If you’re in the online apparel business, you know how challenging it can be to portray how a product fits. Customers want to know what your products will look like when worn, not when lying flat—but hiring a model for all your product photos can be cost-prohibitive. Fortunately, you have options! Today, we’ll show you everything you need to know about a new alternative to model photos: the ghost mannequin effect.
What is the Ghost Mannequin Effect?
The ghost mannequin effect is a powerful post-production technique for apparel photography. This technique involves editing together photos of the interior and exterior of your garment and removing all traces of the model or mannequin, leaving behind a photo that perfectly represents how your product fits in 3D.
Flat-lay apparel photos can discourage buyers because they fail to represent the full dimensions of your products. 3D silhouettes can accelerate your sales by allowing your customers to imagine themselves in the clothes and feel more confident in their purchases.
Ghost mannequin photos can be hard to reproduce, especially for non-professional editors. But it just might be easier than you think, and currently, there are great tools out there to help you spruce up your product photos without breaking the bank.
Benefits of Ghost Mannequin Product Photography
Ghost mannequins have a number of advantages for fashion retailers.
Mannequin photography is much cheaper than hiring a model, which means you can get gorgeous product images and invest in other areas of your business.
- Clarity and Transparency
Your customers want to be sure that what they see is what they’ll get, and ghost mannequins are perfect for showing the shape, style, and drape of each garment. When your customers can make informed and confident purchases, they’ll be happy to come back for more.
Ghost mannequin photos give your e-store a consistent, uniform look, which in turn makes your products look professional and polished for potential buyers. Visual consistency helps your customers trust that no matter what they purchase, they’ll receive a quality product.
- Competitive Edge
An e-store full of consistent, eye-catching product photos won’t just entice your customers—it’s also a professional advantage over businesses with flat, uninteresting photos that don’t show off their products to their full effect. Ghost mannequin photography will put you a cut above the rest.
Ghost Mannequin Photography Setup Guide
Here’s how professional product photographers jump into the process.
1. Choose a Model or Mannequin
If you choose to work with a model, their style and pose must be minimal, with hair tied up. This will simplify the editing process later. Make sure the model keeps a static, balanced pose.
For ghost mannequin photography, it’s always best to work with white or transparent mannequins as they easily blend with the background. In some cases, dress forms work better to accentuate the details and shape of the apparel. Try matte white mannequins, as they are non-reflective and make the editing process easier.
Pro tip: Use mannequins with removable parts for maximum customization.
2. Setup Process
Ghost mannequin photography requires good studio lighting. Low-quality lighting will make it difficult to achieve the desired effect, even in post-production. Make sure your studio has adequate photography lights, reflectors, and umbrellas.
Remember, you want your mannequins to be styled elegantly, so make sure you have all the essentials for making your clothes look crisp—clips, hangers, styling pins, and busts are a must. No one will rush to check out if the apparel on their screen looks saggy or wrinkled.
Choose a camera with a telephoto lens to minimize distortion and capture tiny details. Don’t forget your tripod for stable pictures!
Pro Tip: Ensure all images have the same lighting for consistency and ease of post-production editing.
3. Photographing the Outfit
After gathering your equipment, it’s time to shoot your products. Remember not to photograph the outfit from too high or too low an angle, as it can be unflattering. Pros generally take product photos from chest height.
To create a 3D effect, follow these steps:
- First, capture the front and back view of the outfit on the model or mannequin.
- Next, turn each garment inside out. Style and hang each garment on a foam board and photograph the front and back again. These board shots illustrate the interior of the garment when merging the images.
- For collared shirts or dresses, make sure the collar is open and the inner lining is clearly visible.
What to Avoid
For Product Shots
- Hands or props blocking the camera’s view of the attire
- Uneven or asymmetrical poses
- Overlapping fabrics
For Inlay Shots
- Uneven, non-uniform neckline (for tops)
- Cropped or uneven waistline (for bottoms)
- Cropped margins in the images
Editing and Automation Options for Ghost Mannequin Photography
Generating ghost mannequins in Photoshop can be intimidatingly complex, especially for new photographers. Fortunately, you don’t need to do it alone. Tools like autoRetouch can take the hassle out of the editing process—and autoRetouch offers the world’s first AI-enabled ghost mannequin generator! All you have to do is upload your images, and you’ll have web-ready photos in a few minutes.
This is how the autoRetouch algorithm generates automatic ghost mannequins:
- First, the background is removed from the original photo and inlay image.
- Next, the product and inlay images are combined.
- The inlay seam is camouflaged to add a 3D effect and a shadow effect is added with the image depth.
- Lastly, files are exported in PSD or PNG format.
Using tools like autoRetouch, you can generate your own ghost mannequins without hiring professionals or spending hours on editing. The flexible pricing options also ensure that nothing cuts into your profits.
Pro Tip: Keep the file size under 50 MB for best results.
Best Practices for Automated Ghost Mannequin Product Photography
Ghost mannequin photography might seem challenging from the outside—but with this guide in hand, it doesn’t have to be a mystery. With the right equipment and tools in your pocket, you can start creating your own ghost mannequin images and polish up your online presence right away. Before you go, here’s a quick checklist of ways to make sure your ghost mannequin photos stand out from the crowd.
- Use a white or gray backdrop.
- Make sure all garments are free of creases and wrinkles.
- Style your outfits elegantly. Hide buttons, fix collars, and let laces lie naturally.
- Place the garment symmetrically on the model or mannequin.
- Hold the product taut and straight when capturing the inlay images.
- Make sure nothing obstructs the outfit.
- Use an editing tool like autoRetouch to quickly and easily combine and polish your product images!