I've gone through the phase of the colored backgrounds, and the gray backgrounds and now I'm on the "white" backgrounds. My artistic concession is to sometimes keep a bit of the shadow, while I white out the rest of it. You can see my mermaid beaded ink pens with two whiter backgrounds and one original. Quite a difference, isn't it?
Of course it would help if my original photos were better and I will work on those too. But for right now, Photoshop Elements 4.0 and its Magic Wand Tool is my new BF.
If you've got a Photoshop trick for improving photos, please feel free to post it in the comments section. I think we can always use some helpful hints and new ways to do things.