How to design your set and style your model for a fashion e-commerce photoshoot

We share tips and tricks about prepping your set and model for a fashion e-commerce shoot 

Equipment used: StyleShoots Live. Discover more here.


A fashion photoshoot for e-commerce should showcase the best possible features of certain items and do so realistically. In order to achieve that, some prep-work is needed to put everything in place.

Styling a model as you shoot on set is a vital part of the shooting process. This requires some work behind the scenes in advance, not only attention during the photoshoot. It also makes the photoshoot go smoother and quicker. 

In this tutorial, we’ll cover some tips and tricks to help you make sure you have everything set up before you even start taking pictures. 


We cover the following stages

1. Design and prepare your set
2. Style your model
3. What to keep in mind


1. Design and prepare your set

By adding elements like blocks or furniture, and combining that with different lighting effects, you can really play with the set and make it much more visually interesting.

When your model is actually on set, she or he has more room to play with different elements and use various parts of the set. 

This can really add a more professional look to your images. 

Think about backgrounds

You can choose from a variety of backgrounds. Seamless backgrounds, shades of white and grey, colorful and vibrant ones - you name it.

Once you have chosen and set up your background, fix it securely into place so no one on set gets hurt.

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To prop or not to prop?

That is the question. When it comes to a product photoshoot, using props can sometimes steal attention from the product you’re trying to sell.

If you’re going for a creative, magazine style shots on the other hand - props can really add some drama to your images.

If you decide to use props on your set, second hand stores and markets can be fantastic for sourcing props of all sizes, shapes, colors and styles.

Conceptualize your set

Look for inspiration by reviewing magazines, social media and websites of similar brands to your own. Create a mood-board and cover a range of colors, styles, prop choices and moods.

Find inspiration in daily life. A great way to start thinking about set design is imagining locations in your house or apartment or any other place that might fit the idea of your shoot.

Build your set

Use basic materials and don't complicate the process unnecessarily. Most set pieces can be built from fiberboard, MDF, plywood and wooden beams.

Building fake walls can be a great way to create a sense of space and depth with simple means.

You can save yourself a lot of time when building your set pieces by keeping in mind which parts will be seen and which won’t. Any part that will be out of view, can be left unfinished.

Decide if the model will have props to play around with on set.

Decide if the model will have props to play around with on set.


2. Style your model

You've looked at the marketing brief, put together your style guide, picked your models, and have an idea of what vision you'd like to achieve in your shoot. 

Now it's time to focus on styling your model before beginning the actual photoshoot.

Use fitting materials

Pins are commonly used when holding fabric in place and when fitting clothes on a model. Clips can also be useful for keeping fabric securely in place. 

Having these tools in place before the start of the shoot is essential because the photographer can go on set and style while the photoshoot is happening.

Make the clothes fit and look good on the image so you can show an actual representation of your products.

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Style during the shoot

Keep an eye on the shots that are coming out at repeated intervals - although, not so often that you break the flow of the model's posing. 

Good on-set styling will drastically cut down on the amount of retouching - or even reshooting - that needs to be done. 

The right hair and makeup

Your chosen hair and makeup styles should not distract from the garments you are photographing. 

When hiring a make up and hair artist, talk with them about your desired style or show them visual guidelines for how you want your models to look. 

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Adjust as you go

Adjust poses and positioning as you go. Communicate with your model directly so they can understand better what you’re trying to achieve.

You may want to try out different styling variations - for example rolling up the sleeves of the shirt. Experimenting will produce diverse shots from various angles.  

Go over the shots together

Once you start reviewing shots you just took, invite your model to look at them with you.

It’s not only a great way to establish a healthy professional relationship with the model but it also shows them specifically what you’d like to see more of and what you’d like to change in their poses. 

Rolling up the sleeves of the shirt your model's wearing is a great way to diversify a look.

Rolling up the sleeves of the shirt your model's wearing is a great way to diversify a look.


3. What to keep in mind?

While doing a photoshoot, there is a lot to look after and keep in mind when preparing and while shooting.

Set Design

When it comes to your set design, ask yourself: 

1. Do the shapes work well together?
2. What about the colors?
3. How can we maximize the usage of the set together with the model’s poses?


As far as the styling of your model is concerned, you have to make sure that: 

1. The garments look good and fit the model well. 
2. There are no creases, fluff or threads hanging from somewhere.
3. Any clipping, taping or pinning is invisible in the images you're taking. 
4. The outfit goes well with the set. Hair and make up don't overshadow the clothes.
5. You can and should style your model when it's appropriate and necessary during the shoot.

Bringing all the styling and the set elements together and looking after all the details, will give you the look you’re looking for.

Aim for harmony between your model's look and the set design. It will make the image stronger.


A final note...

Thank you for reading our tutorial - hope you found it useful. This article is part of our ongoing series of tutorials on product photography, styling and lighting. If you found it helpful, why don’t you head on over to our YouTube channel and subscribe?

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