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Ghost Mannequin vs Model: Which one should I use for my product photography?

Your product images play an important role in the success of your online store. Your customer needs to experience the product the best way they can through your website.

This means offering your customers high-quality detailed images with different views and angles. The customer should be able to make a decision with only the product images.

This frequently raises the question of whether to use a model or an invisible mannequin in your product images. Below we will be looking at some advantages and disadvantages that could help you make the right decision.

What is the ghost mannequin effect and how is it done?

The ghost mannequin effect is a post-production technique frequently used to display clothing and accessories for e-commerce stores. 

During the photoshoot, all products need to be shot on a dummy doll or a mannequin. Firstly, the product is captured from the front and then it has to be turned inside out to get a picture of the tags and the lower back.

During the post-production, the mannequin will be edited out of the image to focus the attention on the actual product.

On the next step, these two images will be combined by getting stitched together on editing software like photoshop. More specifically, the front of the clothing has to be placed on the back to give the appearance that an invisible person is wearing the clothes.

The combination of the two images will make the product look realistic and give it a 3D appearance. It is important to capture all pictures from the same angle and distance to facilitate the editing process. 

A before and after example of hollowman photography with a real model.

A before and after example of ghost mannequin product photography.

Advantages of using a ghost mannequin.

1. It is a cost-effective technique that gives a consistent look to the website.

2. Helps customer not get distracted by the model or background.

3. Online shoppers have the ability to visualise the product and imagine how it would look on them.

4. The mannequin gives the clothing article a shape resembling a person without the cost of a real model. 

5. Less editing time of the photos as the mannequin is instantly removed. A traditional model needs more editing on their body and face to remove imperfections.

Disadvantages of using a ghost mannequin.

1. Models can promote the style and identity of the company where mannequins can’t.

2. Ghost mannequins do not promote a branding strategy.

The edited result of a garment shot in a ghost mannequin.

Photography using a model.

Making use of a model for your product images is a great way to showcase your companies values but could also alienate potential customers. Below we will look at some advantages and disadvantages of using a model for your product images.

Advantages of using a model.

1. A model could make your product more relatable.  

2. Garment features and characteristics are better observed on a model than without. 

3. If you use a model you can show more than one product at a time.

4. Model could show the values of your brand. 

Disadvantages of using a model.

1. A model can distract from the product.

2. A model is expensive to hire especially when you are getting new products regularly. 

3. A model might not resonate with your potential customers. 

An example of using a model for product photography. The model gives character and style to the photoshoot.

Other factors to consider when making your decision

1. The first question is obviously what type of product it is. If you are selling tools then it wouldn’t make sense to have a model (in most cases) but when you have jewellery or clothes the answer becomes trickier.

2. The second question to help make your decision would be to know where you would like to sell your images. In marketplaces like Amazon, you are not allowed to only have photos of models.

Your main image must be the product only (read more about our Amazon product image guidelines) and your gallery image is allowed to have a model (with some restrictions and guidelines)  If you are however selling on your own online store then you are free to do whatever your heart desires.

3. The third and probably the most important factor to look at is your budget. Getting a model could be very expensive. If you are selling clothes then you would have to hire a model each time there is a new season or product. A ghost mannequin is more affordable and can be used for each photo shoot. 


It must be clearly stated that the most important feature of a good product image is quality. It has to be sharp, vibrant and not show any dust, creases or shadows. Having low-quality product images will not convince your customers to spend their money and most of all it sets the tone for your online store. 

High-quality product images will have a direct effect on sales and also reduce costs by reducing returns. Making use of a model is great to put products into context and to evoke emotions.

But this must be done professionally. In most cases going without a model and using a ghost mannequin would be a safer option. This technique needs minimal effort but gives an impressive result and highlights the important details of the product. 

For more information about photo retouching, please click here. Also please contact us here for more information.


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