Professional Profiles

How to Remove the Background from a Photo (And Why You Probably Shouldn’t)

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We’ve all seen pictures that were cut out of their backgrounds badly.

Instead of looking clean and polished, you see that white background and think, “What was he really standing in front of? A closet door? A toilet?”

What’s even worse is when someone pretends, to ill effect, to be in a tropical locale or an ultra-modern office building.

How to remove the background from an image so it doesn't look fake

So how do you cut a photo out of its background without it looking amateur and fake? We tested background removal tools and methods so you don’t have to.

How to Remove the Background From Your Image

Best Free and Easy Tool (to Do It Yourself)

No, it’s not Photoshop or Gimp — which both require a lot of knowledge and skill. Only background eraser apps that are simple enough for one-time or infrequent use could be considered.

The one unlikely candidate we found that really works on most simple jobs is Photoroom. You may be required to make an account, but otherwise it is free to use.

Photoroom removes your background automatically, then gives you the option to touch up the job. The image at the top of this post demonstrates the tool at its best.

However, like all apps of this kind, keep in mind that it only works in the simplest of cases. It gets tripped up on things like dark hair on a dark background, so if you have any complexity to contend with, I recommend hiring out the work instead.

How to Inexpensively Outsource Your Edit

If your picture contains wispy hairs or a complex background, you will need to hire a professional. But it doesn’t have to be expensive.

Professional photo editing services on Fiverr are a total steal at 5 bucks or less.

Each individual seller on Fiverr will have different offerings and guidelines, so just be mindful of that if you decide to go this route.

If You’re Going to Remove the Background, Do it Right!

Paid tools like Canva allow users to superimpose shadows, background patterns, and other effects that will minimize the cut and paste look of background removal. You’ll be able to adjust to your brand colors, match your top to the background, etc.

There’s a high chance it could still come out looking awkward, but the tools are there at your disposal.

… But Here’s Why You Probably Shouldn’t Remove Your Background

Your Background Isn’t All You Have to Worry About

Why you might not want to remove the background from an image

If you’re trying to pass off a wedding photo as a professional headshot for LinkedIn, chances are it’s not just the background that could give you away.

For instance, the tux you’d wear as part of a wedding party is different than the suit you’d wear to a job interview. And if you were taking a business portrait, you’d likely have a different posture and take the picture from a different angle. And don’t get me started on the lighting!

So don’t be so quick to think that removing the background from your image will make your photo look like anything but a candid picture taken at a wedding,

Fake Backgrounds Feel Artificial and Mess With the Sense of Connection

Backgrounds give a photo its sense of space. Taking that away can feel jarring and artificial.

There is a misunderstanding going on because white backgrounds are very popular right now for business headshots. Because of this, people think they can just cut out any picture and paste it onto white.

However, the kind of picture that is popular among professional portrait photographers includes a white wall or backdrop.

A picture taken in front of a white wall has faint shadows which create a sense of space, whereas a stark, pasted-on white background will not.

But You Insist? Then Here’s How to Be Sure You’ve Pulled It Off

Do other people think your new white background looks as sleek as you do? Want to make sure the edited version looks better — not worse — than the original?

As always, the best way to get some quick feedback on your photos is to test them on Photofeeler.

Know for certain how you’re coming across in pictures with Photofeeler. It’s free to use here. 🙌