Fashion is a visually dominated industry with apparel photos on websites, in brand lookbooks, and on the cover of top magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. If your brand’s apparel photographs aren’t best presenting your clothing line, you risk losing customer and fashion buyer sales, accumulating overstock, and ultimately damaging your brand’s profits and potential.
So you’ve spent months gathering your clothing line, and now you’re wondering how to turn your vision into something tangible – a professional photoshoot. After all, when your potential customer can’t touch or try the clothing, high-end photographs of your items is crucial to success.
Planning a photoshoot for your clothing brand doesn’t have to be a pain. It’s an inspiring creative process. This blog post outlines how to plan a photoshoot from start to finish. So if you’re new here, you may be wondering what makes me qualified? That said, here’s everything you need to know about capturing high-quality apparel with fashion photography to help you market your clothing line effectively.
Keep scrolling to read the step-by-step guide to planning a photoshoot for your clothing brand.
Table of Contents
- 1 Fashion Photography Vs. Apparel Photography
- 2 Clothing Line Photography
- 3 After The Photoshoot
Fashion Photography Vs. Apparel Photography
While scrolling through websites of high-end brands like Gucci and Burberry, you will likely come across various types of photographs – ones with only apparel and others with models styled in the brand’s line. Having two kinds of pictures helps customers by giving them the convenience to examine the product itself and see how it looks on a person without trying it on.
Fashion photography captures your line as worn by models and is focused on branding. Through choosing strategic locations and models, fashion photography offers an opportunity for customers to form associations with something they find appealing in your photos.
Apparel photography, on the other hand, focuses solely on the product. This type of photography works best if your customers prefer a simplified browsing experience with minimal distractions from your clothes themselves.
The majority of photographs you’ll encounter when browsing a brand’s website or lookbook will be apparel photographs, plus a few fashion photographs. Unconsciously, customer’s eyes are more drawn to the model’s face rather than the product itself, which is why many brands choose not to include more than a few.
Clothing Line Photography
Nothing drives an impulse buy like a stunning clothing shoot. But it isn’t as simple as packing your product into a case and hitting the studio.
The Art of Style
At the launch of your line, customers need to understand your brand’s style and personality. This makes it essential to capture high-quality and well-positioned photographs of your products. If you have a tight budget and are capturing your photos or looking for a checklist of suggestions for your hired photographer, check out these tips for capturing quality photos.
For apparel photographs, we recommend being consistent with how you place apparel and changing up your angles. If you have any straps, tassels, or embellishments, make sure they all have consistent positioning as well. Through this focal point, customers can easily compare different, well-aligned images of the product. Take plenty of shots to compare and determine the best photographs later.
For fashion photography with models, keep hairstyles and outfit placements relatively consistent between photographs for a single season’s wardrobe, but experiment with new posts. Using your camera, you can easily change the angles between shots to offer new perspectives of the apparel. Try shooting from low angles to make the model appear taller, and shoot from above if you want to make the model seem shorter. We recommend being creative and trying new tips to capture unique shots – maybe capture some photos by lying down or standing on a ladder.
You can’t have a successful photo shoot if you don’t plan a wardrobe and products you want to portray in your photographs. Think strategically about apparel placement in apparel or fashion photography. If you want your main focal point in a picture set to be a purse, don’t get carried away with layering on too many other wardrobes picks for a model or featuring a lot of background objects.
Lighting can determine how high-quality and high-end your line looks. You can experiment with different lighting placements during the shoot to determine what fits best for the shoot. We recommend bringing the primary light source for the front of the garment or model and bringing some strobe lights if you want a background ambience. Don’t worry if you don’t have a professional lighting source – anything from a ring light to a beauty dish can work wonders.
Strategically, it’s best to keep an eye on the prize – the product. Having poppy or flashy backgrounds or side objects can distract customers from solely focusing on what’s being marketed. For both apparel and fashion photoshoots, shoot in a minimalist environment – anything from a white background to a simple and familiar environment. However, depending on your end goal, you may seek a location that is more visually appealing. Please do your research on other similar brands and your target market before you pick a place to see what types of photographs will most likely inspire their purchases.
If you are planning a fashion photoshoot, you’ll have to hire a model. Models can be expensive, so plan according to your budget. If you have a limited budget, consider hiring an inexpensive model and pay attention to their personality.
Are you looking for a severe model with limited emotions? Hire a model with a powerful personality. Want a bright and colourful photoshoot? Look for a cheerful and happy model.
Keep the vibe of the photoshoot kind and cheerful. Don’t be afraid to give your model instructions on how to pose, and be willing to hear their suggestions. If the model feels comfortable and confident in the environment, the photos will look more natural.
There are three primary factors to consider when choosing a model:
The extent to which you feel comfortable working with him or her.
- Whether or not the model will be available to you long term.
- How your apparel looks on the model.
It’s essential to select one model or several models that you feel comfortable working with; the less you have to fumble around establishing a good flow of communication between you and your model(s), the more efficient and productive your photoshoots will be.
Likewise, to create a consistent “look” for your products (which is the sign of an expert in any field), there is an excellent benefit to including the same model(s) throughout all of your product photography. After working with you once or twice, a model will understand your vision and learn to execute exactly what you need with every photograph.
You will also need to carefully consider how your products look while being worn by the model(s) you choose—if your apparel doesn’t look immensely flattering and desirable when a particular model wears it, it may be a good idea to find a different model whose body type is suited to your product. Sizing is a crucial consideration here. Although you may have multiple sizes available in your line, pick just one size and photograph that size throughout your product photography.
Type of Shoot
Begin with some in-house planning. It is vital to decide whether the photography will be a product shoot, e-commerce with a model, or lifestyle. There are different benefits to each of these, and you may choose to have more than one shoot to achieve the best of both worlds. Seeing the clothing line worn by accurate models in real locations allows the customer to envisage themselves in that setting. With these images, you are not only selling the garment but the lifestyle that accompanies it. Bearing this in mind, it is crucial to ensure the concept of a lifestyle shoot makes sense, to further involve the individual in the brand you are trying to sell. Opting for an e-commerce shoot can provide a famous middle ground between product and lifestyle. The use of models allows you to demonstrate how the clothing can be styled and brings character to the garment – while a clean background acts to accentuate this.
Creating a mood board is an effective way to map out the direction you want your shoot to go in. Gather visuals that appeal to you and consider factors such as your target audience, your main competitors, and the garments themselves. Apps such as Pinterest make compiling images easy and offer lots of content to take inspiration from. Other platforms such as Instagram, competitor’s content, or even our portfolio can be used to draw references. These initial ideas can then be developed with a photographer to transform them into your unique vision. Whilst creating a mood board try to look out for lighting that you like, colour schemes, or props that would compliment your clothing line. We can source these for you or offer external resources to bring this to life. Concepts such as creating animated gifs or adding graphic backgrounds will make your garments stand out online and highlight your brand in the fashion world.
Once the concept for your shoot is in place, preparation for the day can commence! Product shoots are the most minimal, as our studios come with the equipment required to prep your clothing line. Steaming your garments and providing styling tools (such as shaping devices and pins) are part of the package and come as standard for e-commerce shoots in our studio too. When using models, it’s advisable to book a hair and makeup artist – this will improve the overall quality of your images and reduce any time that may need to be spent in retouch. The MUA will remain on set for the entire duration and, therefore, be on hand to touch up any makeup that has broken down under the lights or fix hair between outfit changes. We also recommend booking a stylist to ensure your clothes are presented perfectly throughout the shoot. They can also source additional garments to pair your dresses with to create outfits if your clothing line is missing components (such as shoes or accessories). The blend has worked with several highly skilled and reliable individuals who can be hired for you, or you can arrange your own MUA or stylist if you wish.
Setup Your Space
The space you should allot for the shoot depends on the situation. Your model should have enough space to be able to move freely to follow your cues. However, it’s also a good idea not to err on the side of having too large a shooting area. Designating specific backdrop boundaries will not only help your model stay in the frame but will also help you know exactly where to aim the camera.
Make sure that you have the proper equipment and space needed to achieve high-quality images. As seen in the above photo, some examples of the necessary equipment are a white backdrop such as a sheet of seamless rolled paper, a tripod to mount your camera, and 1-3 continuous softbox ensembles or 1-3 external Speedlight and umbrella ensembles.
While you don’t have to use a white backdrop, white will easily emphasise your model and apparel. Other colours like black tend to be more difficult to light in session and compromise efficiency in post-production.
Likewise, a tripod might not be necessary if you have enough available light, but using one tends to provide better sharper results. Whatever backdrop colour or image stabilisation you use, remain consistent and use these settings throughout all of your product photography.
Create Just the Right Light
As mentioned earlier, renting or buying proper lighting equipment is another critical requirement to creating compelling product images. The most common setups consist of 1-3 continuous softbox lights (with stands) or 1-3 external Speedlight and umbrellas (with frames).
When considering your photography lighting setup, remember that your goal should be to find a way to mimic the softness of natural window light; softboxes do this automatically, but even with umbrellas, speedlights can sometimes be too harsh and direct.
If that’s the case, angle your speedlights off to either side of the model so that the light bounces off nearby walls, as shown in the above image. Don’t be afraid to experiment—the only experiment before the photoshoot to maximise your efficiency when the model arrives.
Position Your Model
Once your lighting and backdrop setup is finalised and your model arrives for the photoshoot, it’s up to you to explain your vision to the model and effectively position the model in that prepared space to achieve your dream. The easiest way to ensure that your model is standing right where you need him or her to be is to place an “X” on the floor directly in line with your camera, either beneath the model’s feet so that he or she knows where to stand or closer to the camera so that he or she can “line up” with it. Whichever you choose, the “X” establishes a “target” for your model to position itself about, ensuring that you don’t have to make a lot of adjustments to keep the model right where you need them to be in your frame.
Shoot With Wide Framing
Because there is a large amount of variation in the web standards for crop and sizing, it is a good idea to shoot your product photos with “wide framing.” This means that you should leave ample space on all sides of the model to ensure that you’re able to crop the image down to comply with web requirements. It’s better to have too much space, which can be fixed with a bit of cropping, than too little space, which might render an image unusable. Likewise, always keep your model’s arms and legs in the frame.
While some companies and brands do include the faces and expressions of their models in their product images, many crops out those are identifying features to minimise distraction from the apparel in question. Cropping models’ faces is an excellent option if you’re starting because it can potentially save a good deal of time and money.
Direct Your Model
Throughout the photo shoot, the model will be looking to you for direction and instruction. The photos are supposed to fulfil your vision, after all. Keep your instructions clear by using precise commands—for example: if you want the model to look in a particular direction, tell them to look at a specific object in that direction instead of pointing. In most cases, remember that the simpler a pose is, such as in the above photos, the better. Elaborate poses may distract prospective customers from your product itself or make it difficult to crop out the model’s face if need be.
It is also a good idea to take multiple frames of as many different angles and poses as possible. This will give you a large amount of variety to choose from during post-processing and will allow you to select only the best images to promote your product.
On the Day
Now that you’ve done the planning and the preparation, don’t rush through your photoshoot. Remember that the customer doesn’t know each product as well as you do. And they might not read your carefully prepared description when they’re browsing on a smartphone. Make sure you let the photographer know to capture unique features of the garments such as buttons, lining, or embroidery, as these could be key selling points. Detail shots (close-ups of pictures of the clothing) can help break up full-length images of your clothing line and emphasise your product’s quality. They can also demonstrate the functionality of your clothes, as well as the look. For example, a drop of water on a lapel is an excellent way to show that your jacket is water-resistant. Before starting the shoot, compiling a list of required shots for each item of clothing can be a valuable tool to provide structure to the day and prevents content from being missed.
Make sure to allow time for post-production in your project workflow. You might choose to make the necessary edits to your images yourself, but sometimes outsourcing that labour can free up your time and energy to work on other aspects of your business. If you choose to hire someone else to edit your images, make sure to hire a professional who can help make your photos look consistent. You should also inform them of your website’s specifications, such as cropping and sizing. Whether you do the edits yourself or outsource this step of the process, these are the essential adjustments that you will probably need to make to prepare your photos for the web:
- Lighting adjustment
- Skin touch-ups
- Wrinkle removal
- Product straightening
- Cropping and resizing
Remember, the primary purpose of using a live model is to make it easier to give your garment shape and character by allowing your customers to envision how products might fit on them. These seven easy steps will get you well on your way to creating professional and consistent images that make an impression with prospective customers.
After The Photoshoot
Once you have gathered your photographs, you are ready to start editing and using them for marketing your line. Use platforms like Photoshop or Lightroom to make small changes to your images, but don’t get too carried away. It’s essential to keep the pictures looking realistic and natural. If you hired a professional photographer, be sure to let them know what types of filters and edits work best for your clothes and brand vision.