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Must-Know Apparel Photography Tips & Retouching Mistakes to Avoid

By Guest Contributor on July 19th 2019

Shooting clothing & apparel photos commercially require skills and expertise that can take some serious practice to achieve. If you would like a little jump start on capturing some amazing apparel shots as a beginning photographer, we’ve put together some helpful tips to help you avoid making some common mistakes in the field.

Apparel Photography Tips

Prepare your garments well before shooting Your photos

Photography is an artform, and you should be well-prepared before taking any photos. While shooting garments, you should iron or steam the products to remove wrinkles, creases and folds. Apparel products are can sometimes be torn from transport and storage before they make it to the studio. Even clothing samples are often received in shabby, old, and imperfect conditions. Preparing the garments for shooting is the most important starting point in apparel photography but many photographers avoid this step, relying totally on retouching in Photoshop. But Photoshop is not a magical tool; it takes time and effort to remove unwanted wrinkles and stains. So, if you take some time before hand to prepare the clothes properly, you’ll get a big benefit in post from this. While post-processing, it’ll save you a lot of time and cash.

Apply Enough Light

Lighting is the most crucial thing that you should put emphasis on prior to shooting any pictures and there is no exception to apparel photography as well. By applying ample lighting, you can highlight every aspect of the garments which will allow customers, (and your client), to see every detail and this can affect their buying decision. The more lighting you can utilize, the higher quality images you’re able to get. Properly exposed images will allow you to get much cleaner and sharper images, reducing the amount of time needed on post as well. On the other hand, the gloomier the lighting system, the poorer the image quality – poor images never flatter products!

If you don’t own enough lighting to ensure your product shoot is covered, don’t be afraid to rent to rent from places like Borrowlenses or Lensrentals. But if that’s not within your budget, you can consider using natural light from a large window and a reflector panel like a V-Flat

Utilize Mannequins or Live Models, Instead of Hangers

Every online store is compelled to ensure that their product photos are engaging, attractive and able to stimulate the imagination of online customers. If you use hangers to shoot your apparel products, shoppers can’t imagine what will look when they wear them. In order to give the customers a realistic idea of how the outfits will fit on them, you should allow them to see the shape and natural decorating of each product. The best way to showcase the garments’ shape and fit is capturing apparel shoot on a mannequin or a live model to motivate shoppers to visualize it being worn by them.

When it’s not possible to hire a model due to budget, the next good step is to utilize mannequins with a very low price. Photographing apparel products on mannequin allows the best chance to create an elegant post processing techniques named ghost mannequin. An additional benefit of having a Mannequin on hand, is being able to use it to pre-light and test your shot setup so you don’t waste any time when the clients and models are on set!

Use Correct Camera Settings

This one should be a no-brainer, but again, conditions can change at any moment. In order to shoot perfect apparel photos, you must be comfortable with the multitude of settings available on your (or the rented/clients) camera. Understanding the combination of correct camera settings will help you take high quality garments photos. These three basic yet essential settings you must know when taking photos with a quality camera.

  • ISO: For quality photos, ISO is the most important factor and responsible for sharp photos. If you keep ISO setting so high, you’ll create grainy images, so your ISO settings should be under 600-640, with 100 or lower being the best.
  • Aperture: Aperture controls the amount of light that passes through the lens and falls on the image sensor. It’s expressed as a f-number and written as ‘f/’ followed by a number, as examples show, f/2.8, f/8, f/11, f/22, or f/32. When aperture is higher, more parts of the image will be in focus, and so your aperture should be more than f/8 when shooting clothing with f/11 being an ideal zone.
  • White balance: If you’re hesitant about white balance, then you can choose Auto. That way camera will decide how much white balance the photo needs, based on the lighting you’re using. Controlling white balance will allow images to reflect as close to the real colors as possible since some colors are warm whereas others are much cooler. Setting a manual white balance and using a product like the Spyder Checkr to ensure proper calibration is key!

[Related Reading: Datacolor Launches SpyderX Tool Kits For Digital Photographers For Ultimate Color Calibration]

Provide Enough Imagery

It’s very vital to provide online shoppers with as much information as possible about each apparel item, giving at least 3 images of per product, and preferably 5 to 10.

You should photograph as many angles of each product as possible, at the very least capturing the front, side, and back parts of each product. Add close-ups of important product decorations, such as zippers, buttons or embroidery to highlight the design that shoppers expect before making a buying decision. The more images of your apparel product you create, the more the shoppers will be able to understand your product. In order to create ultimate shopping experience, you should give top priority to taking more shots of the same product.

Common Retouching Mistakes to Avoid

While post processing, it’s very natural to make some common mistakes if you’re not aware of them. Some retailers or product photographers edit apparel photos incorrectly, particularly when performing cropping, masking, color correction, alignments and background changing. In order to keep consistency in all images, make sure to develop a standard set of specifications for editing.

Alignments

During editing in Photoshop, make sure that your apparel photos are aligned perfectly. Without using guide-lines, many editors align images and make a big mistake. To make images upright correctly, make sure that all of angles, corners, and edges of products line up in relation to one another.

Cropping

It’s very important to crop images identically in order to provide shoppers with seamless shopping experience. If you crop images maintaining alignments guidelines, crop insistently, otherwise you’ll make a big mistake.

Selecting Backgrounds

Although some ecommerce companies pick different backgrounds to showcase numerous products, it’s always recommended to utilize white or light grey backgrounds to make the images most appealing and alluring. While editing in Photoshop, use white background as it allows the garment to be the star attraction. It’ll be a mistake if you use a busy background that drive customers’ attention away from your garments.

Color Correction

Inaccurate representation of garments’ colors is a great blunder in apparel photography, and you should avoid it for keeping your customers happy and satisfied. Although the camera has the ability to create accurate colors if you allow it to decide white balance, some colors such as red, pink, or neon are very tough to photograph accurately in camera and frequently need to fix in Photoshop.

You can correct colors in images in many ways, so choose your favorite tool in Adobe Photoshop. After you’ve tweaked colors, convert your images to SRGB format to make sure that all browsers, websites and computer screens won’t alter the accurate colors that you’ve created for your customers.

Using a Color Calibrator like the Spyder Checkr and Calibrating your screens can be a huge help here

[Related Reading: Datacolor Releases SpyderX, Its Fastest & Most Accurate Monitor Calibration Tool Ever]

Conclusion

We hope you’ll find this article very helpful for shooting and retouching clothing & apparel photos. If you have any additional tips and tricks that you know, please kindly share it in the comments below.

If you’d like to know more about Mariya Gomez and her team/work, please check out her site here.

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