THE IMPORTANCE OF WORKFLOW IN PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHY RETOUCHING
Product photography is a very disciplined and complex genre. There’s a huge scope for creativity but as the technical knowledge required is often very high, there has to be a methodical approach in execution. My personal workflow allows me to almost forget about the technical side (in some respects) and focus more so on the creative. As I have a clear path, I always know what my next step will be; my workflow is what allows me to do this.
In this video from my (relatively) new YouTube channel, find it here, I cover my post production workflow. Using an image created some time ago, I take you through every stage of the retouching process and explain the order in which I perform certain tasks.
What Is Workflow In Product Photography?
Workflow simply refers to how you get from point A to point B. When referring to workflow in terms of retouching, we mean how we get from our RAW files to the final edited image. One very important thing to note is that a workflow is rarely “one size fits all”. I have different workflows for different images. Oftentimes, they will be similar, but it’s important to craft a workflow which works for you and the types of images you’re creating.
This article and video refers to a retouching workflow within my product photography but don’t think that means you can’t or shouldn’t have a workflow on set. Structuring your shoot day and having a logical order in which tasks are completed will make the whole process run far more smoothly.
What Is a Good Workflow?
A good workflow is something you’ll develop over time. The more time you spend retouching your product photography, the more you’ll realise the best order in which to perform tasks. By all means, watch the video and copy my workflow for now. However, I encourage you to create your own. My workflow is right for me but that doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. In addition, if you simply copy my workflow you’ll be missing out on one of the biggest benefits; I’ll explain that a little more later.
Here’s a quick breakdown of my workflow:
1) Capture images in Capture One
2) Focus stack using Helicon Focus (click here to purchase Helicon Focus)
3) Import stacked image into Photoshop
4) Create comps
6) Perform contrast corrections
7) Correct colour of product and make creative adjustments where appropriate
8) Use check layers to scrutinize final image
How You Should Approach Workflow In Your Product Photography
As mentioned, a good workflow will vary depending on what you’re retouching. For my product photography, the workflow has to have a certain amount of flexibility. When clients or Art Directors want changes to be made, I want them to be easy to make. I also want the mundane, “every image” tasks to be quickly completed and done to a high standard. Finally, due to the different mediums these images can be viewed within, they have to be heavily scrutinised. With those in mind, and through years of retouching, I settled upon my workflow.
While my personal workflow is now pretty well refined, that does not mean it’s set in stone. It is constantly evolving and that is one of the best things about it. As I evolve as a retoucher, learn new techniques and stop using old ones, my workflow develops. If you simply copy mine and never make any changes, you won’t be advancing your retouching. Experiment, make changes, make mistakes, create your own workflow.
I hope that I’ve convinced you to develop your own product photography workflow. By doing so I guarantee that, given time, your retouching will improve. If your workflow is something which you constantly develop, your retouching is bound to follow. Coupled with a well created custom action panel, your workflow will become indispensable. On the subject, make sure you check out this video which explains exactly how to create perfect actions in Photoshop.