Flat lay photography has become incredibly popular in the eCommerce world. Especially for new clothing businesses on a budget, flat lay clothing photography can be a game changer.
You don’t need a fancy studio, expensive equipment, or a model or mannequin for this type of clothing photography.
However, capturing impressive flat lays that will grab your potential buyers’ attention and drive sales does require some photography skills. But no need to worry!
Throughout this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about flat-lay clothing photography. So, let’s get started:
What is flat lay clothing photography?
Flat lay clothing photography has become increasingly popular in recent years, and it’s easy to see why. This style of photography involves arranging clothes and accessories on a flat surface, such as a table or a floor, and capturing them from a top-down perspective.
The result is a visually appealing and engaging image that showcases the items in an artistic way.
Whether it’s on the floor or a table, as long as you are putting your items on a flat surface using a suitable backdrop, you can do flat-lay photo shooting by capturing items directly above.
We will discuss more about the right background for flat lays later in this article.
The importance of flat lay clothing photography for eCommerce
Due to its numerous benefits, flat-lay clothing photography holds enormous significance in eCommerce businesses.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the key benefits it offers:
1. Easy for all skill levels
One of the remarkable aspects of flat-lay clothing photography is that it doesn’t require advanced photography skills. No matter if you’re a professional photographer or just starting out, anyone can excel in capturing stunning flat lays.
It’s a great way to showcase your products without the need for extensive technical expertise.
2. No studio, no problem
There is no need for a dedicated studio space to take eye-catching flat-lay clothing shots. To get started, you simply need a flat surface, a camera, a few props, a basic lighting setup, and the item you want to photograph.
It’s a budget-friendly option that allows you to create beautiful clothing images right from the comfort of your own space.
3. Limitless creative opportunities
Flat-lay clothing photography opens up a world of endless creative opportunities. You have the freedom to experiment with different props, backdrops, and compositions to create visually stunning images.
Whether you want to tell a story, evoke a specific mood, or showcase various product details, the possibilities are truly limitless.
4. Time-saving solution
Time is of the essence when it comes to running an eCommerce business. Unlike other photography approaches, capturing flat lays requires minimal setup and preparation.
You can achieve beautiful results without the need for complex equipment or extensive arrangements. This not only saves you valuable time but also ensures a streamlined workflow for your product photography.
Equipment and accessories for flat-lay clothing photography
Flat-lay clothing photography doesn’t require a lot of expensive equipment or accessories to get started. All you need are a few essential tools and a bit of creativity.
Here’s what you’ll need to dive into the world of flat-lay photography:
For capturing flat-lay clothing images for your eCommerce store, it’s best to opt for simple white or gray backgrounds without any textures or bright colors.
A white poster board or foam board works great as a backdrop. You can also use a thick sheet of white paper as a background for your flat lays.
If you want to use a colorful backdrop, make sure it complements your clothing item instead of taking focus away from it.
2. Table or surface
Choose an even and smooth surface for your photoshoot. While you can use the floor or an existing table, consider using a backlit table for your clothing flat lays for best results.
You can even make one by yourself using material like a sheet of glass and LED light strips. This type of table provides even lighting across your clothing items, making it easier to capture incredible flat-lay shots.
Having a tripod or a C-stand in your flat lay photography toolkit can save you a lot of hassle. Sure, you could try capturing those stunning flat-lay photos by simply holding your camera, but let’s be real: it’s much easier with a tripod or C-stand.
Not only does it help you maintain consistency and sharpness, but it also puts an end to any unwanted shakiness while taking flat-lay photographs.
If you go for a tripod, choose one with an extension arm support to avoid tripod legs interfering with your shot of the garment laid flat. It’s all about getting that picture-perfect flat-lay shot without any distractions.
If you want to capture stunning flat-lay shots of clothing, you can’t go wrong with a high-resolution DSLR or mirrorless camera. These cameras offer the perfect combination of image quality and versatility.
When it comes to entry-level options, there are plenty of affordable and user-friendly DSLRs available on the market.
However, If you’re on a tight budget and do not want to invest in a DSLR or mirrorless camera right away, no problem.
Start by using your smartphone camera to take flat-lay photographs of clothing, then post-process the images later. With the right editing techniques, you can still achieve fantastic results.
If you’re into capturing flat lays with a DSLR or mirrorless camera, you’ll need a couple of lenses to kickstart your photography journey.
But here’s the thing: you don’t need a whole arsenal of lenses to capture stunning flat-lay clothing photographs. In fact, you can get by just fine with two essential lenses that will cover all your needs.
First off, a 50 mm prime lens is perfect for achieving that sharp focus on clothing items. It’s a great starting point for any flat-lay enthusiast.
In addition, consider investing in a 100 mm macro 2.8 L lens. A macro lens such as this one allows you to capture intricate details, such as the textures in fabric, with ease.
Simply by using these two lenses, you can take stunning flat-lay shots that showcase your garments beautifully.
While natural light is often suggested for flat-lay photography, it may not always provide even lighting across your products. From our experience with thousands of eCommerce businesses, we can tell the best light for flat-lay photography is artificial light.
LED panels, strobe lighting, standard LED bulbs, or a ring light are all good options, depending on your budget. The key is to achieve consistent lighting for your garments and products. Experiment and find the lighting setup that suits your needs.
When it comes to flat-lay photography for clothing items, using lights directly can sometimes lead to harsh shadows that you’d rather avoid.
That’s where softboxes come in handy. Consider investing in a pair of softboxes to create soft and uniform illumination.
These will help you achieve that perfect balance of light and shadow.
Another essential tool for fashion flat-lay photography is the use of reflectors. Reflectors bounce light back onto the subject, helping to fill in shadows and create a more balanced and evenly lit image.
They come in various sizes and colors, allowing you to experiment with different effects. But if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, don’t worry.
You can get creative with DIY solutions using household materials like whiteboards to bounce and diffuse light.
Let’s talk about props. Props are fantastic tools for adding depth, interest, and storytelling to your images. They can complement your clothing items, enhance the overall theme, and create a visually captivating composition.
Think about collecting items like accessories, flowers, books, or even everyday objects that relate to the style or mood you want to convey. These props can help bring your flat-lay photos to life and make them more engaging for your audience.
Just remember to choose props that enhance rather than distract from the main focus, which is your clothing.
10. Clothes Iron
When photographing flat-lays, ironing clothes may not be your first choice, but they can prove to be a valuable accessory. Having wrinkles and creases in your photos will diminish their overall aesthetic appeal.
This is why having a clothes iron in your flat lay clothing photography toolbox is a good idea to ensure your garments items look smooth and polished.
11. Double-sided tape
When photographing clothing flat-lays, double-sided tape keeps clothing items secured to prevent unwanted movement or wrinkles. This is where double-sided tape can be very useful.
It’s a simple yet effective tool that helps you secure your clothing items in place during the photoshoot.
Step-by-step guide to the most efficient flat-lay clothing photography setup
Before diving into your flat lay photoshoot, it’s essential to clean up the surface you’ll be using. Make sure to remove any dust or unwanted stains to ensure your flat lays look clean and professional.
Opt for a surface that offers enough width to accommodate your garments while leaving some blank or empty spaces around them. This will not only give your images a clean and polished look but also provide flexibility during the post-processing phase.
1. Set up your backdrop
Once you’ve selected the surface or table for your flat lay, it’s time to set up your backdrop. Lay it down neatly on your preferred flat surface, ensuring it is free from any unsightly wrinkles or creases.
If you’re using a thick sheet of paper as a flat-lay background, take a moment to smooth it out for a seamless and professional appearance.
The backdrop serves as the foundation of your composition, so make sure it complements and enhances the aesthetic appeal of your garments.
2. Perfect your lighting setup
When it comes to capturing exceptional flat-lay clothing photos, getting your lighting setup just right is crucial. Start by setting up your softboxes with lights, ensuring they are positioned correctly to achieve even illumination on your clothing products.
For the best results, we recommend using two softboxes—one on each side of your garments. This setup will create a balanced and flattering lighting scenario, allowing every detail of your clothing to be beautifully illuminated.
Further, use reflectors if necessary to lower harsh shadows and reflections.
3. Find the perfect position for your tripod
To capture the best flat lay clothing photos, it’s important to position your tripod or C-stand correctly. This will ensure stability and allow you to shoot from the desired angle without any unwanted camera shake.
Adjust the height and angle of your setup to get the optimal perspective for your composition. Take your time to fine-tune the positioning before you start shooting to achieve the best results.
4. Arrange your clothing items
Once your camera setup is in place, it’s time to arrange your clothing items. Start by selecting the pieces you want to feature and lay them out on your chosen surface.
Experiment with different flat lay arrangements to find the most visually appealing composition. Consider factors such as color coordination, texture variation, and the overall story you want to tell with your flat lay.
Play around with different layouts until you achieve the desired aesthetic.
5. Style your clothing
To improve the visual impact of your flat lay, take the time to style your clothing items. Smooth out any wrinkles, adjust the positioning of collars or sleeves, and ensure that everything looks neat and presentable.
Pay attention to the small details, like tucking in loose threads or straightening out labels. Moreover, consider the rule of thirds and the golden ratio to create visually pleasing and balanced arrangements.
6. Add complexity with layers
To add depth and interest to your flat lay composition, consider incorporating layers. This can be done by overlapping clothing items or strategically placing accessories or props in the foreground or background.
Experiment with different textures, patterns, and colors to create a visually dynamic arrangement.
Adding layers can bring a sense of depth and dimension to your flat-lay photos, making them more engaging and eye-catching for your audience.
7. Embrace a harmonious color scheme
One of the keys to capturing captivating flat-lay clothing photos is following a cohesive color scheme. Choosing a color palette that harmonizes with your clothing items will bring a sense of unity and appeal to your composition.
Consider the mood and theme you want to convey and select colors that complement each other.
You can opt for complementary colors, monochromatic tones or even experiment with contrasting hues for a bold statement.
8. Play with textures
In addition to color, textures can add a delightful dimension to your flat-lay clothing photos. Play around with different fabrics, materials, and surfaces to create an engaging visual experience.
Experiment with contrasting soft and smooth textures with rough and patterned elements.
Incorporate items like lace, fur, denim, or knitwear to introduce varying textures into your composition.
The interplay of textures not only adds depth and visual interest but also enhances the tactile appeal of your flat lay, making it more enticing for your viewers.
9. Consider composition and placement
The way you compose and position your clothing items is crucial for achieving an aesthetically pleasing flat lay. Pay attention to the arrangement of your garments, accessories, and props.
Experiment with different layouts, such as diagonal lines, triangular compositions, or symmetrical arrangements, to create visual flow and balance.
Consider the rule of thirds, where you divide your frame into a grid of nine equal parts and place key elements along the intersecting lines or at their intersections.
10. Use props mindfully
Props can make your flat-lay photographs so much more interesting. It can enhance the overall composition of the photos and add visual interest. But remember to use your props mindfully.
It’s not about using random props or overcrowding the frame. Instead, it is for complementing your clothing items or conveying a specific theme.
You can include jewelry, hats, sunglasses, or even lifestyle props like flowers, coffee cups, or books as props.
Strategically placing props to add visual interest without overpowering the main focus is a key to stunning flat lay clothing photography.
11. Weave a compelling story
Beyond showcasing your clothing items, a great flat lay should tell a story. Consider the mood, theme, or message you want to convey and infuse it into your composition.
Think about the story behind the clothing, the lifestyle it represents, or the emotions it evokes.
Incorporate elements that align with your narrative, such as props, accessories, or related objects. This storytelling aspect adds depth and connection to your flat-lay photos, capturing the imagination and interest of your viewers.
12. Fine-tune your camera settings
I. Professional camera settings
To get the best output from your camera in your flat lay photography project, consider the following camera settings:
- Aperture: Set a higher value between f/4 and F/11 to keep everything in focus and bring out the details.
- Shutter Speed: Use a faster speed, around 1/125th or 1/250th of a second, to avoid blur and camera shake.
- ISO: Keep it as low as possible, starting at ISO 100, to minimize noise in your images.
- White Balance: Adjust it based on your lighting conditions for accurate colors. Experiment to find the perfect setting.
- Focus: Opt for manual focus to have full control over what’s in sharp focus. Take your time to get everything crisp and clear.
II. Smartphone camera settings
If you want to take flat-lay photographs with your smartphone, we’ve got some camera setting tips that will help you achieve the best results:
- Adjust exposure: In order to properly expose your photos, tap on the subject (clothing) on your phone screen. This will help your camera adjust the exposure settings accordingly and ensure that the clothes are well-lit.
- Lock focus: To capture sharp and detailed images, tap and hold on to the clothing item until you see a square or a focus lock icon. This will lock the focus on the subject and prevent the camera from refocusing when you move or adjust your composition.
- Use gridlines: Enable the gridlines on your camera app to help you compose your flat-lay photos. This will assist in aligning your clothing items and create a balanced and visually pleasing composition. In most camera apps, you can find this option in the settings.
- Experiment with HDR: High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode can be beneficial in challenging lighting situations. When HDR is enabled, multiple exposures are combined to capture light and shadow details in greater detail. Using it can prevent flat-lay photographs from being overexposed or underexposed.
- Try different shooting modes: Take a look at the options available on your camera app, such as portrait mode or manual mode (if available). In portrait mode, you can blur the background and make clothing stand out by creating a shallow depth of field. On the other hand, manual mode allows you to have more control over settings like ISO, shutter speed, and white balance.
13. Capture the perfect shot
With your setup, lighting, and composition in place, it’s time to capture your flat-lay images. Use a remote shutter release or a self-timer to minimize camera shake and ensure sharpness.
Experiment with different angles, perspectives, and focal lengths to find the most visually appealing flat-lay shots.
Take multiple photos from various angles to give yourself options during the image editing process. Remember to review your images on a larger screen to check for any flaws or adjustments needed before proceeding.
14. Don’t neglect close-up shots
While capturing the overall composition is important, don’t forget to include close-up shots to highlight the intricate details of your clothing in your flat-lay photography session. Zoom in on interesting textures, patterns, or embellishments to showcase their beauty.
Close-up shots provide a more intimate view, allowing your audience to appreciate the finer aspects of your garments. These shots can add visual variety and depth to your collection of flat-lay photos, creating a well-rounded and visually engaging series.
Other important tips for flat lay clothing photography
In the previous section, we covered some helpful tips for setting up and capturing flat-lay clothing photographs.
Now, let’s dive into a few more pointers to enhance the appeal of your flat-lay fashion photoshoots.
These additional tips will ensure you get the most out of your shots:
Iron your clothing items
Before moving into flat lay clothing photography, make sure they are free from wrinkles. Even if you take every other step perfectly, your flat lays will not come out as you expected if your clothes are full of wrinkles.
Complete the outfit
When creating a flat lay of clothing items, make sure to include all the elements that complete the outfit. This includes tops, bottoms, accessories, and even shoes if relevant.
You can provide viewers with inspiration and a clear visual representation of the ensemble by showcasing the entire collection.
Take multiple photos
It is unlikely that each flat-lay clothing photo you take will match your expectations. So always take multiple photographs, even if you think a single photo will suffice.
Experiment a lot
To get the most out of your flat-lay photo shooting session, don’t be afraid to experiment. Start experimenting with different arrangements and compositions.
Move around the items, adjust the placement, and try various perspectives to find the most visually pleasing arrangement.
Keep an open canvas
Using an open canvas will give you more freedom to experiment and add your own creative touch in post-production. With a larger frame, you have the freedom to make adjustments, crop, and enhance your images without compromising their overall composition.
Plus, having more space to work with allows you to easily adapt your photos for different platforms and purposes, ensuring they stand out and make a lasting impression.
Consider symmetry and balance
Achieving symmetry and balance in your flat lay compositions can create a visually pleasing aesthetic. Arrange the items in a way that creates a sense of harmony and equilibrium.
Find the right balance for your composition by experimenting with different shapes and sizes.
If you’re creating a series of flat-lay apparel photos, it’s important to maintain consistency in terms of lighting, background, and overall style.
Maintaining consistency makes your images more appealing to viewers by establishing a cohesive and professional look.
Editing flat-lay clothing images to reveal the best results
If you’re running an eCommerce business, you already know how important it is to have impressive product images. But here’s the thing: capturing a great image is just the first step.
To truly make your products stand out, you need to invest some time in editing and retouching those product images. Trust us, it’s worth it!
When it comes to eCommerce image editing, the goal is to fix any issues that may have occurred during the photography process. Maybe the lighting wasn’t perfect, or there were some small blemishes on the clothing.
Whatever the case may be, a little editing magic can go a long way. Here are a few image editing tips for your flat lay apparel photographs:
Recommended reading: Photo Editing Requirements
Adjust exposure and brightness
Exposure and brightness problems are common problems in flat lay clothing photography. To fix this, use the exposure and brightness tools in your editing software to ensure that your photo is properly exposed.
This will help bring out the details in the clothing items and prevent any areas from being too dark or too bright.
Correct white balance
White balance is crucial for accurate color representation. Sometimes, due to lights and camera settings, issues with white balance can occur.
If your photo appears too warm or too cool, adjust the temperature and tint settings to achieve a natural color balance.
This will ensure that the clothing items appear true to their actual colors.
Enhance contrast and clarity
Increasing the contrast and clarity can make your clothing items pop and give the image more depth. Be careful not to overdo it, as excessive contrast and clarity adjustments can lead to an unnatural appearance.
Find the right balance to enhance the details without sacrificing realism.
Use the color adjustment tools to fine-tune the colors in your flat-lay clothing image. You can individually adjust the saturation, vibrance, and hue of specific colors to make them more vibrant or muted, depending on the desired effect.
It can help to create great-looking images that showcase your clothing items effectively.
Remove blemishes and distractions
Use the healing brush or clone stamp tool to remove any unwanted blemishes, dust, or distractions from the background or the clothing items themselves.
This image retouching technique will ensure that the focus remains on the clothes and create a clean, professional look.
Remove or replace the background
Picture this: you’ve put in all the effort to plan your flat lay photoshoot, but after taking the shot, you realize that the background doesn’t quite look as amazing as you had hoped. Frustrating, right?
In that case, the clipping path technique is really useful. Use the Pen Tool in software like Photoshop to trace around your subject, close the path, convert it to a selection, and manipulate the object separately.
Crop and straighten
Crop your image to improve the composition or remove any unnecessary elements that may detract from the main subject. Additionally, use the straighten tool to adjust any crooked lines or angles in the photo. This will give your image a polished and well-aligned appearance.
If you edit your flat-lay apparel photos, remember to enhance the natural beauty of the photo rather than completely alter it. Using these practical image editing tips, you’ll be able to refine your photos and create impressive flat-lay images.
Feel free to reach out to us if you ever need assistance with your image editing. It would be our pleasure to assist you. Happy editing! Happy editing!
Final thoughts on flat lay clothing photography
Flat-lay clothing photography is a creative and rewarding journey that gives you the power to showcase your clothes with style, sophistication, and visual storytelling.
The right styling, backgrounds, lighting, and props combined with different flat-lay photography ideas can create stunning clothing images that resonate with your viewers and strengthen your brand’s visual identity.
As you refine your flat-lay photography, be creative and attentive as you develop a compelling visual narrative that inspires and captivates your audience.
Common questions about flat lay clothing photography
How do you flat lay clothes for photography?
Flat-laying clothes for photography require a clean surface, artfully arranging the garments, and experimenting with angles and props.
What is the best fabric for flat lay photography?
For flat lay clothing photography, there is no specific fabric that works best. When it comes to flat-lay backdrop fabric, linen and velvet work well. You should choose thicker fabrics and avoid shiny ones.
What are the benefits of flat lay photography?
Flat-lay photography offers benefits such as requiring fewer equipment and accessories while showcasing products or subjects in an attractive and organized manner.
Do I need a photographer for the flat lay clothing photoshoot?
No, you don’t need one if you are a new eCommerce business owner. As your business grows, you might want to take your flat lay clothing photography to the next level.
How much does it cost for flat lay apparel product photography?
The cost of product photography can vary based on factors such as the photographer’s skill level and the number of photos required.
Typically, product photography can range anywhere from 50 to 1000 USD, depending on the specific requirements of the project.
Do I need a studio setup for capturing flat lay clothing items?
It is always better to have a studio setup than not to have one. For flat lay clothing photography, having a professional studio is not necessary.
Is flat lay photography expensive?
No. Flat lay photography is much more cost-effective than other photography styles. You can start capturing decent-quality flat lay photos without investing much in equipment and accessories.