I Love That Photo, But…

While editing pictures today for an ad, I had a brainstorm for this post. How many of you take the perfect photo? Do you ever have a photo that you would love to use for something special, but there is a flaw in it that you would love to get rid of? The picture above is a perfect example. I hate to use my daughter’s graduation photos again, but I promise, I’ll give you some more examples. My friend took my daughter’s informal photos. She did a great job, and we both loved this shot (my daughter didn’t, but we won’t go there right now.) The only problem was the truck in the background. I took one look at it and said “no problem, we’ll just get rid of the truck.” I know she was skeptical, but she told me to go ahead and try. Have I mentioned before that I love a challenge? Below is what I came up with after a little manipulation in Photoshop.

Why my daughter doesn’t like this pose is beyond me. There’s not much that I don’t like about it, but I’m the mom and she’s the teenager, so there you go. I’m not trying to convince anyone that you can take a photo without any consideration as to how it will be used by any stretch of the imagination. I’m just trying to let you know that just because you find a flaw in a photo that you love, all is not lost. At least not until you talk to a graphic designer to see if there is anything that can be done to get rid of or at least minimize the flaw.

I do ads for national antique publications on a weekly basis. The ads that I do feature antiques that I pull off of a antique mall website. My customer likes the background extracted from the photos so the items are represented cleanly. I’ll admit that most of the time I go in search of items that are easy to extract. That isn’t always possible though. There is nothing worse than trying to get a copper or bronze item extracted from a background that is orange. It can be done, but it takes a while. Let’s just say that the magic wand in Photoshop isn’t all magic. It depends a lot on the contrast between the item you want and the background you don’t.

I guess what I’m getting at is, if you are taking a picture for a specific purpose, think about what is going on all around your subject. If at all possible, use a solid background that has a lot of contrast between what you want to stand out and what you want to ignore. If your subject is a light color, make sure your background is dark.

Here’s a rack card I did for the same online antique mall. All of the items shown were from photos on the website. The photo below the rack card shows one of the photos before it was extracted. Notice the contrast, that’s what I look for when I want to do it the easy way.

If you have a specific project in mind when you take the photos, just be conscious of what the surroundings are. But, if you find a photo that you think would be perfect for your next project, business card, rack card or brochure, don’t immediately toss it aside just because there is something about it that distracts from you main focal point. Talk to a professional first. There may be a solution that you don’t readily see or you think is impossible. Graphic designers aren’t magicians but sometimes we do have the tools to work magic πŸ™‚

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