Ask Marsha: Three Easy Steps To Create a Business Photo from a Snapshot

We all take pictures, and many of them are good ones, but they wouldn’t work on a business card or on a website.  What’s the difference?  When I had professional pictures taken last month, I learned so much.  The biggest difference for business shots is the background.  The photographer told me that most people choose a brown background for their business shots.  Unless you have a swirly brown background sheet to hang from ceiling to floor, you might have thought you were out of luck.  A friend asked me if I could do the same thing in Photoshop.  The good news is that you can.  Here are the easy steps to turn your snapshot into business photo using a processing program like Photoshop.

Tools2

I used Photoshop Elements, but you can use just about any program.  The main tools I used are down the left side of the screen.  When I use the paint and smudge tools, I will talk about the size and strength that appear across the top of the screen.

V & M1

 

A waitress took this picture of Vince and me in Hawaii.  I liked the picture of Vince so I played with it.  

Step One: Cropping

First I cropped me and the glasses out!  

V & M2

Step Two: Painting Over the Background

After I cropped I pressed the control and #0 on my keyboard to get the picture back to the normal size you see it.  Then I chose the business color of brown as the background, and started painting, but not over the whole background.  I chose a couple of different colors of brown, a dark and a light.  I used the eye dropper tool and clicked on a couple of browns that I liked in the background.

Step Three: Smudging the Background

After I painted a good part of it, I used the smudge tool to blend it.  Smudging is interesting.  If you smudge at full strength, it wipes out all other colors.  So I set the strength to 45.

You have to smudge towards the color you want to disappear.  To me this is just like coloring when I was a kid.  I had to cover a big area so I changed the size of the smudge brush to about 150 or so, and smudged away in a circular pattern in the middle.

V & M5

When I got close to Vince, I made the picture larger by pressing control 1 on my keyboard, and outlined him using a smaller sized smudge brush. about 15-20.  

V & M8

When I got close to that outline I smudged with small strokes using a small smudge brush about 25-30 towards him erasing all but the tiniest bit of the outline.  

V & M9

After I got the area around Vince done, I changed the size of the picture back by pressing control 0 on my keyboard.  At this point I changed the size of the smudge tool to about 250 and stroked out away from Vince.  I finished up with a size 100 smudge tool and swirled a bit more until I was happy with the look. 

 The background work is really easy if you are careful around the hair.  

This is another one I did of him.  

These are the professional ones I had taken with a real background.  I still had fun with the photos.  I took out my scars in the head shots (as much as possible!)  I also decreased the clarity for the starry-eyed look.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14 thoughts on “Ask Marsha: Three Easy Steps To Create a Business Photo from a Snapshot”

  1. Wow, you have really developed in your photo – studio … excellent job. I knew about that brown background makes us look good – you have done a fantastic job with all your shots here – Vince, what a handsome man. The last photo of you – I just love it … you’re a very beautiful woman.

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    1. Thanks Viveka! Photos can do marvelous things! i walked into my old workplace the other day, and one of the secretaries came out, and said, “You sure look different today!” I was dressed in shorts and a t-shirt and baseball cap, and a little bit of make-up. I no longer felt like a movie star! :)

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      1. I have seen a lot of sexy movie starts in cap and shorts … so why couldn’t you be.
        My today post .. you will see a movie star photo of me … from 1973. *smile

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  2. This is great Marsha I’ll have to try it. I have photo shop CS2 but I can’t seem to wrap my head around it. I start reading and get sleepy I have a cd and a book that goes with it – same problem. Maybe if I pick up small pieces of information – one day I may learn how to really us it.

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