How to Photograph Clothing for eBay: A Seller’s Guide to High-Quality Visuals

Product photography can make or break your business, especially if you're trying to sell products online or build a visual brand. About 90% of buyers agree that image quality is a key driver in online sales, saying it influences their purchase decisions. What's more, visual content can increase consumers' perceived ownership of a product, leading to higher conversion rates. 

Buyers expect to see photos that bring their favorite products to life. They want to imagine what it's like to wear that nice dress or walk in those shoes on a sunny day. As a seller, you need to consider what kind of story they seek—and then take photos that encapsulate what you’re trying to tell and show about your products.

Customers can't touch or try on clothing and accessories when shopping online. If your product photos are blurry, confusing, or dark, you'll miss out on potential sales. Plus, it will reflect poorly on your brand. This goes for clothing, jewelry, handbags, shoes, and anything else you might want to sell on eBay, Etsy, Amazon, or similar online marketplaces. 

With that in mind, we'll show you how to photograph clothing for eBay and keep buyers coming back for more. Let's dive in! 

eBay Product Photography 101

The old saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words," applies in ecommerce, too. Product photography can be a powerful branding and marketing tool, regardless of what you sell. It not only guides customers through decision-making but also builds trust and strengthens brand identity. 

First, you should know that each online marketplace has distinct requirements and features, and what works on one platform may not work on another. 

Take Poshmark and eBay, for example. The former promotes social interaction and appeals mostly to those selling beauty and lifestyle products. eBay, on the other hand, has a stronger focus on electronics and other consumer goods. 

You can sell clothing items on either platform, but eBay is more complex and has stricter rules than Poshmark. 

This brings us to the next point...

eBay requires vendors to add at least one photo per listing. Images must be 500 pixels or more on the longest side and shouldn't have borders, watermarks, artwork, or text. 

Ideally, aim for 800 to 1,600 pixels on the largest side and shoot from different angles. See our guide on how to take eBay photos that sell to find out more! 

If you plan to sell pre-owned clothing, you must take photos yourself. Stock photography is only allowed for new items. 

eBay also recommends using its Background Removal Tool, but there are better options available. With Pixelcut, you can add a background to any photo, remove unwanted objects, crop images, and much more. 

Next, make sure your photos are no more than 7MB each. Use Pixelcut to resize your pictures as needed. Add up to 12 product photos to each listing and try to show as many details as possible. If, say, you're selling a dress with some missing beads, try to capture these issues in your pictures. 

Remember, you don't have to be a professional photographer to take great shots. That said, check out these clothing photography tips to make your pictures stand out without breaking the rules. 

How to Photograph Clothes for eBay

First things first, make sure you have the tools needed for clothing photography. These may include:

  • An iPhone or smartphone with a good camera
  • A white or neutral backdrop
  • Lighting sources, such as a softbox and lighting bulbs
  • Mannequins or models
  • Tape, clams, and other accessories
  • Foam boards
  • Tripod 
  • Props 

A DSLR camera is fine, but you can just as well use an iPhone or smartphone to take clothing photos. After that, use the Pixelcut app to edit your pic and give it a professional feel. 

As far as the lighting goes, natural light is your best friend. If that's not an option, you may use a softbox, ring light, lighting bulbs, or other accessories. Don't rush into buying a reflector from day one. Start with a basic lighting device and practice your skills before investing in professional gear. 

Meanwhile, take the time to learn about clothing photography and how to get it right. Here are some tips to help you out. 

Step 1: Follow Clothing Photography Best Practices

Clothing photography is both art and science. After all, there's a reason why popular brands like Adidas, Nike, Asos, and Lululemon hire professionals for this job. However, you don't need to go that far to build a successful eBay store

For starters, follow these steps to take your photography game to the next level.

Prepare Your Clothing for the Photoshoot

If you plan to sell secondhand clothes online, clean and iron your garments prior to the photoshoot. Look for creases, folds, and unnatural shapes, especially if the clothing has been boxed or sitting in storage for weeks. 

In some cases, you may be able to smooth out creases by hand. However, it's best to steam or iron the clothes to make them as appealing as possible. 

Decide How to Style Your Items 

One of the most important decisions you’ll make when it comes to clothing photography is how to present your items. 

First, determine whether you want to use a mannequin, model, or hanger or take pictures of clothes laying flat on a surface. Alternatively, you can experiment with ghost mannequin photography. Here's a quick look at each option:

Photograph Clothing on a Mannequin

eBay recommends using a mannequin to show how the clothes fit. This is something you can buy from Amazon for $32 and up, depending on its size, materials, and brand, or rent from specialty stores, such as Mannequin Madness.

Showing how a dress, blouse, or other clothing items fit on a mannequin can make it easier for buyers to see themselves wearing that piece. Plus, it's a good way to highlight small but important details, such as a skirt's length, shape, ruffles, and folds. 

Try the Ghost Mannequin Technique

There are cases where mannequins can take the focus away from the items you're trying to sell. If that happens, you may use the "ghost mannequin" technique to eliminate distractions. 

First, you'll photograph the dress or whatever you're selling on a mannequin or model. Bigcommerce suggests using a white matte mannequin for hassle-free editing. 

If you prefer to work with real models, ask them to tie up their hair and remove any accessories, like necklaces and scarves. For best results, use cool LED lamps and styling accessories, such as pins and clips. 

Next, choose your camera angle based on the type of product. For example, you should position the camera at the chest level of the model when photographing blouses, jackets, or T-shirts. 

After that, you'll use photo editing software to remove the mannequin or model from your pics. 

This technique works best for photographing leggings, tank tops, bodycon dresses, and other clothing items with a tighter fit. The result will be a 3D image that shows the product from different angles. 

Use a Hanger 

If you're on a budget or don't have enough space to lay your clothes flat, you can photograph them on a hanger. Later, you may remove the background, crop the pictures, adjust the contrast, and so on. Another option is to use the ghost mannequin technique to "erase" the hanger from your photos. 

Ideally, place the hanger in front of a wall or neutral backdrop. Position it at eye level or slightly higher and use pins or double-sided tape to arrange the sleeves and other details. What matters most is to create a realistic look and feel. 

Use this technique when photographing jackets, dresses, blouses, shirts, or fashion accessories. 

Hire a Model

Depending on your budget, you could hire a model or take pictures of yourself wearing the item. Also, consider asking a friend to model for you. 

When you're done, use Pixelcut to crop and edit your photos. For example, you may want to erase or blur your face, remove unwanted objects, or apply the ghost mannequin effect. 

Take Flat Lay Photos

This technique works best for sports pants, shirts, pajamas, socks, and other clothing items with standard tailoring. It's also one of the easiest ways to photograph clothes for eBay, Shopify stores, and other online platforms. 

Professional photographer Connie Chan recommends using a clean, uncluttered background, such as a white bed sheet. However, it's perfectly fine to experiment with different textures like wood, marble, or silk. 

Take advantage of natural light whenever possible. If that's not an option, use a softbox lighting kit. Position yourself above the flat lay, pointing your camera straight down, suggests Chan. A tripod will do the trick, too. 

When you're done, crop your pics and then adjust the exposure, contrast, white balance, and other elements. You can also try to decrease the shadows and highlight specific details, such as buttons or embroidery. 

Let There Be Light 

As a rule of thumb, choose a well-lit space to photograph your items. 

For example, you could place the mannequin close to a window and use a reflector to control the lighting and fix shadows. Alternatively, shoot outside and remove the background from your images afterward. 

Amateur Photographer suggests using tinfoil and other DIY lighting solutions. For instance, you can make a DIY softbox from cardboard, greaseproof paper, tinfoil, and tape. Use it to diffuse and soften the light while minimizing shadows. 

Shoot from Different Angles

Last but not least, shoot from different angles to get better product photos. Take into account the different types of camera shots, too. 

Close-ups, for example, allow you to capture the small details in your pictures. Long shots, on the other hand, work best for overalls, long dresses, suits, and complete outfits. Opt for medium shots when photographing shirts, blouses, jackets, sweaters, or cardigans. 

The level angle is the most commonly used for product photography, but you can also experiment with side angles, high angles, low angles, and so on. The more details you capture, the better. 

Step 2: Optimize Your Photos for eBay

Taking good pictures isn't enough to make money on eBay. You must also comply with the company's standards and follow certain rules. We've already mentioned some of its requirements — let's recap:

  • Add one to 12 product photos per listing
  • Make sure each photo is at least 500 pixels on the longest side
  • Don't add text, borders, watermarks, logos, or artwork
  • Use original photos for used clothing 
  • Try not to exceed 7MB per photo or 12MB for images copied from websites (e.g., stock photography)

As a general rule, take photos from multiple angles and use white or neutral backgrounds. The first picture of a product will appear in search results and, therefore, it's important to choose one that catches the eye. Make sure it shows your item from a good angle.  

eBay doesn't recommend using props. However, you can place a coin or ruler next to your product to show its true size. Use this technique when photographing bags, wallets, bracelets, headbands, head scarves, scrunchies, and other small items. 

Note that eBay accepts stock photos and catalog images only for new products. Even then, it's still better to use photos you took yourself. Before getting started, check out our tutorial on how to take product photos like a pro. 

As far as image size goes, try to shoot in high resolution, such as 300 dots per inch (dpi) or higher. You can use tools like Gimp and Photoshop to increase image resolution, but your photos might end up looking blurry, unclear, or distorted.

Last but not least, remember to optimize your eBay listings, including the images used. Include relevant keywords in product descriptions, image titles, and item specifics to gain exposure. This way, buyers will find your products more easily, which can lead to increased sales. 

Let's say you're selling a red cocktail dress. In this case, name your image files "Red party dress," "Trendy red dress," "Red evening dress," "Red dress with long sleeves," and so on. Refrain from using file names like "RED-856" or "05-RED." 

Simply put, try to be as descriptive as possible. Consider using Google's Keyword Planner or WordStream's Free Keyword Tool to find high-volume, low-competition keywords for your eBay business. 

Step 3: Edit Your Images for a Professional Look

By now, you should know how to photograph clothing for eBay, Amazon, Mercari, and other marketplaces, but your work isn't done yet. 

Post-production is just as important as taking eye-catching photos. When done right, it can turn your pictures into a work of art. Plus, eBay sellers who use high-quality images get up to 5% more sales than those with average pictures. 

optimize clothing photography for ebay

Not sure where to start? Here are some photo retouching tips to make your listings stand out:

  • Crop your images to meet eBay's requirements 
  • Use Pixelcut to create a white background or one in neutral colors
  • Adjust white balance settings to make the colors look more natural
  • Adjust the contrast, exposure, brightness, and other elements
  • Remove unnecessary objects, such as tape, needles, and price tags
  • Save your edits in a separate folder and compare them side-by-side before choosing the final version
  • Choose a color palette for your online store and then adjust the hue and saturation in product photos accordingly
  • Use grid lines to create balance in your photos

Most smartphones have built-in photo editing tools, but their features are limited. Chances are, you'll need to use third-party editing apps to get professional results—and that's where Pixelcut comes in. 

Use Pixelcut to Get Your eBay Listings Noticed 

The Pixelcut app allows you to remove or edit the background, resize and crop your photos, create collages, and batch edit images. You can also use it to tweak the colors and lighting or add special effects with just a few clicks.

What's more, Pixelcut offers a wide selection of templates for eBay listings, Instagram stories, product staging, and more. It's not just another background removal tool, but a powerful app that makes photo editing a breeze. 

The batch editing feature is particularly useful for retailers, leading to time and cost savings. Other features, such as Pixelcut's instant background removal tool, only require a swipe to the right. It's that simple!

But that's not all. Users can also choose from hundreds of pre-existing designs and backgrounds and customize them based on their needs. All you need to do is upload your photos and let Pixelcut do its magic. 

Now that you know how to take clothing photos for eBay, it's time to give Pixelcut a try! Download the Pixelcut app on your smartphone or tablet to see it in action!

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