How to Photograph Clothes for Sale: A Step-By-Step Guide

If you want to sell your clothes, you need a brilliant set of photos. A high-quality photo can make the difference between a successful sale or having to put your clothes back in the closet! Alternatively, a stunning set of photos could attract hundreds of customers to your online store. Regardless of why you are selling, photos are key! In this guide, we look at how to photograph clothes for sale. Whether you are a would-be fashion mogul, or just want to clear your closet of old clothes, we can help!

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Step 1 – Prepare the Clothes for Display

Before picking up your camera or smartphone, you must decide how to display the clothes. There are three methods that you can choose – using a model, using a mannequin, or laying them on a flat surface. All have their merits, and all three options are viable routes We discuss each one in greater detail below:

Photographing Your Clothes on a Model

Working with a model gives you greater creative freedom. Also, the photos are more realistic and potential buyers can visualize the items better. It’s much easier to see how an item of clothing looks when someone is wearing it!

There are three options for using a model. Firstly, if you have the budget for your online store, you may want to hire a professional model. If this isn’t viable, you may be able to convince a friend or family member to be your model or even model the clothes yourself. Being the model is perhaps the most difficult as you will have to trust someone else to do the photography (or set up an elaborate self-timing set up).

The benefit of using a model is that they can strike many poses. You can position them and the clothing to create flattering angles that emphasize the quality and style of the article. Models also help give your clothing context. They can even help create amazing photos for other channels like Pinterest or Instagram.

Using a Mannequin

If you can’t afford to hire a model, or can’t convince anyone to model for you, a mannequin is the next best thing. You can easily pick up a range of different mannequins online for a reasonable price. The benefit of a mannequin is that it still provides that human element and visualization that people often need before buying an item of clothing.

Sure, they can’t see the article on a real human. However, seeing an article of clothing on a mannequin requires little imagination and is an excellent substitute. Mannequins also offer great flexibility – you can make as many changes as you need without frustrating your model!

When using a mannequin, pay attention to the pose, and their limbs. Ensure the pose looks natural. It is advised to photograph the mannequin only from a front-facing angle. If possible, only use mannequins with complete limbs too. Trying to creatively dangle sleeves over an armless mannequin is no easy feat!

Presenting Them on a Flat Surface

Finally, the most most-effective method (especially if sourcing models is hard and your budget is limited) is to simply present clothes on a flat surface. This is the easiest method to use – all you need is a large flat surface and some type of backdrop to place under the clothes, like a large white sheet of paper.

This method works better for particular types of clothing like t-shirts, trousers, socks, and shirts. Basically – clothing articles that you can lie flat that still retain their shape. The drawback with the lay-flat method is that it reduces the realism of the clothing. Customers may struggle to visualize how the clothes will look.

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However, you can make awesome product displays and stylish photos that are perfect for Instagram and Pinterest. Using a lay-flat technique is also incredibly fun as you can spend time arranging the clothing and making cool displays.

Step 2 – Use the Right Camera, Lens, Tripod, and (Optional) Backdrop

Next, it’s time to gather the equipment! Luckily, you don’t need an expensive camera set up to photograph clothes. It helps for sure, but you can easily take great photos with your smartphone. The following are potential items that you will need:

  • Camera/Lens
  • Tripod
  • Lighting
  • Studio Backdrop


Having a high-quality camera is ideal. You don’t need an expensive DSLR or Mirrorless camera, however if you do then perfect!

If you do have a DSLR or mirrorless camera, you can shoot in RAW for greater editing flexibility. You can also utilize different lenses. Ideally, a portrait lens would be a great option – something with a focal distance of between 50-85mm.

If you are simply using a smartphone camera you can still take amazing photos. Most smartphones today have excellent quality cameras. They also often perform well in low-light situations which is important as you will most likely be shooting indoors with minimal natural light.


A tripod can greatly improve the quality of your photos and reduce camera shake. You don’t need an expensive tripod – it just needs to hold your camera or smartphone firm without any movement. This will reduce any camera shake from your hands, but also allow you to use a remote shutter, and concentrate more on the composition.

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Even lighting that illuminates every detail of the article of clothing is also a must. The below photo is great; however, it is a little dark and the shadows do make it difficult to see the clothes properly.

You can find simple lighting kits that contain items like diffusers, lights, and the gear required to set them up. For smartphone users, you can find smaller continuous lighting kits. Regardless, you should try and get a three-point lighting setup that allows you to effectively light your clothes.

Studio Backdrop

Depending on the setting and what your end goal is, you may also benefit from a studio backdrop. A studio backdrop is essentially a large piece of material that can be hung on a mount to create a consistent background. You can set this backdrop up and your model or mannequin can be positioned on it. It then allows you to create fantastic product photos with a clean background.

If you don’t have space or budget for a studio backdrop, the key is to ensure your model, mannequin, or clothes are positioned against a backdrop that doesn’t detract attention from the main subject. This could be a simple solid color wall, for example.

Step 3 – Carefully Check the Clothes for Problems

The presentation of the clothes is also important. Small details matter and people notice things that are out of place. By checking the clothes beforehand, you can save time during post-processing. For example, if you flatten any creases, you will not have to use a clone tool to remove them after.

The following are small details you should look for:

  • Noticeable creases
  • Buttons not fastened
  • Zippers left at awkward positions
  • Stray hairs
  • Dust, fluff, stains, and dirt
  • Strange or messy folding

By spending 5 minutes checking the clothes, you can make sure they look fantastic. You also improve their appeal, and reduce the overall time you spend editing the photos.

Clothes Check Tips

Some clothes also have tassels, strings, and loose pieces that can flow freely. If your clothes have parts like this, take time to present them in a stylish and neat manner. Don’t simply leave them however you found them as they can disrupt the overall balance and style of the photos.

Ironing is also key! We know that ironing is a chore, but when selling clothes, it’s important. Consider this – would you want to buy a jumper that has hundreds of noticeable creases and looks incredibly worn? Of course not! Iron the articles of clothing beforehand so they look new.

If working with a model, you should do clothes check before and after they put the articles on. Go through the checklist whilst the clothes are laying flat. However, once the model has them on, do a second check. You can then ensure they hang right, look great, and that no imperfections have appeared in-between.

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Step 4 – Take the Photos

Now it’s time to take the photos! This part depends on where you are selling your clothes, and what type of photo you want to create. However, we have provided tips on the three main elements – camera settings, lighting, and composition.

Camera Settings

Firstly, always shoot in RAW if possible. A RAW photo is an uncompressed file that retains all the original detail and settings. RAW photos give you the greatest amount of control during post-processing. You should also shoot in the highest resolution offered by your camera/smartphone.

You must also look at the aperture, ISO, and shutter speed.

For aperture, it is best to shoot at f/8 or smaller. This will ensure that all of the clothing is in focus – using a larger aperture is not ideal for clothes photography as you don’t want bokeh effects.

For ISO, you want a low value – preferably less than 800. This will help reduce any background noise that could diminish the quality of the photo.

Finally, the shutter speed should ideally be something around 1/125. This isn’t as important because you are photographing a static object/person with no movement.


As stated above, the lighting of your photos is important. You must have bright but even lighting so that all the details of the articles of clothing are visible. A little shadow is OK as it can add depth and help with visualization, however, shadows should not be too dark as you start to lose detail.

Ideally, you should have a three-point lighting setup. This is essentially three separate light sources aimed at one subject – the main light, fill light, and hair light.

The main light should be set up next to your camera and pointing towards the subject. A fill light should be set up further away from the main light, and ideally at a 45-degree angle from the subject. Finally, the hair light should be positioned at the rear, between your backdrop, and mannequin/model.

If you do not have a studio lighting setup, just ensure that the item of clothing is properly lit. You can use various light sources like a lamp or a torch. Don’t make the light too bright, and try to make it even, so that all areas of the clothing are illuminated.


Composition is vital. Usually, we apply the rule of thirds for photography; however, for clothes photography, the subject should be central, and it should ideally take up most of the photo. It needs to be clearly visible with no parts of the clothing should be obscured. Would you buy a pair of jeans if you could only see from the knee up in the photo?

You should also create a series of photos so the customer can gain a complete idea of the piece of clothing. First, take a full shot that shows the entire article of clothing. Next, consider taking a series of detailed shots. For example, if photographing a pair of jeans, you could take photos of the pockets, the waistband, the zipper, and the leg cuffs. The more detail you show, the more a potential customer can visualize the clothing.

Step 5 – Enhance Your Clothes Photos With Post-Processing

The job is nearly done. However, it is important to refine your photos using post-processing software. By doing this, you can remove any imperfections and make sure your shots look perfect.

Don’t worry – you don’t need expensive editing software to improve the quality of your photos! There are many free editing apps you can download on your smartphone, including Adobe Photoshop Express, Snapseed, and VSCO. These mobile apps are simple to use but still allow you to edit and improve your pictures professionally.

When editing, the following are things you should consider:

  • White balance
  • Colors
  • Cropping
  • Background

White balance is the temperature of the photo. You can gauge the white balance by simply looking at the image. If it has a yellowish tinge, it’s too warm. Alternatively, if it has a blueish tinge, it’s too cold. Ideally, the white balance should be neutral so there is no discoloration of the clothing or background.

Continuing the theme of colors, also check color correction and make sure the colors of the clothes pop. Don’t go overboard – people can tend to boost the saturation or hue too much. This can look unnatural. However, you can boost the colors a little, so the clothes have more impact.

If you found it difficult to compose your images in just the right way during the shoot, make use of cropping tools to adjust your composition as needed. Don’t go overboard with crops though as they will start to significantly reduce the quality of your photos!

Finally, check the background – whether this is the background the model is standing in front of, or the surface the clothes are placed on. It should look great, but not detract attention from the items of clothing themselves.

When looking at how to photograph clothes for sale, consistent editing is key. If you have a series of photos, they must look and feel the same. We advise editing one photo first until you are 100% happy with it. Most apps or editing software then allow you to copy the edited settings and apply them to other photos. You can then apply these settings to the other photos of the clothing article to ensure they look cohesive.   

Refine Your Technique and Make Your Clothes Desirable Today

We hope you have found this guide on how to photograph clothes for sale useful. Don’t underestimate the importance of quality photography. Having a beautiful set of carefully crafted photos for your articles of clothing can improve their selling power greatly. Regardless of whether you’re selling on eBay, Facebook Marketplaces, or your eCommerce store – make your clothes photography shine!

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