Photography marketing

Product Photography, Part 12: Color Correction and Presets

An essential part of product photos is ensuring that the color matches the actual item.

This is the 12th installment in my series on Helping Online Merchants Create Better Product Images, following “Part 1: Choosing Backgrounds”, “Part 2: Selecting Tripods” , “Part 3: Basic principles of artificial lighting”, “Part 4: Angles and points of view”, “Part 5: Choosing a camera”, “Part 6: Selecting a lens”, ” Part 7: Magnification and Close-ups ”,“ Part 8: Basics of Composition ”,“ Part 9: Advanced Composition ”,“ Part 10: Lines as Design Elements ”and“ Part 11: Editing Images “.

This article will cover color correction.

Color correction

Color correction is the process of adjusting a photo to match the actual subject. This is one of the most important parts of editing product photos, given the importance of exact color matching. Unfortunately, photography shoots often produce less than perfect colors, which requires changing an image’s white balance, contrast, exposure, and saturation.

white balance refers to its hue (or shade) in your image. Whites may appear more yellow or blue depending on the light source. Adjusting the white balance will not make your photo brighter or darker; instead, it will alter the overall colors for a more balanced representation of what human eyes associate with clean, bright white. The result is a better representation of the true color of the product.

In this YouTube video, product photographer TeeWin illustrates the importance of white balance editing.

Contrast. Changing the contrast of a photo makes brighter areas brighter and darker areas even brighter. Contrast affects your image in different ways. Images that are too light or too dark may mask the true colors of the item and appear inferior in quality, which will reduce conversions.

Image from of water, rocks and trees

Changing the contrast of a photo makes brighter areas brighter and darker areas even brighter. Picture: REI.

Exposure is similar to contrast, but it controls the overall image rather than certain areas. Increasing the exposure makes the entire photo brighter – decreasing it has the opposite effect. Some editing programs call the exposure “brightness”. When adjusting these settings, correct the exposure first before switching to contrast. This process can greatly improve the impact a photo has on a buyer.

Photo of a barren hill from

Increasing the exposure makes the entire photo brighter – decreasing it has the opposite effect. Source: REI.

Saturation. Even the best devices may not capture true tones for some colors. For example, a very saturated red can be difficult to capture and recreate in a modern digital camera. The other colors are similar. The editing process can help avoid a washed out image.

“Saturation” and “hue” are synonymous in most image editing software. Accurate saturation is as essential as contrast and exposure. To save time, correct the contrast before changing the saturation of a photo, as setting the first one will also change colors. Also, keep in mind that too much saturation will usually make an image unrealistic or over-edited.

Photo by TutsPlus of kayaks with different densities of red.

Saturation refers to the density of the color. Note the red variations in the identical kayaks in this example. Image: TutsPlus.

Filters and presets

Filters and presets in photo editing software can streamline an often heavy task. VSCO, for example, includes a wide variety of filters by default. Experiment with one of your images in several editing apps until you find a filter that works. Then apply this filter to the rest of your images. The consistency of your product photos is pleasing to the human eye and appealing to buyers.

With Lightroom, another photo editor, users can create their own presets or download them from others. offers over 400 free Lightroom presets for online merchants. Additionally, hundreds of professional photographers produce and sell Lightroom presets at a reasonable price.

In terms of resources to learn, Creator Pretty Presets and Action produced informative videos on Lightroom presets. Equally helpful is photographer Ann Young item of the 18 best Lightroom presets for product images.

Presets, free or purchased, do not guarantee perfection. You may still need to adjust white balance, contrast, exposure, and saturation, depending on the image.

See “Part 13: Special modifications”.