How to remove the background of a product photo
If you’re an e-commerce business owner, chances are you’ve struggled with creating high-quality product photos for all of your different offerings. It’s a time-consuming process. You need to properly stage the product, ensure you have the right lighting, make sure your camera is set properly with correct focal range and color settings. And once you’ve taken that perfect shot, it can be tricky to alter it so that you can use it across all of your sales and marketing channels.
Let’s take backgrounds, as an example. How many times have you wished you could quickly remove the background of a product photo for e-commerce to help create a better match with your brand, marketing campaign, or that one specific thing you want to do with the image. Most entrepreneurs feel that pain. But, it’s a necessary struggle that is worth the cost.
High-quality product photos are a must in e-commerce. They increase the perceived value of your products, make your website appear trustworthy, and help users visualize what the product will look like in person. In fact, 90% of respondents to a recent Etsy survey said that quality images influenced their decision to make a purchase.
And it’s not just the product image that matters. What’s in the background also makes a big impact. Having the right background is critical in product photography.
Clean, complementary backgrounds help to showcase your product more clearly. White helps make the product image pop. Colored backgrounds add emotion and thematic intrigue. Environmental or contextual backgrounds situate the product within a familiar setting, helping the user to visualize how they would use it. That last one is critical, as some 22% of shoppers say that they’ve returned an item because it looked different from the product they ordered.
The problem, as you’ve likely encountered, is that removing backgrounds (or swapping them) can be time-consuming, and online stores can have thousands of images—not to mention multiple sales and marketing channels.
What’s needed is a tool to help expedite the process of background removal, and ensure that the output quality remains high. This article will walk you through some traditional methods of removing backgrounds from photos using Photoshop, and share a faster and simpler alternative with PhotoRoom.
Why remove background in e-commerce product photos?
It’s not about removing backgrounds, but rather about altering your existing product photos so that they are of the highest quality possible, and fit contextually with the rest of your sales and marketing activities. Background removal helps to ensure that your product photos can be quickly altered and improved.
Why is that important?
It ensures product images can be showcased professionally
It helps you easily manipulate images and blend them with other images
It helps you align colors and environments with your brands and website
It ensures product images can be repurposed across multiple platforms
Once a background is removed from a photo, the product image floats alone on a transparent background. When you have the product in this state, your possibilities are endless for a new background: different colors, patterns, images, and so on.
Apart from the aesthetic benefits, removing backgrounds from e-commerce product photos may also be a technical requirement, depending on where you sell. Marketplaces like Amazon or eBay, for example, have specific requirements for background images (i.e. they must be on a white background).
Being able to quickly and efficiently remove product image backgrounds reduces the amount of time it takes to be both aesthetically and technically compliant with your various platform needs.
How to remove backgrounds in Photoshop
Most people would likely turn to Photoshop to remove the background from a product image. And it’s not hard to see why. Photoshop has been the heaviest hitter in the digital photography space for many years, and offers a range of powerful features for just this task.
But, while this product is indeed a powerhouse for photography, it may be overkill or overly complex for small businesses and entrepreneurs who are looking for a quick and easy solution.
Here’s a summary of how to remove a background in Photoshop. We’ll contrast this with PhotoRoom later in the article.
Pick your photo file
Open your image in the Layers panel and unlock the layer
In the properties panel, click Remove Background under Quick Actions
Refine your edges using the Brush tool to clean up small bits of background that remain
Replace your background by dragging and dropped a new image onto the canvas
Move the new background image to the back in the layers panel
It sounds easy enough when it’s laid out like this. But it’s important to note that Photoshop can have a steep learning curve for new users, or those unfamiliar with the interface. The features are virtually endless, but it can be time-consuming to get up to speed.
Add up the time spent learning the product and process, with the time to remove and replace a single background image (times the number of images you have), and this can certainly pack on the hours that you likely don’t have to spare.
How to remove backgrounds with PhotoRoom
PhotoRoom, by comparison, is a simple, fast, and easy-to-use tool for businesses that don’t have a background (apologies for the pun) in photography or Photoshop.
Here’s how simple it is to remove and replace an e-commerce product photo background in PhotoRoom. We’re going to use the mobile app for this example, but the process is also possible using the desktop version.
Note: If you don’t have the mobile app, you can download it for free on the App Store if you’re an iOS user, or the Google Play store if you’re an Android. Once you have it, sign up for an account (it takes less than a minute).
Here’s how it all works.
Open the PhotoRoom app and click “+ Start from Photo” to upload an image. Or, you can use “Remove Background” or “Instant Background” to upload your photo directly into the editing areas.
Use the Cutout tool to hover over any additional details you prefer to remove.
Click “Done” and either save the photo locally, or share it via a link or to social media.
Step 1: Open the PhotoRoom app on your photo. Click the “+ Start from Photo” button to upload an image from your camera roll or files. You can also take a new photo with your camera. Alternatively, click on “Remove Background” or “Instant Background” to upload your photo directly into the editing areas.
Step 2: There’s two routes you can take next. First, is to use the Background Remover tool to get rid of your existing background. Second is to use the Instant Backgrounds tool to immediately replace your existing background with a new one.
Let’s walk through the process for each option.
Edit product backgrounds using the Remove Background tool
Click Remove Background, and select the photo you wish to edit.
Step 3: The app will automatically remove the background from your image, and give you a range of options for next steps.
Scroll down to see the list of automatic background and resizing options for your image. In the Classics tab, you’ll see options to add a white, black, or transparent background.
Further down the page, you’ll also see various options to resize your image for social media, marketplaces, and more.
Step 4: In this example, there's an additional detail to remove from the background. You can use the “Cutout” tool, as shown below, to make manual adjustments to your image and remove that extra item.
Step 5: Once you’ve opened the Cutout tool, you have two options to alter your image. First, you can use the Assisted option, which automatically detects objects and removes them. Or, you can use the Manual option, which allows you to use your fingers to erase pixels manually.
Select your option using the toggle buttons, and click Erase to start the process.
Step 6: Brush your finger over the item you wish to remove, and lift your finger once you’re done. If you make a mistake, click the Restore button to revert your changes.
Step 7: Once you’re finished, hit “Done” at the top right of your screen. This will bring you to a window where you can save the image locally, or share it via a link or to social media.
Edit product backgrounds using the Instant Backgrounds tool
Step 3: Click Instant Backgrounds, and select the photo you wish to edit.
Step 4: PhotoRoom will automatically remove your background, and present you with a list of suggested replacements, dynamically created based on the context of your image using AI. At this stage, you can also click on the resize button in the top right corner to resize your image.
Step 5: If you don’t see what you’re looking for, you can use the “Search for Backgrounds” field to type in specific keywords. This will show you pre-loaded background categories that are available in PhotoRoom.
If you don’t see a result that you like for your keyword, you can click the pencil icon in the top right corner and input specific subject tags and descriptors for your desired background. PhotoRoom will automatically create new background options based on your inputs.
Step 6: Once you're happy with your new background, you can save your image locally, or share it via a link or to social media.
This simple process has saved e-commerce store owners hours of time they would otherwise be spending on photo editing. Take Dave, for example. He’s a PhotoRoom customer who sells furniture, toys, and electronics on Ebay and Mercari. Here’s what he has to say about his experience working with PhotoRoom.
“Before using PhotoRoom, I was spending hours in some cases to achieve the look that I was going after. Now it can be just a few minutes. There's no way for me to not feel happy about that. I'm very satisfied with the app. I really believe that it's the future of product photography.”
Best practices for removing background images from e-commerce product photos
PhotoRoom offers a wide range of options for removing and replacing backgrounds for your e-commerce product photos. But no tool is perfect. To ensure the best quality output, it’s important that you follow a few best practices for product photography and file management.
Use high-resolution source images: The better quality the image, the more options you will have for resizing and reformatting. It will also make manual adjustments to the photo much easier, as the tool will be able to clearly identify what parts of the image need to be altered.
Keep lighting and shadows consistent. Dim lighting, over exposure, and strong shadows make it difficult to alter existing images. In the worst case scenario, the image might even be unusable if your tool cannot repair the lighting in your original image.
Use appropriate file formats: The best practice for most e-commerce shops and marketplaces is to use PNG files, a compressed but lossless file type. This means that your file sizes remain small, but the quality of the image is retained.
Know your size and format requirements: Keeping track of the various sizing and format requirements for your channels will help to ensure that your photo editing process is efficient, and that you don’t have to re-do the process if a specific spec is missed.
Remove backgrounds from your e-commerce product photos
Removing and replacing backgrounds from your product photos doesn’t have to cause headaches.
Try PhotoRoom for yourself today. It’s accessible on both mobile devices and desktops, and can be downloaded from the App Store or the Google Play Store. Set up your account in less than a minute, and start saving hours for more important tasks.
💯 Discover how to use PhotoRoom for batch background removal in pictures. Learn about AI product photography for beginners, including how it works, free tools, and benefits, and get expert tips on retouching product photos for e-commerce in 2023.