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How to Add a White Background in Photoshop

how to add white background in photoshop

As a wedding photographer, there are many reasons to learn how to add white background in Photoshop. Below, we will discuss why you may want to add a white background and the steps necessary to perform this action. 

How to Add White Background in Photoshop

Here at ShootDotEdit, we specialize in wedding photo edits for professional photographers. Though we believe in the phrase, “Do what you do best and outsource the rest,” we know how important it is for you to have knowledge about what post production processes entail.

That includes understanding the specifics behind certain effects, such as how to make background white, add grain, and more in Photoshop.

Adobe Photoshop allows you to add various effects to your wedding photography. For more about how to use Photoshop, access our blog where we have several articles on different topics you may need to know about for your post-wedding workflow.

Reasons to Add a Photoshopped White Background

The first area where we will start is to ask why would you want to add a white background to your images in Photoshop?

There are several reasons you might need to know how to make background white in Photoshop. See a few of those reasons below.

Remove Distractions

One of the reasons you might add a white background in Photoshop is to remove distractions. Removing distractions from your images helps create a more powerful shot. It also makes your clients look their best, which is why they hired you in the first place. Plus, removing distractions helps place focus on your clients (and they are the most important part of the image).

Fix Color Issues

A second reason to add a white background in Photoshop is to fix color issues. There are several color issues that could occur in your photography. One major issue is when you have a white background at your location. In your past shoots, it is likely you have encountered this.

When you shot the photos in front of a white background and viewed the images, you would have noticed the image was just not right. Why is that, exactly? There are a few reasons:

  • The white background no longer looks white
  • Your subject (clients) are too bright

Each of these scenarios causes unwanted issues in your image. Or, the issues take away from the impact of the image.

Use for Design Elements

As a photographer, you are not necessarily a designer. But, you do need elements of design to promote your wedding photography business. When you want to make small changes to your logo, website or other graphics, having the skills to create a pure white background can be beneficial.

This is why we put together steps to help you add in a white background to your images in Photoshop. Keep reading to learn more.

Quick Tip

Keep in mind, not all images are ideal to create a white background for in Photoshop. Make sure you choose images that would benefit from this adjustment and would make your images much stronger. Some of the examples above, such as removing distractions, are ideal reasons to perform this action in Photoshop.

Though, it is important to think about what you need to remove from the image and how it will affect the subject(s). If you create a white background for your image, but it cuts off part of your bride’s hand or her dress, it might be best to think of a different solution for that image (such as blurring or vignetting to help remove distractions).

Related: Can you relate to these professional photographer’s edit stories?

How to Create a White Background

Although Photoshop may take time to master, creating a white background is simple. We outlined the process in 8 simple steps. Unlike removing a white background in Photoshop, which is difficult, adding one is simple.

Here is the process for creating a white Photoshop background:

1. Open the Image

The first step you need to take is to have Photoshop make background white is to open the image. Follow these steps to do so:

  1. Click “File,” then select “Open” on the top menu.
  2. Select the image file. Your image will appear on the screen ready for you to make adjustments as needed.

2. Duplicate the Layer

The next step is to duplicate the layer. What are layers in Photoshop?

According to Adobe:

“Photoshop layers are like sheets of stacked acetate. You can see through transparent areas of a layer to the layers below. You move a layer to position the content on the layer, like sliding a sheet of acetate in a stack. You can also change the opacity of a layer to make content partially transparent.”

To duplicate the layer, take these steps:

  1. Open the “Layers” window.
  2. Drag the layer to the “New” button on the “Layers” panel to make a duplicate.
  3. Rename the layer based on your current naming convention. This will differ for every photographer. It is important to keep your naming conventions similar so you maintain organization and consistency.

Related: How to Fix Hair in Photoshop

3. Create the White Background

Now that you have the new layer, the next step is to follow these steps and create a white background for your image. If needed at first, take your time on these steps so you receive accurate results:

  1. Click “Image” on the top menu, hover over “Adjustments,” and select “Levels.” This will open the “Levels” menu.
  2. Adjust the sliders in the “Levels” menu until the image is pure white. Pull the white slider and the grey slider to the left to create a “pure white” look and to lighten the midtones.
choosing layers in photoshop

Image by Image Studio Photography

Quick Tip

As you adjust the sliders, you can include faint shadows to create a better look for the edges. Adjust the shadows as needed to match your unique photography style. Your wedding clients will expect images that have your style they saw on your website, blog and social media platforms.

Related: How to Make a Logo Transparent in Photoshop

4. Duplicate the Original Image

Once you have adjusted the sliders to match your style, the next step is to duplicate the original image for the second time.

Here are the steps again:

  1. Open the “Layers” window.
  2. Drag the layer to the “New” button on the “Layers” panel to make a duplicate.
  3. Rename the layer based on your current naming convention. Be sure to name it something different than the first duplicate layer.

5. Add a “Layer Mask”

With the first layer (the one that you adjusted the sliders to make pure white), add a “Layer Mask.” Follow these steps to do this:

  1. Select the first layer.
  2. Click the “Add Layer Mask” button on the “Layers” panel. The new layer mask will sit to the right of the first layer.

Related: Do you know how to add texture to your images in Photoshop?

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6. Select the “Hard Round” Brush

After you create a “Layer Mask” for the first layer, the next step is to select the “Hard Round” brush by using these guidelines:

  1. Click on the “Brush Tool” on the tools panel. You can also press “B” on your keyboard.
  2. Select the “Hard Round” brush style and set its “Opacity” to 100%.

The “Hard Round” brush will help you apply the white background to larger areas.

7. Change the Brush Color

Now that you have selected the “Hard Round” brush, change its color with these steps:

  1. Click the “Layer Mask” by clicking inside the white square that is located directly to the right of the first layer.
  2. Change the brush color to “Black.”

Related: How to Use the Liquify Tool in Photoshop

8. Paint Out the Background

With the brush style and color chosen, paint over the background. Follow these steps to achieve this:

  1. Paint out the background around your clients. This step requires precision. As you paint, you will see the area lighten while everything else stays dark.
  2. Build up the “Black” on the “Layer Mask” by releasing it and then clicking it again. This will allow you to build up darkness and brightness only where it is necessary.

Press “X” on your keyboard to switch from “Black” to “White” (and vice-versa). This is helpful if you make a mistake and need to paint over the area at any point during your process.

This action tells Photoshop the parts of the image to use. The parts in the “White” portion of the mask tell which parts of the top image to use. The parts in the “Black” portion of the mask tell which parts to make transparent.

Once you are all set with the brush, save your progress. This should result in a “pure white” background for your image.

Quick Tip

There is a way for you to check to see if your background is actually pure white. After all, you will want to make sure your efforts produced accurate results. Follow these steps to do so:

  • Click on the “Create New Fill” icon at the bottom of the “Layers” panel (you can also click on the “Adjustment Layer” icon)
  • Select “Threshold”
    • Drag the histogram slider (located in the Properties tab) toward the right. This will allow you to see if the background stays pure white.
    • If the background turns black, you will know it is not pure white.

As an alternative option, you can also look to see if there is a spike in the histogram. This spike will be located at the right edge. If it is not hard against the right edge, the background of your image is not pure white.

9. Perfect the Edges of Your Photo

Not every image will need this, but be prepared to perfect the edges of your photo once you perform the steps above. To do this, zoom in on your photo all the way (to 100%).

Create a new “Layer Mask” and set the color to black. Instead of using a hard edge like the steps above suggest, change the opacity to 50%. The softer brush edge will allow you to paint out any missed parts without creating new sharp edges.

Quick Tip

After you clean up the edges of your photo, crop the extra white space if needed. This can help you place additional foucs on your couple or the main subject of your image.

Related: How to Reduce Noise in Photoshop

10. Save and Store the Image

Like all processes in your post-wedding workflow, once you make the changes to your image, be sure to save it. This includes using your naming conventions to save it in Photoshop and then export it to your image-hosting/storing option. This is an important step to take to make sure you maintain an organized workflow and that is it easy to find your image once you need it again.

When you learn how to add a white background in Photoshop, you can create the images you desire and deliver them to your wedding clients. Though certain parts of this process can be tedious, the more you practice, the easier it will become. Photoshop can help you make some of the changes you desire for your wedding photography, even after the photos are color corrected by an expert.

Speed Up Your Workflow

Post production software, such as Photoshop and Lightroom, can help you organize your post-wedding workflow. The more organized you are, the faster your workflow will be. When used correctly, the software can help you speed up the time it takes to adjust your images.

And while we are talking about Lightroom, we have the perfect resource to best use the software to create a fast and efficient workflow. We partnered with Jared Platt, photographer and Lightroom expert to bring you a comprehensive Online Training about Lightroom. In our Online Training: Advanced Lightroom Skillsets, Jared shares his insights on how to create a streamlined workflow that keeps you on track with your goals! Click the banner below to watch or listen to the Online Training and learn more.

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