quick selection tool is a step up from the magic wand. It is slightly more controllable, and the results can be better, but it’s still a quick-and-dirty method that doesn’t always deliver the goods. It also incorporates Sensei Artificial Intelligence.
Artificial Intelligence? Meet Sensei
With the advances in artificial intelligence (AI), it was only a matter of time before it made its way into our creative tools. Adobe is introducing AI into its workflows in the form of Sensei, an advanced, intelligent tool that leverages machine learning to help us tackle mind-numbing and repetitive tasks with elegance and ease.
Sensei can recreate fonts, fill in areas of your images that didn’t exist with information from neighboring pixels, and it can identify people, places, and things in your photos that allow you to manipulate images in ways you have never dreamed possible.
As a tool for background removal, Sensei should make light work of your most complex tasks. If you have similar tasks that you tend to repeat on a regular basis, it will remember, learn, anticipate your needs and generally make your job easier each and every time you use it. For instance, if you are working on a series of images that are similar, it will remember the actions you used and apply them to the successive images.
Basically, Sensei analyzes your images and applies a set of editing actions to it, based either on previous editing you have done to other photos or based on a range of tools that can be accessed, much like a photo filter, on Instagram. Sensei was developed for people who have trouble working with Photoshop tools, or for people who simply don’t have hours, days, or months of time to devote to learning them.
The quick selection tool is a step up from the magic wand with object and edges sensing technologies. It is more controllable, and the results can be better, but it’s still a quick-and-dirty method that doesn’t always deliver the goods needing human guidance and selections.
Here are some options you can check within the quick selection tool that may give you better results:
Select subject in the quick selection tool
Select subject is another quick tool you can access in quick selection mode. It is useful if you want to isolate a specific component of an image. Examples of ways you could use select subject could be removing people, objects, animals, cars, or any other specific object from your image.
For instance, if your subject is a person and you want to remove their necklace or a logo from their clothing, select subject could work well. It doesn’t always do what you’d like it to do, but when it works, it’s pretty great. Unfortunately, solid use cases are few and far between.
Auto-Enhance option in the quick selection tool
Auto-enhance is an option you can use with quick selection. It will help give you better-quality images with sharper edges, allowing you to refine the edges or the boundaries of a selected object.
Refine Edge tool in the Select and Mask section of Quick Select tool
The edge detection tool is found in the select and mask part of the selection tool it will help refine to bring back hair or to feather edges if needed. Refinement of edge can cause unwanted artifacts, human judgement will be needed.
5. Magic Eraser/Background Eraser/Eraser Tool
The background eraser tool is a handy way to rid yourself of large areas of background in your images. However, it is color-aware, and if you are using it on its own, you may also lose portions of your image that you want to keep.
For best results, use the background eraser in tandem with all of the above tools. Select the parts of your image you want to keep with the tool of your choice (lasso tool, pen tool, magic wand tool) and then use the background eraser tool or the magic eraser tool to eliminate everything else.
The eraser tool is fully adjustable for size, shape, and opacity. You can adjust the sampling and limits to give it better accuracy. To finish up, it is an easy tool to use to help with spot-erasing and cleaning up the final image.
As for the cons, it doesn’t always work on its own so you will still need to spend time with the other tools to get a great result.
Part 2: When tools are not enough
Doing your own background removal can be fun, but granted, it’s not for everybody. You might be too busy to devote enough time to it, or you may feel like it is too much of a learning curve. You simply might not have the patience to do the finely detailed design work that background removal requires.
If any of these scenarios apply to you, you might find it difficult to get the results you need. If background removal is essential to your venture, you might still need to outsource this work to an expert.
The good news is – it’s easy to outsource your background removal jobs. Outsourcing allows you to access top design talent who will work with you to deliver the quality results you need on a timeline that makes sense to you. It will be like having your own design team right at your fingertips.
Some of the reasons you might consider outsourcing include:
- You have a need for a high-volume of background removal work to be done
- Your quality brand requires a certain level of consistency and quality
- You want reliable results
- You need your quality results to be repeated throughout your site or store
- You have no time to do the work yourself
- You don’t want to purchase Adobe Photoshop
- You don’t have the inclination to learn the background removal tools in Photoshop
- You have better things to do with your time
For all intents and purposes, hiring an expert to do your background removal will actually save you time and money in the end. Think about it: all of the hours spent on the computer doing your own background removal versus putting your energy into higher-value tasks that might generate more business for you or your company. In the end, it is for you to decide, but at least you have options!
Outsourcing to Picsera
If you have decided that outsourcing is the best option for you, Picsera is at the ready. Once your order is placed, one of our background removal experts will dive in and become your design department. We do a lot of things at Picsera, but background removal is one of our specialties, so you can trust that the results you get are going to be reliable, consistent, and top-quality, every time.
Some other benefits to working with Picsera include:
- On-demand professional service
- Fast turnaround times
- Consistently high-quality results
- High-volume quotes available
- All work is guaranteed
- Easy-to-use uploading platform and dashboard
- Manage your jobs 100 percent online
- Photo retouching and enhancement services available
If you would like to learn more about Picsera background removal or any of our other photo editing services, call today to request a quote for your job.
To help you prepare to place an order with Picsera for background removal services, we have prepared this handy guide that should answer all your questions while giving you an actionable, easy-to-follow, step-by-step process from end to end. If you have any further questions after reading this article, don’t hesitate to reach out to our designers for clarity.
How are you planning to use your images?
First things first. Let’s talk about the destination for your images as this will dictate the output and resolution you will need in order to get the best possible result. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
1. Will you use your final images on the web or are they intended for print?
This is a very important distinction, as print files need to be significantly larger – and not simply larger in surface area. For print, they need to be high-resolution files with a minimum size of 300 pixels per inch (PPI). For high-quality prints, this is essential as low pixel counts will result in a blurry, poor quality image.
Print images = 300 DPI
If your images are meant for the web, they still need to be good quality, but the pixel count should be low enough that the file will load quickly. Most monitors and mobile devices display at 72 DPI. If you are using a 300ppi image for a website it may not be visible or cause the image to load slowly on some browsers or mobile devices. This could be a problem for displaying your images to the end user.
Web images = 72 DPI
2. Do you need clipping path?…. or would you prefer a mask as a separate layers in a Photoshop file?
Clipping paths are useful if you plan to remove the background from an image or create new artwork from your images. You would need a clipping path if you are intending to use the image for use in a brochure, a magazine, as an element in a website design or to combine into a graphic image or if you intend to use text wrapping. A clipping path can also be used to create a selection and a mask in Photoshop. Clipping paths are best choice when using other programs such as Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign and web construction programs to bring in product without bringing parts of the background or other unwanted image elements in the into the final result.
Clipping path = defined edges
If your intention is to do some additional work yourself and need the image edge to blend with other images then you may want to request a mask. Image with hair needs these types of transitions as well. If you would like a mask then request a Photoshop file returned to you, with a masking on the layers. Masking will include the right blended edge in each layer and masks can be dedicated to different elements within the image. Each will be saved as a separate layers to enable adjustment and background exchange that blend perfectly. Mask allow for a preset edge blend while a path must be adjusted for feather and transparency each time it is used as a selection.
Layered PSD with mask = edges with blending
3. Do you need a transparent background?
The type of image file we output will dictate whether you have a transparent background or not. Transparent backgrounds are handy when you are creating composite images (several images combined to make one final image) or if you need the image to stand out against a specific background. If you need a transparent background, your background-removed image will be output to a PNG file. The JPG files require a transparent background to be a solid color.
PNG file = Transparent background
Jpeg file = Solid background
4. What is the size of the image you need in terms of pixels?
Websites like Amazon have very strict product image specifications and quality standards. They will tell you exactly what dimensions your image should be in pixels and you must adhere to these requirements or your image will not display as intended. If you are planning to upload to Amazon, or any other e-commerce site, be sure you research their requirements first as it will save you a lot of frustration.
Understanding your product for optimum results
Whether you are putting together a catalog or populating your Amazon storefront, you need to understand what type of product you are selling in-order to adequately communicate your needs.
Is it a simple background removal? Or is it a more complex item? Knowing the answer will help us give you a more accurate quote for the work that needs to be done.
An example of a “standard” item might be apparel or a pair of shoes. Standard items are ones that require only one clipping path.
An example of a “complex” product shot would be chains, bracelets, tennis racquets, or hair. These items would require multiple clipping paths and/or masks and would be more labor-intensive to prepare for a successful background removal.
5. What other services do you need?
Depending on your image and its final intended output, you may want to consider some enhancements.
Shadows and reflections
Incorporating shadows and reflections into your background-removed image can add interest in your product and increase the potential for a sale. While shadows and reflections in photography can be a hindrance to quality product imaging, adding them in the post-production phase can add beauty and drama. Shadows and reflections draw the eye to the product.
In the editing phase, adding shadows and/or reflections can work to your advantage. They are a visual enhancement that lends depth to the item and brings the “wow” factor. This type of effect can be applied to any item, from beauty products to jewelry, and more. Some of the most common examples that come to mind are e-books. The author will have an image of the book created, but even though the book itself doesn’t exist in physical form, the image of the book cover is displayed with shadow to create the illusion of an item in physical space.
Keeping a set design aesthetic consistent across the range of your products is also a good idea, so think about how you would like your overall look represented. Your product shot may already have a shadow and if it does, does it add to the design? Will it be difficult to replicate in your next product shot? Consistency is important, so think about how a natural shadow will affect your plans going forward.
Here are some different types of shadows that you may want to consider in creating your design aesthetic.
A puddle shadow is simply a relative shadow under the product that is soft and adds weight. A complete shape shadow has perspective and is a shadow that mimics the entire shape of the product and fades to an angle into the image edge. A Drop Shadow is a shadow that directly contacts the product. It can be tight defined or the shadow can be soft. It always takes into consideration the direction of the “light” hitting the object. Drop Shadows can be produced naturally or added during the editing process. Drop shadow is usually used to enhance text but can also be applied to objects to give weight or prevent a floating appearance.
Do you need a reflection?
A reflection can enhance your product image in a very dramatic way. Adding a reflection can make your product seem like it is sitting on a reflective surface, taking your image from ordinary to extraordinary with a polished flair. Adding a reflection shadow will instantly add interest to an object and has the potential to completely change the look and feel of the image.
Do you want drama? Adding a reflection will definitely help.
Is the color of your image accurate or do you need it to be adjusted/color corrected?
If the color of your item does not exactly represent how it looks, you may want to consider color correction. The color may be incorrect for any number of different reasons. It could be that the lighting was poor when the shot was taken, the shot was over-exposed, there were reflections from a nearby object or background, or for any number of other reasons.
Fluorescent lighting renders very different results than incandescent lighting, for example. it produces a completely different skin tone and may not give you a color result on an object that is true to its nature. You always want to strive for the most natural looking representation of the colors in the image. They shouldn’t be too bright, too saturated or too dull.
Poor skin tone is a good example of an instance in which you would want to color-correct a portrait. You don’t want your subject to look too yellow, too pink, too green, too washed out, too dark – you get the idea. You always want your subject to look real and vibrant – or in the case of a human, to have a nice, healthy, natural glow. Vibrant and realistic images will get you noticed. Washed-out, dull, or strangely colored images will not. Remember, you are selling a product, not entering an art show.
Bottom line, you want your image to look great. If they don’t, you may risk being overlooked in favor of another product or company. The good news is, you don’t have to settle for a sub-standard or poorly exposed image. Color correction or color adjustment can help a great deal. In performing color adjustment and color correction, we look at what colors are dominating the image and which ones are absent. We aim for good contrast, luminosity, and overall balance.
Deciding whether your image needs color correction should be simple. Ask yourself: does it look like the item? Is the color of the item true in the image? Is it appealing to the eye? Sometimes even subtle adjustments can make all the difference.
Do you need to show the product in a different color?
If you have a product, such as shoes or apparel, that is available in several colors, there is no need to photograph each piece separately. In most cases, the color of an object can be changed quite effectively. Having all the available colors available for viewing is helpful for your buyers as they can see the object in all the colors you offer. This will help you sell more, as buyers are more likely to consider purchasing an item if they can view it in their color. It will also save you money during the photography phase as you will only have to shoot one item instead of several.
If you require several different color options, be sure to include accurate examples of the colors you need for us to use in rendering your final photos. Keep in mind that some people see and understand colors differently than others; meaning that what one person calls “blue” might be another person’s “turquoise”. Providing accurate product shots in the range of colors you offer will help you avoid costly returns and dissatisfied customers.
Do you need retouching to remove spots, reflections, glare, blemishes or wrinkles?
Touching up your photographs to remove imperfections is a great way to make your images look more professional. Spots on your image can happen for any number of reasons. You might have had dust on the camera lens, or in the case of scanned images, there could be fingerprints on the scanner glass or scratches on the photo itself.
Glare and reflections are a product of imperfect lighting, and in most cases, these too can be corrected during the editing process. Your image should accurately show your item without any such imperfections interfering with its representation.
Wrinkles in fabric can create unwanted shadows and they can also make the item look sloppy or ill-fitting. Imperfections such as these can be removed to obtain a more streamlined and visually pleasing result. If your item looks great, you will sell more, and arguably, that is what you want.
Wrinkles and blemishes on the skin can also be easily removed in the editing process. The results look completely natural and may give you pause about many of the “before and after” shots you see for skin care and anti-aging products. Not to say that all such products are a sham, but often the results are often enhanced to appear more dramatic.
So, if your model has a pimple or a cold sore on the day of your shoot, don’t fret. Too many freckles? No problem. If those laugh lines around the eyes and mouth look too pronounced, it’s super-easy to fix. Keep in mind, however, that where human subjects are concerned, perfection isn’t always the ideal. You want to make sure the result is as natural and as realistic as it can be.
Picsera is your own personal photo editing team. We work with photographers and businesses of all sizes, supporting your e-commerce success with image editing solutions that deliver the results you need.
Are you ready to place your order for background removal services? Learn more about our Background Removal Services or Click Here to request a free quote for your job. We would love to be part of your success story.
Removing backgrounds, as it relates to editing a photographic image, can be best described as the separation and removal of the background from the rest of the image.
Why Removing Backgrounds from Images Matters in eCommerce?
Image background removal is frequently used to showcase products professionally or when an object needs to be manipulated or composited into another image.
The technique of background removal is used by graphic designers, web designers, film compositors, and a range of other creatives working in visual mediums. The end result can then be used for:
- Product advertising
- Motion pictures
- And more
Once you have removed the background from your image, you can add it to other digital artwork to create a range of effects. If you are featuring the object in an infographic, a catalog or any other medium that is meant to highlight or draw attention to the object as a focal point.
When the background is removed from the image, the object will float on a transparent background. The background can then be filled with any pattern, image, or solid color you like.
In most situations, we replace the background with solid white. White is a neutral color and it focuses attention on the product/object and nothing else. This gives you a neutral canvas to work with, too, meaning that the product can be leveraged into any type of marketing campaign. Unlike lifestyle images—photos that depict people doing specific things or interacting with a specific product—products that are represented on a white background can be targeted to any demographic.
For instance, if you see an ad that shows a product being used by a woman, a man, a child, or a business person, you would rightly assume that the product is intended for that type of person. When your product is on a white background, it can be more ambiguous and universal, drawing the viewer’s eye to its features rather than highlighting its intended use.
If you are involved in selling online, whether through your own eCommerce website, eBay, Amazon or any other online marketplace, platform standards require your product images to be placed on a solid white background.
Besides Amazon policy, however, there are other reasons why you might want to consider a solid white background:
Draws attention: A white background draws immediate attention to the object. The more complicated the image is, the less impact it will make on the viewer.
Simple: Your product image stands out, looks uncluttered and clean on a white background.
Versatile: If your product shot has a plain white background, it can be used for a range of purposes on a wide variety of sites.
Consistency across your product range: If all of your product shots are set against a white background, it will lend a consistent look and feel to your website or online store.
Smaller file size: Removing the background from the product shot significantly shrinks the output file size. This means that your image will upload to the platform quickly, will load quickly when viewed, and will be viewable on a range of browsers.
Looks better on mobile: most people search, review and purchase products on their mobile devices, much more so than on desktops. The better you look on a mobile device, whether it is a smartphone or tablet, the better chances you will have at converting the sale.
Removing Backgrounds and Using White backgrounds drive profits
If you are selling online, your photograph is the single most important asset you have to drive the sale. It is the one thing that can really make or break the product, so it is in your best interests to make sure they are as clear and as high-quality as they can be.
Your product page may feature several elements from text descriptions to customer reviews and pricing. Despite the wealth of information the page might have, the user’s eye falls immediately on the photograph. You have that moment and not much more to capture their attention and drive the interaction towards a sale.
Keep in mind that your potential customer can’t touch or feel your product – they can only view the image. Therefore, that image should be the best possible representation of the product that you can offer.
Many studies have been conducted in order to prove the theory that a white background converts to a sale better than any other color, including a background image or pattern.
One such study, conducted by Microsoft, pitted two photos against each other to find out which one performed better. They found that the image with the white background increased click-through rate by an incredible 325 percent.
It is because of these results as much as the aesthetic of the site itself that provides the proof. One would assume Amazon knows what they’re talking about when it comes to selling.
Looking at the standards they expect their users to hold to, there are several important points to consider as it pertains to our subject here today. Here are the key takeaways:
- The product should make up 85 percent of the image frame
- It must not contain text or other graphics
- The full product must be in frame
- Backgrounds must be pure white
Your product image is meant to highlight the features of the object itself and should be zoomable so that you can see the product magnified in great detail.
In considering these guidelines, we can glean what Amazon considers to be the best possible photographic representation of a tangible product made available for sale. They want you to succeed as a seller, and they are giving you the tools to do so.
After all, their continued success hinges on yours.
How do I get my products onto a solid white background?
There are a few basic ways of getting your product shot onto a solid white background:
1. Shoot your product against a solid white background
Be sure that you are lighting the shot with the aim of minimizing any potential shadows. Experiment with camera angles to give yourself some options when choosing the best shot.
Professional photographers use sheets of white paper to shoot smaller objects or backdrops for portraits or larger objects. They will sometimes use flash in the background to overexpose everything but the subject, making the background appear bright white.
2. Shoot against any background and then remove the background with Photoshop
If you can’t manage to shoot your product against a bright white background, you can edit the photo after the fact. Using Adobe Photoshop, you can then use the background eraser tool, the magic eraser tool or the eraser tool to delete the background.
In the case of a photo with very crisp, well-defined lines that frame the product, this can be accomplished with just a few clicks. However, some objects will have uneven lines or a touch of shadow around its edges, so you may have to spend a little more time finessing the edges.
Once you have removed the background, you can add a solid white fill layer underneath, then save it as a jpeg, or to whatever image format you need. If you don’t use Photoshop, there are a range of other image editing apps you may want to consider, including GIMP and Paint.net, both of which are open-source and completely free.
3. Send your images to an editing company that specializes in background removal
There are many companies doing business on the web that specialize in photographic background removal. If you do not own Photoshop or a similar photo editing application, you may opt for this as it will give you excellent results with a fast turnaround time.
Ways to improve the look of your product when removing the background
Once you have removed the background from your product photograph, there are plenty of ways to further enhance your image to make it look the best it can be.
Some of the ways you can make your product photos look great include:
1. Color Correction
Depending on how your product is lit when you shoot it, you may be left with some color discrepancies between what the product really looks like versus the image. Color correction ensures consistency of tone and hue and can compensate for over or underexposure.
Color correction can also be leveraged as a color replacement tool, such as if you were selling a product line that came in a range of colors. In this case, you could use the same image over again, simply changing the color of the item to correspond to your available selections.
When correcting the color of an image, you need to adjust:
- White balance
- Black points
- White points
- Color saturation
Color correction is essential to obtain an accurate representation of your product. If your computer screen has not been properly calibrated, the color you see on your screen is, in many cases, untrue.
2. Photo retouch
One of the differences between professionally taken photos and those not taken professionally is in how the photos are finished. Photo retouching addresses a wide range of imperfections in your image and greatly enhances the end result. Some of these techniques could include:
Spot removal: Remove small imperfections such as dust on the lens, raindrops, light spots, and various visual artifacts.
Glare removal: Reduce, remove or tone down glare from too much exposure or imperfect lighting for a more balanced end result.
Blemish removal: Instantly remove blemishes from your subject’s skin or the surface of your product. Great for getting rid of smudges, dust, and scratches too.
Wrinkle eraser: Carve years off your subject’s life in a matter of seconds using Photoshop or the photo editor of your choice.
Whiten teeth: Whiten and brighten your subject’s smile for a gleaming, magazine-quality result.
3. Add reflections and shadows
Removing backgrounds and adding reflections and shadows to your product photos adds a bit of the “wow” factor, lending style and helping your images stand out from the rest. This can be accomplished with photography and lighting techniques, or it could be done in Photoshop after the fact.
Any products that have a modern look or aesthetic will look great with a little bit of reflection. Shadows and reflection can also add depth to an object, giving it more dimension and emphasizing its shine, shape, and character.
Remove Backgrounds like a Pro with professional clipping and retouching services
If you are engaged in selling online—no matter what type of product you sell—your product images are your calling card. Online, your customer cannot hold or touch your product, so they depend on your product images to tell them what they need to know. That means your product photography needs to be top-notch and in line with the standards set by eCommerce leaders such as Amazon.
In order to meet these requirements, your products need to either be photographed against a bright white background or they need to have the background removed and replaced. Many software tools are available to help you accomplish this, as are professional photo retouching and editing services like Picsera.
Picsera is your photo editing team. We work with photographers, businesses, and entrepreneurs to help support their eCommerce success with creative photography and post-production solutions that enhance your productivity and optimize your workflow. Based in the United States, we work with individuals and companies all over the world and would love to be part of your success story.
The iPhone is without a doubt the most popular camera sold today. With so many people shooting on iPhones we receive requests for iPhone images to be retouched quite frequently. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for us to work on the standard JPGs that come from the iPhone as they are highly compressed 8 bit JPGs and a lot of data is missing from the files. Don’t get me wrong, iPhone pictures are usually really good in terms of color, contrast, and exposure because Apple has invested hundreds of millions of dollars perfecting their JPG rendering engine. However, there are times when an iPhone image needs to be edited to create a different artistic style or simply to retouch blemishes or retouch certain areas of the image. Well, we no longer have to say no to people who want us to retouch their iPhone images because in February of 2017 Apple made it possible to capture RAW images on the iPhone.
RAW is a file format that contains all the information captured by the camera’s sensor. Think of a RAW file as a film negative. When you shoot film, you capture information onto the negative, but you can’t see the image until the film is processed with chemicals. As the name implies, a RAW file contains unprocessed “raw” information. Raw files are much bigger than JPGs because they are not compressed . In addition, RAW files typically look flat and and dull straight out of the camera because they haven’t had any processing done to them.
The benefits of RAW images are increased dynamic range and the flexibility to process an image on a computer as many times as you want creating different styles and looks without ever damaging the file. On the other hand, JPGS are already processed and a lot of the data captured by the sensor is discarded when the camera’s processor generates the JPG making it much more difficult to edit the file. Yes, it’s possible to edit a JPG, but the results are never quite as good as editing a RAW file. Watch this video to help you understand the benefits of RAW vs JPG capture.
How to get RAW files from the iphone
Apple made it possible for 3rd party app developers to interact through code with the iPhone to pull the RAW files. Each camera company has their own proprietary RAW format, but Apple has adopted Adobe’s RAW format called the DNG which stands for Digital Negative. If you want to shoot in RAW format you will need to download a special app from the App Store. There are several apps available but three worth trying are Lightroom Mobile, Halide, and ProCamera.
The tool we have tested at Picsera is Lightroom Mobile. The quick video below explains how to use Lightroom Mobile to export a RAW file from your iPhone. For a more in depth article on how to get started with Lightroom Mobile for Lightroom Classic, please go to the Adobe website for details.
Today’s photography tip teaches how to get the money shot! Watch this short video to find out the secret that the world’s top photographers have known for years.
A business’ success is strongly dependant on its team. A weak, unmotivated team can slow the business down and prevent it from reaching its full potential. On the other hand, a unified motivated team can accelerate the growth of a business.
The issue is that building and managing teams can be tough. It requires mastering leadership skills that don’t always come naturally to every business owner. I’ve learned many of those skills growing Picsera, a company that provides product photography solutions for e-commerce.
Thanks to Picsera, I’ve mastered how to manage offshore teams and bridge the communication gap between US customer needs and an ever growing editing team. Here I’ve compiled my list of 15 tips that have helped me build and manage my previous and current teams. Hope you can find them useful too! (more…)