Whether you are selling apparel on Amazon or your own E-commerce website, to selling apparel online, high quality product photography can make or break your sales, as consumers rely heavily upon what they see when determining whether or not they will purchase an item. If you want to step up your game in apparel photography and make the move from amateur to professional, follow these 5 steps from the Team Phottix!
Use Soft Light
Leave the dramatic harsh shadows to fashion and beauty photographers. Lighting your product properly will ensure that you don’t lose detail or end up with an overly grainy image.
Finding the right amount of light for apparel can be tricky, as you’ll likely be working with several different types of fabric. Some fabric will reflect light, like silk, while velvet or fleece will absorb it. You will also work with varying types of textures that may create unwanted shadows depending on where you place your light source. Your goal is to highlight as much detail in the apparel as possible, and to do that, you should use a soft, diffused light source. That means you want to use a soft, diffused light source. I recommend using a high quality strobe such as the Phottix Indra500 TTL Studio Light combined with the Phottix Luna Folding Octa Softbox. Having a large light source will ensure that your product is correctly exposed so that the consumer can see what the apparel looks like in person. Obviously take into consideration the size of your apparel when choosing a light source as well – a hat won’t need as much light as 5 dresses, for example.
KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid 🙂
A one to two light setup is all you need to properly light your apparel. This can be achieved by a few different setups. You can use one light at a 45 degree angle camera right, while your camera should be directly in front of the product. Your strobe should be set to half power. Make sure that your clothing isn’t too close to the backdrop, or you might be left with an unseemly shadow. If you move it away from the backdrop and you’re still having trouble with shadows, add another strobe on the left side of the camera. This new strobe will act as your fill light and should be placed slightly closer to the product than your main light at a 45 degree angle. Your fill light should be set to a step below your main light in power output. If you set both lights to the same power, you will end up with a slightly overexposed flatly lit image. While you want to eliminate harsh shadows, some natural definition is better than a completely flat light. If it’s too much light, you can also use a reflector to fill in light instead of an extra strobe. The Phottix Full-Frame Reflector Kit is great for situations like this as it comes with a grip head that you can mount directly to one of your light stands. This way, the reflector can stand on its own and you can move it closer or further away from the apparel, depending on exactly how much light you need to fill in.
Center Your Light for Pleats or Textures
If you have a tricky piece of fabric that is textured or has pleats, place your light source dead center with the camera. For this setup, make sure you have a large Octobox (in comparison to what you’re shooting). The light source should be placed behind the camera and both the camera and the light should be square with subject. This will spread the light evenly across your product and eliminate any troublesome hot spots.
Use a Clean White Backdrop
A plain white backdrop works best when working with apparel. You want the focus to be on your product, not on a crazy textured or colored background. Working with a white backdrop ensures that the consumers eye goes right to the product as there are no distractions. Photixx has both a white muslin backdrop and a backdrop stand kit that works perfectly for this. Hang your muslin and sweep the backdrop on the floor so a curve is created. Tape your fabric to the floor so you don’t have to worry about creating creases in the backdrop fabric. You want it to be a smooth as possible so you don’t have any distracting shadows in the background. Place the product in the center of the backdrop and make sure your stand is high enough to be completely out of the picture. You don’t want to add time to post-processing.
Bring Your Apparel To Life
You want your customers to visualize themselves wearing your product. The best way to achieve this without a model is a mannequin. In addition to the mannequin, grab a few clips. When it comes to dresses or more feminine apparel, you don’t want the clothing to hang loosely from the mannequin. Clip it from the back to create curves where needed. You can take this one step further in post processing by editing out the mannequin to create a 3D image. Make sure to move the mannequin to different angles as well. You want to have as many options as possible when going through your images and your customers will want to see different viewpoints as well. If photographing multiple clothing items, make sure you capture the same angles for each piece of clothing. You want uniformity on your ecommerce site; it will look more professional and clean to consumers. To make sure you properly align each piece of clothing, you can place tape to mark where to move the mannequin. This will give you the same angles for each garment.
Don’t let this information overwhelm you. Lighting can seem challenging, but the more practice you get, the more your product photography will approve over time. Start with a simple light setup and backdrop and add in additional setups as you go. Following these 5 steps is a start and will improve your apparel photography by leaps and bounds. Not only will your ecommerce site look more professional, but you will also increase customer satisfaction and sales overall.