Have you ever looked at the Stylebook example photos and wondered, “Hey, why don’t my photos look like that?!”? The answer is styling. When you see pretty pictures of clothes online or in your favorite magazine, a stylist has worked their magic to make the clothes look so good.
The following tips will help you do the same and take your Stylebook photos from laundry on the floor to a gorgeous digital catalog of your real clothes. If you’ve mastered the trifecta of background removal (contrasting smooth background, bright natural lighting, and a clutter-free photo), you’re ready to learn how to lay out your clothes to get the best looking photos your digital closet has ever seen!
Note: If you’ve already photographed an item but want to update the picture, open the item in the closet feature, tap the notes icon, and then select “Replace Image” on the bottom right. I frequently photograph my clothes quickly and then go back and replace the images with better quality pics when I have time.
When I worked in the Lucky Magazine art department, I frequently had to visit the photo studio and I learned a few things from the stylists about how they make everything look so good:
- Add Fluff – Sometimes clothes look a little sad when you lay them flat on the ground, but adding a layer of tissue paper can make them look airy and light. Slightly rumple a sheet and slide it inside a shirt or dress. then lightly pull the fabric to create soft wrinkles.
- Hold It Down – You may want a sleeve or collar to lay a certain way but it just won’t stay put! Use a straight pin or a little piece of painter’s tape to hold it down. Just be careful not to pull the fabric, you don’t want to accidentally make a hole.
- Style It Like Your Wear It – If you always scrunch up the sleeves on a shirt or cuff your jeans, make sure you style them that way when you photograph them for your Stylebook closet.
- Iron or Steam Your Clothes First – If your clothes just came out of the bottom of your hamper, that’s exactly how they’re going to look in the photo.
- Take Photo From Directly Above – I hold my arms out straight and take the photo using my iPhone’s volume button to get right above the garment. (Be careful to keep your balance so you don’t fall and hurt yourself. )
Now I’m going to go through a few item-specific styling tricks for the various kinds of clothing item you might want to add to Stylebook.
How To Photograph Tops
When photographing tops, you can choose to make them look flowy (top left) or rigid (bottom left). Either way, these tips can help you get a polished look.
- Point The Sleeves Down – Instead of letting the sleeves stick out, hold the shoulder with one hand and then straighten the sleeve down towards the hem. It makes the top look A LOT neater.
- Scrunch The Sleeves And Hem – If you have an extra long t-shirt, don’t stretch it out like you have a 4-foot torso. Go ahead and bunch the fabric like it would if you were wearing it. Do the same for sleeves, especially if you usually wear the top with the sleeves rolled up to your elbow.
- Neaten the Neckline or Collar
- Straighten the Shoulders – Make sure the shoulders are even and straight.
How To Photograph Pants
Pants can be photographed folded or laid out flat. If you choose to fold them, I favor the lightening bolt shape because you can still get a good idea of their shape. Folding can save you a lot of time because pants are often difficult to photograph neatly.
- Straighten The Legs – Use the side seam as your guide and try to make the legs as straight as possible.
- Button and Zip – Button and zip the fly and let the waistband lay naturally (it may be slightly higher than the front of the pants).
- Tuck Extra Fabric – There is a little bit of extra fabric that bunches at the crotch, just neatly fold it to the side and stuck it under one of the legs.
- Narrow the Legs – The legs on jeans often look huge when laid out flat, but if you neatly fold them in on the sides you can make them look more like they do when you’re wearing them
How To Photograph Skirts and Dresses
Skirts and dresses often need to be stuffed with tissue paper, since they can be made of very thin fabric.
- Pay Attention To Shape – Lay the skirt the same way it looks on your body. If it’s A-line, make the hem come out a little at the bottom. If it’s more of a body con fit, then taper the bottom of the skirt.
- Nip the Waist – After laying down a dress, I poke the waist with my finger slightly to give a little soft definition. Otherwise many dresses wind up looking like a sack.
- Point Sleeves Down – Just as with tops, straighten the shoulders and then straighten the sleeves so they point down towards the hem.
How To Photograph Shoes
I like to photograph flats from above, while heels and boots look best from the side. Either way you’ll want to get a poster board or a roll of solid wrapping paper (Target sells rolls for $2.99) since you probably don’t want to dirty your sheets with shoes. (Don’t forget about the rule of contrasting color!)
Photographing Flats and Heels From Above
Try to photograph the shoes from directly above but be careful not to get your feet in the photo. When taking a picture of flats, simply place them side by side. For heels, lay them on their side. I like to get a little playful with their placement
Photographing Heels And Boots From The Side
- Use a background that is large enough to fill the whole photo
- I like to use painter’s tape to hold up the poster board and then gently curve it down so it’s resting on the floor, like a photo studio backdrop. (Just make sure the tape isn’t going to damage your furniture)
- Don’t forget about lighting. Make sure bright light is still hitting your shoes just like you would for clothes laying on the ground.
- Use a magazine or boot shapers to hold tall boots upright.
- If you want to get really crazy, you can use fishing line to hold up strappy sandals.
How To Photograph Jewelry
Jewelry can be tricky because the phone camera has a hard time focusing on small objects at a close distance, so we recommend using a digital camera for small delicate pieces. (Your phone camera should be fine for larger statement pieces.)
Use a piece of paper for a background and make sure to choose a color that strongly contrasts with the color of the jewelry. Printer paper is perfect because its provides an solid color and matte background.
Another alternative is to search for a catalog image using the Stylebook shopping feature, which has over 1.5 million items. See our post on how to add items from shopping directly to the Stylebook closet. However, if you can’t find the item or want to take the photo yourself, follow our tips below.
Jewelry Styling Tips
- Necklaces – Guide long chains along the bottom of a glass or saucer to arrange it in a smooth teardrop, circle or serpentine shape. Carefully remove the dish before you take the picture.
- Studs – Put a piece of cardboard or foam behind the paper background to stabilize earring posts and hold them upright.
- Bracelets – Photograph your bracelets from the same angle so you can “stack” them inside the outfit editor while making outfits.
How To Edit Jewelry Images
Slowly move the background slider to the left until you have removed the maximum amount of the background without eating into the object. To remove the center of an object (like a necklace), press the manual edit button and then select Tap. Tap the area you’d like to erase. If too much is taken away, tap Undo and adjust the tolerance using the slider. You can use this in any area you’d like to erase, including shadows. Then follow up with the manual eraser to clean up any stray pixels.
Jewelry Outfit Editor Tips
Delicate jewelry images can be hard to pinch to resize in the outfit editor. Instead, double-tap jewelry items while in Edit mode and tap “Manual Resize.” Slide the slider to change the object’s size. This will allow you to make the objects very small on the canvas so they look proportional with your clothes.