Many thanks to my hysterical sister for inspiring the content in this post. The other night I was thinking about her bright white smile and reached out to her for some maintenance tips.
In case you need a bit of background to appreciate the joke, PicMonkey.com is a free online image editor. My sister Renae’s been using PicMonkey for several years to edit photos for work – AND THIS JUST IN – as a “smile enhancer” for personal photos, too! Shocking. Actually, I’m fairly sure she was just joking because her chompers gleam in person, but it did get me thinking about how frequently I use edited photos in my presentation slide decks these days.
Jamie and I have found some amazing royalty-free stock photos online to use in our work. Once we’ve found the perfect photos, we’ll often edit them using tools like PicMonkey. There are also a variety of options that exist within Microsoft PowerPoint to adapt and stylize your photos, and I will highlight a few of those below for you. Photoshop is truly the ultimate photo editing tool to use, but we recognize that many don’t have access to Adobe programs at work and for that reason we’re going to focus on strategies to get your desired look for less. One of the goals of our blog is to share some of what’s possible – with easy to use and free tools – in hopes that it might spark creativity and offer you more options even if you don’t have access to the tools the design pros use.
Read on for a run through of my “fun with photos” process.
Step 1: Find/Select photos. Google images is a fantastic place to find inspiration, but generally not the place to find images that are available for download. Many of those photos aren’t available for free or commercial use, and cool people follow the rules. Don’t despair though, the Internet can still come through for you. For a list of our favorite stock photo websites, check out our Resources Page. My #1 favorite free stock photo website is www.stocksnap.io . All photos on StockSnap fall under the Creative Commons CC0 license. That means you can copy, modify, distribute any photo on the site, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission. Yes! They add beautiful new high resolution images weekly. Best of all, it’s easy to find what you’re looking with their keyword search feature. For this post, I found this stunning photo by photographer Daniel Bowman.
The key to good photo selection is: don’t choose something that’s so obvious that you’re audience will be bored, but do choose something that’s clearly related to your material. You don’t want the audience spending time trying to decipher how your image relates to your point. The photo I selected is meant to convey “happiness” because talking about photo editing and my sister makes me happy. And I think we can all agree that using a smiley face instead would have been the “too obvious/boring” thing we’re trying to avoid.
Step 2: I may do a little editing in PicMonkey. There are so many free options for overlays, banners, text, and effects to be found on this great website. Simply sign up for a free account and then upload images from your computer and get to work. Once done, you can save and download your edited images. I especially like the “effects” options that PicMonkey.com has to offer. Take a look at some variations below. The crumpled paper effect is particularly pleasing to me.
Step 3: Take the party over to PowerPoint. For this post, I decided to use the original image so that I could just walk you through a few ways to use a photo. Before we get all wild with our bad selves, the first order of business is to insert the photo on a slide and then enlarge it so that it covers the entire slide canvas. This is the look you want, trust me. All rules have exceptions, but typically if you want the “wow” factor, images that cover the entire slides are the way to go. Hold the shift key as you click on a corner and drag down to ensure that your image doesn’t get distorted. It’s okay if some of the edges go beyond the slide boundaries, those parts won’t be visible when you’re in Slide Show mode.
Step 4: Get creative. My recent “go to” move is to make a rectangle outline near the edges of my photo. I just think it looks nice and I can’t stop doing it. I will usually make said rectangle outline either white or black. Then I may add a text title.
To get this text color, I wanted to use a shade that would match the photo nicely. So I used eyedropper tool that can be accessed in the text color drop down menu.
Then I hovered over the vest and clicked to change the black default text to this lovely indigo color.
The next option is a photo with some stylized text and an illustration to make a quote stand out. Who doesn’t love a little Harry Potter?
Sometimes a simple box and title will do. Here I’ve inserted a rectangle from the Basic Shapes ribbon and arranged it on top of the photo and added a bit of text and a few straight lines (again found in Basic Shapes) for simple style. I tried to use a “happy” little font, too.
To make the box the same indigo color from the vest, I used the eyedropper tool. It can be found by clicking Shape Fill>More Fill Colors.
You can also make the box somewhat transparent for a bit of a different look.
You can adjust the transparency on a shape by going to Shape Fill>More Fill Colors.
Once you’re there, you can increase the transparency using the up arrow or the slider.
Next I thought I would try to remove the background and just use the person in a whimsical title slide.
This is the end result. Kind of fun.
The Remove Background feature in PowerPoint is fairly awesome. It may not give you exact precision every time, but it certainly does the trick here, and it only took two clicks. This feature can be found on the Picture Tools ribbon. Way faster than removing a background in Photoshop.
You can also include a chart or graph on a photo. A simple one shown below aims to convey the top three things that make people happy.
Did you know you could crop photos into different shapes? I just stumbled on this recently. For this slide, I decided to crop the photo in the shape of a hexagon and then just move it to the side over an indigo colored rectangle.
And lastly a combination of the last two ideas. I listed the top three happiness influencers and added some basic shapes from the shapes toolbar.
I could go on for quite a while with this great photo, but I’m thinking you may need a change of scenery. Please feel free to borrow any of these ideas for your own use. You can also use PicMonkey to whiten your teeth on your personal photos. It’ll be our secret.