Photography Equipment You Need to Make Content for your Clothing Brand
Updated: Oct 27, 2021
Because photo and video content are crucial to the success of any clothing brand, this article will quickly drag you through the mud in understanding what kind of equipment is required to make good content. It will also make recommendations for all the types of equipment you might need to buy. If you have photography and video resources at your disposal already, I would recommend an article on how to create high performing content.
Even for the novice content creator, just an acceptable camera and lens together can cost $5,000 or more. The budding clothing brand will either need to make this investment and others like it or hire a photographer for their photo content needs.
Whether or not you should outsource is unique to each brand and how big you are, but generally, outsourcing is fast, high-quality, and cheaper for smaller amounts of production. In-house work is generally more expensive in the short term and takes longer, but is more easily aligned with your branding.
If you do decide to purchase your own equipment, some good digital cameras are (in descending order of credibility):
Canon EOS R5
Sony A7R IV
The camera itself is not as important as the lens and lighting.
Photography in any field requires multiple lenses, each serving a unique purpose. For starters, it's recommended that you carry a 50 mm lens with either a 1.8 (acceptable) or 1.2 (pricier) aperture. This type of lens is largely used for portrait shots with a lot of picture given to the environment. Some models include:
Sony Planar T*FE 50mm F1.4 ZA
Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L, Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM
Nikon 50mm f/1.4G AF-S Nikkor
An 85 mm lens, while usually more expensive, is also recommended as it is excellent for sharp, detailed portrait and close-up shots. Recommendations include:
Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 Apo Planar ZF.2
Sony FE 85mm F1.8 E-Mount
Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art.
Best for angle shots with a wider range of focuses, the 24-70mm lens is also commonly used in fashion photography. Some good models include:
Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8 L IS USM
Sony FE 24-70mm f/28 GM G Master E-Mount
Nikon Z 24-70mm f/f S Lens for Z Series Mirrorless
Not entirely necessary but good to have if you or someone on your team has the requisite skills: the 35 mm lens. This is very similar to the 50 mm lens with the key difference being that the 35 mm places more emphasis on the environment. It generally allows for more creativity and more iconic-looking photos with the caveat that it requires some mastery. Models include:
Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art
Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM
You don't strictly need all of these lenses, but you do need at least something to produce the kind of pictures you need at a competitive quality.
Video also requires unique lenses, but not the in same array that the equipped fashion photographer would need—one or two of these should work fine:
Sigma 18-35mm F1.8
Canon EF 2520A004, Canon EF 50mm
Rokinon 35mm Cine T1.5
There are many different lenses with different strengths; again, you need to decide on which lens is best for what kinds of content and camera shots you'll be creating.
*Note: Also make sure before you purchase any kind of lens that its mount will fit onto your camera.
Lighting is arguably the most important aspect of a good photo or video. Usually equipment is sold in kits with each unit being designed for different purposes. The recommendations here will meet your basic lighting needs, but know that supplemental equipment can help you produce a wider range of effects. Also note that learning how to use these kinds of equipment demands a lot of research from the beginner.
First are the continuous lighting kits, best for video and stills, and are the most beginner friendly. The types of bulb will vary from kit to kit, but it doesn't matter much. Some continuous lighting kits include:
Flashpoint 2-Light Fluorescent Kit ($85)
Smith Victor Imagemaker Fluorescent Tent Kit ($105)
Interfit Stellar INT188 Tungsten Double Softbox Kit ($385)
Flashpoint 500 LED Video 2-Light Kit ($400)
Next are speedlighting kits, best for environment and action shots. See:
Westscott Speedlight Kit ($150)
Photoflex Portable Speedlight Kit ($480)
Nikon Speedlight Two-Flash Wireless Kit ($1200).
Lastly, strobe monolight kits are preferred for use in studios when shooting products and models. Recommendations include:
Westcott 240 Strobelite Two Monolight Kit ($450)
Angler Q400 Two Monolight Kit, ($715)
Bowens Gemini Two Monolight Kit ($900).
There are also tools like softboxes and umbrellas whose purpose is to supplement your other equipment by dispersing and softening the light, generally finding use in outdoor shots. Umbrellas are usually more portable and produce more defined shadows than the softboxes. These types of equipment each vary in shape, size, and the materials used for their lining, but most importantly, remember that you generally need to match the size of each with the size of your subject.
For umbrellas, look into the following:
Emart 600W Photography Photo Video Portrait Studio
LimoStudio Photography Photo Portrait Studio 600W Day Light Umbrella Continuous Lighting Kit
ESDDI Umbrella Continuous Lights Kit
And for softboxes, see:
Fotodiox F60 Quick-Collapse Softbox
Neewer Bowens Mount Softbox
Neewer 32-Inches Octagonal Softbox
Again, these are more for advanced effects than for the bare necessities of fashion photography.
Backdrops and Settings
To set up backdrops, you can Google local backdrop/photography studios or you can purchase your own equipment, including the frame and the paper, on Amazon and similar sites. Whether you shoot indoors or outdoors, make sure the locations or backgrounds you use for your photos are consistent with and meaningful to your brand.
The most common photo editing software is Photoshop by Adobe, coupled with Lightroom (used for better workflow) and Premier (used for video). Some free online tools include Photopea, Gimp, or Canva. Paid tools deserve research on how a given tool can meet your specific needs, but some credible options are Corel PaintShop Pro, ON1 Photo RAW, and DxO PhotoLab 4.
Success in the modern fashion business demands high quality fashion photography. If you don't want to outsource your photography make sure you do your homework on how to use the equipment, as well as which of the above recommendations you should purchased according to your needs.
In general, you need some type of each of the following:
A lighting kit