3 ways to photograph and style a scarf flat lay

Scarves come in all sorts of sizes and materials, so picking the right style for your intended audience is crucial. In this fashion product photography styling tutorial, we will show you 3 different methods of photographing a scarf flat lay for your online store - formal, looped over and knotted.

Consider your brand and the intended use of the product to determine your styling. Is it formal, for example a women’s silk scarf made for dressing up, or is it a big wooly number for keeping kids warm during winter?

Shooting scarves flat lay is one of the most effective and simple methods in getting the right shot online. It allows you a great deal of flexibility in how you want it to be presented, and there are tons of ways to make the scarf stand out - but remember, consistency in your styling is key. 

To learn how to photograph and style a scarf for your online fashion store, read on. But first, let’s run through the essential tools you’ll need to get prepared:

View the video tutorial

The equipment you need to style and shoot a scarf flat lay

  • Camera - Any camera will suffice but a Canon EOS 5D Mk III is recommended as the industry-standard for professional product photography
  • Studio lighting - A source of continuous cool LED lamps are recommended for lighting to ensure exposure, shadows and contrast are kept consistent
  • A tabletop - A white tabletop surface is recommended, although you can always superimpose a background in post-production or get creative with your choice of surface
  • Tissue paper - Tissue or crepe paper is essential in giving the appearance of depth when styling garments flat lay

1. The formal style

The formal style is perfect for scarves that you want to give a neutral appeal to and show off a slimmer, more modern look. 

Straighten the scarf out on the table and fold it evenly at full width. Next, fold along the other way in order to give it a thinner profile. Take the leading edge of the scarf and fold as you did at first, keeping all edges straight and free from creases - leave approximately one inch of material overlapping.

Once the scarf has been folded into the right size, you will now want to give it shape. Take the leading edge of the scarf and angle it to create a slight triangular shape - as you can see on the image to the right. 

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Ensure that the way you have folded the scarf creates depth - this allows customers to see how thick the material is. You can add depth by using tissue paper; in this example, we've put a small amount at the overlapping edge of the scarf. 

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When adjusting your lighting, cast it across from one side to give the scarf some interesting shadows, highlighting the thickness of the material - and when you're happy, shoot. 

1. The looped-over style

The looped-over style is a classic way to style a scarf. Using this method really highlights how it will look when worn.

Fold the scarf over lengthways, halving the width. Lay the scarf in a rough curve with the leading edge hidden underneath the inside of the curve. The fabric does not need to lay flat, in fact a more interesting look is achieved by creasing and scrunching it. 

Cross one of the ends over the other as seen on the right and ensure the loop in the middle has a nice circular shape to it. To give a less 'manufactured' look, bring one of the ends of the scarf lower than the other. 

When lighting your shot, cast it directly into the middle of the scarf. This style already showcases a lot of shadows due to the creasing, so a more neutral light direction helps make sure the colours and material of the scarf are brought to life. 

3. The knotted style

The knotted style is a modern way to show off a scarf that tends to be used a lot in stores. It's more formal than the looped over style - akin to a 'smart casual' method of presentation. 

Completely splay the scarf out across the tabletop. Find the middle of the scarf, take a handful of tissue paper, wrap the scarf around it, use that as the anchor point for making a knot.

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Just use a simple single knot by pulling one end of the scarf through the loop, with the tissue paper inside the fabric to create a sturdy shape. 

Lay the scarf back down and make sure the knot has a round, deep body to it. When laying out the ends of the scarf, use precision and attempt to taper them in a way that gives the illusion of gravity pulling it down and crease the fabric in a way that creates a layered effect. 

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Light your shot from the side to increase the dramatic effect of the style, really making sure to create shadows between the layers of the fabric. 

Tips and tricks

  • Ensure that your chosen method of styling is relevant to your audience and the type of scarf you're presenting
  • Use tissue paper to add depth and interest 
  • Keep the way you style scarves across your web store consistent to make it easer for your audience to compare styles

Don't feel like reading? Watch the tutorial in full (3.5 mins)

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Stephen Warr