BEFORE (left) AFTER (right)
Turn OK photos into pretty-darn-good photos.
I like to use my own photos in articles, because:
- It’s easier.
- I don’t have to worry about permission.
- They’re free!
But… I’m not a photographer. I have lots and lots of ok photos. Not very many great photos.
Some of my ok photos have a nice clear subject, but they are cluttered and they just don’t… pop. Also, our house is sometimes pretty messy, and I don’t really like sharing whatever unwashed cereal bowls are stacked in the background.
So here’s what I do. This is my 1 minute Photoshop fix for photos to give just “ok” photos some drama by slightly blurring the background and bringing a little more vibrance and color to the subject.
I know there are more complicated and sophisticated ways to do this, but I wanted to keep it simple and QUICK! It takes me less than 1 minute, actually.
(This might look like a lot of steps, but that is because I am going to show you EVERY tiny little step.)
STEP 1: (see image below) Open your photo in Photoshop.
STEP 2: Type the letter “w”. This will make the option “Select Subject” pop up on the bar above your photo (circled in red).
STEP 3: Click “Select Subject.
STEP 4: (below) When you click “Select Subject,” the computer will look for the main subject of the photo. A dotted line will pop up around the subject. Photoshop does a pretty remarkable job finding the subject, but you will likely have to clean it up a little bit.
STEP 5: Over on the left menu bar, click the lasso tool. You will use this to made edits.
STEP 6: (below) Zoom in on your photo so you can see if you need to make fixes. Because the plate is right in front, I’m going to include that in my subject. (Everything inside the dotted line is my subject.)
In my photo, I want to fix the following:
Bottom left: I need to add that little circle to my subject.
Bottom right: I want to add that whole corner to my subject.
Upper right: I want to add my daughter’s thumb, and subtract a little section on her shoulder.
STEP 7: To add, hold “Shift” while you use the lasso to circle anything you want to add to the subject.
To subtract, hold “Option” while you use the lasso to circle anything you want to subtract from your subject.
STEP 8: (below) When you have selected your subject just the way you want it, click on “Select and Mask” in the bar above the photo.
STEP 9: (below) When you click “Select and Mask” you’ll see that the background (everything that is not your subject) fades a bit and there is a faint checkerboard pattern over it.
Now, you will go down to the bottom right corner to “Output to” and select “New Layer with Layer Mask.” And click “OK.”
STEP 10: (below) Now, in the right hand bar, a new layer will have popped up. Click the lock next to the original layer. This is your background. (I know… the layer above is called Background copy – ignore this.)
When you click the lock, the background will reappear and Layer 0 will be selected.
STEP 11: (below) Now that Layer 0 is selected, go up to the very top menu bar.
Then “Blur Gallery.”
Then “Field Blur.”
You will notice that the background get a little bit blurred.
STEP 12: (below) On the top right, you’ll see that “Blur” has popped up with a slider. The more I drag the slider over to the right, the more blurred the background becomes.
Too much blur can look a little weird. In this picture, I’m showing more blur than I would use.
STEP 13: (below) I’ll move to the slider to the point that feels about right to me. In this photo I’m showing about how much blur I would typically use.
Then, click “OK” in the top menu bar.
STEP 14: (below) Ok. So now your background is blurred.
Next we are going to sap some color out of the background.
Make sure Layer 0 is selected.
Now, in the bottom right, click “Adjustments.”
Then click the triangle which controls “Vibrance.”
Sliders will pop up for “Vibrance” and “Saturation.” (See the next pic for an example.) Slide these two controls to the left until you like the effect.
(The object is to make the background less exciting, so that our subject will stand out.)
STEP 15: (below) Now you are going to do the opposite to the subject. Select the layer “Background copy.”
Again, go the the bottom right and select “Adjustments,” and then the triangle for “Vibrance.”
The sliders for “Vibrance” and “Saturation” will pop up again.
This time you will slide them to the right, adding just a little more color and vibrance to your subject – until it looks right to you.
STEP 16: (below) Now you are going to save your photo.
Go up to the top menu bar and click “File.”
Then “Quick Export as PNG.” You’re welcome to save in some other format if you prefer.
That’s it! That’s all there is to it. Once you’ve done this three times, it will take you less than 1 minute too.