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How to edit outfit photos

People often tell me they like my photos, and so I thought I’d let you into my ‘secret’ – it’s all in the editing. Of course, the best way to have pictures is to take good photos in the first place. That means investing in a good camera, learning how to use it properly, finding a good uncluttered background with lots of natural light, never ever using flash unless it is absolutely utterly necessary. If you have a good photo you can basically just stick it online as it is, saving lots and lots of time.

BUT. Sometimes you don’t have a great photo because you left it too late for the ideal lighting conditions, there wasn’t time to get the framing right, or your camera just won’t do what you want it to. Then a good photo editor is your friend.

Here’s an example of a recent outfit pic that wasn’t quite there where I ended up doing a bit of adjusting.


Here’s the photo. As you can see, the framing’s all wrong, there’s a funny shadow on the left, there’s mess all over the floor and the colours are a bit dull (this always happens with green incidentally). So here is what I did, using Photoshop. You can use other photo editing programmes, including free ones, for most of this I think, but Photoshop is the one I use.

step 1

Ok then. Step 1. Preliminary cropping via Image/Crop. I just wanted to get the worst of the mess on the floor out of the picture and focus on what this picture was about – me. I left enough space on all sides though for more cropping later on.

step 2

Step 2. Upping the contrast via Image/Adjustments/Brightness/Contrast. If I could only edit in one way, this would be it. It’s hugely helpful when you have a lot of bright colours that have ended up a bit washed out, it makes everything clearer and colours brighter without changing them significantly. I very rarely NOT change the contrast on my photos.

At this stage I could also have adjusted the brightness (ie. lightness, though that is something else in Photoshop), but it wasn’t necessary in this case.

step 3

Step 3. Adjusting the colour via Image/Adjustments/Selective Color. My main issue was the colour of the sofa, which looks a lot paler than in real life, so I made all reds in the picture more magenta and slightly more yellow. This also made the maroon shades on my clothes more true to life.

step 4

Step 4. Adjusting the colours in parts only. If I hadn’t planned on making this How to guide, I probably would have left the colours as they were then, but since I wanted to show the possibilities, I also adjusted the colour of the scarf.

To do this, I selected the area of the scarf only, with the Magnetic Lasso tool on the toolbar, right clicked and selected Layer via Copy. This creates a new layer on top of the original photograph, which you can edit without affecting the rest of the photo. Again using Selective Color, I made all neutrals (i.e. greys) more cyan and more yellow. I’ve found that my camera always makes greens look grey, so adjusting the colour of the neutral is more effective than adjusting the green itself, which hardly makes any difference. The layer is important here, because there are neutrals everywhere and if I had adjusted the neutrals throughout the picture I basically would have ended up giving everything a green tint.


And Finally, Step 5. More cropping. I played around a little bit with various ways of cropping it, and ended up going in quite close, getting rid of the rest of the mess on the floor, and the shadow on the wall.

So there we are, compare and contrast. Better isn’t it?


As I final final step, I added a border with Piknic, the photo editing software that is attached to Flickr. It’s free, and as far as I can see will let you do most of the things I was talking about above, except the layering. Since I’m lucky enough to have Photoshop, I’m not really too knowledgeable about free editing software, but there are plenty out there. Does anyone have any recommendations?

18.4.10: maroon, emerald and white - styled my Millie of Interobangs

I hope that was useful!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Ivanka 3 May 2010, 3:45 pm

    You look cute!

  • Breanne at Bella Vita 3 May 2010, 4:12 pm

    Cute outfit!

    Thanks for your tips and perspectives on photos. I've asked for a new, nice camera for my birthday to replace my point & shoot, so here's hoping! I'd also like to invest in Photoshop, so we'll see!

  • Biba 3 May 2010, 4:37 pm

    Very useful indeed! I sort of try to edit my pics with Picasa but I'm not much of a photographer so I don't think they always come out as good as they should. I do a lot of cropping, though…

  • The Waves 3 May 2010, 7:06 pm

    I am lazy when it comes to editing my photos, even though I really should do it more often… I just crop them to make sure the outfit stands out. I might just try out some of the things you showed here!

  • Lemondrop Marie 3 May 2010, 9:16 pm

    Fabulous editing, it all came together so well!
    Marie @ Lemondrop ViNtAge
    Petit Rococo giveaway

  • Veronica Darling... 3 May 2010, 9:29 pm

    Nice tute babes! Cropping is good! Having the space is also good, my house is long and skinny and the best view (background wise) is just too narrow!

    But my friend suggested using splashup.com for online photo editing, works the same as photoshop and is free!

  • Bug 4 May 2010, 5:15 am

    Great tips! I think I will give the 'adjusting individual pieces of color' a try. Really great post 🙂


  • Blog to be Alive 4 May 2010, 7:11 am

    Good tips! ACDSee is a good program to organize your pictures, edit, crop, fix, etc And I don't think it's too expensive. I think it's a great alternative to Photoshop since that program can be a little intimidating to newbies.

  • madam0wl, a.k.a Sandra 4 May 2010, 12:22 pm

    Those are basically the same steps that I do too but for the last couple years I've just been using the editing features of iPhoto which is part of Apple's iLife suite that comes loaded on their computers (which aren't cheap either though). I'm pretty sure most of those steps can be done in the lower priced (or free?) Photoshop Elements software. Piknic has abillity to make a few color/contrast adjustments also.

  • Kasmeneo (Marc) 6 May 2010, 12:03 pm

    Great tips! But how much time does it take to edit a photo like that? For outfit pics I usually just crop (and rotate if necessary) the photo and auto adjust the colors (handles contrast and brightness and generally gives good results) with IrfanView. That's a great photo viewer with simple editing capabilities.

    For more sophisticated editing I use Gimp, but I feel that fumbling around with lasso selection and layers is so time-consuming and tedious, so I seldom do it.

    Anyway, your photos always look so professionally done with the little frame around them and the general good lighting and contrast!

  • Eyeliah 7 May 2010, 2:59 am

    oh great post! I am one to crop and adjust brightness and contrast when necessary but haven’t done much with the levels of color. If the lighting isn’t right I tend to get frustrated quickly and change my location or retake photos later in better light.

  • julie mack 8 May 2010, 6:35 am

    Nice post!
    I also use photoshop for any photo editing (but truth be told I don't spend much time on my remix photos :X).
    The best free software/webware I've found is sumopaint.com

  • Franca 8 May 2010, 11:15 am

    Marc – I'm just more vain that most people I guess, I want all pictures of me to look good! I'm pretty well practiced, so it doesn't take me long, I did one just now and it took me 2 minutes, though that didn't involve any layering. With layering it might take 5 or even 10 minutes, if the shapes are awkward or I need lots of separate layers.

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