How to photograph clothing to make more profits
Fashion Photography does not need to be expensive. With ghost mannequin images, laying the garment flat or shooting on model, which method will yield the best value?
When producing fashion photography for marketing, there is often more than one way to shoot a garment. You can photograph it flat, as an animated 360° product shots, as a ghost mannequins, on model, etc. So what is the best way to do it to get the best return on investment?
As a preface, this blog has nothing to do with me trying to sell you anything. Sure, I can shoot them all, but I do not like them equally. Really, I prefer giving the customers great value, because I know when their decisions are profitable, they tend to use me repeatedly and I get a long-standing profitable relationship.
Ghost Mannequin and 360° Product Shots Suck
360° Product Photos ($100 + per image)
People often contact me about 360° product shots and ghost mannequins. I try to dissuade the Client from using these. In general, these are gimmicky and overpriced marketing tools. Indeed, they look cool and if the customer insists on having these images, I will happily produce them; but I will always voice my objections first.
Why 360° product shots suck
What is not to like about 360° product shots? Cost and share-ability. 360° product shots do not share at all or easily on most social media sites. They often do not appear in Google Image Search. They are cumbersome to load onto a website, especially if nobody is hosting it for many sites like WIX. Finally, they are expensive. For one 360-product animation, you can do about five product photos. At that price, I would prefer five nice images that merchandise the item from pleasing viewpoints.
I certainly do not need to share every single (and less flattering) angle of my product to sell it. Why would I want to do that? There is such a thing as giving your customers too much information and talking yourself out of a sale. Keep your sales presentation simple. Nearly always, a great product shot is sufficient to sell the item.
Why Ghost Mannequin product photos suck ($40-$70 + per image)
Ghost mannequin images are not all bad. They present the item in a purist manner devoid of any distractions; this may be an important aspect of the marketing brand or style.
That said, I have a distain for the value provided in Ghost Mannequin product shots. These types of photos are labour intensive to make. As they require two photos, dressing up a mannequin and lots of Photoshop work, the cost per image is very high. For a comparable price, you can get about four or five great product photos.
Whenever doing any endeavor, it is good to consider the point of diminishing return. An expensive ghost mannequin image might yield better sales results than a conventional product photo, but against four or five great and distinct photos, the ghost mannequin image will lose by a wide margin every time.
A photographer trying to sell ghost mannequin pics may be more interested in up selling than providing great value. In the rare instance when a job is small and getting a model is costly, then perhaps the ghost mannequin photos is a good deal. Otherwise, save your money and forgo the ghost mannequin cost (unless it is critical to the marketing initiative). As an alternative, use models as I describe below.
Laying the garment flat ($20 to $35 + per image)
Many notable brands like to present the shirts or garments flat. Good examples include Banana Republic and the Gap. Laying the clothing flat is a clean look and the pricing is relatively good. Usually the cost to produce the image ranges from about $20 to $35 per image depending if steaming or ironing is required.
I am not opposed to this image style as the value is good, but it can present the item as flat, boring and shapeless. This presentation style often does not present the item from the rear, and never at a 45° angle. It is also interesting to note that at the time of this witting, Banana Republic complemented the flat garment image style with a photo of a human model wearing the item.
Using a model ($6 to $20 + per image)
Roots, Club Monaco, Old Navy and H&M (to name a few) are big fans of using models. This method is fast and efficient providing many photos at a low incremental cost. Customers can get a front, profile, rear and detail product photo for the same price as a ghost mannequin image. Cost saving are usually achieved with economies of scale usually with as few at 10 clothing items.
When doing a fashion photo shoot, models are typically fast to work with because they can dress themselves (unlike mannequins). Moreover, subject to the photography style, editing costs can be negligible. Finding models is also not difficult or expensive; with a wealth of modeling agencies and web sites online, finding skilled talent is relatively simple.
You can spend lots of money on fashion photography or you can be economical about it. Many great brands use models because it is inexpensive and it presents the product in a practical context. 360° and Ghost Mannequin product shots are expensive and yield lower profits. Unless the brand guide specifies for it, avoid this approach and spend your money for where it matters most.
About the Author
Jules Marketing & Design Inc. is a leading Toronto Fashion Photography and Product Photography company. We produce catalogue photography work for web and print. We shoot at our central Toronto studio or at your place of business.
Either participate in the photo-shoot with us to produce images your way, or give us a clear mandate to produce product photos to your specifications. On project completion, we will edit the images to be graphic design ready.
For your fashion photography assignments, if you need models, we can help you source talent or we can acquire the professionals for you.
As required, ask us to produce your marketing collateral and social media content. Our repertoire includes product photography, food photography, 360 product shots, ghost mannequins,
bulk product photography, headshots, image editing, graphic design and so much more.
We have an impressive list of reputable Clients and great references available on request.
For more information on fashion or product photography, contact Jules Design!
Jules Marketing & Design Inc.
Toronto Product Photographer
25 Hollinger Rd Unit 8