The Basics of Photo-Editing for Microstock

In Photo Editing, Photography Tips by max

Whether you’re a professional photographer or an amateur, the word ‘stock’ photography is bound to cross your path. Even though microstock is the lower end of the universal stock photography world, it has become the most used source for images by companies across the globe. ‘Microstocking‘ is the easiest way to get your work out there and earn you some extra money.

With your photographs on hand, where do you start editing? The average microstock photographer can edit anywhere between 100 to 500 photographs in one sitting. Overwhelmed? Don’t be. It’s all in the speed and quality of work balance. With the right software and tips and tricks of the trade, you’ll have this down to a T in no time!

So let’s get started.

Cleaning up the Background

Using Photoshop for cleaning up the background in your food photography, product shoots or other studio shots doesn’t have to be a lengthy process at all.

Make sure you duplicate the background onto a new layer.

Forget starting with the clone stamp, patch or healing brush, if it’s a clean background that you need to polish, it’s going, to begin with the magic of the Median filter.

Select Filter, Noise, Median.

You will notice that the radius is dependent on the severity of the blur. Don’t worry about the blurring of the object.

Select okay.

Create a layer mask.

Invert your layer mask and select your brush on white and start painting in the median filter.

As you will see the median keeps the shadows perfectly intact but removes your unwanted dirt, folds or marks. If you know your pen tool, it’s always great to select your object outlines to avoid sloppy results.

Now you can choose the clone, patch or healing brush to patch around the object, and presto! Background clean complete.

Removing logo’s

Every photographer has found that they forgot a logo or a brand name in their photograph somewhere. Cleaning up logos are is as easy as heal, patch or clone stamping.

For this instance the healing brush tool is perfect.

To use the healing brush tool, hold down the alt key and select the area that you want the brush to use as a reference.

The size of the area is dependent on the size of the brush that you choose to use.

There are also different options in the top bar for you to refine your result. In this case, the ‘replace’ option was used.

Skin retouching

There are many tools used in the process of retouching skin, hair, and up close and personal photographs for fashion. There is no easy way to edit the skin, but there is a nifty little tool, that if used right can alleviate many of your problems. The little tool is the spot healing brush tool. It really does exactly that, it heals the spots. However, beware this little tool can be destructive. The blur effect if overused can ruin your images and is extremely noticeable when using around any flash hot spots, seen in the image below.

If those tools do not help, the patch tool does wonders as well. Select your area and drag your selection across to the place that you would like to replace it with.

The dramatic effects

You have most probably heard of the magic hour or golden hour, a perfect time for photographers to shoot. It is not always possible though, and recreating the magic hour in a landscape or lifestyle photograph can change its appeal completely. So how would you recreate the golden hour effect?

There are elaborately drawn out ways which are extremely effective in the end, but for editing for microstock we want speed and quality, so the fastest and most effective method would be to find an excellent preset and apply that.

Let’s say you don’t have your preset. Take your desired photograph and duplicate your background to create a new layer, (always do this).

Under color overlay, choose your desired color, usually, the oranges are best, the reds tend to go a little pink, and the yellows don’t work at all.

In the drop-down menu choose between color burn and overlay, then play with your slider, it’s different for every photograph and every editor. Make sure that your preview option is selected on the right so that you can see the effect your actions are having in real time.

For professional shoots, you can make a new layer with a mask and add a lens flare to make it more realistic and far more dramatic. However, with microstock submissions remember to keep all your work crystal clear with the least amount of effects.

Black and white photography is another beloved dramatic effect. Black and white photography is an art and adding the effect on just any old photograph will not work. A preset is great, but Photoshop’s black and white effects are easy to use and fast.

Above your layers panel is a small set of icons, it includes your brightness, your contrast, your curves and so on. It is there that you can find your black and white option.

There are many options to play around with, just remember to keep a close watch on the whites of the eyes, the lips, the teeth, nails, and jewelry. The Photoshop sliders tend to sneak up on you if you don’t keep your focus. Play with your sliders, experiment, its the only way to learn.

Practice, practice and then practice some more. Like riding a bicycle, you have to hit the trees a few times before you can even attempt to scream “Look ma, no hands!” without falling.

Editing photographs for microstock can be a scary endeavor at first, but once you get the hang of it, you will be editing 500 images in no time, without batting an eyelid. There is money to be made, so go and collect your favorite presets, choose a few practice photographs and have some fun!