Palo Alto 2 Store Photo Retouched

When new stores open, a photographer takes a so-called “hero” shot of the storefront for the store’s Web page and other purposes. For mall stores, the photos are fairly straight-forward, and require relatively little Photoshop work. However, street-level stores present some challenges in the original photography and later Photoshop work in order to present the perfect image.

The Palo Alto 2 (N. Calif.) store opened in October 2012 at a three-way intersection, making it quite conspicuous. At about 6 a.m., as the sun was rising, a photographer blocked off a portion of the street in order to take the hero photo, accompanied by several Apple staffers and members of the waiting line. I joined that crowd, and took a photo at very nearly the same moment as the official photo. Comparing the two photos, you can see that several elements were removed, and substantial color-balancing was performed on the final image.

  • The left traffic signal pole and street sign were removed entirely.
  • The parking directional sign attached to the right traffic signal pole was removed.
  • The banner attached to the right traffic signal pole was removed.
  • The fire sprinkler stand-pipe and connection for the Apple store (right) and the CVS store (left) have been removed.
  • The sidewalk and street in front of the store was “regularized” and, interestingly, de-watered. A worker washed down the sidewalk about five minutes previously, and as you can see from the original photo, the sidewalk was quite reflective. This quality is often used by photographers to make street scenes more interesting—but not in this case. The sidewalk also appears to have been darkened.
  • The color balance of the interior was tweaked. There is a substantial color temperature difference in the original scene, including from the rising sun (blue), the interior incandescent lights (yellow) and the adjacent street lights (???). Fortunately, the stone walls act as a neutral gray against which the design team could balance the color temperature.

Many other previous store hero photos have also been Photoshopped, including the San Francisco (N. Calif.), Third Street Promenade (S. Calif.) and Amsterdam (Netherlands) stores.

The official store hero photo, which simplifies the actual scene.

A photo taken at almost the same moment at the official hero photo shows the scene that had to be later Photoshopped by Apple’s design team. This photo was taken slightly to the left and rear of Apple’s photographer. In fact, you can see her hand in the lower-right of this photo directing the two Apple staffers where to stand. Just after this photo was taken, a third staffer was told to stand to the left.