When it comes to clothing, it doesn’t get any more straightforward than a T-shirt. The simple yet effective design gives little leeway for variations aside from background colors or prints. Regarding photography, however, there’s considerably more to choose from.

There are many different ways of photographing T-shirts for e-commerce. The types of photography range from simple flat-lay product shots to more attractive images using a mannequin or model. The possibilities are endless when you add advanced editing technology, different setups, and camera settings.

Are you interested in learning more about the many options to enhance the quality and success of your product images? This article will take you through all aspects of photographing T-shirts. Not only will we discuss the different techniques and types of shots, but we’ll also delve into how image editing in post-production holds the key to happy customers and more significant online revenue.

Preparing your T-shirts for the shoot.

Before bringing out the camera, it’s best to ensure the T-shirts are ready for the shoot. Anything you can take care of beforehand saves you time in post-production. This is especially important for flat-lay images, where you want the product to be as smooth as possible.

A simple “life hack” for photographing T-shirts is to iron them. This way, you minimalize the chance of visible wrinkles in the shot.

Another way to ensure your T-shirt collection is picture-perfect is to style the sides and sleeves. Slightly fold these in for a more natural shape than you would by simply laying the shirt flat.


The various types of T-shirt photography

Building a successful e-commerce business isn’t possible without a great customer experience. It might be the most important thing you can do to increase revenue and decrease returns. Unfortunately, the online shopping experience is primarily influenced by the quality and amount of product images. One or two simple pack shots simply don’t cut it in a highly competitive online world.

Instead, give your customers a crystal clear image of your T-shirts by highlighting all aspects and details. The best way of doing this is by using various types of photography together.


Flat lay images

Flat-lay images are the simplest way of showing off your products but don’t underestimate them. Because they’re so straightforward and relatively easy to produce, flat lays are cheap and, therefore, perfect for smaller online store owners who don’t have a lot of funds and time. Alternatively, you can use a hanger to display the shirt, but that requires editing it afterward.

Mannequin shots

Mannequin shots are considerably more realistic than a flat lay, but they’re also time-consuming and require more editing to remove the mannequin from the picture. The mannequin gives the product a lot more body and shape, which makes it easier for online shoppers to imagine how it would look on them. The Invisible Mannequin editing technique plays an essential role in removing all traces of the mannequin.

Model images

Nothing beats using a model to create realistic product images. For example, a model shows off just how a T-shirt fits – in a more dynamic way than a flat lay or mannequin – and lets you pair your T-shirt with matching clothing. That improves how customers perceive your product and gives you a chance to upsell the other items of an outfit. The obvious downside of working with a model is the price tag that comes with it.

Detail shots

Put your product’s highlights in the spotlight with detail shots. These close-up images of the T-shirt are perfect for showcasing the fabric, print, or subtle accents on the sleeve or at the seams. A good detail shot can give shoppers the final nudge toward a purchase because they instantly answer customers’ questions with the extra product information they provide. Product detail shots are often zoomed images of regular pack shots, but you can also take pictures specifically for this purpose.


Take your camera setup and settings into account

Are you taking up photographing the T-shirts yourself? Then make sure you’ve got everything set up just right beforehand. By doing this, you end up with product images that are already near perfect and only need minor tweaks before publishing them online for e-commerce.


Shedding light on the matter

One of the key elements of any photo shoot is the lighting. As daylight is often not readily available and also very unpredictable, you need to artificially recreate the best light to show your T-shirts. In general, three lights are needed for a shoot: two on each side and one backlights. It’s essential to thoroughly check the brightness since you don’t want to end up needing sunglasses to be able to look at the product.

Getting your camera right

For taking product images, you cannot go without a good camera. Suppose you’re working with a low budget. In that case, you might consider using a smartphone – as long as it’s capable of shooting high-resolution photos – but ideally, you want a professional camera to get the most out of your shots. Getting yourself a tripod for more consistent quality in your photography can be helpful.

Get your camera to focus entirely on the T-shirt using an aperture between f/8 and f/11. You can shoot in either a JPEG or RAW format. Both are okay for use in e-commerce, but take note that RAW files contain a more decadent color space and more details than JPEG, which gives you a more robust basis to work with in editing. Also, consider what shutter speed to use, depending on the product image type. For example, for a mannequin or flat lay shot, you can keep the shutter speed low, but when photographing a model, you will want a higher shutter speed to get dynamic images without becoming blurry.

Dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s in post-production

Product images always require editing before they are ready for online use. This can be limited to a basic digital polish of the T-shirt, but if you want to make the most of it, there’s much to add quality and visual wealth to the product.


You can never rule out the eventuality of creases when photographing T-shirts. Removing these and other imperfections from your product is straightforward with retouching. This gives you the certainty that customers see them in perfect condition, which improves your chances of a sale. Retouching also covers other minor but significant tweaks, such as positioning and adding symmetry.


With masking, removing the background is possible to literally make the T-shirt stand out. That’s important for quickly adjusting the background color – for consistency on your website – or use on other channels, such as social media, advertising, or offline marketing.

Color correction

Even with the best camera setup and perfect lighting, it’s practically impossible to rule out color discrepancies. This can happen between the image and the real thing or when displaying multiple images of the same product. Either way, you want the colors to be how they’re supposed to be to prevent confusion and product returns because the color turns out to be different from the pictures.

Invisible mannequin

For mannequin shots, it’s, of course, necessary to remove the mannequin from the shot. However, with the Invisible Mannequin technique, also called Ghost Mannequin, it’s as if the mannequin was never there. This is done by merging several product shots to recreate the part obscured by the mannequin for a complete and appealing image.


Shadows are a great detail to add depth and perspective to product images, giving shoppers a clear sense of the T-shirts’ proportions. These can be created already during the photo shoot or added in post-production. If the shadows are not optimally shown or are inconsistent, image editing is perfect for ensuring all drop shadows work to your benefit.

Mobile-ready product images

Mobile shopping is more important than ever and increasingly so. As we mention in our article “eCommerce trends in 2022 you may have missed”, over 70% of all online shopping traffic came from mobile and made up 60% of the total order share. With that in mind, it’s essential to ensure your product images are optimized for mobile display, to improve the customer experience and increase conversions on a smartphone.


How to smoothen the process of photographing T-shirts

Besides perfecting the visual quality of your T-shirts, image editing can also be employed to make your production process run more smoothly and efficiently. With these technological solutions, you can bypass many recurring tasks that take up a lot of your time for every batch of product images, which makes it easier and cost-efficient to produce online images.


More T-shirt images for less effort with recoloring

Chances are, you have many T-shirts that are the same except for the color. Therefore, it can save you much time if you use recoloring to create all color variations of the same product. You not only have to photograph every product this way but you’re also guaranteed that all images are consistent in quality and positioning.


POS3D: on-model images without the need for a model

What if we told you it’s possible to create quality model images without using a model? With our innovative POS3D technology, you can transform your pack shots into realistic model images, using only a basic model to dress in your T-shirts digitally. This reduces the amount of time spent on shooting costly model images and significantly boosts your visual content simultaneously.


Automate your photo shoots as much as possible with StyleShoots

Are you tired of spending much time getting your specs right during shoots? The studio solutions by our partner StyleShoots help you in the quest for efficiency and consistency. With their photography machines, you can automatically create your preferred setup for T-shirt product images.

Whether you’re looking to produce premium flat lays in a matter of seconds, create realistic mannequin shots or significantly speed up shooting model images, StyleShoots has the tool for the job. And due to integration between StyleShoot’s operating system and STREAM, our workflow management system, all photos can be easily transferred for the finishing touch in post-production.


Looking to make the most of your T-shirt product images online?

As you can see, there’s so much you can do when photographing a simple T-shirt. So be sure to evaluate your workflow and current product images to find ways to improve your visual content and sell more T-shirts online.

If you want to optimize your product images for use in e-commerce consistently, no matter the scale, Bright River is happy to help your business forward. We have years of experience editing thousands of product images daily, and our technological solutions already make life easier for some of the biggest retailers out there.

Discover our services immediately by creating a free STREAM-account, or schedule a 20-minute call to discuss your challenges and how we can help you overcome them.