Join Konrad Eek for an in-depth discussion in this video Styling tools for textile photography, part of Product Photography: Clothes and Textiles.
What I'd like to talk with you about now is styling textiles and garments for photography. Ofttimes you'll see garments shot on figure where a model can help bring the garment to life, and we're not going to do that. We're going to focus on ways to make textiles look interesting without a human presence. The first step of preparing any textile is eliminating the wrinkles. Typically you buy these things folded and packaged, and they come with the wrinkles built in, no extra charge.
To do that, you probably have had experience with an iron, an ironing board, that's a very good tool. I recommend using sizing rather than starch if you are going to iron the garment. Ironing works best with cotton and natural fibers. Some of these synthetic fibers do not respond well to ironing and a garment steamer, comes in very hand then, they're not, that expensive. A good quality one will be about a 100, $125, and it's something if you have I think you'll find you use it often.
It's handy for getting the drapes to look good if you've just got a new bed skirt there's nothing to beat it. So that being said, the first thing you do, is eliminate the wrinkles. Any fold or wrinkle that you show, you want to be one that you've created for a specific purpose in the styling process. To help create those shapes in the garments and textiles, we use a variety of tools. We have this polyester fill, this is nice, you can just peel it off in little bits like cotton and shape those bits to create movement or motion references, sometimes in around the collar of a shirt you'll need to just do a little lift to make it look good.
The nice thing about this, you can pull off what you need. If you don't have quite enough, you just pull off a little bit more and rub it together and it'll all bond. Batting is similar to the to the polyester fill, except that it comes in a sheet, and typically with this I'll cut it to size and put it inside a garment to give that garment a little extra loft and stiffness to help me shape it. Felt works in much the same way, it's a little thinner than the batting. It's not quite as soft as the batting, it'll give you a slightly different look. But once again, the felt you'll want to cut to size, and for that, I recommend a good pair of scissors.
A fabric store is where to go for these. They'll pay for themselves over and over again. And I'd suggest keeping them dedicated to fabric. If you start to use them on materials it may dull them, or put nicks in the blade. The reason the scissors are important is on the felt or the batting if you have a poor or a sloppy cut along the edge you may be able to see that through the fabric and you don't want any distractions from the appearance you're trying to create. This closed cell foam is another shaping material you can use it's much stiffer.
Typically I'll use this in combination with tape and other things, to create roundness, say in sleeves. Depending on the application, this works very well for that, because it's got much more rigidity. Holding all this in place, we use a couple of different tools. Pins come in a variety of shapes and styles. There's just your standard dress makers' pin. These pins have a larger plastic head on them. That comes in handy when you're trying to do something like dealing with a very nubby fabric here, something like that.
A regular pin might just pull right through the fabric. Another type of pin that helps with those sort of things are t-pins, and we have those in a couple of different sizes that we'll use. Pins there's a huge variety out there that you can get for different purposes even pins up to 6" long. Depending on what you're working with you may need that scale. Another tool that we have that can be used for shaping like pins with these little bamboo skewers. The beauty of these they can, you can pierce the surface that you've got things held on or pierce into the batting.
And then trim them to whatever length you need fairly easily using a pair of wire cutters. They're also handy to have around to use to manipulate the fabrics. Sometimes your fingers will be a little bit, too much of a blunt instrument and if you use these, you can see how you can use the point to kind of grab into the nub, and make subtle adjustments in the fabric. So these are a real handy tool to have. You can get' em at your local grocery store for about $1 a package. Real, real good value there. We'll also need to hold things in place, and we'll use a variety of tapes for that or adhesives, I keep around a good black tape.
Sometimes you'll want black, sometimes you'll want white. The key is whatever it takes to make it disappear so we've got black tape. We also have just a regular white tape. If you have trouble finding something that's a pure white, most artist supply places will sell what they call an artist's tape, which usually comes in this nice, clean white. We also have a good double stick tape. Double stick comes in very handy sometimes. Say you've got a button front shirt and the plackets not laying quite flat. You can put some double stick there, between where the buttons are to help get a nice, clean placket, and finally gaff tape It's expensive, but it's good for a lot of reasons.
It's got great tap it will really help hold things in space, but the adhesive leaves no residue, and so particularly if you're working with fabric samples, with garment samples, that are prototypes, you want to be sure to be able to return those in pristine condition. The other thing you can use gap tape for, if you wind it around your hand adhesive side out, you have an instant little lint brush that you can rub across the fabric, to pick up any little bits of lint that have stuck there. The other thing too, as we go through this, I'm going to show you a variety of styling techniques and if you enjoy that aspect of the photography, and are in a large market, you can make a living just styling garments and decorating sets for photography.
I know I worked with quite a few people in Dallas that did that and did a beautiful job of it. So, here's our starting place. These are the tools we're going to use for styling textiles and garments.
In this course, commercial photographer Konrad Eek explores the creative and technical decisions involved in photographing textiles. After introducing basics, such as ironing and folding, the course explores a variety of shooting scenarios, including photographing a garment on a slant board or against a wall, a blanket draped on a chair, and a stack of clothing. Konrad demonstrates basic lighting techniques as well as more advanced ones, such as using a cookie (also called a gobo or cuculoris) to cast dramatic shadows. The course concludes with a brief overview of the Adobe Photoshop post-processing often involved in textile photography.