Post-processing an Idyllic Beach Scene (step-by-step)

Continuing on with the series on turning editorial images into commercial to increase their worth, today I’ll take you on a step-by-step of a busy beach image that I turned into what I think will make for a great & versatile commercial stock photo.

Here’s what the RAW file looks like:

Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

This alone would make for an OK editorial and I’d call it a day, but no. I’m going to be cloning people out of this image and you’ll see the end result, including the keywords.

Zoom in at 100%

This is going to be detailed work and the only way is to get up close, at least at 100%.

Using the Spot Healing Brush Tool


Using the “Spot Healing Brush Tool“, I’ll start with the background people and slowly remove them Stalin-style. This is an intelligent tool that can be used to clone areas from an image and blend the pixels from the sampled area seamlessly with the target area.


Using the Clone Stamp Tool

I’ve left a small portion of the image on purpose, since I’ll be switching to the “Clone Stamp Tool“, which paints one part of an image over another part of the same image or over another part of any open document that has the same color mode, to finish the job.

This is a good image to use these tools since the sand and water are quite uniform. I can easily line up the edges of the embankment and copy the surrounding area:


I’ve gone ahead and done this throughout. It’s time consuming since sometimes I have to go back and re-do to look more realistic.

Leaving two chairs and a beach umbrella

I could have gone ahead and deleted everything making it look like a deserted tropical desert island, but I decided to leave two beach chairs and an umbrella. Why? Well, this is to give it a human element so buyers can use this image to suggest to consumers that they may be the ones who will be soon sitting on those chairs (drinking a coconut).

Lastly, I over-exposed it slightly, added some contrast and vibrancy. Then increased selective “red” colouring so the chairs would stand out – red is a strong colour here and makes for a nice colour contrast with the predominately blue from the ocean/sky. Small ND filter in the sky to darken slightly and bang. I didn’t crop this as well as I want to leave it up to the buyer to do what he/she choose in terms of the dimensions.

Here’s the final product:

Relaxing empty beach

Caption and keywords

Now, it may be the best image in the world but if I don’t keyword it properly nobody’s going to find it! Here’s what I used:

Caption: Tropical beach, two chairs and sun umbrella vacation scene with plenty of copy space

Keywords: background, beach, beach chair, beach umbrella, beautiful, blue, brazil, brazilian, carnival, coast, copacabana, desert island, escape, famous, heaven, horizontal, idyllic, ipanema, ipanema beach, island, janeiro, landmark, leblon beach, no people, nobody, ocean, panorama, refuge, relaxing, rio, rio de janeiro, sand, scenic, sea, sidewalk, sightseeing, sky, summer, sun, sunlight, tourism, travel, tropical, tropical paradise, vacation, view, water, waves, white sands

I’ll be submitting this image to Alamy (RF), Shutterstock, Adobe Stock and Fine Art America.

Overall this was a 15 minute-job and well-worth the effort in my opinion. Do you like it?

Until next time!




  1. Great! There is an interesting lesson here for all stock photographers. My “photographer’s eye” would say that it should be cropped so that the seats are at the intersection of the thirds (ie crop some off the right hand edge) to make it more compositionally pleasing. However, as Alex explains, leaving it like this might not satisfy a purist, but it gives the buyer much more space to crop it to suit their layout, both landscape and portrait orientation.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Steve!

      I’ve started doing this to all my images. It may not look great sometimes to have a subject dead-on centre but the client would appreciate the consideration. Lately I’ve seen many of my licensed images used on covers of websites at extreme dimensions such as 820 pixels wide by 312 long, which is easier with a wider crop such as this example.


  2. Nicely done! I always wonder if the 15-20 minutes to do this kind of editing is worth it… I guess time will tell. I enjoy editing photos so it doesn’t really feel like work, but in the game of microstock, volume matters and if you are spending so much time editing, you don’t get to submit much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks!

      It’s true that in this game nothing is certain and this image, however interesting it seems right now, may be one big flop!
      This was a fun image to work on which I can’t say the same about some of my other images.

      I remember you mentioned that you spend a lot of time cloning out graffiti from train carriages due to SS’s weird policy…that’s not fun! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • No, editing graffiti out is not fun… I try to time it so the less “adorned” cars are in the shot but sometimes you can’t help it.


  3. […] I’ll submit my commercial images to Shuttertock and Adobe Stock which seem to be lacking high-quality commercial images, which is understandable since they aren’t easy to do in a busy city centre at the height of the summer season. I’ve written extensively about the value of turning editorial images into commercial: tutorial one, tutorial two, and tutorial three. […]


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