Best FREE Photographing and Editing Secrets

Clear, professional photos are the key to marketing yourself, building a brand, and ultimately selling your products faster! Here I will share the best kept FREE photo and editing secrets you can use straight from your phone! If you're looking how to edit photos for free, just keep scrolling.

I've even fooled some professionals with these photographing and editing techniques!

If you haven’t read my 10 Staging Tips to Sell Flipped Furniture Fast, definitely check it out before reading any further. Staging is step 1 in getting great photos. Photographing and editing come second. 

DISCLAIMER - I have absolutely no formal training on photography or editing. But despite my lack of instruction on the matter, I think I do a pretty good job achieving clear, aesthetically pleasing photos with the use of just my iphone13 Pro and FREE editing software from my phone. (Excuse the humble brag). My aim here is to highlight free mobile editing apps and maximize the use of the phone you already own.

Photography Tips:

Use Camera Grid

Aligning the subject – in this case the furniture you’re photographing- in the center of the frame ensuring all the lines of the drawers, baseboards, etc. are as close to parallel / perpendicular as possible. A catty-wampus layout is distracting to the eye and takes away from your masterpiece. You don’t want to start with a picture that looks like your 5 year old took it. Straighten it up!

Shoot from Hip Level

     Get on your furniture’s level. Find yourself a nearby chair if you’re old like me, or squat in front of the furniture. This will get you the best angles and accurately capture the piece. (Keep in mind these are just the basics. Feel free to have fun with your angles! Shoot from the sides, maybe a top-down shot, close up views or get fancy in portrait mode, but typically the best photos to truly capture your subject accurately start from the hip level.)

Lighting

     I mentioned this in my staging tips blog, but I cannot emphasize it enough. ALL NATURAL light is so, so important! The colors will come across more accurately and you’ll avoid awkward shadows. If you have harsh shadows from the natural source consider hanging a very thin curtain or sheet to diffuse the light.

PRO TIP: If you really are lacking in natural light in your staging space and are in a financial position to make a small investment, I highly recommend a soft box. You can purchase one on Amazon for about $40. Lighting is so crucial for good photos, it's an investment worth making, if needed. I promise, everything else in this post will be free to stay true to the title.

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Editing Tips:

     When it comes to free mobile photo editing I use the Snapseed app. It was very important to me when starting my furniture refinishing side business not to spend money in areas where it wasn’t necessary, photoshop software being one of those things. These are the features I use and in this order.

Rotate

     Do your best aligning all lines on the grid of your camera when shooting, but this rotation tool will pick up even the slightest rotation and self-correct. It easily refines alignment that even your naked eye may not pickup.

Crop

     Eliminate any excess negative space and ensure the subject is centered in the frame. Keep in mind you want some negative space and if you plan to add a logo later, now is a good time to plan ahead for that necessary space.

Healing

     This is perhaps the most magical tool of all! It seriously saves my photos when staging in my not so picture perfect garage. It’s great for removing unsightly nail holes, dings in the floor, or perhaps debris you forgot to vacuum before the shoot… (GUILTY)! You can even remove light switches and outlets – one of my big pet peeves. (See a few examples below)

Here you can see how I removed 1 (and a half) outlets.

[Blog post on how to replace background in mirror coming soon...]

This was taken in my garage with large dings and imperfections in the wall. After healing you'd never be able to tell!

Selection

This is another tool that is an absolute must use in my opinion. This feature allows you to select specific areas you wish to brighten or soften. I use the selection tool mainly on the background walls to eliminate shadows and other distractions. I focus on the brightness, saturation and structure options. Select the area you wish to edit, then zoom in/out to adjust the size. By scrolling your finger up and down on the screen you’ll see the letters B, C, S, S. 


B = brightness, 

C= contrast (I usually don't adjust this)

S= saturation, 

S= structure. 


Once on the editing option of your choosing, scroll your finger left to right to adjust. My go to approach is to brighten any shadows just slightly. I follow that up with at least a 50% reduction in both saturation and structure across the entire wall. This keeps the background bright white, soft and smooth. 

Brush

     This tool isn’t always required, but the photo edit below is a great example of when to utilize it. The interior of the bar cabinet is quite a bit darker than the rest of the picture. I wanted the funky eye paper to really POP, and by using the brush tool in the exposure selection I was able to accomplish just that! Simply draw over the area you wish to brighten, adjusting the width of the tool as needed. Check out that before and after!

Curve

    Curve tool is the perfect finishing touch to your photo edit. Adjust the curve slightly upward to give your picture one last boost of brightness.

Adding Logo:

     Using yet another free tool, eZy Watermark app, I add in my transparent logo. Don’t have a transparent logo? You can easily make any design transparent in Canva or simply type out your name and save it as a transparent picture (this is what I’ve always done). eZy watermark also has the option of adding text to the photo right there in the app. 

     I hope you found this Best FREE Photo and Editing Secrets blog post helpful! I am a firm believer that you don’t need fancy equipment to achieve a professional look. Eventually, I may upgrade to an actual camera for photographing and a LightRoom membership, but until my business has me rolling in the dough like Scrooge McDuck himself, I’ll stick with this approach.


Girl Behind the Blog:

I'm Jess, the creator of Oak | Grain and member of the Carolina Furniture Collective. A mid-west girl at heart who now resides in Raleigh, NC. I love finding old things & giving them new purpose by way of refinishing or incorporating unexpected, overlooked thrift store finds in the modern home. I work full-time in medicine & I love dipping into my creative side by transforming furniture and in the process, keeping my sanity. Follow me on Instagram @oakandgrain_refinishing to see more behind the scenes action.