Retouching for Product Photography
Why does it matter?
A key part of creating great images of your products is getting the retouching right. We don’t want to see dust or marks. The customer needs to see our products looking as near to perfect as we can get them. So, do not underestimate the importance of retouching for product photography. This is the stage at which the final polishing takes place. The lighting and styling for the shoot itself has to be got right, of course. But now, we need to create the final look. Compare these 2 images, for example:
The 2nd image is what it looked like prior to retouching. As you can see, various defects had to be overcome. The background was a little too textured so that needed to be smoothed out. The line between what the products were standing on and the background was too pronounced and needed to be removed. There were specks of dust that had to be got rid of. The reflections on the bottles needed some refining. Even with careful cleaning of the shooting area and the products themselves it is very hard to avoid some dust creeping in. Certain surfaces even seem to get worse the more you wipe them! Take a look at this example:
Once again the 2nd image is the original shot from the camera prior to retouching. As you can see, dust was a real problem here. We had carefully cleaned many times but it kept coming back. Also, there were some minor imperfections in the surface of the paintwork that showed up under flash light. So, this needed to be smoothed out and made more appealing. We all know that something rarely stays that black and pristine, yet we all expect our potential purchases to look just right. We desire perfection so we need to show our products as close to perfect as we can. Skimping on the final retouching stage can still leave us with an inadequate image.
One more example:
To achieve a high end finish, this watch product shot needed to be retouched. The 2nd image illustrates what we would have been left with if we hadn’t polished the final picture. I’m sure you will agree, in every case we have looked at here, the importance of retouching for product photography is clear to see. It can make the difference between an ok image and a great one. It can push your product to the higher end in the customer’s mind.
Retouching is a service that your professional product photographer should recommend to you. If they don’t ask you about it be sure you ask them! Some photographers will outsource their retouching. Others will include it as part of their finishing. For me, the retouching of product shots is a process I prefer to give my personal attention to. What customers have seen in my portfolio is a set of images that I have crafted from the stage of concept, styling, lighting and shooting to the final retouched look. Keeping the process fully in house has enabled me to create my own photographic style that customers know to be consistent. You might like to take a look at some of my product photography portfolio.
© Joe Lenton, April 2017