Photo Retouching: Cost-Cutting Solutions for Product Photography

Product photography can be a costly proposition. From getting the right lighting to capturing the images, it requires a significant investment even before it comes time to edit the photos and get them gallery-ready. You might be tempted to cut costs by doing the retouching yourself—but professional photo editing is challenging to master, to say the least, and you might lose just as much money in the long run if you spend hours tearing your hair out in Photoshop. 

What’s a cost-minded business owner to do? In this post, we’ll take a look at photo retouching services that can provide big value to your business—without cutting into your profits.

But first, let’s take a quick look at the average cost of professional product photography in 2022.

Product Photography Costs Per Day

If the shoot requires a studio, it will cost around $400-$1000. Depending on the studio, the price may be lower or higher, but be careful—you get what you pay for. If additional equipment or props are required, the costs might be even higher.

Product Photography Costs Per Item

Per-product pricing is great for bulk photography since the cost per product decreases as the number of products increases. Depending on the photographer and the number of items, it might cost $20-$100. If you need multiple angles for each product, the costs will be higher.

Product Photography Costs Per Image

Per-image pricing is often the most affordable option for professional projects. Depending on the total number of photos, the price per image could vary between $1 and $50. If you’re in need of a large number of images, it can be an economical choice.

No matter which option you choose, the product photography isn’t cheap! Then comes post-production, and you might expect to have to DIY this critical step or else shell out for a professional editor. But in this next section, we’ll take a look at how photo retouching services can help your budget stay slim without sacrificing quality.

Is Photo Retouching Cost-Effective?

In short—yes! Here’s how the right photo retouching services can be both cost and time-efficient for product photography.

1. Efficient and Practical Styling for Studios:

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The cost of product photography styling varies from studio to studio. Whether it’s photographing interiors, products, or architecture, styling is essential. However, styling can increase your budget—even your post-prod budget. The more complex the styling, the more likely it is to introduce issues that need to be fixed in post: unwanted shadows, creases in the garments, elements that need to be removed, etc. With retouching services, you can fix these issues in seconds and get perfectly styled photos without needing to spend big on editing later.

2. Lower return rates

Unlike in physical stores, e-commerce buyers only have product photos to rely on to make their purchasing decisions, so product photos must look as accurate as possible. According to Shopify, over 20% of online purchases are returned, whereas physical retailers have return rates of about 9%. This can majorly impact your bottom line.

Photo retouching services reduce return rates by making sure that your photos look as much like the physical products as possible. That might seem counterintuitive—after all, wouldn’t an undoctored image represent the product best? Not necessarily. Photography isn’t a perfect representation of reality. Due to the lighting, styling, or camera settings, your product photos might turn out looking subtly or dramatically different than the products look in person. Retouching can help restore a realistic appearance. If you’re in the apparel business, you can even use photo retouching services to create ghost mannequin photos, which accurately represent the 3D dimensions of your products without the expense of hiring models. In the e-commerce world, accuracy and transparency are key to satisfying and retaining customers.

3. Brand yourself as a professional

Even subtle adjustments to product photos may significantly impact how attractive they are to customers. Retouching services can make a variety of small but efficient changes like eliminating smudges on your backdrop or smoothing a model’s flyaway hairs, leaving the images cleaner and more polished. Don’t let your brand be damaged by minor flaws when it’s easy and cost-effective to showcase your products at their very best.

But it goes beyond simply fixing flaws. Retouching services can help you quickly brand your photos by making it easy to remove and replace backgrounds, adjust colors, and more. Make your photos pop and customize them for different marketplaces and sales channels with just a few clicks.

All these edits can be done on a small budget. For example, with autoRetouch, the price for fixing one image ranges from $0.13 to $0.65. With the bulk edit feature, costs can be even lower. Compared to hiring professionals, leveraging retouching services offers you more freedom and flexibility at a low cost.

Bottom Line

No matter how you choose to go about retouching your product photos, it’s best to make an informed decision by studying all the available services and avenues. Not every company has the power to hire in-house experts, but that’s okay—you can still build an impressive brand by doing it yourself. Photo retouching services offer an excellent middle ground for small businesses, allowing them to go toe to toe with big retailers in the busy world of e-commerce.

All You Need to Know About Ghost Mannequin Product Photography

all you need to know about ghost mannequin product photography

If you’re in the online apparel business, you know how challenging it can be to portray how a product fits. Customers want to know what your products will look like when worn, not when lying flat—but hiring a model for all your product photos can be cost-prohibitive. Fortunately, you have options! Today, we’ll show you everything you need to know about a new alternative to model photos: the ghost mannequin effect

What is the Ghost Mannequin Effect?

The ghost mannequin effect is a powerful post-production technique for apparel photography. This technique involves editing together photos of the interior and exterior of your garment and removing all traces of the model or mannequin, leaving behind a photo that perfectly represents how your product fits in 3D.

Flat-lay apparel photos can discourage buyers because they fail to represent the full dimensions of your products. 3D silhouettes can accelerate your sales by allowing your customers to imagine themselves in the clothes and feel more confident in their purchases.

Ghost mannequin photos can be hard to reproduce, especially for non-professional editors. But it just might be easier than you think, and currently, there are great tools out there to help you spruce up your product photos without breaking the bank.

Benefits of Ghost Mannequin Product Photography

Ghost mannequins have a number of advantages for fashion retailers.

  1. Cost-Efficient

Mannequin photography is much cheaper than hiring a model, which means you can get gorgeous product images and invest in other areas of your business.

  1. Clarity and Transparency

Your customers want to be sure that what they see is what they’ll get, and ghost mannequins are perfect for showing the shape, style, and drape of each garment. When your customers can make informed and confident purchases, they’ll be happy to come back for more. 

  1. Consistency

Ghost mannequin photos give your e-store a consistent, uniform look, which in turn makes your products look professional and polished for potential buyers. Visual consistency helps your customers trust that no matter what they purchase, they’ll receive a quality product.

  1. Competitive Edge

An e-store full of consistent, eye-catching product photos won’t just entice your customers—it’s also a professional advantage over businesses with flat, uninteresting photos that don’t show off their products to their full effect. Ghost mannequin photography will put you a cut above the rest.

Ghost Mannequin Photography Setup Guide

Here’s how professional product photographers jump into the process.

1. Choose a Model or Mannequin

If you choose to work with a model, their style and pose must be minimal, with hair tied up. This will simplify the editing process later. Make sure the model keeps a static, balanced pose.

For ghost mannequin photography, it’s always best to work with white or transparent mannequins as they easily blend with the background. In some cases, dress forms work better to accentuate the details and shape of the apparel. Try matte white mannequins, as they are non-reflective and make the editing process easier.

Pro tip: Use mannequins with removable parts for maximum customization.

2. Setup Process

Ghost mannequin photography requires good studio lighting. Low-quality lighting will make it difficult to achieve the desired effect, even in post-production. Make sure your studio has adequate photography lights, reflectors, and umbrellas. 

Remember, you want your mannequins to be styled elegantly, so make sure you have all the essentials for making your clothes look crisp—clips, hangers, styling pins, and busts are a must. No one will rush to check out if the apparel on their screen looks saggy or wrinkled.

Choose a camera with a telephoto lens to minimize distortion and capture tiny details. Don’t forget your tripod for stable pictures!

Pro Tip: Ensure all images have the same lighting for consistency and ease of post-production editing.

3. Photographing the Outfit

After gathering your equipment, it’s time to shoot your products. Remember not to photograph the outfit from too high or too low an angle, as it can be unflattering. Pros generally take product photos from chest height. 

To create a 3D effect, follow these steps:

  1. First, capture the front and back view of the outfit on the model or mannequin.
  2. Next, turn each garment inside out. Style and hang each garment on a foam board and photograph the front and back again. These board shots illustrate the interior of the garment when merging the images.
  3. For collared shirts or dresses, make sure the collar is open and the inner lining is clearly visible.

What to Avoid

For Product Shots

  1. Hands or props blocking the camera’s view of the attire
  2. Uneven or asymmetrical poses
  3. Overlapping fabrics

For Inlay Shots

  1. Uneven, non-uniform neckline (for tops)
  2. Cropped or uneven waistline (for bottoms)
  3. Cropped margins in the images

Editing and Automation Options for Ghost Mannequin Photography

Generating ghost mannequins in Photoshop can be intimidatingly complex, especially for new photographers. Fortunately, you don’t need to do it alone. Tools like autoRetouch can take the hassle out of the editing process—and autoRetouch offers the world’s first AI-enabled ghost mannequin generator! All you have to do is upload your images, and you’ll have web-ready photos in a few minutes. 

This is how the autoRetouch algorithm generates automatic ghost mannequins:

  1. First, the background is removed from the original photo and inlay image.
  2. Next, the product and inlay images are combined.
  3. The inlay seam is camouflaged to add a 3D effect and a shadow effect is added with the image depth.
  4. Lastly, files are exported in PSD or PNG format.

Using tools like autoRetouch, you can generate your own ghost mannequins without hiring professionals or spending hours on editing. The flexible pricing options also ensure that nothing cuts into your profits.

Pro Tip: Keep the file size under 50 MB for best results.

Best Practices for Automated Ghost Mannequin Product Photography

Ghost mannequin photography might seem challenging from the outside—but with this guide in hand, it doesn’t have to be a mystery. With the right equipment and tools in your pocket, you can start creating your own ghost mannequin images and polish up your online presence right away.  Before you go, here’s a quick checklist of ways to make sure your ghost mannequin photos stand out from the crowd.

  1. Use a white or gray backdrop.
  2. Make sure all garments are free of creases and wrinkles.
  3. Style your outfits elegantly. Hide buttons, fix collars, and let laces lie naturally.
  4. Place the garment symmetrically on the model or mannequin.
  5. Hold the product taut and straight when capturing the inlay images.
  6. Make sure nothing obstructs the outfit.
  7. Use an editing tool like autoRetouch to quickly and easily combine and polish your product images!

Product Photo Checklist: 10 Ways to Perfect eCommerce Product Images

Did you know more than the majority of e-commerce shoppers consider product photos to be ‘extremely’ influential in their purchasing decision? In fact, product photos were ranked as more important than product descriptions, specs, and even ratings or reviews. In e-commerce, seeing is believing.

But there’s an art to the perfect product photo—and just as a good photo can sell your product more effectively than almost anything else, a bad photo can turn potential customers off. Careful editing brings out the best in your photos and helps your products shine in the busy, crowded world of e-commerce. Whether you’re an e-commerce specialist or a photographer, this image editing checklist will help you create irresistible, attention-grabbing product photos. 

First Steps for Perfect Editing

Shoot in RAW

The editing process is always more straightforward when using RAW photos. Why? Because RAW files contain more data and are of higher quality, it’s easier and more efficient to make adjustments. Editing JPEGs results in some damage to the original file, but RAW files can be edited without reducing the quality of the images.

Start with a thorough plan

Any project should begin with a well-rounded, detailed roadmap, and product photography is no different. Here are the things you should do before ever picking up your camera:

  • Define all the kinds of product photos your website needs
  • Identify the kinds of imagery that your audience finds enticing
  • Research current trends and take styling tips from successful product photography
  • Make sure you have all the necessary equipment like a lighting kit, LED ring flash, backdrops, clamps, pins, etc.
  • Choose an editor

The 10 Step Checklist for Perfect E-Commerce Image Editing

1. Choose your best photos

Not every image we capture is destined for greatness, and when it comes to e-commerce, you only want the best photos to represent your products. Cull your photos with an editor’s mindset, knowing that only a few will make the cut. Don’t know how to narrow down your images? Start by cutting out photos with anything less than razor-sharp focus.

Once you have your best photos in hand, it’s time to start editing!

2. Lens correction and straightening the horizon

Start the editing process with lens correction. This step is crucial if you use wide-angle lenses to shoot your product photos. Lens correction can help to correct chromatic aberration if images near the horizon have green or purple hues.

Make sure to straighten any tilted photos.

3. Color correction

Color correction is a challenging but mandatory step for image retouching. If your store has products of different colors with the same pattern or design, you can apply the recoloring feature to the RAW images. This time-saving step allows you to represent your whole catalog of colors without photographing each individual product.

The color correction feature also helps to enhance color tone, vibrancy, contrast, saturation, and more. However, the images after correction should always be representative of the products in real-life transparency will lead to trust and retention with your customers.

4. Remove intrusive elements with background removal

Background removal eliminates distracting or unwanted elements in the background of your photos. Backdrops can be replaced to make your product images look more consistent. You can also remove loose threads, flyaway hair, etc., for a polished look. AI-enabled software like autoRetouch offers automatic background removal and customization. To make the backdrop removal process hassle-free, we recommend placing the product against white cloth or sheets.

5. Fix imperfections

Imperfections can come in many forms, from blemishes on your model’s skin to specks of dust in the background. However, that doesn’t mean the photos must be discarded: today’s editing tools have mind-blowing corrective features, and these issues can be solved in seconds.

6. Creating depth with shadows

Without shadows, products may look unrealistic, but not all shadows are visually appealing. For example, shadows falling on the model’s face should be removed in the editing process. On the other hand, shadows cast by the model will give more depth to your photos. Viewers may not consciously notice the shadows, but they provide a sense of the 3D geometry of the item.

7. Choose cropping dimensions

Many editors skip this step, but it’s one of the essentials in editing product photography. On the bright side, it’s also simple and quick. Cropping removes the unwanted areas of the photo and brings more focus to the subject, letting you hone in on what’s relevant. Cropping usually only takes a few seconds.

8. Create 3D product photos

2D photos are flatter and less representative of the true dimensions of the products being sold, while 3D or 360° images can be very appealing to shoppers. 3D images are actually made up of a bunch of composited pictures taken from different angles. We recommend using Adobe Bridge to generate professional-looking 3D photos. This helps customers get a tangible sense of your product.

9. Remove the mannequins

Mannequins are a great way to display clothes and apparel, but they can be visually distracting as well. Keep the focus on your products by removing the mannequins from your photos. This can be a tedious task, but tools like autoRetouch automatically remove the dummy from apparel with the ghost mannequin feature.

10. Bulk edit your images

Selling products online means dealing with tons of product pictures at once, and making your photos consistent can be tedious and difficult. Fortunately, today’s dynamic AI-powered software allows stock or bulk photo editing, applying the same effects to 100+ images at once. Online shoppers are inclined to trust websites with visual uniformity in pictures, and batch editing helps your photos look professional and legitimate.

Bottom Line

Competition in the e-commerce world can be intense—and having exemplary images keeps you a step ahead of the rest. This 10-step checklist can help you delight your customers and create a powerful, appealing visual presence for your products.