How to photograph a football shirt flat lay?

A question we often get asked by football shirt collectors is how to photograph a football shirt. Quality shots can be the difference between a successful auction and a dud listing, and for those of us who like to chronicle what kits we’ve picked up over the years, a good snap is essential.

As part of our new Collectors Club series we caught up with professional photographer Tom Russell to get the tips from a pro.

Words from Tom Russell

Photographing football shirts sounds like a pretty easy task but anyone who has given it a go knows that the final photo often doesn’t do justice to the glory behind the top.

Hopefully I can help with some easy and inexpensive ways of helping you get a better photograph.

Flat lay photograph of a vintage Fiorentina shirt

What do you need to take a photo of a football shirt?

What you will need is a roll of paper, or ideally a sheet of white perspex.

A tripod, although hand held or a smartly supported phone can work fine in good light and a sheet of white foam board or thick white card that can lean rigid against an upright.

How to photograph a football shirt?

1. Lay the football shirt down on a plain flat surface, the more neutral and uncluttered the background the better.

2. Make sure the shirt is in good natural light, but never in direct sunlight as this will bleach colours and create harsh shadows .

3. Whilst you are obsessing over light – turn off all tungsten bulbs as they will confuse the camera’s white balance, and your ‘95 Chelsea top might start to look banging.

4. Position your foam board upright and opposite your source of light (window). This will reflect some of the light back on to your shirt, helping both even out the spread of light and help reduce the impact of wrinkles or creases.

5. If you’re dealing with a 90s or early noughties baggy shirts, try evenly tucking the arms slightly under the arm pit to try and reign in the madness of some of those designs.

6. Try and stay as still as possible. Sometimes if you’re using your phone, you can support the phone on something stable with just the actual lens poking over the top.

7. Don’t let your legs or arms get into the shadow by staying out of the source of light.

8. In your edit, crop in fairly tight avoiding any distractions. Raise your shadows a little and bring up the clarity slightly.

Top tip: Take a shower with the shirt on a hanger. Short of ironing and potentially damaging vintage numbers or crests, a steamy room can help get out some of the creases.

I hope this helps and happy snapping.

If you have a question for Tom hit him up here. You can also read more from our series Collectors Club, including a piece on how to wash your football shirts in the best possible way..


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