The debate over whether or not photographs shown online should be left natural or ‘Photoshopped’ to make them look better is one that will probably never end. Here, we take a look at what this means to you if you want to market fashion or beauty products online.
No Truth in Advertising
Whether it is Beyonce’s complexion in a beauty campaign or a Big Mac, almost every image you see in advertising has been very heavily retouched and edited, and this is something we generally accept – no, the burger you buy will not look like that and yes, if you get close up to Beyonce’s face (without her bodyguards tazing you) she probably has the odd imperfection – she is, after all, a mother in her mid 30’s.
We know that in advertising everything is just that little bit slicker and prettier, and as long as it doesn’t fall into the realm of the outright lie (like those horror stories you see online where a girl has purchased a cheap dress from China and compares the image on the website to what she actually received), this is just a normal part of life. However, does that mean that if you are selling your own fashion or beauty products you need to engage in the dark art of retouching too?
Where Do Your Brand Values Sit On this One?
Whether you are a hobbyist who wants to start selling the cool crochet tops you make on Etsy, or someone with a high end beauty salon or fashion boutique to advertise, you have probably got some idea of how you want people to see your brand (and if you don’t, you need to work on your brand identity before you begin to start coming up with policies like this for your marketing campaigns). Are you an honest makeup artist who wants to show potential customers what you can really make a client look like for her wedding day, or a high end salon selling a prestigious, luxurious experience where aspirational imagery is more important to representing what you have to offer than a genuine ‘before and after’? Are you a fashion company making a stand of the ‘all women are beautiful’ variety, or do you sell designer clothes in sizes 4-8 for wealthy fashionistas?
Do It Right
If you decide the sleek, more perfect look suits what you are going for better than ‘warts and all’ reality, make sure you have the photography and retouching done by some expert fashion & beauty photographers and photo editors. Retouching badly will look strange and unrealistic, and harm your ability to sell your product far more than an untouched photo where the model has a stray eyebrow hair!
Your vision of how you want your brand perceived is the best thing to help you decide if you should retouch at all, and if so to what extent (for example, you may decide putting a filter on is fine, but completely changing the model’s body shape is not).
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