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July 18, 2017 8 min read
When you sell apparel, it is essential to get high-quality photos of your products. Your product images have a great impact on your customers, as they can determine them to buy or not to buy your products. Having professional photography doesn’t necessarily require you to pay too much. On the contrary, it is not the price that makes professional looking photos, but the equipment and experience. So if you have an eye for photography, it is enough to have a modest budget. All you need to do is follow these seven steps to create amazing apparel product images.
No matter what type of garment you sell, it should look perfect in your photos. Unfortunately, the garment can easily become wrinkled or creased, so it may look worn. So it is essential to prepare your garments for the photo session. This way, you avoid using Photoshop to fix any possible wrinkles, creases, stains, and other visual flaws. Although many people may think that using Photoshop is the best choice, you should know that it takes time and expertise to master advanced techniques in editing, and if you do excessive editing on your photos, there is the risk to compromise their quality. So it is recommended to try to capture your garment as good as possible, and only use Photoshop to add a color correction and final touches.
Preparing your garments means you need to thoroughly examine your garments from top to bottom, as well as inside and out. Make sure you remove any unnecessary tags, stickers, and other identifying materials. If there are any creases or wrinkles on your product, iron or steam it. Make sure you repair any damages and remove distractions, such as dust and strings.
You only need a few items to turn almost any room with enough space into your own photography studio. Some of the essentials that you need include a camera, tripod, duct tape, seamless white paper, and natural light.
It is required to prevent distractions and ensure you capture colors as accurately as possible. For this, you are recommended to always use a white or light gray backdrop. You can always use seamless rolls of white paper, as they are useful, cheap, and readily available. You can find them in any photography supply store. To use the seamless rolls of white paper, use a c-stand, and sweep the roll to the floor so that it is curved, to prevent creases and distracting shadows. Fasten it with tape.
You can gain more flexibility in where you position your background if you use a stand. Besides, it also allows you enough room to maneuver around your studio. Place your product on a ghost mannequinin the middle of the backdrop and directly in front of where you will place your camera.
Your camera is crucial for your product photography. You are recommended to use a DSLR with at least manual exposure and aperture settings. Use a tripod to ensure the stability. This will remove camera shake and will provide you with consistent shots. It also frees your hands, so you can use them for other tasks. Position the tripod and the camera to directly face the product. Most of the time, you don’t need to move the camera throughout the shoot. You will only move the product, for various angles of it.
The highest quality light source for your apparel photos is the natural window light. You are the luckiest person if you have a large window with abundant natural light. However, you are also recommended to rent or get an easy-to-use lighting kit. It is always a good choice to have an artificial lighting equipment at your disposal, as it allows you to shoot when there isn’t enough natural light.
Consistent lighting helps you get a professional standard for your photos. For a single light setup, you need a c-stand, light head, battery pack, softbox, and pocket wizard. In what regards the light head, you are recommended to invest a bit more, and get a mono strobe light head, which is known as monolight. As for the softbox, it is necessary to diffuse light and capture your product in an evenly lit and attractive manner. The c-stand holds your light head and the softbox around it, while the pocket wizard syncs your camera and the light. You need the battery pack to power your light.
In case you use natural light, you need to position your product near a window, so it can get even, indirect light. In case you use a monolight setup, you need to create a bird's eye view. To do this, you need to place the light source and softbox at 45-degree angle to your product. Keep your camera directly in front of your product.
To manually expose your image properly, you need to use your camera’s light meter and adjust settings to make the meter notches reach 0.
You can use a mannequin or model to demonstrate the shape and fit of your garment and to encourage your customers to visualize themselves wearing the specific garment. However, for best results and easier post-production editing, you are recommended to use a ghost mannequin for your garment photography.
Models – including ghost mannequins – make garment come to live. Besides, they are also an affordable alternative to the real models. You need to take your time to style your garment on the mannequin. In case it is too big, you can try fitting it closer to the mannequin by pinning in and tucking it until it fits perfectly.
Although you can always create the invisible mannequin effect in post-production processing of your photos, you will get a better result if you use a ghost mannequin.This will give your product the desired 3D effect that demonstrates shape and fit.
In order to get professional-looking photos, you need to pay attention to your camera settings. Before you start photographing your garments, make sure you understand ISO, aperture, and white balance.
The ISO should not be greater than 600-640. If it is higher than that, it often produces distracting “grain” or “noise”, which refers to those grayish or colored speckles that give a disturbing appearance to the photos. Additionally, if ISO is higher, the camera can’t capture as much sharpness, so details look soft. You are recommended to use a tripod, as it allows you to keep the ISO at 100 or 200 for optimal sharpness and clarity.
The aperture is represented by the “f” number on the camera settings. It controls focus. A larger aperture number means more aspects of the image will be in full focus. To allow for all aspects of your garment to be in complete focus, you need to set your aperture higher than f/11.
As you probably know, light sources have different warmth. This causes the camera to be unable to determine true white. White balance setting controls how the camera deduces the colors that it records. Although there are more types of light sources, some of the most common include LED, fluorescent, natural sunlight, and tungsten. You need to set the white balance according to the type of light source that you use. However, you can also set the white balance to AUTO, so the camera will automatically decide. This is an important aspect that you should not overlook, otherwise, you could spend a lot of time trying to recreate accurate colors in Photoshop.
Now you finished all the preparation, so it is time to go on to the step you expected from the very beginning. Direct your camera at your product and press halfway down on the shutter release button, then allow your camera to focus on the product, and snap the shot. In case you notice your images need more or less light, you can always adjust the camera settings throughout the shooting session.
Don’t shot only one photo, but shoot as many photos as you can. Some of the shots you may want to take are from the front, back, 45-degree angles, left and right sides, and any important details of the garment. Remember that it is always better to have more shots. This way, you will have a lot of options to select your final photos from. Besides, having more photos of your product on your website helps you increase your sale. Your customers will be able to see their desired garment from several angles, so they will trust more their impressions of the product.
So you finished shooting the photos of your garment. Now it is time to prepare your photos for the web. With the help of the post-production processing, you will make your photos look professional. Some of the main aspects that you need to look for during the post-production processing includes the alignment, cropping, background removal, and color correction. All these aspects contribute to making a professional appearance of your photos and of your products, at the same time. So let’s see how to make sure you get amazing photos for the web with the post-production process.
First of all, you need to make sure that your products are all the same size and that they are centered within each image. Make sure all the angles, corners, and edges of your products line up in relation to one another. To make it easier for you to ensure that your alignment is spot on, you are recommended to create guidelines in a Photoshop template.
When you crop your product images, make sure you crop them identically to offer your customers a seamless online shopping experience. When you crop, you should keep count on your website’s image specifications.
A recommended practice for marketers is to use a white background for photos. However, you can always give up on any background, and remove it completely. This way, you eliminate any possible distractions from your photos. Besides, removing the background allows you more flexibility in web design. And another benefit is the modestly decrease in file size.
No matter how much attention you pay to white balance, there are some colors, such as reds, pinks, and neons, which are difficult to photograph correctly. Such colors require being tweaked in Photoshop.
We are sure you are aware of the impact the difference of color has on your customers. If your colors differ too much in reality than in photos on your website, your customers would be disappointed, dissatisfied, and frustrated. To avoid this from happening, you should take some extra minutes to make sure that the photos are an accurate representation of the colors of your garments. You want to ensure your customers sees exactly what they will get, in case they order your product.
There are various ways to tweak colors, so you can choose your favorite tool to do this. For this, you need to know what Photoshop has to offer in the matter of color tweak. After you fix the colors, convert your images into SRGB format, as this ensures that different browsers, computer screens, and websites maintain your accurate colors.
Remember experience is the key
It is true, doing all this on yourself is quite a challenge! Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect from the first time you do it, that is expected to be like this. Your goal as a beginner is to improve with every single shot and to get the best possible photos of your products. Keep in mind that better photos of your products mean more sales and more happy and satisfied customers.
In the endThese seven steps are essentials to take beautiful garment product photography. Once you follow these steps, you will do fine. Just follow all these steps to make high-quality product images that will impress your customers and help you increase your sales.
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