Ghost Mannequin Photography

Ghost mannequin photography guide

Your product images play a vital role in the success of your online store. Selling online requires good effort and innovative ways to effectively promote products. If you’re in the fashion industry, you know how crucial it is for the customers or potential buyers to have a clear picture of what the clothes will look like on them. So, having the right 3D silhouette for your apparels is a must as it increases the probability of a purchase decision of a customer since they have a rough idea of the fit. 

It is not enough to just provide a simple product image on your website. The use of the ghost mannequin photography effect is one great way to present your products and how they actually look on. Your customers like imagining themselves wearing the clothes you offer through high-quality detailed images with different views and angles. 

What is ghost mannequin

Ghost mannequin photography, or sometimes called, invisible mannequin photography — is commonly used by brands and online retailers to give their products a 2D and a 3D view. This is also known as the hollow man effect. 

How to create a ghost mannequin effect

Here is a simple step-by-step guide to show you how to create a ghost mannequin photography effect:

1. Selecting and Posing a model or mannequin

You could use an actual model, but a mannequin is more cost-effective since you buy it once and can use it for a very long time. A model could definitely bring life to your product images as they add a touch of reality, but you need to coordinate schedules and pay them per hour. A good idea would be to bring in a model to take a few shots now and then while sticking to a mannequin for most of your products.

If you decide to display a real model, make sure to utilize a static posture, to make the post-production and photo editing easier to manage. A hand on the waist will be much harder to erase.

In addition, your model should be styled insignificantly, and long hair should to be tied up in such a way that it doesn't block the view of the item. These aspects will make picture altering a lot simpler. 

In some cases, a mannequin is better at flaunting a piece's highlights. Very close shots of dazzling textures and details are attractive, arousing a client's curiosity. A piece shot close with accessories can urge clients to get innovative — and purchase more.

There are also a lot of differences in mannequin quality. The first thing to have is a good-quality mannequin since it is one of the most common processes of presenting your clothing products to online consumers in the best possible way. 

However, it isn’t always effective to show the model or mannequin in every picture. Retailers, now and then, choose to take a shot of their products being displayed and exclude the models and cause the mannequins to be unnoticeable later in Photoshop.

For small businesses or retailers, who do most of their picture altering themselves, excluding models and mannequins can be a hard technique to ace.

So, to create this "ghost mannequin" illusion, you should initially take a photo of your product being worn by a model or a mannequin from different views and angles. The good thing to this is, you will have the option to utilize these images in your product galleries besides any "ghost" pictures that you make.

For example, when you take a photo of a shirt from the front, and then from the back, you can easily piece together the insides the straps and similar details from one picture on to the other. This is what causes the hollow ghost mannequin effect as if someone invisible is wearing the item.

There is a wide variety of mannequins you can pick:

Based on your necessities, you may decide to buy a mannequin with or without arms, hands, legs, or neck area. If your mannequin has arms and hands, make sure that the arms can be situated out of so you can easily crop and edit the picture, eg. hanging on the sides of the body without touching the torso.


White matte mannequins will likely be non-reflective and can be made to merge into white backgrounds, which will make altering the mannequin out of the picture a lot easier for you as a beginner.

Make sure that the pieces fit your mannequin or model by utilizing the correct size or styling the article of clothing to fit perfectly. You can use simple tricks, such as clipping some of the fabric in the back of an item to make it fit better. Additionally, if your product has sleeves, make sure to position the sleeves downward in such a way that the viewer or watcher can't see down them.

Ghost mannequin photography
Ghost mannequin technique

2. Setup and Equipment

So as to execute the ghost mannequin technique, you should have the option to make top-notch photos in a studio setting. 

With low-quality photos, your ghost mannequin will work less effectively. Camera and lighting methods, gear, and arrangement all become an integral factor here, depending on every specific product that you're shooting.

Equipment to consider getting if you don’t have them already:

- A decent quality camera
- A white backdrop
- Studio lights
- Umbrellas

3. Photographing the product

When taking a picture of shirts, it's essential to place the camera to be directly level with the chest zone, though the camera should be located opposite the hip territory to photograph bottoms. 

Taking a shot of a product from a point that is either excessively high or too low may make the piece of clothing look "tightened" and incorrect. 

Utilizing a telephoto zoom lens to capture your pictures can help to decrease distortion and give you the adaptability to take closer shots of smaller items and move a greater distance from bigger ones. 

Try to find a studio or space that allows you to have enough space for all your equipment and for you, staff, and possible models to move around without messing up the setup and in the end the pictures.

To make a 3D picture with the ghost mannequin strategy 

Now to the part, you came here for. Pay close attention, this is where you take your product images from beginner level to the pro level.

First, take a shot of the item from the front, using the guidelines above. Then, take a shot from the back of the same item. Make sure that the item doesn’t have any wrinkles, doesn’t look baggy and strange. It should look like a perfect fit.

From that point forward, style and hang your product on a piece of white foam board and capture both the front and back views once more; these foam board shots will let you incorporate the inner areas of the piece of clothing once you join the pictures together, as demonstrated below.

For collared shirts and similar items, make sure that the top is open and the internal back isn’t too visible. You might even need to turn it inside out in certain cases.

To sum up

As demonstrated, if you follow the steps, you can make your own top-notch clothing item pictures have this desirable ghost mannequin effect.

Note that this impact on your item pictures won't just make your items look increasingly appealing and unique, it will also bring the vibe of your online store to an even more professional level.

Remember this, like everything else, takes practice. Start by ordering a good quality mannequin with removable parts, try a few shots, play around in Photoshop, and soon you’ll be an expert at this. If you want to save time, you can always find a local expert who can either help you at every shoot or just simply teach you by overlooking your process.

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