Smartphone camera technology has gone through an incredible evolution over the last several years.
If we think back to how comparatively primitive our phone cameras used to be (certainly by today’s standards), what you get with a mid to high-end smartphone nowadays is quite remarkable.
So remarkable that when compared side by side, photos from something like the iPhone X, 8, and 8 Plus look almost indistinguishable from those taken by $2,000 mirrorless cameras. Having a great cameras on your phone is one thing. Knowing how to use it is another. Below are some tips to help you take high quality product photos using only your smartphone.
Clean your lens first
This sounds like something that could be filed under “goes without saying,” but think about how often you clean your lens before snapping a picture. With a product photo, you don’t want any smudges in there, so always wipe your lens down first and foremost.
It is preferable that you wipe it down with an actual lens cloth and cleaner, seeing as how this isn’t any old photo and is something you are hoping will bring in sales.
Find the right location/backdrop
The right location is a place with both optimal lighting and the right background. Keep in mind things like contrast, and particularly the rule of thirds. Visual appeal is about the right camera settings, but it is also about the environment in which you take a photo.
Do not use zoom as we are not talking about optical zoom SLR lenses here and you will lose image quality. I’m sure you’ve experienced this quality loss when for example shooting a video of an event at 3x zoom on your phone.
Also, think about the theme. If you are taking photos of outdoor equipment, you don’t want a couch in the background. When in doubt, go with a white or light gray backdrop to make sure all your photos look clean.
Get the lighting right
You can invest in expensive lighting equipment for that studio look or when in doubt, you can always use natural lighting. This is the cheapest option, while still giving you a great natural look. Place your product near a large enough window to allow adequate light into your frame.
Do not forget that natural lighting will change over time both in intensity, temperature and direction. You will not have unlimited time as with studio lighting.
Natural light, especially when filtered through a window, is easy on the eyes and generally appealing. If you need that professional studio look, you can certainly rent or buy a soft-box. It all depends on your budget.
If your shadows are too strong it means the light is too intense. Look for softer shadows by adjusting the lighting when doing product photography. If you want to eliminate shadows you will need to invest in a light box and/or do some editing afterwards.
Make sure your image is stabilized
Using natural lighting creates for beautiful product photos, but it also often means that you are likely holding your phone in your hand while you take your shots. While many modern smartphones have stabilization software built into them to compensate for the shakiness, you will almost always get some blur when you take photos by hand.
If you want stellar product photos, you are going to need a tripod. There are tripods out there that are made especially for camera phones and which are recommended for anyone taking product shots with their phone’s camera. Also if using natural lighting your lighting might be weaker, hence another reason to stabilize.
Have the right editing software
Product photos need to be perfect, so you are going to want to invest in some editing software. Some phones have their own, as do some computers and there are many free apps available, but if you want professional grade software (like Photoshop or Lightroom), you are going to have to pay for it. These days it may not cost you hundreds of dollars as with most software you can pay a small fee monthly or yearly.
Taking great product photos is an important part of running a business, whether online or otherwise. However, you need to make sure that your ecommerce website is properly setup to display the product photos correctly. If you are not familiar with designing a site, you can always seek help from qualified ecommerce web designers.
I hope that these few tips have been helpful. If you have any questions please leave a comment. For more on product photography, take a look at this article.