Better Clothing Photographs = Higher Clothing Sales

  •    Freelance writer focused on web development, email marketing and baseball. He lives in Los Angeles, but wishes he lived in Tokyo.

Even if you've designed the most beautiful clothing collection in the world, without the right photography, no one will know about it. Your clothes deserve to be showcased in the best possible light so customers come banging down your door to buy them. You don't need to hire Gal Gadot or Hugh Jackman for your clothes to look fabulous. And let's all be thankful for that, because their hourly rates are nuts.

There are ultimately two goals you want to accomplish when taking these photographs: you want the clothing to look good and you want potential customers to feel confident that they'll look good in your clothes.

These goals can be achieved through a combination of three factors:

Lighting

You see it almost every day. How the early morning light feels soft and vivid. The striking way sunlight comes streaming through your living room windows in the afternoon. The pinkish or golden hue that envelops everything as you get closer to sunset. It's beautiful.

The reason light looks so good in these situations is that it's filtered. By contrast, direct light — the sort of light you find outside at noon on a sunny day or from a camera flash — can be pretty harsh, casting dark and unpredictable shadows. The more you can avoid direct light, and instead use filtered light, the better your photos will be.

How can you do that?

Shoot outside in the two hours after sunrise or the two hours before sunset. Light is more diffuse during these hours. In photography, the time right after sunrise and right before sunset is known as the "golden hour" for very good reason.

Shoot with your clothing or subject facing windows. Window light reflects indirect sunlight into a room. This is exactly the sort of light that fancy lighting kits are often attempting to mimic. If you can find a way to take photographs directly opposite a set of windows, you're fairly well set.

Reflect harsher light using a reflector. If you have to shoot under direct light, use a reflector to even that light out.

Rent a lighting setup that mimics daylight. If you reach this point, you're better just hiring a photographer or taking advantage of Weebly's useful new service to photograph your products.

Of course, even the best lighting is for naught if your clothing isn't being properly staged.

Models & Staging

You can't just show your clothes draped across hangars in a closet. Well, you could do that. But don't.

Since they won't get the chance to try them on, customers will need to see how your clothes look when worn. Which means you'll need models and/or mannequins to properly stage your clothes.

Trendy Acres Boutique uses models for all its clothing.

Trendy Acres Boutique

Hanai Clothing uses a mixture of models and mannequins.

Hanai Clothing

Regardless of your approach, use the built-in slideshow functionality to give customers a chance to view your clothing from multiple angles: front, side, back. This is also an excellent opportunity to accessorize a piece with other clothing to create an entire outfit. Suggest the other items for purchase within each product's long description.

Even a well lit and staged image can still suffer if not photographed in the right environment.

Environment

The environment is the backdrop behind your photos. And unless you live in a Victorian mansion, you probably don't want these photos to be taken in your living room or yard.

The simplest approach is the one taken by both our example companies above: place your models/mannequins against a white or neutral background. This leaves nothing to distract from the actual clothing and is pretty easy to accomplish. If you angle and crop things right, you could probably use a wall in your house or outside a building to take almost all your photos.

Even better — get some photos of models wearing your clothes outside in the kind of idealized places you might expect your clothes to be worn: in an urban settings, at a park or at the beach.

Akin & Co modeled its clothing outside with the LA skyline behind them. Hanging out on a fire escape has never looked quite so cool.

Akin Clothing

When shooting outside, though, it's important to shoot your photos using a shallow depth-of-field so that the clothing and model are in focus, but the background is blurry. (You'll notice in the two images above that the background is a little fuzzy). Otherwise the image will look flat or too busy.

A shallow depth-of-field isn't possible with every camera. You can do it with fancy DSLR cameras, micro 4/3 cameras, a small number of high end point-and-shoots, and, most accessibly, the iPhones 8 and X, as well as the recent Google Nexus and Pixel phones. Using portrait mode on these phones can give you nearly as high quality an image as what you'd get from a DSLR.

What makes the difference between a professional looking photograph and an amateur one comes down to the combination of factors noted above. Take time to properly capture the right lighting, staging and environment for your clothing photos, and your customers will spend more time clicking the Add to Cart button.

You can check whether or not your images are high quality based on blurriness, brightness, composition, and more by uploading them to the Weebly Photo Analyzer.