Tee Time

We spent a good few weeks trying to come up with a ‘different’ way of photographing t-shirts. And do you know what? We think we might just have cracked it. But we’ll let you be the judge. Give the girl above a swift spin and see if you agree.


Why did we bother?

Good question. A simple flat shot might suffice, but we wanted to create something a little out of the ordinary. Something with a little more pizzazz than the usual front on shots you see online. Something which shows off the shape, the design, and which catches the eye of the consumer.

We’ve photographed lots of t-shirts in 360 degrees, but we’ve always felt that the traditional techniques have never really matched the funkiness (if that’s a word) of the products themselves. Our new technique had to be a combination of the advantages found in the following techniques:

T-shirts on mannequins

mannequin photography

If you’ve worked in window dressing then you’ll know that mannequins can be difficult to dress and style. Taking arms on and off can be time-consuming and they are not the most interesting of conversationalists. They can look a bit stiff and lifeless however you style them and the choice isn’t brilliant either, most manufacturers only producing a few in each range. We have some great ones in the Swiftspin studio, but if you have a huge range you’ll probably want to use quite a few different ones for variety. Having said that, mannequins are well behaved, consistent in appearance and have the ability to stay still on a turntable.

Ghosted Mannequin T-shirts

ghosted 360 spins

We’re asked for these a lot but we don’t really know why. Perhaps retailers have seen ghosted still shots and assume its quite straightforward to produce spins like that too. Once we explain what’s involved, the difference in price and ask what benefit it gives to the customer, they usually go for another option. A ghosted spin is possibly the most expensive type of spin to produce. There’s no such thing as an invisible mannequin so each and every image has to be manipulated in post-production. As the mannequin has to be painted and cut up, if your t-shirts are a single colour and only come in one size then ghosted might be an option.

T-shirts on live models

live model 360 spins

T-shirts are designed to be worn by real people so it’s often best to display them on a live model. The model can be infinitely positioned to ensure the best fit and the most important parts or features are shown which is rarely possible with a stiff mannequin. They can even add personal touches like glances or head turns to liven up a spin. You should note that unit costs for this option can be high if you only have a few products to shoot, however if you do have a range to shoot then the extra costs can easily be regained as models can dress themselves a lot quicker than it takes to dress a mannequin.

Add to all this the fact that many t-shirts are plain on the back. If you use a zoom facility you’re using up valuable resources to display parts which frankly, don’t need to be seen in great detail. But zooming in to important parts is imperative and our numerous experiments took this into consideration too. So a way of zooming in to see detail wherever it appears would be beneficial.

So, to sum up, our new technique had to:

• Define the shape
• Look realistic
• Have a consistent appearance
• Magnify only the important areas of detail
• Be quick to produce
• Have impact
• Remain affordable for large quantities
We think our new technique covers them all, but it would be good to know what your views are. If you have any suggestions or would like your t-shirts displayed like this, please click here to email us.