Author Photo Tools: How to Remove Backgrounds
Have you got a great snapshot that would make a great author photo, “if only…?”
Here’s how to get rid of distracting backgrounds, whether it’s a tree branch growing out of your head, telephone cables crisscrossing the sky, or the shoulder of you know who. If you hire a professional photographer you can ask them to create versions with transparent backgrounds for you and include round or “bubble” versions of your headshots, too. This is easy for them, and may not cost any more if you ask them to do it as part of the retouching process that’s included with your package.
No money for a pro or you’ve got a great shot? Here’s how to remove the background and clean up the edges.
Free & Paid Photo Background Removal Tools
PhotoScissors and Background Burner are both free but takes some work to get the removal correct. Even so, I would still do a little (easy) work in Photoshop or Gimp to get it just right. You’ll see, in the examples below.
Remove.bg is arguably the best and it is free for one photo only. If you want another, you’ll pay a whopping $89/mo with their subscription plan. This product seems to be for professional photographers or web pros, who may also like their Photoshop extension. So use this tool one time or pay for just one month. Better yet, hire someone on Fiverr if you need to remove the background of more than one image. It really only costs five dollars.
I’ve tried all these tools and here are my results.
My Results with the Tools
Let’s take a look at each of these tools.
- Background Burner
Here are the details:
Remove.bg did a great job finding every strand of my flyaway hair and smoothing the edges of my jacket. I used their erase tool to eliminate the flyaway hairs. Remove.bg will let you edit one photo for free, then it’s a pricy $89/mo.
I kind of enjoyed coloring with PhotoScissors’s highlighters and I think it did just as great a job as Remove.bg. I used the green (keep) highlighter on my teeth because it originally showed my teeth as a white blur. It doesn’t have an eraser tool so I would still need to remove those stray hairs with a tool like Photoshop or GIMP.
Photoscissors also lets you change the background color. Note that I uploaded both versions of my image results from Remove.bg–—the one with the flyaway hair and the smoothed out version. There’s a bit of a halo effect but you might like it.
Background Burner takes yet another approach, offering five gradually more radical background removal options to start with.
The touchup tools didn’t give me great results, leaving me with a “cutout” look on the right side of the hair. Still… a good start!
Sometimes it takes a skilled human to do the best job. For example, I had a Fiverr Photoshop pro replace the background from the photo below for this product sponsorship shot and he did a great job. In the original image, there was another plane visible behind the jet, some cables across the sky, and the sky itself was almost white.
GIMP or Photoshop?
It’s empowering to be able to edit your own images and there are many reasons you should learn GIMP (free) or Photoshop (not), including touch up, cropping, and resizing photos and all kinds of images. Download GIMP and take advantage of LinkedIn Learning’s (formerly Lynda.com) free 30-day trial to learn how to use GIMP (and other programs).
Let’s See Your Author Photo!
These tools make it easy to DIY a great author photo from a photo you really like. Though I always recommend getting a professional author photo, you may already have one that’ll do, for now. So, no excuses!
Did you do it? You can see mine, here. Show off your author photo by including a link to where it appears on your author site in the comments below. Let us know how you made it happen—did you use a pro (and can you recommend them?)—or did you do it yourself? How? We want to know!