Tutorial: How to photograph t-shirts.

After my successful Bathroom Products Photography

attempt, I was thinking of the next series of photos I could take using items found around the house. I needed a subject that would be colorful and bring lots of contrast to the photo. I decided that photographing my colorful t-shirts would give me exactly what I needed. So I went ahead and started planning how to do this to achieve a seamless white background. Coincidentally, a local business contacted me at the same time about wanting this type of commercial product photography. So I took the job to deliver 52 photos of t-shirts (front/back, male/female, six colors, four designs). Yeah, that is A LOT of shirts. Total time for the job including setup and post-production was 6 hours.

The picture above shows my setup with two light sources that was required to achieve the effect I was going for. The shoot-through umbrella was used to produce a soft light on the t-shirt, while the reflective umbrella was used to give the t-shirt harsh shadows along the outside edge. I felt that the harsh shadows would give the t-shirts a little bit of depth and help separate it from the seamless white background, which was especially important when dealing with the white t-shirts.

The backdrop was two layers of bed sheet covers purchased from Zellers at 140 and 180 thread count, respectively. The sheet covers were stretched over our old wooden dining table and then held in place with thumbtacks. I ensured that there were no wrinkles on the sheets that would introduce ugly shadows into my final photo. On hindsight, I could have used a nylon shower curtain instead which would have been easier to manage.

Strobist information:

I think this shoot was a success. In addition to the seamless white backgrounds, the client also requested magazine-style layout of 4 popular t-shirts on a 15% gray background. Except for the magazine style layouts being created in Photoshop, the rest of the images were all processed in Lightroom.

All photos Copyright by Nautinyce Clothing Inc. who commissioned this project.

5 thoughts on “Tutorial: How to photograph t-shirts.”

  1. You saved my life with setting of T-Shirt. I tried everything possible and nothing worked, finely I came across your website and got the idea.
    Thanks a lot Bro.
    God Bless.
    Fida.

  2. Hey great article. I am trying to take a picture of my white t-shirt with a pure white background like you did. I have the proper camera, lighting, and white background, but is Lightroom necessary to get the result that you got with your white shirt/white background?

    Do you have any other advice on how I can achieve this look? I am always over exposing the photo so the shirt blends into the background and I can’t get it right. Thanks a lot in advance!!

  3. In my situation, I was not able to get the lighting absolutely perfect no matter how much tweaking I did with lighting. So Lightroom was necessary to blow out the background around the outside edges of the background after taking the photo. If you notice in my photo, the white t-shirt is not 100% white, but rather 15% gray. It is not possible to have a perfect white background with a white t-shirt. Some kind of photo editing may be necessary unless you have ideal lighting.

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