How to style and shoot jeans on a ghost mannequin in 5 steps

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When presenting jeans on your web store it’s important to not only give an accurate representation of their cut and intended fit, but to make them look great. In this fashion product photography tutorial, we will show you how to shoot and style jeans on a ghost - also known as an invisible - mannequin.  

Styling jeans using an invisible - or ghost - mannequin to makes it easier for customers to see whether they are slim fit, straight legged, bootcut or even flared. The final shot makes it look as if an invisible man were wearing them - commonly referred to as the ‘hollow man effect’. 

By making it easier for customers to visualise the intended fit of the jeans on themselves, you simplify the buying process as well as increasing the quality of your photo content - thus leading to better conversion. Of course, you should always remember to keep your styling consistent and represent the fit correctly (refer to our tutorial on how to create a style guide for fashion product photography). 

To learn how to style and shoot jeans for your online fashion store using an invisible mannequin, 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 jeans on a ghost mannequin:

  • 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
  • Your garments - Get together and sort your jeans (of any cut) for shooting
  • Tissue paper - Stuffing jeans with paper adds depth to key areas
  • Double sided tape - This is important to hold parts of the denim in place, adding rigidity
  • Clips - Styling clips can be used to pull the denim taut and remove undesired creasing
  • Ghost mannequin legs - Any modular mannequin legs (with removable pieces) can be used for getting ‘invisible man’ product shots (learn how to use a ghost mannequin for eCommerce photography)

1. Dress the mannequin legs

First you'll want to dress the legs of your mannequin. It's simpler to turn the leg module upside down and pull the denim over. Pull the fabric up and taut so the waistband lies slightly over the waist of the mannequin legs - showing the inner lining.

Do up the buttons (or zip) on the fly and aim for a symmetrical fit, ensuring the waistband, legs and crotch fit evenly.

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2. Style using clips and tissue

You can use styling clips to achieve a more fitted look for your jeans. Turn the legs around and pull together any excess fabric below each side of the buttock area and legs. Clip and hold the excess denim in place - but not too tightly! This can cause an undesired look as well as misrepresenting the fit.

If there are areas that appear like a 'dent' in the denim, you can use tissue paper to stuff the area and give a more natural look. 

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3. Use tape to hold denim into place

Once you've clipped the denim to give a more appealing fit, turn your attention to the waistband. You may notice a gap between the waistband and the waist of the mannequin legs. To remove this, you can close the gap using double sided tape.

Double sided tape can also be used to remove undesirable 'bowing' of the legs. Stick the denim to the mannequin legs to create a more proportional, even look - ensuring that the cut of the jeans (straight for example) is still apparent. 

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4. Add style and effect by turning up the hems

Depending on your brand style, there are many things you can do to add extra effect to your shot. In this example, we have turned up the bottom hems of the jeans, giving a modern, casual look. The turn up is even and we have used double sided tape to ensure that the denim is held into place properly.

You can also add a more dramatic effect by casting light over creases - feel free to experiment, but make sure your styling remains consistent across your web imagery. 

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5. Shoot the front and back

Once you're happy with the way your jeans are styled on your mannequin, ensure your lighting and exposure is set up properly (learn how to set up your exposure settings here) and shoot from the front.

Your customers will also want to see how the jeans look from behind so turn the mannequin around and repeat your styling process - but this time on the front. Your final shots should look something like this:


Tips and tricks

  • Use styling clips on the back - below the buttocks and behind the legs - to give a more fitted, worn style
  • Depending on the style of your jeans, you may want to highlight creases and folds with by experimenting with lighting
  • Make sure the appearance of your jeans represents the intended fit on the wearer
  • A natural 'bow' of the legs is intentional - making the jeans look as if worn. You can increase or decrease it using clips & tape

Don't feel like reading? Watch the tutorial in full (5 mins)

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Stephen Warr