With the rise of social networking and online photosharing, more and more people are putting their likeness online. But often, it's hard to get a perfect shot of yourself. Holding a camera out in front of your body and looking in a mirror (how I took the photo below), you often end up with something crooked, poorly lit, with a distracting background and messy hair -- not really the way you want to represent yourself on social networking sites perspective employers (or love interests) might be looking at!
Enter Pixoo.us, a new service based in Spain that employs a network of graphic designers to fix profile photos to people to their specifications. Pixoo.us, which styles itself as a "beauty salon for social networking sites," is currently running a close beta test of its services. When it opens, profile picture touchups will cost $19.95 each and files are delivered within 24 hours.
I had a chance to check out Pixoo.us over the past couple of days. I uploaded the photo below yesterday afternoon:
I wanted to really put the Pixoo.us artists through their paces, so I asked for a pretty extensive touch up on my picture. Since I've cut my hair since that photo was taken, I asked them to give me a trim. I also asked them to fix the distracting background and odd angle of the photo, remove my glasses, and dress me in something more professional. That's a pretty large order to fill, but true to their word, by this morning, I had an edited photo waiting for me:
While the results on the first pass aren't perfect, they're not bad either. My hair is more controlled, I'm in a suit, my glasses are gone, and the background is easier on the eyes. Everything I asked for was addressed. The only problem is that the whole thing looks a little painted -- but that is likely a result of which of the site's artists worked on the photo (I imagine results will vary from artist to artist) and the amount of work I requested. It would be great if the site also encouraged users to request a style for their editing work (i.e., painted vs. photorealistic) so that the company could match you up with the appropriate artist. Oh, and I'm not sure why they gave me a little gray in my beard; at age 24 isn't really something I want yet -- though I suppose it may make me look more distinguished (they also got my eye color wrong, but that's not something you could tell from the original photo and they would have had to guess).
Pixoo.us offers a satisfaction guarantee, so theoretically, I could reject this result and have it refined by telling the site what I dislike about it. Once I accept the photo, however, the image is saved and delivered in a large number of sizes optimized for almost 50 social networks.
The Pixoo.us virtual beauty salon is an interesting idea, and with so many millions of social networking users, most of whom don't know the first thing about fixing a photo in Photoshop, there is likely to be a market for this. More technical savvy readers of this blog may not fall into that target user base, but I would not be surprised if Pixoo.us does quite well servicing a rather broad niche.