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How To Take Pictures Of Clothes Without Mannequin

Are you looking for clothing photography techniques that do not require mannequins?

We’re here to help you.

For a clothing business, model or mannequin photography may seem the most appropriate. However, there are other photography techniques that can help present garments in a unique way, converting potential customers into actual customers.

In this article, we’ve provided a detailed guideline on how to take pictures of clothes without mannequin. Here you will learn about two photography techniques: flat lay photography and hanging photography for clothing items, their shooting techniques, advantages, and a lot more!

Without further ado, let’s dive in.

Techniques for Photographing Clothes Without Mannequin

There are several techniques for photographing outfits without a mannequin. Among them, the most popular and hassle-free techniques are Flat lay photography and Hanging photography. 

Let’s learn about both of these techniques in detail.

Flat Lay Photography

Flat Lay photography is a popular apparel photography technique in which the garments are laid on a flat surface and the shot is taken from above. This technique is also known as Bird’s eye view, Knolling, and Top-down photography. To capture this overhead shot, the camera is mounted directly in parallel (90° angle) over the clothing items. This clothing photography technique is widely used in the eCommerce clothing industry, especially for social media marketing.

Hanging Clothing Photography

Hanging clothing photography is another trendy without mannequin photography technique where clothes are showcased on hangers and the shots are taken from various angles, including closeup shots, side angle views, long shots, and so on.

This eye-level clothing photograph captures the natural drape, dimensions, and flow of the clothes in a realistic and appealing way. All you need to do is hang the clothes on a hanger against a white or clean background and set the camera in front at the same level. These hanging pictures of clothes work well on eCommerce websites as well as social media platforms.

How to Capture Flat Lay Clothing Photography?

flat lay photograph of a yellow bikini

Flat lay clothing photography has grown in popularity because of its ability to present clothes in a simple yet visually striking way. Shooting flatlays is easy and convenient; all you need is a flat surface and a proper setting.

The following is a step-by-step guideline on how to take pictures of clothes without mannequin using the flat lay photography technique:

Planning and Preparation

The first step is to come up with a proper plan and arrange all the necessary equipment as part of the preparation. Choose a style for presenting your garments, such as a minimalist look, a bohemian vibe, or seasonal inspiration, that best suits your brand identity and target audience.

Based on that, decide on the backdrop,  color palette, complementary accessories, props, etc. To help with visualising your planning and making your work easier, you can create mood boards using digital platforms such as Pinterest.

Your Clothing Photography Equipment

clothing photography equipment

The next step is to arrange the photography equipment. Here is a list of equipment you need for flat lay clothing photography.

  • Camera: The most important equipment is a good quality camera. For professional quality photographs, you can use a full-frame mirrorless camera or a DSLR. If you don’t have a high-quality camera, then no worries; a smartphone with a high-resolution camera will also do the work. 


  • Lens: Apart from the camera, the selection of the lens plays a significant role in capturing high-quality apparel photos. Usually, a lens with a focal length of 50mm or higher is considered standard for flat lay photoshoots. For closeup shots, you can use a macro lens as well. 


  • Tripod: An accidental or unwanted camera shake during the photoshoot can lead to blurry images. To avoid this issue, 3 legs are definitely better than 2. Use a sturdy tripod and mount the camera on it. You can use a timer or remote release to maintain stability and capture sharp, professional-quality clothing photographs.


  • Lighting: Flatlays can be shot using both natural and artificial lighting setups. If you prefer artificial light, then you can use a strobe or continuous light.


  • Diffuser: No matter which light source you are using, a diffuser is a must-have equipment. Direct light oftentimes creates harsh shadows or causes color cast. This results in a distortion of the original color and the photos lose their appeal. Hence, to control the intensity of the light, make sure to use a softbox.


  • Reflector: A reflector is a valuable tool to distribute the light evenly throughout the frame. You can use a white foam board as a reflector to bounce back the light and fill in the shadows. Moreover, a reflector can be used to highlight the details of the clothes, such as texture, patterns, designs, stitches, embellishments, and so on.

Use Props if Required

Props can be used to enhance the aesthetic of the photographs. If your theme requires props, then place them in such a way that the composition looks balanced. Usually, accessories such as hats, watches, sunglasses, bags, or jewelry can be used as props. Besides, they also serve as style guidelines for the audience.

However, bear in mind not to make the frame crowded; otherwise, the focus on the subject (clothing) may get distracted.

Taking the photo

Front view woman working in photography studio

After all the preparation is completed, it is time to take the shots. Before taking the actual shots, it’s best to take some test shots to see whether the photographs look exactly as you have visualized. If needed, make the adjustments.

You can take long shots, keeping negative space around the garment, or a close shot to capture the intricate details and texture of the dress. For macro shots, you can take the photo slightly from an angle to create a sense of dimension.

Editing the photo

graphic designer working in office with laptop, monitor, graphic drawing tablet and color palette

Raw flat lay clothing photos consist of a number of issues, including overexposure or underexposure, color imbalance, shadow, reflection, wrinkles, and so on. Besides, the background itself can be a huge problem oftentimes. To solve these issues and make the photographs flawless, a professional photo editing service is an absolute necessity.

The flat lay apparel shots have multipurpose use, and every platform has some distinctive requirements. For instance, on ecommerce platforms such as Amazon, eBay, or Alibaba, the standard practice is to use white background product photographs. On the other hand, on social media platforms, the audience prefers aesthetically pleasing photographs with various props and colors.  

Hence, the most commonly used photo editing techniques required for the commercial use of flat lay clothing photos are background removal service and clipping path service.

The image background removal service provides the flexibility to replace the background and help create different looks without the need for a reshoot. This is a general service where several methods can be used to remove the background using clipping paths or other selection tools.

The clipping path service is one of the techniques used to separate the clothing items from their background. In this technique, usually a pen tool is used to create the paths around the edges and cut off the edges precisely. The professional-quality clean edges make placing the clothing items on any background or design, including a website, catalogue, magazine, or other marketing materials.

Aside from these services, a basic retouching service is required to balance the contrast, exposure, color tone, and remove any stains or creases that may exist.

Advantages of Flat Lay Clothing Photography

flat lay photograph of man cloths

Flat lay photography has gained immense popularity in the clothing business. If you look at the social media accounts of almost every SMB, you will notice that they use this photography technique.

So why do clothing businesses prefer this photography style?

To know the answer, let’s check out some of the advantages flat lay clothing photography offers to the apparel industry.

Easy Setup

Compared to other photography techniques, flat lay photography requires minimal equipment and setup. All you need is a flat surface, adequate lighting, and a good quality camera.


Flat lay photography offers numerous cost-cutting opportunities. You can shoot at home instead of in a studio. Hiring a professional photographer is also not a necessity if you have basic photography skills. Moreover, a good quality smartphone will work just fine if you don’t have a high-end camera.

Simple yet eye-catchy

Flat lay photos present clothes on a simple background, drawing the focus solely on the clothes. Besides, the absence of distracting elements brings customer attention to the fine details of the garments and provides them with visual pleasure.

Versatile use

The flat lay images of clothes can be used on multiple platforms other than social media, including websites, ecommerce stores, or other digital marketing channels, making them versatile and multifunctional.

How to Capture Hanging Clothing Photography?

Hanging clothing photography

Hanging clothing photography is a minimalist style of showcasing clothes. This photography technique is popular among customers for its realistic and dimensional view. Most importantly, customers can get a better idea of the fit and flow of the clothes in this type of image compared to flat lay photos.

The following is a detailed guideline on how to take pictures without a mannequin using the hanging clothing photography technique:

Put Clothes on A Hanger

Before putting the clothes on a hanger, you need to iron them properly to remove creases in the fabric. Make sure the clothes don’t have any stains or lint. 

Then, you need to set up a clothing rack or valet stand in front of a white wall or seamless paper backdrop. If you don’t have a rack, no worries; you can use a rope. 

Once your backdrop and stand are ready, hang the clothes, such as a shirt, suit, or long dress, on a sturdy hanger and place them on the stand facing the camera.

Capture Photos

To capture photos, set the camera at a moderate distance. Make sure the level of the cloth and the camera are perfectly aligned to avoid distortion and get a clear view of the cloth.

In addition to that, you have to position the light sources with diffusers properly to ensure even lighting conditions. You can use one or multiple lights. In the case of two light sources, place them on both the right and left sides of the rack. However, for one light source, a reflector is a must to avoid casting shadows on the other side. 

After completing the setup preparation, take the shots from multiple angles to give the images different perspectives.

Removing hanger in post-production

In hanging clothing photography, it is not necessary to remove the background or the hanger. However, if you want to remove them, you can do that easily in post-production. It’s best to get help from a professional post-production service to get top-notch quality photos.

Advantages of Hanging Clothing Photography

3 shirts on hanger

Along with flatlays, hanging photos of clothes are also used for multiple purposes, including ecommerce stores, websites, and social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest. 

The following are some of the key benefits that hanging clothing photography offers to help you learn the reasons behind the rising popularity of this photography technique.

Dimension and volume

Hanging clothes provides a better sense of dimension and volume, especially for thick or structured garments such as suit, shirt, or T-shirt compared to when laid or folded on a flat surface.

Natural drape

Hanging clothing photographs showcase the natural drape of the clothing. Besides, the flow of the fabric helps customers understand the texture and sheerness of the fabric. The realistic appearance of the clothing items also helps customers visualize them on their bodies.

Less skill required

Capturing hanging clothing photographs requires minimal effort. It is not essential to hire a professional photographer; rather, anyone with basic photography skills can do it. Just set the hanger and take the shot.

Minimal editing

Wrinkles and folds are common editing elements in clothing photography.  However, in hanging clothing photography, image quality, such as exposure, contrast, color correction, or background is a major concern. So, a basic retouch and background removal service is enough.

Tips on How to Take Pictures of Clothes Without Mannequin

Here are some tips on how to take pictures of clothes without mannequin for better results.

  • Iron clothes properly to remove creases and unflattering wrinkles
  • Make sure the clothing items do not have any defect
  • Remove price tags, stickers or labels
  • Use a lint roller to take off loose fabric and dust particles
  • Do not use excessive props

How To Take Pictures Of Clothes To Sell Online?

The most important factors when taking pictures of clothes for social media marketing or ecommerce websites are the quality of the images and their angles. 

To capture professional-quality photographs, you must use high-quality camera and lens. Additionally, you have to utilize the other elements that work together to bring out the perfect outcomes, such as proper lighting, backdrop, and tools (tripod, reflector, softbox, etc.). 

Finally, editing is a must to enhance the visual impression of the images so that they can attract customers and help you boost your revenue.

Bonus Tip: How To Take Pictures Of Clothes At Home?

a woman is clicking photos of clothes hanging on the wall

Flat lay or hanging photography does not necessarily need to be shot in a studio; you can do it at home as well. You can turn your home into a mini studio with a little bit of DIY.

If you don’t have a camera, use your smartphone. For lighting, you can use natural light. For that, shoot beside your window, terrace, rooftop, or backyard. In contrast, for artificial lighting, you can use a lamp or LED light. You can use white sheer curtains as a diffuser and white paper or foam board as a reflector.

For a white backdrop, you can use a bedsheet for flat lay images and a wall for hanging photos. For a textured backdrop, a wooden table is a good option. Once you setup the DIY studio, follow the methods discussed above to shoot the clothing items.

Frequently Asked Questions about How To Take Pictures Of Clothes Without Mannequin

There are several photography techniques that do not require using models, for example, flat lay photography, hanging photography, ghost mannequin photography, 360° photography, and so on.

A ghost mannequin is a technique in clothing photography that creates a visual illusion of clothes worn by a ghost-like figure. Usually, in this technique, the clothes are put on mannequins, which are then precisely removed through editing.


Clothing photographs are the most vital assets for the apparel industry. These photographs are the sources through which customers will evaluate the product’s quality and make their purchasing decisions. So, there is no alternative to using professional-quality visually appealing images.

So far we’ve discussed how to take pictures of clothes without mannequin using flat lay and hanging photography techniques in detail. Use the insights you have gained from this article in your upcoming photoshoots.

Hope this helps!

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