Retouching is one of the most important parts of the product photography process. When you’re approaching the process as a novice, it’s also one of the most complex. We always recommend that every brand includes retouching guidelines in their overall photography blueprint so that every expert they work with is aware of exactly how they would like the finished product to appear.
Your brand look and feel will dictate the retouching process to a certain extent but there are some universal retouching rules that represent the difference between fairly standard and basic ecommerce photography, and slick, flawless shots.
Fashion Photography Retouching
Much of the way to approach retouching is based on the type of product being shot. In this post, we’d like to focus on clothing and fashion photography where the apparel is being worn by models or mannequins.
Even if you’ve fully prepared for the process by steaming all your garments, there will inevitably be the need to tidy things up a bit post-shoot, especially if you’ve been using live models and there has been a lot of movement during the shoot. Samples often travel many miles before they reach your studio, which makes the need to smooth things out even more apparent. Retouching will get rid of any creases, wrinkles or stray threads in the fabric for a smooth finish. If any stains, marks or dust have made their way onto the clothing these will also be erased.
The Perfect Symmetry
Consistency is key in product photography for the optimum customer experience, allowing customers to browse and compare products more easily. As it can often be tricky to achieve perfect symmetry when using mannequins, retouching can do this too to create a final shot that is easy on the eye without any distractions. It will also remove any visible pins and straighten out any “messy” details such as shoelaces, stray hairs or inconsistent stitching.
As you and your stylist may need to play around with the clothing a lot during the shoot to make sure it falls in the most flattering style, retouching will also remove any folds so that you can style to your heart’s content without worrying about the details.
Creating consistency via retouching may also involve removing any lumps or bumps, adjusting colour and tone, and matching the height of key body points such as neck and knees so that the final shots will sit side by side seamlessly. All of these points should be included in your style guide to optimise the efficiency of the retouching process.
Retouching also allows you to remove props from your shots, perhaps because you no longer like the aesthetic or because you only used them out of necessity in the first place – e.g. a pair of hands used to hold a garment in place.
Should I retouch the models themselves?
This is a sensitive subject that has garnered much press. In a nutshell, we recommend doing so for consistency and logic but don’t go over the top so that your images appear fake. Remove anything obvious like visible nipples or panty lines, as well as any non-defining characteristics such as pimples, under-eye bags, uneven tan lines or bumpy skin. But remember, you choose your models to enhance your fashion photography so the more natural they look, the better it reflects on your band.
Our team at FreshPack Photo have retouched thousands of product images for fashion brands. Contact us today to see how we can help you