Photography for jewelry brand: what retouch to choose?

There are a lot of different techniques and names for every retouch type, especially in the jewellery world. In the following article we will be providing our vision and options we can offer our clients.

 

As we can see by our experience, there are not a lot of people who can understand the difference between light retouch, artistic retouch, light & tone correction in Lightroom Photoshop or professional retouch in Photoshop. Don’t be surprised - there are no established standards in the world of photo correction, so every photographer or retoucher has their own vision of the task. That's why we would like to clarify our position and  explain why charge different prices. 

 

Please, note that this article is a Salt Studio vision of the “retouch” phenomenon and we are not entitled to be an “ultimate truth source”. 

1. Lightroom color & tone correction

This is a basic procedure for the photo correction. Although, there are some photographers that do call this process “retouch”. Salt Studio Dubai is providing light & tone correction in Lightroom with any package as a default option. Here is a little insight - professional shooting is always done in the RAW format. Those are very big sized graphical files, that are providing us with an enormous amount of details that we can correct later. It can depend on different shooting conditions, change of light, background, objects, etc. 

Salt Studio Dubai is applying light & tone correction to the files before format changing (from RAW to JPG).
There is a lot of different tools in the Lightroom that I use, and here is a list of the most important ones, that are supposed to be done OBLIGATORY when light & tone correcting: 

  • Temperature
  • Exposure
  • Contrast
  • Highlights
  • Shadows
  • Whites
  • Blacks
  • Clarity
  • Saturation
  • Tone Curve
  • Color
  • Sharpening
  • Noise reduction
  • Lens correction

 

This is not the full procedure, just basic parameters: each one of them can contain up to 30 characteristics to check.


This is a crucial step, as after making it we will convert files to JPG format and will start to work with smaller size images. That’s why it’s necessary to make the “before” photo as good as possible.

 

After this step is finished, we prefer to pause a process for a couple of days. Human eye is created in a very interesting way - after several hours of hard work it becomes “blurry”. That's why we need to “step back” sometimes, to be able to see the little mistakes and details with the fresh gaze.
Sometimes it can be done 2-3 times, to make sure that the photo session turned out to be perfect.Now you can understand why we are not providing light & tone corrected and retouched photos within a week, or even on a next day, like some photographers do. 

 

We are providing a light & tone correction for every package as a default option, (Silver, Golden, etc.). We are not providing RAW files for our client’s, as they simply don’t need them. If the client will choose photos for retouch, he will choose them from already corrected photos. It is important to know that we are NOT deleting extra objects, when providing pictures in Lightroom. Everything you see on the picture (mannequins, stands, dust etc.)


Here is the example of what is the difference between RAW and light & tone corrected file in Lightroom is:

 

2. Basic photoshop retouch

Here is the difference between Photoshop and Lightroom - in Lightroom we can work with a series of the pictures, while in Adobe Photoshop we go picture by picture. Not just every picture, but every part of the picture. We will be separating it in layers, masking something, using hand brush, etc. Even with all the necessary plugins, presets and extra gadgets retouching is a long process. Some of the photos can be done in 15 minutes, some of them take up to 2-3 hours or even a day (in case you have to start over).
 

We can compare this artistic process to meditation - all the attention is channeled into little details. Our photographers are switching from retouch to shooting to keep their focus fresh and be quick on their toes. Practice makes perfect, and that’s how our team can understand where to pay extra attention while shooting, to make Photoshop time shorter.
Here are some things we do in Photoshop as a BASIC retouch:

  • adjusting sharpness of particular elements
  • brush retouch or light, tone, color and exposition
  • background correction: removal of the objects that are not "touching" the jewellery piece
  • light/dark balance of the background
  • shadow softening
  • skin smoothing & tone (if the pictures are done with model participating)

 

Basic retouch is included in the GOLDEN package.

Please, see the difference between light & tone correction and basic retouch:

Here you can see the difference between RAW file, light & tone correction and basic retouch in  PhotoShop:

3. Artistic retouch in Photoshop with background removal and hand painted details

This is the most difficult and most creative type of a retouch we can provide. Here is where the team of professional retouchers is stepping in, not just “correcting'' some things, but painting and adding necessary details such as shine and more.
A VERY important moment! If you would like to have pictures with artistic retouch, and you know it already, you are supposed to tell us asap. Let me explain to you why: because the type of photography will be different. To get the picture with perfect details (every detail is in focus, where all the shine and sparkle are present) we must shoot in a different way. This type of shooting is slower and we will need to make 10-20 pictures (2-4 positions) of the same piece, instead of 2-3 (6-10 positions)  for basic retouch.
Here is what we are doing extra to all the steps you have seen above:

 

  • focus stacking (combining different layers of the same photo to achieve the “perfect” focus of the jewelry piece)
  • objects geometry correction
  • hand brushing of the details (also shine, sparkle, etc.)
  • 100% background removal
  • removal of the support elements (sticks, holders, mannequins).

Extra options (not included in the package, extra payment):

  • hand adding mirror effect and shadows 
  • collage creation 
  • adding a new background

Artistic retouch is included in the PLATINUM package.


It is very important to understand that if you are going for “a lot and fast” you shouldn’t focus on artistic retouch. Exactly like creating great designs and making custom jewellery, artistic retouch is a long and detailed process. If you want a photographer to do 30 pieces in one day, you can’t expect them to be as perfect as you can see in the last examples. Perfection is achieved by a great amount of work & patience.

Please, see the example of the RAW file & Artistic retouch:

 

There is a big difference between creating a white background or TRANSPARENT background. As for a transparent background - this is counted as "background removal". This is a high-class artistic retouch, where every little detail is being cut by hand, using tools in photoshop.


This type of retouch is included in our Platinum package. Here is one more curiosity - special shooting techniques are used to provide the best result possible and make retouching easier - jewellery must be shot on the contrast background. Not green (chromekey), like a lot of people might think , but beige or grey. Green background won’t be suitable in this situation, as the reflection on the jewelry surface would be too visible on the photo.

 

You can see it yourself - the object's shadow and reflection appeared in the photo. Adding a different background, reflections or shadows is an extra charge service. It’s a job for the real graphic designer. A good professional will be able to do any photo upgrades of your choice, when having good quality photos with transparent background.

How to know the type of photo editing you need for your jewellery brand?

We always advise our brands to come for a tryout. Come and see everything by yourself - book a short photo session for 1 or 2 hours and become familiar with our job. An outcome of 100-200 photos with light & tone correction and 10-20 Photoshop edited photos will make you understand better the way we work and what we can do for you & your brand. 

 

We believe in the importance of creating a bond and connection between a client and a photographer, and trust is the main ingredient of having a successful partnership that will last years. We won't be telling you that we are the best - book the "try-out" photoshoot and come to our studio to see it yourself. 

 

Salt Studio Dubai will be the right choice and you will always get a high-quality outcome that can be guaranteed to be done on time!

 

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