Product Photography: The Magic of Retouching

The better the product photography, the better the product image and  - most importantly - the higher the sales conversion.
 
But the best images are only half finished when the shoot wraps.

Retouching plays an equally important role in making sure the products have that little bit of extra magic that makes customers take notice on an e-commerce site.

Many brands marvel at the glorious perfection of their competitors' products sitting pristinely on the page. But here’s a little secret – they almost certainly didn't come out of the bag or box looking that good. Even the best samples or products have been refined by the expert hand of a professional retoucher. Some may think it’s cheating; in reality it’s just an important factor in making something look its best, no different from a model using make-up or editorializing an image with props.

And the best, most magical retouching often goes unnoticed. Which is just as it should be.

At its most basic level, product photography retouching involves background clean-up, removal of dust, marks or small imperfections, and styling prop removal (the fishing wire, pins, clamps, etc used to hold-up or shape a product).

Retouching can also be used to actually create the ‘final’ product, especially when shooting samples. It can help fix a piece of hardware that is the wrong color, a pocket that will be removed in final production, or a logo that wasn’t sewn on correctly. Over time, we have done some pretty miraculous ‘facelifts’ on products for a few of our clients (though like any good plastic surgeon, we won't name names), like taking interiors from one bag and put them inside another, or changing the proportions of a clutch to create a shoulder bag. We’ve added logos, seams and zippers....the list goes on. This isn’t disingenuous, in fact it’s the opposite: it’s about making the product look accurate AND attractive.

But the best added value comes from the most nuanced retouching. It takes an experienced hand to make these final adjustments – ensuring the product shape is symmetrical, that the edges are all straight, the handles look neatly styled and formed, and the shadows are crisp and consistent. But never, ever crossing the fine line into territory that is too perfect or unrealistic.

And these slight, but final tweaks can take the product from looking okay to truly desirable.

If you have any questions or thoughts on the subject, we’ve love to hear! Please reach out directly to lindsay@thelinestudios.nyc