How to photograph a sweater on a hanger

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Due to the variation in sizes, styles and fabrics a sweater can have, choosing the right method of presentation to appeal to your customer base is crucial. In this fashion product photography tutorial, we will teach you to to effectively style a sweater (or jumper for our UK readers) on a hanger for your web store. 

A sweater can be styled in a number of ways, but using a hanger is a quick and effective method that's particularly suitable for those without a particularly extravagant or expensive product photography studio. 

Compared to photographing one flat lay, a hanging style gives the sweater a more casual look - with the help of gravity of course. But there are a few essential styling tips to follow in order to give a stronger appeal to your customers, and improve your overall web imagery.

To learn how to photograph and style a sweater 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 photograph your sweater on a hanger

  • 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
  • Styling tools - Check here to see the list of styling tools no stylist should be without
  • Fishing line - To hang your jumper whilst remaining invisible in shot and up against a white backdrop. You can also use a fine thread.

1. Prepare your sweater for shooting

Before being published online, your apparel needs to look as if it came straight from the factory. Steam the fabric, but be wary of using too high a heat if the material is 100% wool. 

When hanging the sweater against your backdrop, ensure it is centred and the shoulders are aligned. Pull the fabric gently down to ensure the sweater hangs as flat and evenly as possible. 

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2. Style the arms of the sweater

You may see that the arms of the sweater are hanging loosely and creasing in areas that don't look particularly appealing to the online consumer. This also gives the effect of the sweater looking wider than it will appear when actually worn.

To rectify this, tuck in the underarm area at the armpit. This will help flatten the arm but also show off the body of the sweater. 

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3. Use tape to gain more control over styling

You can use tape (double sided preferably) to stick the arms and shoulders into place. Gently press the fabric against the tape to hold the cuffs of the sleeve into place and give the arms a look that that feels more natural to the potential wearer. 

Be careful to not pull the fabric too tightly, as this can cause distortion of the garment. Depending on the style of the sweater - whether it is intended to be tight fitting or loose - you can experiment with different placement of the tape. 

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4. Use light direction to emphasise detail with shadows

Once you're happy with the way your sweater looks hanging, begin experimenting with the way light is cast across the fabric. 

In this example, we've chosen to cast light from the side of the sweater, creating a dynamic contrast as the eye moves from left to right. 

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5. Shoot

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Tips and tricks

  • Styling a sweater on a hanger should give a casual, appealing look
  • Ensure your lighting and exposure is correctly configured to bring out the finer details in the garment
  • Double sided tape and pins are incredibly useful in shaping the sweater as it hangs
  • The underarm area tends to be the most problematic, be patient when styling to give a slightly slimmer, more fitted look

Don't feel like reading? Watch the tutorial in full (2 mins)

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See more tutorials on fashion product photography, lighting and styling

Stephen Warr