Many of our clients take their own images for their websites and even their print. Unless you’re a professional your images will always benefit from retouching in Photoshop or similar software. Lighting problems, blurriness, crooked subjects and dull colors can all be corrected. Here’s some things to look for that can be adjusted and make all the difference in the world in whether an image is flat and uninteresting or engages your customer:
Color casts. Adjust with your color sliders (Image>Adjustments>Color Balance) until dominant overall colors tone down and your neutrals don’t lean towards one color or another.
Color range. Again use your Color Range sliders to bring out the full spectrum. The eyes love color. Add additional color using the brush tool where needed to improve. Spike the color with the Vibrance (Image>Adjustments>Vibrance) tool.
Sharpen it. Don’t assume because a graphic is simple that it’s acceptable. Fine detail in text and objects can use the Smart Sharpen tool (Filter>Sharpen>Smart Sharpen). Watch the window and make certain that areas aren’t getting blotchy. Also, use your levels or curves to brighten your whites. Cloudy day? Select your subject, jump it to another layer (command/shift/J on Mac) and add a background layer in the perfect blue sky color of your choice.
Straighten, Dodge, Burn. If your images are distorted (I see this in remodeling images all the time- nobody wants a crooked house), correct the parallels. Select the image, Transform (command/shift/T on Mac), choose Distort, hold your shift key down and pull on bottom frame handles left and right until your verticals are straight. You may have to even straighten out the horizontals. Just hover around the selected image and rotate the image until you’ve got a straight horizontal line through your subject (you can pull rules from top and bottom rulers if you have trouble judging). This image also had dark areas that benefited from the dodge tool. A little sharpening with Smart Sharpen and then hand sharpening the details also helped bring out the shells. Also removed casts and adjusted the levels on this and warmed with a Photo Filter (Adjustments>Photo Filter).
Vibrance. (Image>Adjustments>Vibrance). Some images can use all the above and a little extra. To make images pop with color use the vibrance adjustment. It makes landscapes glow, flowers pop, and dull shots become extraordinary. All the above steps were also used on this photo.
So put your best foot forward, aim for perfection, and fix those photos! There are probably “unusable” images in your portfolio right now that can become standouts that sell your customer – they just need a little tweaking! Don’t settle for ordinary.