There has been long controversy on the topic as to whether photo retouching service is ethical or not. People concerned with ethical aspects of it are crying out loud saying it’s not ethical to retouch a photo. This advocate group is however mostly concerned about model, celebrity or people photography. They prefer these images do not get retouched as retouching of these photos deceives people as to how the real person looks like.

However, when it comes to eCommerce product photography, tell the product owners or marketing professionals who promote those products about ethics. They will give you a look as if you just landed on earth from a different planet. In reality, there is no product in the eCommerce marketspace that get promoted or sold without having gone through extensive level of product photo retouching.

Why Photo Retouching May Not Be Ethical?

Topic of ethics arises when there is a questionable conduct performed. If an act is done to benefit from it by depriving others or deceiving others, then it is not ethical to do so. If someone position himself or herself in a way that makes them presentable to others in a way that is different than it is in reality, and the person hopes to benefit from it where the other person gets deprived of something, then there is no question that that act is unethical.

In show business, celebrities promote them with heavy makeups and in most cases retouched images. It paints a different picture of them in peoples’ mind. Fans that worship those celebrities do not know that the celebrities they worship look lot different than they show on the silver screen or on billboards. This type of practice might not be ethical and it is done with an intention to deceive people and to hide the actual reality. From this aspect, photo retouching may not be ethical.

Why Photo Retouching Can Be Ethical?

There are many cases where product or bran owners utilize photo retouching service that can be in the grey area or can be downright ethical. In lot of cases, photo editing is done for marketing purposes and with retouching, the aesthetic appearance of the product is made attractive.

For example, a photo background removal service or ghost mannequin editing doesn’t actually change the overall look or quality of the product. They just reposition the product in a way that makes the products visually attractive by displaying their unique features or by blending in to the publishing platforms.

In ghost mannequin photo retouching, an actual apparel item is cut in few different ways and then joined together. The joined images are then retouched to give a finished look. It is still the same product, but the look of the item is changed which doesn’t deceive people. Same goes with background removal where the actual product is still the same, but the background it removed to replace it with a different background. In these cases, the retouching of product photography is 100% ethical and legitimate.


Long story short, there is no reason to start crying out loud when we hear about photo retouching. We need to dive deep into the area to see what level of retouching was actually done and for what purposes. It can be just 100% ethical, we just need to know why!