Hats and stands – Case Study: Margaret Woodliff Wright

In these challenging times we continue to develop our hats on stands concept. So it was a delight to be able to photograph and experiment with some of Margaret Woddliff Wright’s hats recently.

We see a hat as a product. No different to a Louis Vuitton handbag or bottle of Pepsi. What matters is presenting the product in a way that represents its actuality and creates a desire for it. To be brutally honest desiring something increases the drive to the basket.

Virtually every professional product shot you will see on well known brands will have been retouched. This is done to increase the emotional connection between the product and the buyer. But it must be done in a subtle way.

There is an argument for shooting a hat on a model but that can be a distraction and some buyers may take a view of “well I can’t possibly look like a well made up 18 year old.” A number of milliners have told me this and that is why I developed our offering to include well composed and lit images of hats on stands.

But why bother at all, why not just use your phone. Phones are fine but can only get you so far because photographically they are limited. They are great for fast shots taken in the moment but they are less great at doing product shots.

A photo straight out of camera may get the buyer 75%-100% of the way to purchase. But the 25% could be the difference between a purchase or no purchase. A good millinery photographer should not only be thinking about light and composition but also about retouching. Retouching is a tool to add to and not take away from a hat. Balance is key and to do this we must understand the client’s brand goals and what they want to achieve. Good communication and collaboration are vital.

A good retoucher will see things that you may not and explain them to you for consideration. You could use an app. There are many apps on the market that can remove backgrounds etc but they are quite clumsy.

Retouching is a subtle art and covers far more areas than skin retouching. Subtle adjustments can be made to exposure, colours, temperature, gradients across a whole image or just aspects of the image.

With a good retoucher the possibilities are endless. We can even take a hat and create a whole new one in a completely different colour. This means a milliner only needs to make one hat. She can then have that hat’s image retouched into numerous colours to market.

Here is an example. This first image is straight out of camera. Looks good, and for many this is totally acceptable. But I think we can go a bit further still.

In the second image I have done some very subtle colour adjustments as well as some healing of threads that may distract a viewer.

Finally I sampled a colour and using a mask in Photoshop change the colour of the hat.

So now Margaret has two hats to take to market. She can have as many colours as she wants because I can eyedrop any colour and mask that colour onto the hat image to change it. In the final image I have sampled a green but it could be any colour of Margaret’s choice.

So what does this mean? Margaret only needs to create one hat but I can create multiple images of the same hat in different colours without the need to incur a build cost until the client orders the hat in a different colour.


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