How to Photograph Large Clothing on a Small Dress Form

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When I first started selling thrift store clothing on eBay, I would simply use a hanger on a hook on my wall when photographing. I knew that one of the first big investments I wanted to make was a dress form, but when the time finally came to make that purchase, I was stuck on one question–what size should I buy? I sell all different sizes of clothing, but I didn’t have the money or space to buy and store multiple dress forms. The whole point of having a dress form is to make the clothing look spectacular, but if most of my clothing wasn’t going to fit the one form that I bought–what’s the point?

Here’s what I did–I bought a size small (2/4) dress form, and I use clips to pin back clothing that’s larger than that. (Anything too small gets photographed laying flat on my clean floor, as does most plus-sized clothing.) Read below for a quick tutorial on pinning back larger clothing!

photoing large clothing

You’ll need:

Step 1: Place the garment on the dress form and turn it around so that you’re looking at the back. Adjust the shoulder seams so that they’re in line with the dress form’s shoulders, and pinch the excess fabric in between the shoulders in one hand. With your other hand, clip on one clip.


Step 2: Take the excess fabric just below your first clip in one hand, and run your hand down to the back of the waist area. Place your second clip there.DSC09203DSC09204

Step three: Turn your dress form around to the front and make any adjustments necessary. You will likely be able to photograph your item from the front and the side without seeing the clips in your pictures.DSC09205 DSC09206

Step four: To photograph the back, I usually don’t even need to use the clips. I can just pull excess fabric to the front of the dress form, and the back looks just fine.DSC09208

Keep in mind that it’s important to maintain the shape of the garment when pinning it. By that I mean, if a shirt is blousey, don’t pin it super close to the dress form. You can imagine a buyer being rightly upset if they thought a shirt was going to be very fitted (as pictured in a listing) but once it arrives, they find it to be a very loose fit. Also, I mentioned earlier that I often need to photo my plus-sized items on the floor. I do that when I feel that I won’t be able to maintain the garment’s true shape on my size small form, even with the clips.

That’s it! Easy peasy, right? I’ve found this to be a simple solution that lets me photograph the majority of my clothes on just one dress form. I hope it helps you all in your ebaying, too!


Tips For Faster Photography

Any time I start a blog post after a longer-than-planned absence, I want to start it with “Hey… I’m just super busy, not dead.” And then I automatically think of this scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

“I’m not dead yet! I feel… happyyyy!” Ha! It gets me every time.

Anyway the thing that has been keeping me very busy (but not dead!) is that I’ve been photographing clothing for a local consignment shop’s eBay store, like I mentioned in a previous post. I’ve photographed close to an extra 300 items in the last month, in addition to the ones I’ve taken for my own eBay store. It’s been a really great side gig, but it has taken up a good bit of free time. I’ve got about a month and a half more work to do for them, so once that’s over, I should be posting more regularly again.

That being said, having to photograph so many items each week has forced me to become a more efficient photographer. Below are a few tips I have for anyone trying to shorten the amount of time it takes to photograph clothing for eBay.

photo set up edited

  1. Prep all of your items before you start taking pictures.

    When I only had a few items to list, my flow would usually go something like this: steam item A, photograph item A, steam item B, photograph item B, etc. That just doesn’t work well when you’ve got a pile of 80 garments glaring at you from the corner of your room. Even though it’s kind of tedious to steam all of my items at one time, it really makes the whole process go faster.

  2. Sort clothing into like piles before you start.

    I’m not sure why, but photographing all the tops, then all the skirts, then all the dresses, then all the coats, then all the pants, is faster than photographing a jumbled stack of clothes. (Really, the order in which you photograph each category isn’t important, just that you’re doing all of one category before moving on to all of another category.)

  3. Set up in a way that minimizes walking around.

    When I’m photographing, I keep the clothing that’s waiting to be done within arm’s reach, so that the process of grabbing a garment, dressing my mannequin, and taking pictures doesn’t require me to move much. Prior to starting this side gig, I kept my stack of clothing across the room (next to my steamer) but the simple act of moving the pile has really cut down on the time it takes to get the job done.

What are your tips for photographing more efficiently? I’d love to hear them!