Taking Better Photos of Your T-Shirts!

If you have seen our blog post or webinar on image quality, you know how important it is to please the customer’s eye. Let’s take it a step further by giving you an edge over your competitors. Do you stick to the same photo routine? Have you considered using models to showcase your T-shirts? You will be surprised how consumers react to these types of photos. There are many different ways to use models to showcase your brand. If you have a website for instance, your front page should feel like an actual storefront. Often times in the fashion industry they call this a “lookbook”. Lookbooks are a collection of photographs that show off a model, particular style, or clothing line. These lookbooks give a sense of brand identity and are a quintessential way to reach out to your audience.

The whole idea of using a lookbook is to bring originality to your brand and to grab attention. Below you will see an example of our Transfer Express lookbook.


The Scene

Creating a scene is simply coming up with a story to tell your customers. This is where your creativity comes in. Reflect back to when you were a child. Have you ever listened to children and wondered where their ideas come from? The imagination of a child is amazing! Take a moment to be a kid again and brainstorm a scene for your apparel. Scenes can be as dramatic as you want or really simple. It all depends on your brand identity. Maybe you sell custom California/Beach style tees. Use an actual beach or create a beach theme indoors with surf boards or other props. Let your imagination run wild.

(In our example from the fashion shoot, you can see we created a scene for a couple who are out for a ride in their Jeep. It’s really simple, but showcases our fashion alternative transfer designs.)


Lighting Your Subjects

Lighting is the most important factor when photographing. It sets the mood of your lookbook and plays a major part in composition. Outdoor shooting is always a good route to go when doing lookbooks. However, weather can play a major part in your photo sessions. Take the time to plan it out and check the forecast in advance. Beware of deep hard shadows. Depending on the light you are using, there are many ways to remove shadows. For instance, if you are using sunlight on your subjects and there’s a harsh shadow on one side, use a reflector on the adjacent side to remove the shadow. Most photographers believe the best time to shoot are dusk or dawn. The sunlight is the softest during those times of day. If you are using strobe lights, be sure to place your subject several feet away from the background. It’s best to keep the separation. Lighting is a tool that takes some time to master. Take a look at some fashion magazines and try to guess where the light is coming from. This will give you a good idea on how to shoot your subjects.

Giving Your Models Direction

Give your models easy to understand directions. If you have a vision in mind, it’s very easy to complicate what you mean to your model. Show examples of the concept you have in mind whether it’s from a magazine or online. If you would like your model to look in a particular direction, tell him or her to look at an object in the distance. If you want them to look straight ahead, use your fingers to motion them in the right direction. Always give your directions with the camera held down. Also, make sure the poses are simple. If the model’s poses are overdone, the photos will lose their freshness and will appear forced.



Your Camera Settings

The photos in most cases should be shot vertically to capture the model and apparel. A vertical crop will get the complete look.  Be sure to use manual mode which is usually represented as a letter “M”. This will give you full control over your camera settings. Your camera settings will be based on your lighting. If you are using strobes, you definitely want your ISO to be set to its lowest (100 – 200) to allow for clear and crisp photos. The higher the ISO, the grainier your images will be. If you like the grain look (which I’ve seen a number of photographers use for their aesthetic style) it can provide you with a different feel. We would only suggest doing this for your fashion or lookbook shoots. For product shots, it’s best to keep the clarity in the photo. Your aperture should be set roughly between f/8 to f14. The shutter is typically set to 1/125.

Try these tips for a lookbook series and your customers will take to it! As children, we loved fairytales, stories, and most importantly images. The same is still true for adulthood. By creating a story for your customers, this will give them a clear vision of your style and brand. Give it a try! Happy Shooting!