How to Photograph Clothing

Whether you’re photographing clothing for an e-commerce shoot, commercial lookbook or for your own personal fashion blog – capturing quality images of apparel involves a few specific techniques. Here are ways that you can photograph fashion and garments that will be sure to make your content appealing and stand out.

Hire a Model

The most effective way to photograph clothing is by using a model. The reason for this being that it allows for the most realistic depiction of how the clothing will fit and look on the consumer. A model allows the consumer to imagine themselves in the clothing, especially if a brand employs several models with varying body types to show how the style is versatile and adaptable. When photographing clothing on a model it is best to focus on various types of framing and methods of movement. You want to focus on photographing the model at full length, three-quarter cropped and then an up close, portrait-esque composition – these will offer dynamic options of the pieces. Always remember to have your model engage in movement, whether taking small steps or “playing” with the fabric as she poses – this will offer an eye-catching and appealing visual element to your images. You can photograph clothing on a model in both studio and outdoor settings. Most lookbooks are shot against a Seamless backdrop in a studio, while campaigns are often captured on location. Lookbooks are apparel focused, while campaigns are ideas based and are driven by the emotional connection and story a brand hopes to tell. Whichever, you are shooting it is important to be aware of how the brand will use these images and in what capacity.

Photographs by Joe Holtrichter

Photograph by Demar Watson

Use Props like Mannequins

Using a mannequin to photograph clothing is a great option for a brand that is looking to be lean and save costs in displaying their products. Although using a model is ideal, most startup fashion brands do not have the budget to hire and pay models. Using a mannequin can be just as effective, for the build reflects and imitates the human figure. The best thing to remember when using a mannequin is to make sure the clothing is fitted and styled in an appealing way. This means if the clothing hangs loose, to pin it back or make sure that the size of the apparel fits the size of the mannequin’s frame. A little pro editing tip in regard to shooting clothing on Mannequins is called “Ghost Mannequin Photography.” This trick allows you to photograph your clothing on the frame, but in post-production edit out the prop to give the illusion that the clothing can stand on its own. This is used often in online lookbooks, so if using mannequins for shooting, try this method out for a cleaner final image (Ex. Second Image)


Photo by Abbie Bernet

Create Your Best Flat Lay

The last way to photograph clothing is to instill the concept of the flat lay. A truly popular option for many brands and bloggers, flat lays are detail oriented and focus on the up-close intricacy of a piece. Flat lays are most effective when styled with other pieces, color palettes that compliment as well as additional props that add to the overall feeling of the clothing and lifestyle in which it will be worn. A perfect example of effective flat lays with clothing is swimwear. More often when photographing a swimsuit, it is best to include additional elements to the frame. Some brands that are commercial will add sunscreen, hats, sandals to create the idea of a day spent by the pool. Other brands, with a more high fashion, editorial feel may pair the swimwear with props that accent the color palette such as fruit, flowers or laying it against a pattern or textured surface. In any case, conceptualizing flat lays can be an effective and creative way to capture the details and essence of a piece of clothing.

Share with us your preferred method of photographing clothing or show us your best #FlatLay in the comments below!

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