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


Why We Exist


In the world of online shopping, imagery is king.

No surprises here. When selling a product, we ask our customers to make a decision based on images alone. No touching, no feeling, no trying on. The only thing we have is a 2-dimensional photo. So the product has to look incredible.  

But looking incredible is only half of it: the imagery has to be informative as well. It has to quickly and clearly deliver  all of the important product information and details so that the customer can make an informed decision on whether or not to buy.

How the images are produced is also critical. Capturing beautiful product shots can be very expensive for a company to sustain on a regular basis. All the back and forth trying to coordinate the shoot, deal with the product, the deliveries, talent, retouchers, asset tagging, etc. make it very costly from a time perspective too. Time and money spent like this are investments most companies cannot afford to make.

So for an image to be truly successful, it needs to be both effective - beautiful, impactful, and informative - and it needs to be produced in an efficient manner.

During our 7 years leading the Gilt production studios we pretty much earned a PhD in e-commerce photography. We learned where to push the creative process to find cost-savings without sacrificing quality. We learned how to express a brand’s unique DNA online, which often came up as one of the main reasons brands chose to work with us. And we learned how to use technology, analytics, sell-through and KPIs to strengthen the imagery and ultimately drive sales.

Then we realized how much our unique skills, talents and approach could benefit other brands looking to build their own strong and sustainable creative processes.

Brands have many challenges in today’s commerce landscape. Timelines from product conception through to sales are getting shorter and shorter. The typical 4 ‘seasons’ are being scattered throughout the year. The amount of content needed to connect with the customer is ever-increasing, but resources are not.

We formed The Line Studios to help brands address these challenges. We exist to partner with brands, and help them create the most impactful, effective imagery, using efficient production methods that can help grow their business. We believe that the strongest imagery should be built on knowledge and data, so we are always learning. And we use these learnings to develop the tools and processes that will help our brand partners succeed.