Top 5 Tips for Clothing Flatlay Photography
I know clothing flatlay photography can be challenging for a lot of people.
or those of you who are struggling with it, let me make it a little easier.
In my work as a commercial photographer, I have lots of clothing clients and I actually really love these kinds of shoots. So here are my top 5 tips for this specialized area of flatlay photography.
Like with any photoshoot, there’s a preparation process for clothing flatlays. And getting clothes ready is even more tedious than other items, especially if you end up dealing with certain types of materials that are more difficult to finesse and lay appropriately. But if you will take the time to wash, steam, iron, shake out, and/or hang up clothing beforehand, you will save yourself so much trouble during a shoot. I also have a little $15 steamer from Amazon that I take with me to the studio just in case anything gets messed up in transit.
Accessories are my favorite! You can really up the look of a clothing item by pairing it with the right types of accessories.. For instance, if you were taking photos of a cute pair of leggings, you might choose some Converse, a sweater, a hat, a water bottle, and a cute bag, as if someone were wearing them to head to the gym. These accessory additions can really make a photo and help a flatlay feel less “flat.”
3. Style It Like You’d Wear It
Going hand-in-hand with using accessories is the practice of styling a clothing piece like you’d wear it or see someone else wear it. And if you’re not sure how you’d wear the item, go find some inspiration. As an example, one of my clients is a gal who sells vintage kimonos at ThisBluebird. Kimonos can be hard for people to understand how to wear in today’s fashion, so we get items like jeans, cute shoes, a bag, sunglasses, a necklace, and a book so potential customers can see how a kimono might fit in their day-to-day lives. Pinterest is an especially good source to search for inspiration on how people are wearing certain pieces of clothing.
4. Don’t Forget the Fun Stuff
Having fun items like coffee mugs, sunglasses, or florals that are realistic to what someone might actually use or see when wearing a piece of clothing makes a huge difference, too. To illustrate, some tropical flowers (Michael’s carries fake ones that look almost real) stuffed in a bag next to beach or resort wear suggest a story about how a woman could have just come off the beach and picked up some beautiful flowers from the area. This type of human element keeps an image from being boring and makes it relatable.
5. Well-Balanced Lighting
Clothing flatlays will feel off if you don’t have well-balanced lighting, so get yourself into a room or even a section of a room (like in front of a kitchen bay window) that has a lot of light. I’m fortunate because I have floor-to-ceiling windows on two different facing sides of the studio room where I shoot. This gives me great lighting on normal, sunny days. On a cloudy day, sometimes I will have to put up a reflector or a whiteboard to help bounce light back. So if you don’t have even and consistent light in your shoot space, use those reflective resources to get the light where you need it to be.
Bonus Tip: Don’t Underestimate the Height
I want to sneak in one more tip here about the length of clothing and the height you will need to get to in order to have the full item in your frame. When I shoot kimonos, I am up on an industrial-size ladder because the kimonos are long and are meant to be worn by long, tall people. And what happens when I can’t get up high enough in the space I’m in? That’s when I consider flattering folds. Folding jeans like you might see them in a store or a long sleeve at the elbow makes it so that you can have larger items in a smaller space and not have to get up so high to shoot them.
I’m planning on doing a video about shooting clothing flatlays soon, so if you’re interested in that or have questions you’d like to see answered in it, let me know!
And if you’re interested in learning more about flatlay photography in general, my Flatlay Method Ecourse is full of my best tips and tricks for business owners wanting to learn how to take Insta-worthy images on their own.
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