The Best Photo Editing Tools for Amazing Product Photos

In previous eCommerce University lessons, we discussed the procedure for taking great product photos for your online store. We went over camera settings, studio and lighting setup, product organization, and more. Now, we’re going to focus on the digital side of product photography: retouching tools for post-production.


Why Edit Product Photos?

You may be wondering why you should edit your product photos at all. If you’ve set up a product photography studio, optimized your camera, and gotten great results, why do you need post-production editing?

The answer is that you’re trying to create the best product photos possible. Your online store needs to look 100% professional in every way. Product photo editing is one means of making your business appear to be in the big leagues. Only with post-processing can you achieve completely consistent, truly perfect product photography.

The best online stores only use product photos that:

  • Show all colors with true-to-life accuracy
  • Have the background completely removed (even if it’s replaced with a color or different backdrop)
  • Ground the product in space to make it look solid and real (through reflections or drop shadows, not necessary if the product is being worn by a model in the photo)
  • Show the products as completely new, clean, and unblemished (retouching small flaws if necessary)

By applying these same techniques to your own product photos, you’ll improve the look of your online store, give customers a better idea of what they’re buying, and make your products more appealing overall.

We’ve compiled a list of tools you can use to make your product photos truly perfect, including something for every budget.


Free Tools for Product Photo Editing

You don’t need to shell out massive amounts of cash to get great results editing your product photos. The following tools are all free, and quite capable of achieving the effects you need. Some of these free tools are software you can download to your computer, while others are online tools that let you perform your edits right in a browser window.

Take a look and choose one that works well for you. Since they’re free, you can try all these photo editing tools at no risk.


GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP)

Type: Download

GIMP has been around for many years and is an industry favorite among anyone looking for a free, powerful alternative to Photoshop. GIMP has the highest feature count among all free graphics software and works on multiple operating systems, including Windows, OSX, and Linux. It’s open source and extremely customizable, through a huge options menu, third-party plugins, and even direct changes to the program itself. In short, you can do almost anything with GIMP.

GIMP does have a learning curve, but there are plenty of tutorials available on YouTube explaining everything from the simplest to the most advanced techniques.



Type: Download

Paint.NET is a very popular photo editor that’s less powerful, but much easier to use, than GIMP. And don’t write it off just because we’ve described it as “less powerful” — the fact is that for product photo editing, you may not need the tons of features GIMP includes. Paint.NET has all the capabilities you need for product photo editing, including color correction, brightness and contrast, retouching tools, and tools for background removal.


Adobe Photoshop Express

Type: Download

Photoshop Express is a free app for iOS, Android, and Windows that combines some of the most demanded features from the full Photoshop software. It works great for retouching, fixing odd perspective problems, color correction, and more. It also has a collage feature that lets you combine images into an artistic arrangement, perfect for creating banners. Photoshop Express is one of the easiest ways to adjust color, brightness, and contrast on just about any device.



Type: Online editor with download available

Pixlr is a very popular photo editor and works great for eCommerce photos. You can make all the changes you need, including color correction, background removal, drop shadows and more, right from your browser window. You can also download an app for use on various devices. Pixlr also has a Pro plan for those willing to pay for additional functionality.


Photo Pos Pro

Type: Download

Photo Pos Pro is another robust, free photo editor that’s easier to use than GIMP, but more powerful than most other free editors. You can choose between a beginner or expert interface, and it’s overall more intuitive than GIMP. The program itself still takes a bit of time to learn, but the tools are excellent and work very well for what you need. The free version won’t let you save any files at a size larger than 1,024 x 2,014, but this is far bigger than you’d need for product photos anyway. If you want to remove this restriction and use Photo Pos Pro for bigger graphics, you’ll need to buy a license, but it’s very reasonably priced.


Other Free Photo Editing Tools

If you’ve taken a look through these and want to do a bit more exploring, there are plenty of other free photo editing tools that could be perfect for your online store’s needs. Check out Fotor for online in-browser editing, Aviary Photo Editor for iOS, or PhotoScape for a beginner-oriented desktop program. A Google search will turn up many more.

Just look for the features you need the most: color correction, background removal, retouching, and drop shadows.


Paid Tools for Product Photo Editing

Sometimes free tools just aren’t going to cut it — that’s not to say they can’t be powerful, but paid tools often give you your money’s worth in editing capabilities and additional features that help smooth your workflow. The good news is that advanced, professional photo editing software isn’t nearly as expensive as it used to be. You’re not going to need to drop thousands of dollars, and in some cases you’ll be paying less than $10 per month.

Many of these tools have free trials, so you can test them out before you pay. Be aware that free trials often have restrictions, like only letting you edit a certain number of images or preventing you from downloading your results until you purchase a membership.


Adobe Photoshop

Type: Download

Adobe Photoshop is probably the most famous photo editing software available today. It comes with a massive feature set including everything you need for product photography, as well as additional tools for doing pretty much anything that you can imagine. Of course, this means a substantial learning curve, and you’re not likely to need all these tools. Still, Photoshop is incredibly powerful software and you can use it for a lot more than just product photos.

The pricing structure for Photoshop can be a bit confusing to the uninitiated. Most Adobe software is paid for via subscription, with plans for individual and multiple apps. The “full” version of Photoshop is officially called Photoshop CC, standing for Creative Cloud. Adobe’s Creative Cloud is a paid service that gives you access to your chosen apps along with multiple benefits, such as the ability to synchronize your settings across multiple devices so you can work on photos anywhere. Cloud storage is also available.

Basically, to get Photoshop, you’d sign up for a Creative Cloud “Single App” subscription which would give you access to Photoshop and the Creative Cloud benefits. Alternately, you could sign up for the CC “All Apps” subscription and get everything. However, there’s also a Photography Plan, which gives you Photoshop and Lightroom (described below) for a lower price than any other option. You get less cloud storage, but this is by far the most affordable way to get both of these highly-recommended programs.

There’s also Photoshop Elements, which strips down the Photoshop feature set somewhat but adds some excellent organizational capabilities. Photoshop Elements has all the functionality needed to correct and edit product photos and is available for a one-time fee.


Adobe Lightroom

Type: Download

Lightroom is another Adobe Creative Cloud app that includes all the tools you need for post-processing your product photos, and adds powerful features like batch processing so you can edit multiple photos at once. It also has several advantages for organizing and cataloguing your product photos. While you can subscribe to Lightroom by itself, your best bet is probably the Photography Plan unless you really need a terabyte of cloud storage — you get Photoshop too, for the same price, but with cloud storage limited to 20 GB.


Clipping Magic

Type: Online editor

Clipping Magic is an affordable online tool that provides several editing features geared toward eCommerce and other commercial graphic design. It uses a smart tool for quick and accurate background removal, and has easy-to-use color correction and drop shadow/reflection tools. It also has an assortment of other tools perfect for product photos, including precision edge finding and bulk editing. It’s quite specialized, so if you don’t want to be distracted by the hundreds of features available in a program like Photoshop, Clipping Magic could be exactly what you need.



Type: Online editor with download available

PicMonkey is a multipurpose photo editor that works in your desktop browser, or you can download an app for Android and iOS. It comes with a large suite of editing and retouching tools perfect for eCommerce. PicMonkey also has numerous special effects and filters you can use, as well as a collage feature for combining images into banners. The pricing is fairly low, with two plans available.



Type: Download

PortraitPro is only useful if you use human models in your product photography, but it’s quite powerful in what it does. It offers professional-grade retouching, relighting, reshaping, and more with advanced tools that help your models look their best. There are three feature-rich editions available at different price points, and you get an automatic 50% discount for buying the software as a digital download. If you use models in your photos, PortraitPro is the way to make them look like they just stepped out of the pages of a high fashion magazine.


Other Paid Photo Editing Options

While we’ve chosen these specific photo editing tools because they’re ideal for eCommerce product photography, this isn’t all the photo editing software in the world, by any means. There are many other apps, online tools, and desktop programs out there that might work perfectly for your needs. Just make sure you look at the features and ensure the tools you need are included. Remember: you need color correction, background removal, retouching (look for terms like “clone stamp,” “healing brush,” and “patch tool”), and drop shadows. It’s also worth looking up a few reviews of the software you might be interested in.

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