How to Optimize Images for Your Website

Let’s face it: website optimization isn’t the most crucial part of running a business. But your website shouldn’t be an afterthought: it’s not just a way to define your brand, it’s an opportunity to deliver a best-in-class user experience to your customers.

If you’re running an e-commerce business, great visuals and optimization are both essential. 92.6% of customers agree that visual input is their leading factor in purchasing decisions. And 39% of people will stop engaging if a website takes too long to load.

Many retailers have dazzling visuals that their customers never even see because their website lags or fails to load the images by the time customers click away. Great images can come with a heavy footprint—large file sizes that take a toll on load times and SEO. 

Clearly, website speed is paramount, and optimized images make it a lot faster for pages to load. In this write-up, we’ll explore essential strategies for image optimization on the web.

How to Optimize Images for a Website

1. Benchmark the current site speed

Before you dive in, start by running a speed test on your website. We recommend the following speed tests:

  1. Google’s PageSpeed Insights
  2. Pingdom Tools
  3. WebPageTest
  4. GTMetrix

This will ensure that you have a good sense of how your website performs at a baseline. If you notice a performance hit from uploading your images, you can strategize for a solution.

    2. Choose the correct file format

Now you can begin optimizing your images. The first step is choosing a suitable file format. The most common types are:

1.    PNG

2.    JPEG

3.    GIF

a)   PNG is ideal for mainly flat images like icons and logos. The format is lossless but you can also configure it to enable “lossy” compression, which will result in smaller file sizes but reduced quality. 

b)    JPEG is suitable for most photos as DSLR cameras use JPEG as their baseline. The file sizes and quality are heavily adjustable from 1-100%. JPEG is a lossy format.

c)    GIFs are animations created through a flipbook-like process. The format only supports 256 colors and features lossless compression.

  3. Caching

Caching distributes content fast by storing your files in a proxy server or browser cache. An image caching service preprocesses an image to improve website performance and loading speed. You can also employ caching for static images like backgrounds and low-resolution formats.

   4. Optimize alt text

The alt text appears on a user’s screen if images fail to load or if they are using a screen-reader or other accessibility device. Alt text allows search engines to easily crawl and rank your website. By ensuring your alt text is detailed and accurate, you can capture a much wider audience for your website and make it easy for users who are blind and low-vision to access your content. Alt text should be snappy, descriptive, and attached to all non-decorative images

  5. Resize your photos

One of the easiest ways to optimize images for the website is to resize them before you upload them to the website. Especially if you are using DSLRs, the raw images will be huge. Resizing images helps the site load faster to create a good user experience. You want a good balance between file size and quality. You can resize images manually or use a trusted tool like the AI-powered autoRetouch to resize images automatically and in bulk.

Pro tip: Export images at 2048 px wide and 240 DPI resolution.

  6. Compress your images

Leverage compression techniques to reduce the size of the image. There are two types of compression:

·    Lossy Compression

This type of compression reduces file size by deleting data redundancies, which may also reduce image quality. Once you compress the picture, you cannot retrieve the eliminated data. When using lossy formats, you should store a master copy of the image to ensure that you always have a high-quality version.

·    Lossless Compression

Lossless compression prioritizes quality over size. Lossless formats maintain high visual quality, so you never need to worry about grainy images. The tradeoff, however, is significantly larger file sizes.

You can employ the following image compression tools:

  1. TinyPNG
  2. JPEGmini
  3. RIOT
  4. Image Optimizer

  7. Optimize image delivery

Once your images are optimized, you can go even further by optimizing your image delivery as well. Before launching your website, plan for traffic spikes that could result in slowdowns. Ensure that your image server can handle three to four times the average traffic load.

Another strategy is to use a Content Delivery Network (CDN). CDNs deliver images to users from servers that are close to their physical location, improving load times. CDNs are widely available and are a great way to bump up site performance.

Advantages of Image Optimization

The benefits of image optimization include:

1.    Reduced bounce rates

Visitors are more likely to stay on a page that loads quickly. Think about it—how long are you willing to wait around for a website to finish loading?

 2. Reduced costs

Bandwidth costs money, and optimization ensures that you need as little of it as possible. Thus, optimizing images is a cost-saving solution for website hosting and delivery costs.

 3. Improved search ranking

Google and other search engines consider page load time a ranking factor, so optimizing images lead to higher rankings and thus more traffic.

4. Improved customer experience

Even if they don’t leave your website outright, users will be unsatisfied if your website is laggy. Improve engagement and conversion by ensuring that your site is well-optimized.

Bottom Line

Image optimization is a massive part of building a professional website, and it can lead to substantial improvements in conversion and site speed. Faster websites are also critical for SEO, so when you start optimizing images for the web, it can easily boost discovery for your website as well. The great news is, that you can easily tackle image optimization on your own without too much time and effort—and if you need a little extra help or a time-saving solution, there are excellent tools out there to get you started.

Photo Retouching: Cost-Cutting Solutions for Product Photography

Product photography can be a costly proposition. From getting the right lighting to capturing the images, it requires a significant investment even before it comes time to edit the photos and get them gallery-ready. You might be tempted to cut costs by doing the retouching yourself—but professional photo editing is challenging to master, to say the least, and you might lose just as much money in the long run if you spend hours tearing your hair out in Photoshop. 

What’s a cost-minded business owner to do? In this post, we’ll take a look at photo retouching services that can provide big value to your business—without cutting into your profits.

But first, let’s take a quick look at the average cost of professional product photography in 2022.

Product Photography Costs Per Day

If the shoot requires a studio, it will cost around $400-$1000. Depending on the studio, the price may be lower or higher, but be careful—you get what you pay for. If additional equipment or props are required, the costs might be even higher.

Product Photography Costs Per Item

Per-product pricing is great for bulk photography since the cost per product decreases as the number of products increases. Depending on the photographer and the number of items, it might cost $20-$100. If you need multiple angles for each product, the costs will be higher.

Product Photography Costs Per Image

Per-image pricing is often the most affordable option for professional projects. Depending on the total number of photos, the price per image could vary between $1 and $50. If you’re in need of a large number of images, it can be an economical choice.

No matter which option you choose, the product photography isn’t cheap! Then comes post-production, and you might expect to have to DIY this critical step or else shell out for a professional editor. But in this next section, we’ll take a look at how photo retouching services can help your budget stay slim without sacrificing quality.

Is Photo Retouching Cost-Effective?

In short—yes! Here’s how the right photo retouching services can be both cost and time-efficient for product photography.

1. Efficient and Practical Styling for Studios:

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/_H2AAl60p1TZBVASvCvt3-CSjtPbM1P7fLHyWsN1Fd8HoMhjY5NrlDZj0DqQEYzrT0iz5D-Ukew9MtoaJ7Vnlk-_uKcqK8cU7a0jzgmjpiFebDcfvjTVdPYzx6K3kA

The cost of product photography styling varies from studio to studio. Whether it’s photographing interiors, products, or architecture, styling is essential. However, styling can increase your budget—even your post-prod budget. The more complex the styling, the more likely it is to introduce issues that need to be fixed in post: unwanted shadows, creases in the garments, elements that need to be removed, etc. With retouching services, you can fix these issues in seconds and get perfectly styled photos without needing to spend big on editing later.

2. Lower return rates

Unlike in physical stores, e-commerce buyers only have product photos to rely on to make their purchasing decisions, so product photos must look as accurate as possible. According to Shopify, over 20% of online purchases are returned, whereas physical retailers have return rates of about 9%. This can majorly impact your bottom line.

Photo retouching services reduce return rates by making sure that your photos look as much like the physical products as possible. That might seem counterintuitive—after all, wouldn’t an undoctored image represent the product best? Not necessarily. Photography isn’t a perfect representation of reality. Due to the lighting, styling, or camera settings, your product photos might turn out looking subtly or dramatically different than the products look in person. Retouching can help restore a realistic appearance. If you’re in the apparel business, you can even use photo retouching services to create ghost mannequin photos, which accurately represent the 3D dimensions of your products without the expense of hiring models. In the e-commerce world, accuracy and transparency are key to satisfying and retaining customers.

3. Brand yourself as a professional

Even subtle adjustments to product photos may significantly impact how attractive they are to customers. Retouching services can make a variety of small but efficient changes like eliminating smudges on your backdrop or smoothing a model’s flyaway hairs, leaving the images cleaner and more polished. Don’t let your brand be damaged by minor flaws when it’s easy and cost-effective to showcase your products at their very best.

But it goes beyond simply fixing flaws. Retouching services can help you quickly brand your photos by making it easy to remove and replace backgrounds, adjust colors, and more. Make your photos pop and customize them for different marketplaces and sales channels with just a few clicks.

All these edits can be done on a small budget. For example, with autoRetouch, the price for fixing one image ranges from $0.13 to $0.65. With the bulk edit feature, costs can be even lower. Compared to hiring professionals, leveraging retouching services offers you more freedom and flexibility at a low cost.

Bottom Line

No matter how you choose to go about retouching your product photos, it’s best to make an informed decision by studying all the available services and avenues. Not every company has the power to hire in-house experts, but that’s okay—you can still build an impressive brand by doing it yourself. Photo retouching services offer an excellent middle ground for small businesses, allowing them to go toe to toe with big retailers in the busy world of e-commerce.

The Ultimate Guide to Shopify Images: Sizing, Optimization, and More!

The Ultimate Guide to Shopify Image Size

Shopify is an incredible platform for e-commerce retailers. With multiple payments and shopping cart options, a variety of pricing plans for retailers of different sizes, and flexible options for sales channels, it’s a great place to launch a business. But to make the most of your Shopify store, you need to make it look irresistible to your customers. No matter what you’re selling, stunning images are a must. 

From gorgeous landing page images to conversion-boosting banners, there are a variety of images you’ll want for your Shopify store. And it’s not only about the aesthetics: you’ll need to consider page load times, zooming functionality, and Shopify compatibility.

This quick easy handbook will tell you everything you need to know about Shopify image sizes, formats, and optimization so you can start selling ASAP.

What is the Best Image Size for Shopify?

First off: there’s no one-size-fits-all golden rule for Shopify images. Shopify requires photos to be at least large enough to work with its zoom-in features—but very large images can slow load times on your Shopify page, potentially reducing the number of visitors who stick around to browse your products. Below, we’ll address the use cases you should consider when building your Shopify store.

General Specs for Product Images

Shopify permits a wide range of image sizes. If you’re a business owner or marketer there, you likely already know you can upload up to 250 images for each featured product. But all the images in the world won’t entice buyers if those images aren’t optimized for the platform.

Here are the general Shopify image size recommendations:

i)     Maximum Size: 4472×4472 pixels

ii)   Minimum Size: 800×800 pixels

iii)   Recommended Square Image Size: 2048×2048 pixels

iv)   File size: Maximum 20 MB

v)    Image Resolution: 72 DPI

Attempting to use images larger than 20 MB will affect the speed and scalability of your store. This could result in increased bounce rates. On the other hand, photos less than 800×800 pixels don’t work with Shopify’s zoom-in functionality. 2048×2048 is the ideal size for both desktop and mobile screens. This size ensures a store that is both attractive and has reasonable load times for most shoppers.

General Specs for Favicons

A favicon is a small icon that appears in the URL bar next to the URL. It might seem trivial, but don’t overlook it—your favicon can go a long way towards creating robust brand awareness. The best image size for favicons on Shopify is 32×32 pixels.

General Specs for Logos

The ideal logo size will depend on your Shopify theme, so be sure to follow the recommendations for your specific theme. For example, the Turbo theme suggests a 400×100-pixel logo image for the main menu and 250×200 pixels for the footer. For site optimization reasons, it’s best not to exceed 450×250 pixels. Square logos with a 1:1 ratio work well with most Shopify themes.

The ideal size for featured images and shop backgrounds, which will be very large in most cases, depends on your theme—so make sure to follow Shopify’s guidance for whatever theme you’ve selected to avoid awkwardly sized images. The best aspect ratio for banners is 16:9, regardless of your theme. Overall, you’ll want to opt for images that are at least 1800×1000 pixels.

General Specs for Shopify Login Page Backgrounds

Have you ever noticed that some Shopify stores have beautiful backgrounds on the login page? It’s a great opportunity to keep your brand in front of customers and make their shopping experience more visually interesting and memorable. These images should be 1600×1000 pixels in size. Keep in mind that the background image size may differ depending on your theme. With image optimization software, you can resize the photos to make them web and mobile compatible.

General Specs for Shopify Slideshow Images

The Shopify slideshow feature lets you display multiple photos and videos that can be swiped through, dragged, and played. When done right, a slideshow can be one of the most eye-catching and engaging features of your store and is the perfect place to use your most glamorous product images. The recommended dimensions for the Shopify slideshow are 1200 to 2000 pixels in width and 400 to 600 pixels in height.

It’s always better to categorize images into different segments to facilitate easy navigation. Shopify gallery photos must not exceed 800×800 pixels.

Which Image Formats Can Be Used on Shopify?

1.    JPEG/JPG

JPG or JPEG formats are widely used in online marketplaces as they boast impressive color quality and small file sizes. It’s also easy to further compress this format if needed. Experts highly recommend JPEGs for seamless loading. However, note that JPEGs are a “lossy” format, meaning that compression will degrade the image quality somewhat. This format cannot support transparency, although it can be made to mimic a transparent image format if the background of the image is set to the same color as the page.

2.    PNG

PNGs are popular among Shopify vendors as they offer more control when it comes to editing the background, colors, and other aspects. PNGs can also be made transparent, unlike JPGs and JPEGs. The only issue with this format is that the image sizes are larger, potentially affecting load times. 

3.    GIF

Did you know you can spice up your Spotify storefront with GIFs? It’s a great way to add liveliness, movement, and even humor to your shop. GIFs can be transparent and are a lossless format, so the quality will not deteriorate with compression.

4.    BMP

BMPs are graphics that are versatile and compatible with both mobile and desktops. Usually, this format is not compressed, so the image quality is excellent. Like most of the formats on this list, BMP supports transparency. A BMP can display monochrome and full-color photos, which allows for different color variations.

5.    TIF/TIFF

TIFF is a high-quality, lossless data compression format, meaning TIFF files can be edited without deteriorating the visual quality. The TIFF format also supports transparency. However, TIFF files are very large and will result in less ideal load times.

Shopify Image Best Practices

Best practices differ from platform to platform, but all Shopify retailers must follow these three rules of image optimization to set up their businesses for success.

Use the same style of thumbnail for all your primary product photos

Thumbnails are a great opportunity to establish your store’s visual style and brand your business. It’s worth investing some time in choosing a style for your thumbnails. Having visually consistent thumbnails and primary images ensures a polished, professional look for your website. This strategy also provides uniformity in search engine results.

More is better for product photos

Just because you have stunning primary images doesn’t mean you’ll have a lot of sales, especially if your shoppers don’t have enough information to feel confident in choosing your products. Confidence increases conversion. It also significantly reduces the rate of returns and exchanges when customers know exactly what they’re buying. Make sure your product photos cover all the angles and details of your product.

Test to optimize

Maybe model photos are more effective at selling your products than flat-lay photography, or maybe images with funky backgrounds get more clicks than those with plain white backdrops. The only way to know what works the best for your brand is by performing split tests. You can try the Neat A/B app to find what gets you more clicks and conversion. Selling successfully online is both an art and a science—so don’t neglect the science side of things, and make sure you’re gathering as much data as possible!

Types of Photo Content for Your Shopify Store

Before you pick up a camera or hire a photographer, make sure you know what kinds of images you need for your website. That way, you can anticipate all your photography needs and expenses upfront and make sure your photo content works together for a polished, consistently branded user experience.  

●     Product-only images are often shot against white or neutral backgrounds. These images mostly appear in search engines and are required by some retailers.

●     Product-in-use images might feature a model twirling in your couture or people drinking the drink you are selling. These types of images convey the value of the product and are a great opportunity to add a human touch.

●     Photographs with text overlay combine the best of two worlds: showing off your products and providing useful information or promotional text. You might use these as social media graphics, sale announcements, and more.

●     Graphics are often used for informational images like size charts, accents or decorations to your site theme, and social media. You can hire professional designers to help with designing graphics or create your own using free tools like Canva.

Conclusion

Starting a Shopify store is easy, but optimizing your images for a perfect user experience is tough to master. But don’t be tempted to skimp on presentation—think of your website’s visuals as akin to decorating a physical store. The environment should be welcoming, enticing, and uniquely branded to draw your customers in and keep them coming back for more. The great news is that it’s not as tough as you might think to build a beautiful website. All you need is the right tools and a willingness to put in the hard work. So what are you waiting for?

8 Post-Processing Secrets from Professional Photographers

The Secrets of Post Processing Revealed For Professional Photography

Every job has its secrets, and photography is no different. Pro photographers might make it look easy to capture dazzling shots, but in reality, there are years of experience and technique behind every picture. Great photography is much more than shutter speeds and aperture settings.

So what makes the difference between your regular old vacation photos and the glamorous travel photos snapped by professional photographers? Even better—what can you learn from them? In this blog, we dive into the post-processing secrets of the pros to find out what makes their photos click.

The 8 Secrets of Professional Post-Processing

1. It takes more than good equipment

Just because the pros have shiny DSLR and mirrorless cameras doesn’t mean they spit golden photos with every click. In the hands of a professional, even a cell phone camera can capture incredible images; conversely, all the good equipment in the world can’t save a poorly composed shot. The real secret to success lies in the photographer’s technique and a skillful hand in the post-processing stage. Remember: without you, the camera is just an arrangement of metal, glass, and plastic.

2. It’s not all about the photos

We tend to believe that photos represent reality—after all, how can an image lie? But if you’ve ever spent an hour trying to find the perfect selfie angle, or fixed a mediocre photo with a snazzy filter, you already know that reality sometimes needs a little sprucing up. Even the pros sometimes rely on movie magic to fix an unflattering or uninteresting photo. What you might not realize is just how much can be done to elevate your photos in the post-processing stage—everything from simple fixes like lighting and color balance to changing or removing backdrops and more. Sometimes what makes a great image isn’t the original image itself, it’s the effort poured into making it great in post-processing.

3. Simplify, simplify

Reducing clutter in your shots is essential to sharpening your focus on the elements that matter. Learn to style, stage, and frame your photographs with a “less is more” approach and don’t overcrowd your subjects. It’ll make your photos cleaner and easier to edit later. 

But wait, what if it’s too late to declutter—the photos have already been taken? In many cases you can fix it in post! Post-processing can include tidying and even completely removing the elements you don’t want, whether it’s flyaway hairs or random objects you thought were out of frame.

4. Taking the right photos saves a lot of time

Okay, so it’s possible to fix a bad photo. But no one likes to spend hours in post-production, trying to save a mediocre image. You’ll save yourself time and improve your photography skills by taking the time to eliminate distractions, practice your composition, perfect the lighting, and take the best photos you can. Why spend hours removing an element in the post-processing stage when you can do it before hitting the shutter? 

Think about taking photos and post-processing as part of the same flow. Investing more time in one area reduces the time you’ll need to take later. Plus, developing an eye for issues that you’ll need to fix in the post will make you a sharper photographer.

5. Establish a workflow for every photo

It’s easy to get carried away in editing one element of your photos, but there are many steps that you should include in the post-processing workflow for each image. Following a checklist will help ensure a balanced and consistent output and prevent you from fixating on any particular issue.

Everyone’s process looks a little different, but these are the 7 core steps any post-processing workflow should include:

  1. Cropping & straightening
  2. Checking white balance
  3. Checking the exposure
  4. Fixing vibrance & saturation
  5. Checking for unintended noise
  6. Adjusting sharpness
  7. Editing the backdrop

6. Don’t overprocess your photos

It’s easy to go overboard with post-processing. Particularly when you’re learning new techniques, you might think you’re fixing a photo when you’re really ruining colors, destroying textures, or spoiling the exposure. Our advice? Make sure to give yourself time to review each photo. Walk away from the monitor and come back with fresh eyes or ask a trusted colleague for their opinion. You might find that you want to make subtler, softer changes that preserve the character of the original image. Remember, post-processing works best when it allows you to draw out the best of your photos, not cover them up. 

7. Don’t bother with watermarks

Everyone loves a time-saver, and this is one post-processing step you can almost certainly skip. Watermarks distract from your images and, in many cases, do not meaningfully protect your work from copyright infringement. These days, it’s possible to remove watermarks with only a few clicks with the right technology. If you’re concerned about the security of your photos, you can get a valid license from the US Copyright Office.

8. You don’t have to do everything yourself

Plugins and editing services can help simplify post-processing by making certain steps in the process easier or even automatic. But if you can do everything yourself in Photoshop, why bother? Simply put, time is money, which is why the pros consider it a smart investment. Why go through the hassle of editing countless images when an editing service could do many of the edits in bulk in minutes? Plugins and integrations can help you get value for time and money by accelerating the editing process. After all, the time you can spend investing in other areas of your business is time well spent.

Bottom Line

You might not be a pro photographer, but the great news is that you don’t need to be—you can still benefit from the same post-processing magic that the professionals do, all while brushing up on your photography skills. With a good eye and a willingness to practice, you can be well on your way to capturing eye-catching, highly marketable images with your own two hands.

All You Need to Know About Ghost Mannequin Product Photography

all you need to know about ghost mannequin product photography

If you’re in the online apparel business, you know how challenging it can be to portray how a product fits. Customers want to know what your products will look like when worn, not when lying flat—but hiring a model for all your product photos can be cost-prohibitive. Fortunately, you have options! Today, we’ll show you everything you need to know about a new alternative to model photos: the ghost mannequin effect

What is the Ghost Mannequin Effect?

The ghost mannequin effect is a powerful post-production technique for apparel photography. This technique involves editing together photos of the interior and exterior of your garment and removing all traces of the model or mannequin, leaving behind a photo that perfectly represents how your product fits in 3D.

Flat-lay apparel photos can discourage buyers because they fail to represent the full dimensions of your products. 3D silhouettes can accelerate your sales by allowing your customers to imagine themselves in the clothes and feel more confident in their purchases.

Ghost mannequin photos can be hard to reproduce, especially for non-professional editors. But it just might be easier than you think, and currently, there are great tools out there to help you spruce up your product photos without breaking the bank.

Benefits of Ghost Mannequin Product Photography

Ghost mannequins have a number of advantages for fashion retailers.

  1. Cost-Efficient

Mannequin photography is much cheaper than hiring a model, which means you can get gorgeous product images and invest in other areas of your business.

  1. Clarity and Transparency

Your customers want to be sure that what they see is what they’ll get, and ghost mannequins are perfect for showing the shape, style, and drape of each garment. When your customers can make informed and confident purchases, they’ll be happy to come back for more. 

  1. Consistency

Ghost mannequin photos give your e-store a consistent, uniform look, which in turn makes your products look professional and polished for potential buyers. Visual consistency helps your customers trust that no matter what they purchase, they’ll receive a quality product.

  1. Competitive Edge

An e-store full of consistent, eye-catching product photos won’t just entice your customers—it’s also a professional advantage over businesses with flat, uninteresting photos that don’t show off their products to their full effect. Ghost mannequin photography will put you a cut above the rest.

Ghost Mannequin Photography Setup Guide

Here’s how professional product photographers jump into the process.

1. Choose a Model or Mannequin

If you choose to work with a model, their style and pose must be minimal, with hair tied up. This will simplify the editing process later. Make sure the model keeps a static, balanced pose.

For ghost mannequin photography, it’s always best to work with white or transparent mannequins as they easily blend with the background. In some cases, dress forms work better to accentuate the details and shape of the apparel. Try matte white mannequins, as they are non-reflective and make the editing process easier.

Pro tip: Use mannequins with removable parts for maximum customization.

2. Setup Process

Ghost mannequin photography requires good studio lighting. Low-quality lighting will make it difficult to achieve the desired effect, even in post-production. Make sure your studio has adequate photography lights, reflectors, and umbrellas. 

Remember, you want your mannequins to be styled elegantly, so make sure you have all the essentials for making your clothes look crisp—clips, hangers, styling pins, and busts are a must. No one will rush to check out if the apparel on their screen looks saggy or wrinkled.

Choose a camera with a telephoto lens to minimize distortion and capture tiny details. Don’t forget your tripod for stable pictures!

Pro Tip: Ensure all images have the same lighting for consistency and ease of post-production editing.

3. Photographing the Outfit

After gathering your equipment, it’s time to shoot your products. Remember not to photograph the outfit from too high or too low an angle, as it can be unflattering. Pros generally take product photos from chest height. 

To create a 3D effect, follow these steps:

  1. First, capture the front and back view of the outfit on the model or mannequin.
  2. Next, turn each garment inside out. Style and hang each garment on a foam board and photograph the front and back again. These board shots illustrate the interior of the garment when merging the images.
  3. For collared shirts or dresses, make sure the collar is open and the inner lining is clearly visible.

What to Avoid

For Product Shots

  1. Hands or props blocking the camera’s view of the attire
  2. Uneven or asymmetrical poses
  3. Overlapping fabrics

For Inlay Shots

  1. Uneven, non-uniform neckline (for tops)
  2. Cropped or uneven waistline (for bottoms)
  3. Cropped margins in the images

Editing and Automation Options for Ghost Mannequin Photography

Generating ghost mannequins in Photoshop can be intimidatingly complex, especially for new photographers. Fortunately, you don’t need to do it alone. Tools like autoRetouch can take the hassle out of the editing process—and autoRetouch offers the world’s first AI-enabled ghost mannequin generator! All you have to do is upload your images, and you’ll have web-ready photos in a few minutes. 

This is how the autoRetouch algorithm generates automatic ghost mannequins:

  1. First, the background is removed from the original photo and inlay image.
  2. Next, the product and inlay images are combined.
  3. The inlay seam is camouflaged to add a 3D effect and a shadow effect is added with the image depth.
  4. Lastly, files are exported in PSD or PNG format.

Using tools like autoRetouch, you can generate your own ghost mannequins without hiring professionals or spending hours on editing. The flexible pricing options also ensure that nothing cuts into your profits.

Pro Tip: Keep the file size under 50 MB for best results.

Best Practices for Automated Ghost Mannequin Product Photography

Ghost mannequin photography might seem challenging from the outside—but with this guide in hand, it doesn’t have to be a mystery. With the right equipment and tools in your pocket, you can start creating your own ghost mannequin images and polish up your online presence right away.  Before you go, here’s a quick checklist of ways to make sure your ghost mannequin photos stand out from the crowd.

  1. Use a white or gray backdrop.
  2. Make sure all garments are free of creases and wrinkles.
  3. Style your outfits elegantly. Hide buttons, fix collars, and let laces lie naturally.
  4. Place the garment symmetrically on the model or mannequin.
  5. Hold the product taut and straight when capturing the inlay images.
  6. Make sure nothing obstructs the outfit.
  7. Use an editing tool like autoRetouch to quickly and easily combine and polish your product images!

Product Photo Checklist: 10 Ways to Perfect eCommerce Product Images

Did you know more than the majority of e-commerce shoppers consider product photos to be ‘extremely’ influential in their purchasing decision? In fact, product photos were ranked as more important than product descriptions, specs, and even ratings or reviews. In e-commerce, seeing is believing.

But there’s an art to the perfect product photo—and just as a good photo can sell your product more effectively than almost anything else, a bad photo can turn potential customers off. Careful editing brings out the best in your photos and helps your products shine in the busy, crowded world of e-commerce. Whether you’re an e-commerce specialist or a photographer, this image editing checklist will help you create irresistible, attention-grabbing product photos. 

First Steps for Perfect Editing

Shoot in RAW

The editing process is always more straightforward when using RAW photos. Why? Because RAW files contain more data and are of higher quality, it’s easier and more efficient to make adjustments. Editing JPEGs results in some damage to the original file, but RAW files can be edited without reducing the quality of the images.

Start with a thorough plan

Any project should begin with a well-rounded, detailed roadmap, and product photography is no different. Here are the things you should do before ever picking up your camera:

  • Define all the kinds of product photos your website needs
  • Identify the kinds of imagery that your audience finds enticing
  • Research current trends and take styling tips from successful product photography
  • Make sure you have all the necessary equipment like a lighting kit, LED ring flash, backdrops, clamps, pins, etc.
  • Choose an editor

The 10 Step Checklist for Perfect E-Commerce Image Editing

1. Choose your best photos

Not every image we capture is destined for greatness, and when it comes to e-commerce, you only want the best photos to represent your products. Cull your photos with an editor’s mindset, knowing that only a few will make the cut. Don’t know how to narrow down your images? Start by cutting out photos with anything less than razor-sharp focus.

Once you have your best photos in hand, it’s time to start editing!

2. Lens correction and straightening the horizon

Start the editing process with lens correction. This step is crucial if you use wide-angle lenses to shoot your product photos. Lens correction can help to correct chromatic aberration if images near the horizon have green or purple hues.

Make sure to straighten any tilted photos.

3. Color correction

Color correction is a challenging but mandatory step for image retouching. If your store has products of different colors with the same pattern or design, you can apply the recoloring feature to the RAW images. This time-saving step allows you to represent your whole catalog of colors without photographing each individual product.

The color correction feature also helps to enhance color tone, vibrancy, contrast, saturation, and more. However, the images after correction should always be representative of the products in real-life transparency will lead to trust and retention with your customers.

4. Remove intrusive elements with background removal

Background removal eliminates distracting or unwanted elements in the background of your photos. Backdrops can be replaced to make your product images look more consistent. You can also remove loose threads, flyaway hair, etc., for a polished look. AI-enabled software like autoRetouch offers automatic background removal and customization. To make the backdrop removal process hassle-free, we recommend placing the product against white cloth or sheets.

5. Fix imperfections

Imperfections can come in many forms, from blemishes on your model’s skin to specks of dust in the background. However, that doesn’t mean the photos must be discarded: today’s editing tools have mind-blowing corrective features, and these issues can be solved in seconds.

6. Creating depth with shadows

Without shadows, products may look unrealistic, but not all shadows are visually appealing. For example, shadows falling on the model’s face should be removed in the editing process. On the other hand, shadows cast by the model will give more depth to your photos. Viewers may not consciously notice the shadows, but they provide a sense of the 3D geometry of the item.

7. Choose cropping dimensions

Many editors skip this step, but it’s one of the essentials in editing product photography. On the bright side, it’s also simple and quick. Cropping removes the unwanted areas of the photo and brings more focus to the subject, letting you hone in on what’s relevant. Cropping usually only takes a few seconds.

8. Create 3D product photos

2D photos are flatter and less representative of the true dimensions of the products being sold, while 3D or 360° images can be very appealing to shoppers. 3D images are actually made up of a bunch of composited pictures taken from different angles. We recommend using Adobe Bridge to generate professional-looking 3D photos. This helps customers get a tangible sense of your product.

9. Remove the mannequins

Mannequins are a great way to display clothes and apparel, but they can be visually distracting as well. Keep the focus on your products by removing the mannequins from your photos. This can be a tedious task, but tools like autoRetouch automatically remove the dummy from apparel with the ghost mannequin feature.

10. Bulk edit your images

Selling products online means dealing with tons of product pictures at once, and making your photos consistent can be tedious and difficult. Fortunately, today’s dynamic AI-powered software allows stock or bulk photo editing, applying the same effects to 100+ images at once. Online shoppers are inclined to trust websites with visual uniformity in pictures, and batch editing helps your photos look professional and legitimate.

Bottom Line

Competition in the e-commerce world can be intense—and having exemplary images keeps you a step ahead of the rest. This 10-step checklist can help you delight your customers and create a powerful, appealing visual presence for your products.

10 Professional Photography Hacks for New Photographers

10 Hacks for Newbie Photographers to Beat the Best Photography

Do you consider yourself a photographer? If not, why not? Nowadays, even if you don’t have a dedicated camera, you likely have a smartphone—which means you have everything you need to start taking pictures like a pro.

If you think you’re a lousy photographer, fret not! As Henri Cartier-Bresson once said, Your first 10,000 photos are your worst. And between vacation photos and selfies, you’re probably well on your way to 10,000 already. In the digital age, there are almost no barriers to taking countless photos. Along the way, be sure to study up on techniques to improve your photos. In this blog post,we’ve gathered a list of hacks that professional photographers use to create gorgeous images—hacks you can start using right now.

10 Professional Tips for Beginning Photographers

Discover how pro photographers beat the best!

1. Use natural light

Don’t have a studio? Not to worry—the world is your studio. Daylight is an amazing light source for photography lighting, especially on overcast days when there isn’t as much harsh direct sunlight. Remember, excessive light may create harsh shadows around your subject. 

In the absence of natural light, photographers can use studio lights and LEDs, which is recommended if you need to take photos at all hours of the day or if your shooting location has poor lighting. Capturing photos at dawn and dusk can also make for beautiful, visually interesting images.

2. Your backdrop is as vital as the subject

A background will always do one of two things to your picture: it will either accentuate the image or detract from it. Some photos will benefit from interesting, dynamic backgrounds, while others are best kept clean and simple. Think of it like this: if you’re trying to have a deep conversation with someone, you don’t want to be in the same room as a crowd watching football. Cluttered backgrounds can have the same kind of effect when you’re composing an image. On the other hand, sometimes a lush and visually interesting background can add texture and personality to your images. It all depends on what’s important to the photo in question.
The great news is that even if you later realize you want to remove some or many elements from the background of your photos or even cut the background out completely, you may be able to use photo-editing tools to do just that.

3. Experiment with angles

Don’t shy away from crouching, lying on the floor, or climbing a ladder to find interesting and evocative angles for your photography. Utilizing different angles can help you bring a fresh perspective to your subject and highlight elements that wouldn’t be seen from a straight-on view—for example, if you’re an e-commerce retailer and want to make sure your product and marketing photos capture every detail of your products.

4. Keep it sharp

Do you find it challenging to hold your camera perfectly still? Great news—you’re just like everyone else. There’s nothing wrong with snapping photos without a tripod, but you may risk capturing blurry images if you can’t hold your hands steady. And if you want to take a set of photos where the framing and angles are consistent, a tripod is very helpful. But if you’re holding the camera yourself, there’s still plenty you can do to keep your photos sharp. Practice improving your posture and stability to make sure you’re able to hold as still as possible. And when photographing a person, focus on the model’s eyes to make sure the image is crystal clear.

5. Get the exposure right

Pro photographers put a lot of work into mastering exposure. As a new photographer, you likely don’t play too much with these settings—and in many cases, neutral exposure is a perfectly good choice. However, it’s not always the best option. For example, when taking pictures on a bright sunny day, neutral exposure will likely result in a dull subject and a loud, distracting background. Getting to know which exposure settings will serve you well in diverse lighting conditions will help train your eye to anticipate potential exposure issues that could ruin your photos.

6. Gear doesn’t really matter

You can own $10,000 dollars in fancy equipment and still take terrible photos. And that’s a great thing: it means the power to take amazing photos is in your hands, not your camera’s inner workings. Dedicated cameras can take you further and give you finer control over your photos—but in the end, all you really need to do is learn how to get creative, even if your only tool is a smartphone.

7. Proper depth of field

Depth of field is a hallmark of professional photography, especially when it involves models. Learning to adjust the depth of field properly can quickly transform your amateur photography into professional portraits.

To incorporate shallow depth of field into your photography, follow the instructions below:

  1. Place your model far away from the background
  2. Put on your longest lens
  3. Set the camera to aperture priority and set the aperture to as low as possible
  4. Step closer to the subject and let the lens focus
  5. Snap the photo!

Side note: if you’re using a smartphone, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to adjust the depth significantly, but you may be able to fake it; see this blog post for a thorough explanation. 

8. Add shadows

This tip is especially important for photographers who are looking to take photos of products for their e-commerce stores. In product imagery, shadows add realism and a sense of dimension. They can also add drama and interest. Conversely, photographing a product against a white backdrop with no shadows makes it look like it’s hovering, which will feel unnatural to viewers. Fortunately, a few AI-powered tools exist to let you automatically add ground shadows to your photos.

9. Use leading lines

Leading lines are a compositional technique that subtly uses paths or lines that lead to the subject. Pro photographers use it because it guides the eyes of their viewers to see images exactly as intended. 

10. Don’t forget about post-production!

As we’ve mentioned in the tips above, there are all kinds of tricks you can use in post-production to elevate the quality of your photos. Retouching isn’t cheating—it’s a skill unto itself, and professional photographers know that it’s essential to bringing out the best in their work. From minor changes to major revisions, retouching is a major component of pro-quality photography, whether you choose to make those changes yourself or hire an editor or automated editing service.

Bottom Line

There’s more to professional photography than fancy equipment, and you can master the skills you need with nothing more than a smartphone. Whether you’re looking to produce product imagery for your small business, capture dazzling portraits of your pets, or launch a new photography career, the tips above will help you along the way. Photography is complex, but also simple: train your eye, learn your equipment, and eventually you’ll be snapping stunning photos without a second thought.