I am stumped and looking for help
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Old 01-18-2018   #1
Vicuna
 
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Default I am stumped and looking for help

When I am not fiddling around with a camera I am fiddling around with fabric and dye, most of the time clothing and yarn. Product photography is not my thing and I am stymied as to how to best shoot my work for a web store. This is the best method I have been able to come up with and am still not happy with it. I have to use a fill flash to compensate for the strong backlight. All suggestions are welcome. Thanks in advance.

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Old 01-18-2018   #2
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Default Re: I am stumped and looking for help

For me, it's way too busy. If the shirts are the item of interest, you have too much competing for attention. The rail, all the trees and branches, and they're also brighter than the shirts.

At the very least, take the shirts down, and go inside. It'll be much easier to have controll over the wind, light and background. It'll make things much much easier for you.

I would photograph each shirt separate. That way there's less distraction, and you can get closer more detailed shots.

For inspiration do a search online and see how shirts are photographed. Pick some images that you like and try to recreate that.

You could try just putting down a white background of some sort, and Lay the shirt on that. Only have the shirt in the fame. That would be a good starting point. But I'm thinking you really will need some sort of manaquin to show the shirts.

For lighting, you could make it as complex or as simple as you want. You could get some soft boxes and reflectors. Or you could pick a large window, use the curtains you have up already to diffuse the light, or a shower curtain. Set up the manaquin and see what you get.

Shoot tethered if you can. Set the background and shirts and everything up. Set your camera on a tripod, compose the image and take your shot. Look at the computer and see how it looks. Invariably, you'll need to tweak something. Either the angle of the shirt or the composition of the image or the wrinkles, or the lighting, or there's lint, or something else, but there will be something. Tweak it. Then shoot again, and look at the shot. You'll need to tweak again. Go ahead and tweak and shoot again. You'll do that for a few hours until you get something you like. Then go ahead a take a few shots.

Then go get the next shirt, and do it all over again. Don't expect more than one good shot at the end of your first day. It takes a lot of time to do properly.
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Old 01-18-2018   #3
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Default Re: I am stumped and looking for help

Thanks for the help. I have tried shooting inside and can't seem to get the lighting the way I want it. The shirts look too flat and one dimensional. Capturing the colors correctly is a challenge, too. I would like to do as little post-processing as possible.

Mannequins are a great idea. I saw a thread using mannequins in the commercial group that was very inspiring. I have bright sunny windows at certain times of the day. I wonder how a black or grey background would work instead of white. I have reflectors

When I photograph shirts I am doing 20 or 30 at a time and I don't want them to all look the same. Am trying to think of ways to vary the shots as well. I carry my camera with me most of the time or use my cell phone and whenever I see one of my shirts "out in the wild" I ask the person for a photo. Here is a favorite shot just for fun. I would like to do more like this.

I don't know beans about studio lighting or using models. I guess I had better start reading up. LOL!
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Old 01-18-2018   #4
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Default Re: I am stumped and looking for help

Product photography is not easy. Especially if you want 'nice' images. For quality images, you'll have to put the time in, there's really no way around it. After all, it's the images that are going to sell the product. If the photos are not enticing the customer, you don't get the sale.

The thing about product photography is, that it has to be of good quality in multiple ways. The photography itself has to be technically correct(proper exposure, focus, correct colors, attention to detail etc), and at the same time it has to make the product look great too. It also has to be reproduced to the same standard over and over again.

The photos all have to look similar. You can't have one shot overexposed, one underexposed, one where you mis-focused. It all has to be quality work all the time. You also kind of want all the images to be similar, like they all belong to the same designer or the same collection. Otherwise, it looks like 10 people made 10 different things, and were photographed by multiple photographers, using different lights, different set ups, creating different moods. It'll seem like a hodge podge of items thrown together at different times, creating the impression of a mess. Which in itself is a huge distraction from your product.

When you get the images, put them all out side by side. They should all fit together and have harmony. Like they were all taken seconds apart. Not like you took one image today at home. One image last year while on vacation thousands of miles from home. Another taken at night at a party. They should all be similar. Same lighting, same color temperature, same feeling.

If it were me, I'd sit down, and think about what your brand is. What mood or feeling do you want to the shirts to give off. Then when you have that, I'd try to think of how to photograph the shirts that way. Then figure out where you'd put the set where you'll do the photography.

I wouldn't think about the equipment you'll need until you have a better handle on all the other stuff first. But you'll need some things to get the images. Some things can be very cheap, like less than a dollar cheap. But you'll also need a few things that will be more expensive, like you're monitor calibrator and passport color checker.
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Old 01-18-2018   #5
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Default Re: I am stumped and looking for help

Thanks for the advice. I have always shot just for fun and the whole commercial thing is completely foreign to me. My dying hobby accidentally turned into a business when a local restaurant owner bought a large number of shirts from me at once for his staff to wear and things are taking off from there. I have had to sign up for business classes through the local chamber of commerce entrepreneur development program as I have no clue what I am doing and orders from 2 more local businesses for shirts done in corporate colors.
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Old 01-18-2018   #6
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Good for you!

Be very careful now that you are dealing with corporate colors. They have to be exactly right. Both on the shirt and in the photos. That's a whole different level of accuracy.
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Old 01-18-2018   #7
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Default Re: I am stumped and looking for help

Thank you. Yes, I am quaking in my boots over that one. Luckily the corporate colors are not very complicated, basically, combinations of primary colors that won't require a lot of complicated mixing with the dyes or a special order for the chemicals. My challenge will be dying the shirts to allow for screenprinting logos on top of the dye job. (Groooaaannnn!) One is just a combination of two different shades of blue and white and the other is red, black, and white.

And then there will be the photography. . . I wonder if the customers would like shots of their people wearing the shirts. . .

Well. . . there is nothing like a new challenge. . . please pass the headache medicine.
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Old 01-18-2018   #8
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Default Re: I am stumped and looking for help

I know a few people who would love to have a problem like yours!
As far as suggestions go, Rob has it pretty well covered until you can nail down what you want a bit tighter.

As far as the headache medicine goes, this is the best I could come up with on short notice. Since it is low-dose aspirin, you will need 8 tablets for your headache.

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Old 01-18-2018   #9
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Thanks! ROFLMAO!! Looks like a nice example of a product photo, btw!
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Old 01-19-2018   #10
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Default Re: I am stumped and looking for help

The product shot is better than your average beginning or intermediate photographer might do, but it has a few faults that a pro might notice. Then again, I do hardly any pro photography of any description but I do my share of extreme closeups and macros. For this particular shot, I had a 19 x 25 inch sheet of "steel gray" paper that I bought (along with two black sheets) specifically for using as backgrounds. I also have a piece of clear glass saved from a discarded picture frame that I set on the background so that the product wouldn't cast any shadows on the surface. I improvised the supports for the glass, in this case, three clementines (citrus fruits about half the diameter of an orange). A reflection of the bottle is visible at the very bottom of the image that I could have removed in post but didn't bother. (That is one of the defects I alluded to previously.)

The light was a pole lamp originally intended for incandescent lights but now fitted with two household LED lights and one CFL, all with output intensity equivalent to 60 watt incandescent bulbs. White balance was manually set for the output of these lights. If you don't already have an official white balance card, a piece of white printer paper will do for now. Don't use an 18% gray card; these often have a very slight magenta or purple cast to them that will give your images a slight yellow cast if you use one as your white standard.

I don't know what kind of camera and lens setup you have, but it is probably capable enough if it is a dSLR or mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses. Tripod is optional but recommended, which you will most likely need anyway if you shoot tethered as Rob has suggested, with an external monitor physically connected to your camera. I do not use such a setup myself, but I would seriously think about it if I were doing a lot of product photography as you are planning to do.

Since my last post, I took a quick look at how tee shirts were displayed on Etsy and Amazon. The majority of the shirts lay flat, some appeared to be hung but with the hangers "knocked out" of the picture, some showed live models wearing the shirts, some showed the shirts on headless, neckless, armless mannequins. One or two of the Etsy images showed the shirts on wooden hangers and held in place with wooden spring clothespins at the shoulders. The majority of the images with live models did not show the model's face and were cropped at the neck. Choose your own style carefully and stick to it.


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