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 three easy steps to turn your snapshot into business photo using a processing program like Photoshop Elements 10.


For this project, I used Photoshop Elements 10, 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
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.

Needs Survey

  • What programs do you use to edit photos?
  • What kinds of editing do you do most often?
    • Fun edits
    • Changing to black and white
    • Filters
    • Watermarks & processing multiple photos
    • Cropping & straightening
    • Adding frames
    • Color correction
    • Other

14 responses to “Three Easy Steps To Create a Business Photo from a Snapshot”

  1. Muhammad Avatar

    Thanks meant for furnishing these sort of
    good subject material.


    1. tchistorygal Avatar

      You’re welcome 🙂


  2. mhdriver Avatar

    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.


    1. tchistorygal Avatar

      I helps to just play around. There are also online webinars you can sign up for that are free.


  3. viveka Avatar

    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.


    1. tchistorygal Avatar

      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! 🙂


      1. viveka Avatar

        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


        1. tchistorygal Avatar

          Yay! I’ll come look! 🙂


  4. the eternal traveller Avatar

    I have a Justin Beaver photo that needs a little alteration. I’m thinking now that the smudge tool might do the job. Thanks.


    1. tchistorygal Avatar

      It’s a great tool. I’ll smudge him if you need help! 🙂 Manny’s gone. I need to spudge someone! 🙂


  5. Andrew Avatar

    He looks very distinguished. Relax, Vince.


    1. tchistorygal Avatar

      Relax! Who are you kidding? Vince is definitely ADHD. He was on vacation in Hawaii in that picture! That’s as relaxed as he gets unless he’s asleep. 🙂


  6. diannegray Avatar

    Brilliant, Marsha. I love these 😀


    1. tchistorygal Avatar

      Thanks, so much, Dianne. Vince was horrified that I used his picture throughout the whole post. I thought it was great! 🙂


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