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E-commerce fashion photography guidelines and practical advice.
We are lucky to live in times when selling clothes, fashion, shoes, accessories, you name it, is easier than ever. You no longer need a big pile of cash for rent in a prime location, elegant interior, fancy furniture, attractive sale representative etc. Instead of all those things you only need one – your website. Sounds easy but since now all your efforts, hard work, investment and simply success or failure depend on this one thing, you better get it right. Long gone are the times when you had to spend thousands of pounds for custom built e-commerce website.
There are countless template based services that for small monthly fee will have your very own, beautiful website up and running in no time. However there is still one thing of the highest importance of all – the images.
No amount of words, descriptions, marketing and advertising will sell your clothes if the image your potential customers are looking at just before they commit is unattractive.
E-commerce fashion photography, as we call it in the industry, contributes to a large part of my business and I am happy to share here some essential and practical information. So how do you attract the potential buyer, knowing that an average time people stay on one website counts in seconds?
Here is how:
1. Your images have to be clear and simple so the garment is the only thing that stands out.
2. No destructing backgrounds.
3. Image has to be well lit.
4. Attractive model always helps (there are few options, that I’ll discuss later).
5. Do not use wide angle lenses. They introduce distortion and make people/clothes look unproportional.
6. Pay attention to your camera colour balance so you won’t get complaints and returns because colour of the garment on your website does not quite reflect the actual colour of the product.
Very often when I am receiving calls from my clients the first question is:
“Do you do pictures like the ones on ASOS?”
For those of you that are not aware, here in UK ASOS has become in last few years one of the largest online fashion retailers on the market. Of course they must be doing something right!
As you can see on their website all their images adhere to the rules above. There is also consistency in it, which is quite important for your brand image. So the answer is “Yes we do images like the ones on ASOS”. As a matter of fact many brands selling on ASOS Marketplace are my clients and using my images.
Although the images are rather basic there is still few choices you have to make when it comes to e-commerce fashion photography. It may seem not extremely important at first but will have an impact on your presence, costs and turnaround time. Also remember what we said above, all images across your website have to be consistent so whatever choices you’ll make on your first photo shoot will stay with you for long, long time.
Wonder what I’m talking about?
First is a choice of background colour. That will largely depend on the colour pallet of your website but also the look and feel of your website design. Standard options are white (or nearly white, will explain that in a second) or various shades of grey.
Other colours are rarely used because of their attention distracting nature. So the most common choice is “nearly white” background.
Let me explain. Without going deep into technicalities it is very hard to take a picture that straight out of the camera will have pure white background. So simply speaking if you insist on pure white background it needs to be done in post production which is going to take some TLC (Time, Labour and Cash) and quite frankly those are two things that no one has in excess.
Pretty much all of my clients stress out the importance of short turnaround time. When you receive the shipment of your garments you want them photographed and displayed on your website ASAP.
Every day of delay is a lost business. For the above reasons the smarter option for e-commerce fashion photography is “nearly white” background that can be achieved in camera so it is both quicker and cheaper since it does not require extensive post production.
Darker backgrounds are more suitable for brands and designs that have more character. I personally see it as slightly more elegant option and less e-bay like.
There is few samples below so I’ll leave it to your taste.
All images in this article are exactly as delivered to the client. There is clearly visible difference in the level of retouching depending on client’s requirements (just one more thing to consider).
The second important choice you’ll have to make is a model.
There are generally three options here:
1. Hiring a beautiful, attractive model which no doubt is by far the most appealing to your potential buyers but also the most expensive.
2. So called “headless” shots (for a lack of a better name). Where no model’s face/head appears on the picture. Of course it is not visually as pleasing as the one above but lets you save some money. You don’t need top class models which is cheaper already but you also save money on hair and makeup stylist that in this case is no longer required. Headless shots typically work better with men’s e-commerce fashion photography.
3. You can photograph your clothes on a mannequin or laid flat. This sure requires minimal investment compared to the other two but also gives you minimal chance for success so we won’t be exploring it any further. Yes, ASOS in their photography guidelines does not recommend it either.
So as you can see e-commerce fashion photography is simple but at the same time more complex than it initially seems. Get it right and you may become next ASOS, get it wrong and you’ll end up with a warehouse full of last season’s garments.
If shooting few hundred outfits for 10 hours straight does not excite you enough 😉 check couple of my other fashion photography articles that touch on slightly more exciting and adventurous side of it. And one more on men’s fashion. Enjoy!
As always if you have any questions regarding e-commerce fashion photography please leave a comment below and I’ll try to answer them in a timely manner.