5 product photography tips every fashion stylist should know

Equipment used: StyleShoots Vertical and StyleShoots Horizontal.   Click here to learn more  . 

Equipment used: StyleShoots Vertical and StyleShoots Horizontal. Click here to learn more

When it comes to taking shots of your clothes for your web store - or any part of your brand’s marketing efforts - great styling is the most important thing to consider. From using tissue paper to add depth and texture to using lighting to create a dramatic effect, in this tutorial we’ve put together a selection of the most important, all-purpose styling tips every stylist should be aware of. Read on to find out. 


1. Add depth and adjust proportions when styling clothes flat lay or on tabletop

Styling clothes on a tabletop (also known as flat lay photography) is a simple, quick and effective way to shoot almost any kind of garment. However, simply laying garments on a flat surface distorts their natural proportions and makes them appear wider than they really are. Not the best idea when your clothes will be on display to thousands of customers’ discerning eyes. 

To combat this, you can ‘raise’ the profile of the garment by grabbing a handful of tissue paper and stuffing it inside. For example if you’re styling a shirt flat lay (and here’s 5 tips on styling a shirt flat lay), add tissue paper inside the arms and cuffs to give a more natural, full bodied look. 

Also, make sure to tuck in areas of your clothes that distort the width compared to when actually worn. Simply take a small amount of the fabric and tuck it behind, so it’s out of view in the final shot and your clothes will have a more appealing, slimmer shape. 


Stylist and photographer Matt Brasier shows you how to style a shirt flat lay, using tricks like folding, stuffing and pinning to achieve a desirable yet casual look. 


2. Use lighting to create ‘drama’ when needed

Lighting is one of the most crucial elements of any product photography setup. Whilst it’s not necessary to understand the science behind it to a great degree, a basic understanding of light angles helps your shots stand out immensely.

Practise changing the position of your light sources depending on the effect you are going for. For example a combination of creasing the fabric and casting the light from the side creates a more dramatic look. Placing the light directly above offers a more neutral style, especially combined with a more ironed-out look.


Natural daylight has one main direction, dictated by the position of the Sun. Replicate this by altering the balance between individual lights in your setup. 


3. Keep your styling for each kind of garment consistent

Whilst the art of styling should be creative at heart, it’s not the individual styles of the garments that matter as much as the wider brand identity. A brand identity should come across in the shots of your products, but keeping a similar style across garments of the same category is vital in helping your customers compare and visualise the clothes when worn. 

For example, if you happen to style one collection of shirts flat lay and choose to use an invisible mannequin for the next batch, consider how that will look to the customer. They may want to compare two shirts from the two styles and find it more difficult to do so because of the difference in how they are presented. 

To make it simpler for customers to choose and visualise the clothes on themselves, make sure your styling is consistent. It’s a problem that only gets worse over time as you add more products to your web store.


Make a style guide for all your product photography content, to ensure consistency in the look of your website.


4. Pins, clips, tape and tissue are your friends

Manipulating fabric and keeping it in position can be a tricky task even for the most deft of hands. That’s why every stylist should have a toolkit at their disposal full of styling pins, clips, tape, thread and more (read here for 10 tools every stylist needs in their toolkit).

Tissue and packing paper is great for adding a slight depth to your products and helps keep structure. Clips are of course invaluable in keeping fabric in place when a garment is pulled taut around a mannequin. Tape can be used to keep arms in place when shooting clothes from a hanger.

Not only does having a full set of styling tools give your clothes a better style, it also saves you time and potential frustration. 


Having the right toolkit is essential to a smooth styling process in any photo studio, whether you are styling flat lay or on a mannequin. Matt Brasier shows you the essentials that should be in every stylist's toolkit. 


5. Highlight interesting and unique features

When looking at clothes online, customers want something to catch their eye. So when browsing a image gallery of a specific item, it’s natural that they will take a closer look at a detail that looks different or interesting. Highlighting these unique features in a way that doesn’t feel too forced is a crucial part of the stylist’s job. 

For example, a shirt may have a particularly interesting inner lining on the sleeves. This is something a customer would be drawn to if they are looking at a design that catches their eye. So when taking your shot, you would want to style your shirt in a way that shows off this inner lining like in the video on the right. 


Matt Brasier shows how to style a shirt on a ghost mannequin whilst making sure to highlight interesting and unique features like the inner lining.

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Stephen Warr