Sunday, September 8, 2013

How to Photograph Your Garment: Neutral Background

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What is the world are you talking about?
A neutral background?
Well, it isn't all that difficult a concept, I promise!

When you photograph a garment or accessory, the last thing you want to do is detract from it.
Your background has EVERYTHING to do with this.
And it can ruin a picture.

Let's take a look at this first one.
Great scarf, huh?

Unfortunately, scarves are a bit difficult to photograph.
So, I thought it would be brilliant to hang it on a line.
BUT, your eye doesn't go directly to it.

There is all that green stuff to the left that competes with the scarf.
This makes the background not so neutral.
It is also a great example of "noise".
{read more about noise HERE}

{photo is from Etsy Shop BirgitBlau}

Now, this is a much better picture of a scarf.
Honestly, I'm not one for cutting off heads BUT it is still a fantastic photo.
The background is neutral and the focus is the scarf.

Let's look at some more photos submitted from the ladies in my pattern group.

Christina sent this one one.
Let's just get to it, the background is too busy.
The decals, although super cute, take away from the dress & that cutie wearing it.

The ground has 2 colors, the white rug takes your eyes directly there.
Not the best of shots, if you are trying to focus on that baby girl & what she is wearing.
I even cropped it, and you can still see the purple curtain.

This is another photo submitted by Christina.
She is on the right track here.
The background is more neutral.

What makes this neutral?
One, the color.
Two, there are no decals or frames or any other things to distract the eye.

But there is one thing.
The one issue I have here are the lines.
This shot would have been better if she had taken it straight on.

Here are a few examples of what neutral means.
Neutral and when you don't have a model to put your garment on.

All white.
And although this is a neutral background, it isn't a great shot.
It is the door to my kitchen pantry.

Shiny paint.
Makes light jump off of it.
And yes, funny shadows.

Here is an even better neutral background.

Wooden fences are perfect.
Personally, I am a minimalist.
Although I do like what professional photogs do w/ props,
I also believe they take away from the garment.

In the case of the dress above, the wooden fence let's the dress shine.
You see all the detailing.
And notice that the mannequin is hanging off the HORIZONTAL part of the fence.

Lines are important.
This means, make them vertical & horizontal.
This pleases the eye.

This one is great.
The chalkboard & the wooden deck make the perfect neutral background.
The chalkboard actually provides a neat frame & no, the item doesn't have to fit perfectly in to it.

Here is the chalkboard again but on grass.
The grass is a great neutral, doesn't take away from the skirt.
I have even laid the skirt on the grass alone & honestly,
that is better than laying it on your wooden floors inside.

Now, let's look at some garments on models.
Again, I take all my photos, occasionally I have some pro pics sent it.
But to be blatantly honest, it is expensive to swap, trade, barter, or what get the picture.
Why not learn how to take pics on your own?

Haven't you noticed that backgrounds are normally a copy of great things around you?
Bricks, wooden fence (whether it is neutral or painted white), cement, etc.
So, use what you have available!

My house has a couple of great brick walls that I like to use.
I also have a great, old fence that has the fantastic green stuff growing on it.
Those are my 2 favorite places to use.

Notice in this photo, the lines are not vertical or horizontal.
Sometimes in photography, a slight slant can really add dimension & depth to a photo.
But, if you are just a hair off, it definitely detracts!
It MUST look intentional.

Let's see what you can come up with.
Anyone ready for some homework?
Find yourself a good, neutral background close to home.

Try to keep it outside.
And the best time to shoot is early morning or early evening.
Feel free to join my {SIG} Pattern Group on Facebook & post your photos there,
or email me at and I will help you out.

Most importantly, have fun!

{SIG}nature Creations

1 comment:

Mama Can Sew said...

Great tips! I have unknowingly used some of these techniques already and was pretty happy with my results. Glad to see I am on the right track. Thanks!

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