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Clipping photos: Sounds cool, but what does it actually mean?

What does it mean to clip a photo?

Before the internet came along, most of us knew product pictures from the pages of mail-order catalogues and magazines. These photos were taken by professional photographers using photo studios, and they took a lot of time and effort to produce. Professional photographers work very differently now; because of the advent of digital photography and the possibility of editing photos digitally a lot has changed. Taking product photos has become a lot less complicated, not just when it comes to taking the pictures but also concerning post production and editing.

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30 years ago, one mail-order catalogue that was sent out yearly was filled with pictures of about 20,000 products, but today in the age of e-commerce the same number of products has to be updated weekly in a feed. All of this has become possible thanks to digital workflows.

Product photos in a well tended product feed usually have a neutral background. For online merchants it isn't really financially feasible to have all of these pictures taken by a professional photographers.

"Just do it yourself and have your photos clipped!"

It follows that a lot of online merchants take their product photos themselves and snap a photo in storage. After taking the photo, the image can be clipped.

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Clipping photos by means such as clipping paths means that the background is removed from the photo, so that the product stands alone. Clipping paths are but one way of achieving this. After clipping the photo, another background can be added. For a lot of online merchants, clipping photos is the best and cheapest method of producing high quality photos for their shop.

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