Product Photography on a White Background – When to Outsource

Despite Amazon’s best efforts to copyright such a universal concept, the majority of the time, product photography involves shooting onto white backgrounds. Clients generally want their products to be presented cleanly, crisply and free of any potentially distracting elements. Frequently they’ll require cut-outs so their photographed wares can easily be combined or inserted into other images.

Symmetry also tends to be the goal when shooting items such as clothing, and whilst we take as much care as is feasibly possible when lighting and styling our subjects, inevitably it can take a little photoshop to get those whites pure white and that clobber hanging perfectly off the mannequin…. which also requires digital removal itself of course (for more about that, see our post

Retouching, whilst vital, is just one step in the process of delivering a client professional images of their products and it can be particularly time-consuming and dare we say it, occasionally a little mind-numbing. When shooting a batch of 200 dresses or 100 cosmetics bottles, the most practical, cost-effective (and sanity-retaining!) solution for us and the client may be to outsource an aspect of the post-production. For a fraction of the cost of doing it in-house, skilled retouchers in countries with much nicer weather than ours can deliver results rapidly, cutting out items using Photoshop’s pen tool, and supplying back to us with clipping paths saved. Cutting out items is generally a manual process, and while it’s not rocket science, it does take time. Huge and successful as we are (modest too?), we don’t have 50 photoshop experts sitting in our back office. One day perhaps.

This type of service can be invaluable in meeting deadlines and remaining cost-effective in a competitive business environment, but we’ve also found that when it comes to more detailed or item-specific work, there’s no substitute for doing it ourselves. We maintain a close working relationship with our clients and generally know what makes them tick, either from experience or close dialogue – we’re personally invested in making sure they’re happy with the results of our work, so naturally put a little more care into the edit than a complete stranger would. We know what our client expects from us and we know what we can expect when outsourcing to retouchers – that dictates when and how we use them.

We’ve always aimed to keep our prices competitive without compromising the quality of our service and it hasn’t steered us wrong so far. Outsource the non-creative, high volume, repetitive tasks, do the rest yourselves. Easy.