4 Simple Tips to Edit Food Photos using Picmonkey.com

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4 Simple Tips for Editing Food Photos in Picmonkey.com

It’s time to come really clean with you guys and tell you a little bit about my “professional” training:

I majored in Sociology (not photography, not journalism, and nothing culinary). My idea of a really nice camera was the itty-bitty Canon Power Shot my husband and I bought for our first anniversary. I had never heard the word “midtones” until about 6 months ago. I didn’t know that the best natural light is in the shade until about 5 months ago. And I couldn’t find my way around Photoshop or any other editing program if my life depended on it.

Which is why I love Picmonkey so much. Because despite all of my inadequacies in photography, Picmonkey is the online photo editing program that can make up the difference for my inexperience with a camera and editing software! As long as I can style a decent set and shoot sometime during daylight hours (although some hours will always be better than others), I can still make out with a pretty good looking photo without pulling my hair out trying to use some complicated program.

If you’re a pro photog and could Photoshop these in your sleep, more power to ya! Color me impressed!But if you’re like me, a novice photographer who doesn’t have the time to take on a fancy pants editing program that costs your first born child, Picmonkey is for you. And this tutorial is for YOU!

Disclaimer: Results will vary depending on the original state of your photo. No amount of editing can fix a truly awful, horrible, no good photo. Always shoot in natural light, use a tripod if available, and use the highest quality camera you can get your hands on. I can only recommend this method for up-close food and product photography, as that is my only experience.

After uploading your photo into Picmonkey.com…

Original Photo

Step 1: Re-size the image for web use. I size the image down to 585px wide to fit the width of my post area. This makes it a lot easier to work with (otherwise editing may be sluggish) and makes for better quality edits .

Screen Shot 2013-05-13 at 9.34.41 PM

Step 2: Auto-adjust the Exposure. I know some people cringe at the term “auto-adjust.” But hey. That’s me. I need all the auto-adjusting I can get. I’ve found that there are some elements of editing that simply cannot be auto-adjusted, but fortunately, exposure is not one of them. As long as you follow the next two steps, auto-fixing the exposure seems to work just fine.

Screen Shot 2013-05-13 at 9.35.11 PMDSC_1372 edited 1

After the exposure auto-adjust. Not a huge visible difference yet.

Step 3: Use the Unsharp Mask to sharpen the image. [Shapen >> Unsharp mask] As you can see below, I set my Radius for 3, Strength for 50%, and Clarity for 3. You can play around with those numbers and see what works for you, but this is where mine is set for nearly every photo I post.

Screen Shot 2013-05-13 at 9.36.32 PMDSC_1372 edited 2

After sharpening. It’s starting to look a little better, but the next step will help you to really see the difference…

Step 4: Adjust the midtones in Curves. Simple curve the line in the Curves tool until you like the look of your photo. This is pretty standard for mine…

Screen Shot 2013-05-13 at 9.37.27 PMedited 2

After using Curves. You can see how the adjustment really opens up the photo and takes it to the next level.

And that’s it!
Again, I want to reiterate that I acknowledge I’m no expert. So, please, no critics in the comment gallery if you don’t mind. But my inexperience is the point of this post– if I can come up with a decent looking food photo, so can you.

Disclosure: Picmonkey.com is an official sponsor of Something Swanky and I do receive various forms of compensation from them. However, opinions are my own and I was not compensated for writing this post.

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36 thoughts on “4 Simple Tips to Edit Food Photos using Picmonkey.com”

  1. I majored in adv and minored in soc and bus. So funny where life takes us. Never would have imagined blogging would be what I spend my free time on! And yes pic monkey is awesome! I was lucky enough to have the adobe master suite from college πŸ™‚ But I love me some pic monkey as well!

  2. Thanks so much for the tutorial! I’m just starting up my blog right now, and learning how to use all of the different tools. This tutorial will be very helpful in my upcoming posts!

  3. I’m super psyched to see this tutorial–I love picmonkey but want to play around with it more. Gorgeous photos and some super helpful tips, thanks!

  4. I love your tutorials on how to use PicMonkey!! I subscribed the mimute I found it and use it a lot ! IΒ΄m not a Photoshop person, just donΒ΄t have the patience for it. But I still can use all the help I can get with PicMonkey and your tutorials make it so much easier and fun to use it. THANKS!

  5. Great tips, Ashton! I have a concern about taking pics of food and I hope you can help me out…
    I notice that your pics always have the food in the background, or some nice accents. But for me, no matter how far back I place the food or the plates and stuff, I always seem to get the window or the fridge or the cabinets in my shot (along with the food).

    Are there any tips/tricks on finding a good place to shoot in your house, or how to style the food so that nothing else but the food and the plates show?
    Thanks! πŸ™‚

  6. Thanks for the awesome tips! Definitely going to try these on my next photo. I’m trying to improve my photos and I think this should really help.

    I was a political science major…don’t know where I thought I was going with that! πŸ˜€

  7. Thank you for this tutorial. I absolutely love picmonkey! It’s so worth being a crown member…I use this for everything– blogging, invitations, personal pics, etc. Thank you for showing how to use the Curve…never really understood it and now I can tell it makes a huge difference!

  8. Thank you so much for the awesome tutorial! I played around using some of your tips, and they made a huge difference. I think I’m going to take the plunge and upgrade to a royal membership.

  9. I found myself going to picmonkey to edit more stuff recently and I totally blame you. I was (and mostly still am) a Picasa guy. I loved them when they had Picnik, but when that bit the dust I was lost for a while. That’s when I just started doing basic edits and stopped all the “fancy” stuff I thought I was doing right. Auto-Adjust ftw!

    And I studied culinary. I can easily say it was the biggest mistake of my life, but if it wasn’t for that, I probably wouldn’t be where I am now. So I can’t say too many bad things.

    …Well, I can. Going to school to study the culinary arts is a ginormous waste of money. I could go on for hours but I’ll stop there. πŸ™‚

  10. Thanks so much for this post. I am going to order the “premium” version so I can try out the curves thing. I have been struggling terribly with the photoshop I have and I just don’t have time to use it. But I am sure if this works for food, I can get it to work for quilt projects!!!!! Thanks so much for posting something like this. It is exactly what I have been searching for!!!!!

  11. Thanks so much for these tips! I’m new to pic monkey, and I just upgraded because of this tutorial! I didn’t know about the curves option either. Excited to edit my semi-ok food photos and make them look better!! πŸ™‚

  12. THANK YOU for a simple and easy to follow tutorial!! I love Pic Monkey and use it daily, but there are still tips and tricks that I don’t know about. The curve is something I had no idea about, but I just tried it on a blog post pic and it made a big difference! πŸ™‚


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