Photo Editing

by Joanne Basile

After investing much time and energy on your cards and scrapbook pages, make sure all of your thoughtfulness and attention to detail shine through with these photography tips courtesy of the MFT Design Team.


  • Camera

  • 12" x 12" cardstock, white or kraft

  • Photo editing program


  1. Step 1


    Wherever possible, use natural light for your photos. Using your flash can create an undesirable yellow cast in your photos. Disable your flash by looking for a button or icon similar to the one shown in the picture.

  2. Step 2


    Various areas of your home will offer the best possible lighting at different periods during the day, so explore your own home to find what works best for you.

    A neutral background is recommended for your project photography. After all, you don’t want to detract from your beautiful card, project, or page. Start by having both white and kraft 12x12 cardstock on hand for this purpose.

    In general you will use the white cardstock. It helps to reflect light and can also be used for color correction assistance in Photoshop Elements. We will discuss photo-editing in more detail later.

    Use the kraft cardstock for projects that are mostly white or off-white. Very light cards look best with a little contrast behind them.

    Line your photo box with 12x12 papers as illustrated.

  3. If you don’t have a photo box, you can easily make one with a cardboard box or by adding a cardboard backer to one of your 12x12 papers so it will stand up vertically. If necessary, you can place a coffee mug behind the cardboard sheet to hold it in place.

  4. Step 3

    Taking the Photo

    You can use just about any camera to photograph your projects. Here are a few tips for actually taking the photo:

    • Enable the macro setting on your camera. If you can't easily identify it, look for an icon shaped like a flower. This will help capture the finer details of your project as is it designed for close-up photography.
    • Take lots of photos including detail shots of important features like embellishments or additional layers. You’ve spent a ton of time building your masterpiece and you want to allow all the details to shine through.
    • Rotate your card to see where the light looks best. Take pictures from different vantage points and choose the one you like best during the editing process.

  5. • Change your angle. Sometimes one element blocks another in the photograph. For example the card in this photo needed to be photographed from the right hand side, or the dimensional flowers blocked the sentiment

  6. Step 4


    It is during the editing process you'll be able to fine-tune your photo to reflect all of the detail in your card.

    This tutorial features Photoshop Elements as the photo-editing software. It offers many adjustments that can be made with relative ease.

    Here is a photo of the card before editing.

    Take the following steps to adjust your photo:
    • Crop 

    • Brighten

    • Adjust white balance

    • Resize 

    • Optimize for web use

    On occasion you'll need to go back to the drawing board if you notice something that seems "off" during editing. For example, you could find a dimensional backing stuck on the card front, a layer of cardstock or stamped area that is crooked, or possibly a frayed ribbon that needs to be re-trimmed. It’s worth taking a moment to fix the mistake you’ve discovered, and then take another set of pictures.

    Here is how you'll make adjustments so that your photo accurately represents your finished card:

  7. Step 5

    Select Enhance>Adjust Lighting>Levels from the menu.

  8. Step 6

    A dialog box will pop up that contains the Input and Output Levels. Use your mouse to click and drag the small white arrow under Input Levels on the right-hand side of the dialog box toward the left. Drag until the small white arrow on the right meets the area where the black "mountain" begins to point upward. This will brighten the background of your card.

  9. Step 7

    Make another quick adjustment by selecting Enhance>Adjust Color Curves. This opens a dialog box that includes a before and after image. Select Increase Midtones and then click OK to approve the change.

  10. Step 8

    You’ll want to resize your photo to keep them manageable for online galleries and speedy blog uploads. Here’s how:

    Select Image>Resize>Image Size and a small dialog box will appear.

  11. Step 9

    In the image size dialog box, type in 600 for the width measured in pixels. If the Constrain Proportions box is checked, your program will keep your project in proportion by automatically configuring the height. Click OK to save the changes

  12. Step 10

    The last step is to optimize your file for the web.

    Select File>Save for Web. This will keep your project crisp on computer screens. A dialog box will appear with a before and after photo.

    On the right-hand side, select Custom and a small box will appear. Select JPEG High and you will notice an immediate improvement in photo clarity. Select OK to approve the change and you’ll be asked where to save your finished file.

  13. Step 11

    Here is the fully-edited file, ready for use in the Splitcoaststampers Gallery.


Questions and Comments

We'd love to get your feedback or questions. Leave your comment below.

great tip's!
lisa walker  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 3:52 AM
Thank you! Just what I needed!
Suzanne  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 4:44 AM
Great tutorial! I have been taking photos outside using natural light with the card on a recipe holder.
Next time will use a white background like you did!
Thanks for the tips!
Mary  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 4:47 AM
Tks for the tutorial. It was clear and simplified. Now onto the video...WOW!
Rosetta  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 5:23 AM
Thanks for the great tutorial, Joanne, I finally have the confidence to try adding some phtos of my creations to the gallery.
Jenny Habraken  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 5:42 AM
If you're like me and can't afford fancy software like PSE, PicMonkey is a good, free alternative! It doesn't have all the bells and whistles, but has served me well.
Tammy Hershberger  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 5:48 AM
Fab tutorial, so clear and easy to follow, thanks a million!!
Astrid Maclean  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 5:51 AM
This tutorial comes at the right time for me.Can't wait to try it.I have so much trouble getting the lighting right. Thank you so much!
helen  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 5:53 AM
Oh how perfect - answered every single one of my questions! Absolutely love this tutorial. Thank you for taking the time.
Bee Bremner  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 5:56 AM
Thanks for this. I have been looking for clear instructions about the basics; and here they are!
ozinet  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 6:05 AM
Fantastic tutorial. Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us.
Monica Rainbow  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 6:25 AM
This is a great tutorial for Photoshop Elements, but could someone please do one for Picasa? I know the first few steps are the same, but what works best for editing after taking the picture?
Lois  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 6:29 AM
HUGE THANKS for the photography tutorial, especially the Photoshop Elements bit. Later on this year I will be running this program on my new computer, so the information in this tutorial is invaluable. I cannot run it on my current computer, which is only a temporary one, so am looking forward to having my Photoshop Elements back on and running. BRILLIANT TUTORIAL - THANK YOU. Bridget.
Bridget Keenor  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 7:02 AM
I have been waiting for this for a long time!!! Although I have been doing some of this, there are great tips all along the way. I am especially thankful for the computer editing tips! HOORAY!
Erin K. Marcks  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 7:12 AM
This was extremely helpful, although I do not have any editing software. Are there any free versions of editing software out there that you know of?

Many thanks!
Sue Sherer  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 7:46 AM
Thank you for " save for web" ect. tips...placing my cards in galleries has aways been difficult. Well done tutorial!
Laura Head  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 8:01 AM
Wow! This is an awesome tutorial, and will be very helpful to me. I don't post many cards, mainly because the photos never turn out. Now I can try this and go step by step and see how I do! I am excited about learning how to edit the photo in Photoshop as well (it came free with our computer but I never learned how to use the software). Thanks so much for sharing your time and talents with us! -Stacy
Stacy  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 8:30 AM
Great info...I've been contemplating buying an inexpensive light box kit but I might try these tips before making the investment.
Jacqueline Valade  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 8:39 AM
you rock, Joanne! thanks for all the tips.
Lisa Henke  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 9:05 AM
Thanks so much for this VERY clear tut. I'd love an entire class on using PSE for using digital elements in cards.
Pam Aylmer  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 9:06 AM

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