Improve Your Product Photography Using Editing Software

I snapped some photos of Oreo cookies on a white plate with a white background and posted them on Instagram.

Nothing too remarkable. Just cookies.

But they look a lot better when the Adobe Photoshop editing software enhances the color. The white in the cream filling looks so much tastier. The ridges in the cookie halves appear richer in depth.

Check out the before and after on the same three images I posted to my Instagram account. All I did was select ‘Auto Tone’ in Adobe Photoshop to improve the look of the product.

You can click on the individual images to see the larger version of the photographs.

What did we learn?

Photography editing software can do wonders for your photographs and better represent your products.

What happens next?

You don’t have to look too closely to see that the white drop cloth I’m using has some crinkles in it and can be easily viewed in the background.

To clean up the photo even more I can strip the cookies out of the image using either the Quick Selection or Magic Wand tool. Here’s what the finished product looks like:

Oreo cookies with no background

Whoa. That’s a big image of some cookies.

Did we skip a step?

The Quick Selection tool is pretty accurate, but it’s not perfect. To produce the image above I also had to use the Zoom feature. By magnifying the image 200% I was able to safely navigate through all the nooks and crannies that the Quick Selection tool missed.

I then proceeded to remove the unwanted pixels from the original image using the Eraser tool. And voilĂ , we get an image of Oreo cookies with nothing in the background.

Something a little less serious

To make a photograph of the product that isn’t just the product we can add back in a different background image.

Oreo cookes in a beach chairs

What is the point of this ridiculous picture? You can change the entire feel of a product with a background image. For the better, or in this case, the worse.

The example above is a poor attempt at a lifestyle product photo. Lifestyle images include your product in the surroundings that you want your consumer to associate it with – and I’m pretty sure no one gets jazzed at the idea of heading down to the beach to catch some surf, sun and Oreo cookies. A more appropriate context for this particular product would be a picnic or high school students at a late night study session taking a break.

Not to continue to nitpick my own work, but one of the types of images that are useful for presenting products are scale shots. Scale shots show how large or small a product is so that the consumer can get a better sense of what it would be like to have the product in their own hands. This image would be a scale shot fail since a stack of 5 Oreo cookies is not equivalent to an adult lounging on a beach chair under an umbrella. Sad, but true.

I’m feeling a little bad for the pigeon right now who looks like it’s about to get crushed by the Oreos that are levitating above it. Then again, what is a pigeon doing on a beach? Shouldn’t that be a seagull? Where exactly was this photo taken? Or did someone Photoshop that bird into this image? Hmmm…I digress…

What did we really learn?

We learned three things:

  1. The photos of my Oreos with the color correction look better than the images I posted to Instagram.
  2. No one wants or needs to see a photograph of Oreo cookies sitting in a lounge chair on the beach.
  3. Having a photo software editing tool and using it, is not the same as using the tool correctly or well. In other words, whether the photography editing software is GIMP, Adobe Photoshop or Preview (macOS) you can make changes to an image, but not all changes are improvements.

More, please

Interested in viewing more individual product shots in the wild? To see more of my work follow these links: chocolate bars and bags of coffee.