chapter 5

Photo Editing Basics

After you take your photos, it’s time to polish them and make them look professional. Post-processing can mean many things including background removal, color correction, and adding shadows. In most cases, background removal is a must to make your product and store look professional and trustworthy. If you shoot your clothes on a mannequin, removing it is also a good idea. The rest of the constellation of editing features – like color correction, color variation, and shadow manipulation – are optional but can mean the difference between a mediocre and a great looking product page.

Photo Editing Software


Photoshop is the industry standard when it comes to photo editing. One of the pioneers of photo retouching, it is still an industry leader with regular updates and countless books written about its features. No matter how much you use it, there is always a trick or two to learn, so here is a tutorial on how to get the ghost mannequin effect we mentioned in Chapter 3.


Pixlr is a free, online photo editing tool that has a lot of the same functionality of Photoshop without the cost.


Canva is a user-friendly, free online editor that is mainly suited for designing marketing materials.


Pixc is an online photo editing tool designed with ecommerce in mind. It handles all your photo editing needs and is well-suited to retouching images in bulk for online retailers. You can customize each order to your requirements and then save your preferences into a template for super easy future retouching. You submit your images and get them back within 24 hours and can try it out with a free trial.

Source: Pixc


Adobe Lightroom is geared towards the professionals who deal with images in bulk and has a more streamlined interface. It also has cleaner and more focused dashboard than Photoshop and but costs less at only $9.99 a month.


GIMP nearly matches Photoshop’s muscle, and, as an open-source product, is also free. If you are looking for wide range of photo manipulations, then this application is for you.


This more user-friendly alternative to GIMP and Photoshop features all the basic tools but in a much easier to understand interface. It costs $29.99 for Mac and $4.99 for iPad.

Source: Pixelmator


The widely popular photo-sharing social platform boasts a few simple tools and filters to make your images stand out. In your Instagram settings, there’s a switch to “Save Original Photos”, make sure it’s on. Now, switch your phone to airplane mode so that you have no internet connection. Now you can use Instagram to edit your photo. When you’re done, post the photo like you would any other time. The difference here is that you don’t have an internet connection so the post will fail. When you get that fail message, click the X and dismiss it. You can turn your internet connection back on now. You’ll find a hi-resolution version of your edited image in your Photos app. And of course, Instagram is also a great place for promoting your ecommerce store. Instagram now even integrates with Shopify so your customers can buy directly from this social media giant.


A free photo editing app that lets you edit images directly on your phone, VSCO has a range of presets and filters that are quick and easy to use. VSCO is particularly great for your context product images because it can give them interesting twists - for example, a  vintage or warm overtone.


This free, easy-to-use app that boosts all of the basic tools, frames, visual effects plus a few advanced features including RAW compatibility and the tilt-shift effect.


Snapseed is one of the most powerful, fully featured mobile apps that is also free. You can use tools like spot repair, adjustment brush, quick transform and lots of cool filters.

Aviary Photo Editor

Aviary is free, super simple, and intuitive to use and boasts all the basic photo editing features you can expect to have on your phone.

Source: Filterstorm Neue

Filterstorm Neue

This mobile photo editing app is built for the pros and offers powerful features including watermarks, IPTC tag data, and RAW image processing. It even works with professional tools like curves, levels, and channels.

Editing Out the Background

One of the most important aspects of retouching your product photos is removing their backgrounds. Images with a pure white background have become an industry standard across the product pages of successful ecommerce stores and major online marketplaces.

Why It’s So Important

Background removal is important because it creates a uniform look across all the products in your store and gives you a polished and professional appeal. You get beautiful, clutter-free images that let your customers focus on the product and its features. The professional look promotes brand trust and long-term loyalty and ultimately improves your conversion rate.

How to Remove Backgrounds With the Photoshop Pen Tool

It is easier to remove backgrounds that contrast with the color of your product than similar or multicolor backgrounds.  Which is why it is so important to take photos on white background. Let’s take a look at the few simple steps on how to remove your image background in Photoshop, one of the most popular places to edit.

1. Locate the Pen Tool

Upload your image to Photoshop and locate the Pen Tool in the left vertical toolbar in the dashboard. You can also select it with the keyboard shortcut: “P”.

Source: Pixc

2. Select Anchor Points

The Pen Tool works using anchor points that when linked together form a path. The goal is to select the path only around your product so that you can then delete everything outside of it. You create anchors every time you click on the image, so work your way around your product creating anchor points at each key bend. If you need to adjust an anchor point, you can hold Alt and Command and drag it to the right position.

Source: Pixc

3. Curve the Path

If you need to curve the path, press and hold when you click on your last anchor and pull away. Bezier handles will appear that will allow you to curve the line between the last two anchors.

Source: Pixc

Once you’ve defined your anchor points, the hard part is over!

4. Delete the Background

To delete the background, select the Pen Tool again. Then click on the Selection option in the path palette at the top, and press OK. Your product will be now selected. Next, you have to invert your selection. Click on the Select menu on top and choose the Inverse option. Your selection will be inverted to the background and when your press Control/Command + X, you background will be deleted.

Source: mcpactions

Source: Pixc


Source: Pixc

Color Correction

Color correction brings out the true colors of your product. The lighting or the background of a shoot are often imperfect, and color correction can help smooth things over. The white balance of your camera can be off, leaving you with slight tints of yellow or blue over your image. And even if your shoot was perfect, different cameras capture colors differently, and you might want to do slight adjustments to keep the final products consistent.

Luckily, there is more than one Photoshop tool you can use for color correction. For this example, we will use the Curves tool.

1. Create a New Gray Layer

First, create a new layer. Go to the Edit menu and select Fill, then fill your layers with 50% gray and set the layer Blending mode to Difference.

2. Create a Threshold Adjustment Layer

Then, create a Threshold Adjustment Layer and set the threshold level to 10. Your image will become almost completely white with some black spots. These black spots are the parts of the image that are the closest to 50% gray and you will use them to get a better color correction.

3. Drop a Sample Point

Select the Eyedropper tool, hold down the Shift key, and click to drop a sample point over one of the black spots.

4. Create a Curves Adjustment Layer

Delete the 50% gray and Thresholds layers and add a Curves Adjustment Layer. Select the middle (gray) Eyedropper tool, zoom in on the sample target, and and click only once to balance the color via that gray spot.

Source: Meetupstatic

Stock Photography Resources

Source: Nicole De Khors

Ecommerce stores never run short of reasons they need good stock photos. Unless you have a professional photographer on staff hired just to shoot them, you need stock photos for website backgrounds or to otherwise make your product photos or content stand out.

Here is a list of great stock photo resources.

1. Burst

Powered by Shopify, Burst features thousands of royalty-free photos specifically for ecommerce entrepreneurs. Burst photographers also work to highlight popular products in attractive settings, designed specifically to give ecommerce entrepreneurs a head start with their product and advertising images. Visit Burst.

2. Visualhunt

This site aggregates photos from a range of online sources and makes them easy to find. It also gives you access to public domain images from Flickr, and you can embed directly from the website. Visualhunt is easy to navigate and offers great tools including a good tagging system, extensive meta details, and a color palette for product images. Visit Visualhunt.

3. Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock is a massive database filled with the highest quality stock images you’ll find. It’s beautifully integrated with Adobe Creative Cloud and lets you try out images before you purchase them. It is paid (unlike most sites on this list), but it does offer a 10-image free trial. Visit Adobe Stock.


This is a simple-to-use site created by Snappa that boasts tons of professional images free from any copyright restrictions. Visit

5. Death to the Stock Photo

This site is a home for artsy stock photos that have an authentic feel. It hosts art collection and photojournalism-type photos that set the site apart from other stock image repositories. Death to the Stock Photo offers both free and premium images. Visit Death to the Stock Photo.

6. New Old Stock (Vintage)

Looking for a vintage look? This site sources vintage photos from the around the world that are free from copyright restrictions. Visit New Old Stock.

7. Stock Up

Stock Up sources images from 33 websites both in the public domain and with CC0 licenses. The site is one of the largest stock photo aggregators and offers more than 20,000 images. Visit Stock Up.

8. Pexels

Pexels offers high-quality CC0-licensed images and is one of the best stock photo websites. It is easier to navigate than most with good tagging and filtering. Visit Pexels.

9. Unsplash

Unsplash has grown exceedingly popular due its clutter-free design and super easy navigation. It hosts a wide range of stock images in well-curated categories. Visit Unsplash.

10. Pixabay

Pixabay offers more than a million free stock images, so look no further for your background and creative needs. Visit Pixabay


Here you can find countless copyright-free images conveniently grouped in very detailed categories. Visit

And if these are not enough, here is our full list of 40 stock photo sites where you can get free CC0-licensed photos.

Next chapter

6. Saving Your Images for the Web

3 min

Start your free 14-day trial today!