Mannequin vs. Flat Lay: What Should you be Shooting?

Mannequin vs. Flat Lay: What’s Should you be Shooting?

How you present their clothing online is a challenge for every brand. Decisions have to be made on the styling of the garments, the angles you shoot from, and importantly whether or not you shoot on Mannequin or Flat Lay.

Being armed with the right information can help you make the right choices for these important decisions and ultimately help your increase sales and your companies growth.

A shops window is what entices people in to purchase. A good window display won’t go without notice and will ultimately have a serious affect on sales. Well, product photography is the shop window of the online world.

Online sales have massively increased in recent years. The ease and practicality of it means it will continue to grow. However, because of this, more and more people are setting up there online shops. Competition has never been fiercer, and so the online shops with the best visual merchandising, the ones that truly stand out, inevitably get the best sales.

Online, you are restricted to what you convey across the computer screen. So to convert site visitors into sales, you need high quality, consistent, and appealing imagery of your products.

At the same time though these images need to be simple and clear to allow shoppers to easily get an accurate idea of the items, and to be able to visualise and compare products.

This then is a very different kettle of fish from editorial, advertising and marketing photography which need to be more aspirational and visually stimulating.

While the difficulties in merchandising an online store are ever-present, the logic is simple: just like a bad store layout leads to worse sales, bad pictures mean low conversion and loss of profit.

To combat this, and help drive sales, there are various ways of presenting your product online. Flat lay, hanging, multi-angle, and ghost mannequin are all used by many brands and retailers - with some using combinations of each.

To help you improve your product photography for your online store, here's a brief rundown comparing the pros and cons of each method.

Flat Lay

A common choice for many brands and retailers due to its versatility in styling, relatively simpler photography setup, and efficiency in high volumes.  Whilst deceptively simple at first glance, flat lay product photography requires the use of a skilled stylist to get professional looking results.

Flat lay photography can also be used for creative ways to present your products in unique combinations on different backgrounds. You may have seen many brands post attractive looking flat lay collages on the likes of Instagram to heighten the storytelling around their product.

Our StyleShoot machine is an all in one product photography setup that's easily controlled and instantly removes the background from your images. This reduces post-production time, but also makes it easier to style and get incredibleconsistency not just through your shoot, but across multiple shoots.

Pros

  • Requires a relatively simple photography setup

  • Versatile and useful for many types of clothing

  • Many different ways to style

  • Can be used to produce creative flat lay collages

Cons

  • Requires extra time spent styling

  • Garments can look distorted laid flat if not styled properly

  • Not suitable for larger items like long dresses etc

  • Consistency of styling can be a problem

 

Mannequin

Used to represent the product as if an 'invisible man' wearing the clothes - commonly known as the 'hollow man' effect - ghost mannequin product photography heightens the visual effect of the clothing by looking as if worn.

The styling itself is fairly simple, however, dressing the mannequin and creating consistency takes time. Plus, to create the ghost mannequin effect require re-touching and compositing two images together. All of this makes mannequin photography mor expensive and time consuming to shoot.

We have special modular mannequins in the studio though which help reduce the post-production time. They have removable sections so that you don't have to cut out and composite multiple images.

Ghost mannequin photography can help specifically for items like blazers, coats and shirts where it's important to show off details like inner linings. 

Pros

  • Great for showing off features like inner linings and cuffs

  • Quick and simple to style

  • Helps customers visualise clothes as if worn

Cons

  • Requires post production work and image compositing

  • Requires styling to fit mannequins properly

  • Having a wide range of mannequins can be expensive

 

Multi-angle & Hanging

When it comes to either of these styles you have to be careful about distorting the product. Your product photography should give a clear visual idea of your product. Shooting from an angle can lead to distortion of the 3D shape. Shooting hanging can lead to the garment looking shapeless. That being said, with either done well you can create a unique style and look to your photography that will help you stand out on the online marketplace.

If you are unsure about how to best show off your product you can always talk to us about best practices. With years of experience working with a variety of brands and products our experienced team are always happy to offer advice and help you get the best results.