In this article I'm going to show you how to get started taking product photos using just a smartphone and every day items.
You'll get information on the best settings, how to position your product, and how to set up your photo taking environment.
Understanding Your Smartphone Camera
Capabilities and Limitations
Modern smartphones come equipped with cameras that rival professional gear. Understand the strengths (like portability and user-friendly interfaces) and limitations (like sensor size) of your smartphone camera.
Familiarize yourself with basic settings like focus, exposure, and white balance. These can significantly impact the quality of your photos.
Many of the camera settings will be automatically adjusted by your phone to the optimal level.
Your phone will focus the photo automatically but this can usually be adjusted by manually tapping the screen. Ensure your product is the most crisp subject in the photo.
On most modern camera phones you can manually adjust the exposure if needed.
For example, on iPhone this can be done by tapping the screen and then sliding up or down.
Avoid digital zoom on your camera, this will worsen the quality of the image. Instead physically move your camera closer/further away if necessary.
Preparing Your Product
Ensure your product is spotless. Any dust or fingerprints might be magnified in photographs.
Think about how to position your product. Experiment with different angles to find the most flattering views.
Setting the Stage
Choosing a Background
There are a range of different options for product photo backdrops.
You can use things like wallpaper, natural backgrounds, or foliage.
We made a comprehensive guide on the best product photography backdrops which includes information about cost and ease-of-setup.
The right lighting is key for creating good product photos.
Natural light is the best source of soft lighting, set up near a large window if possible.
If the time and angle is right you should also try taking photos during golden hour. This will add a great effect to your photos.
If you can't use natural light you should try find another light source that gives off soft light such as a lamp.
You can diffuse harsh light sources and turn it into soft light by holding a large white bed sheet or shower curtain in front of the light. Avoid harsh shadows as they will distract from the product.
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Composition and Framing
Rule of Thirds
This classic photography principle involves dividing your image into nine equal segments. Place your product along these lines or their intersections for a balanced composition.
Fill the Frame
Get close enough to the product so it fills the frame, but leave enough space to give context.
Negative space can help draw the eye to the product and create an interesting shot. This method is usually tied with the Rule of Thirds method.
Capturing the Shot
Stability is Key
Use a tripod or stable surface to avoid blurriness. You can find smartphone tripods on amazon for as little as $15.
This will ensure your images are not blurry and it means you can take all your photos from the same angle/position which will look good when showing all product photos next to each other, for example on a collection page.
Take several photos from different angles. This gives you more options to choose from and can provide more context for your customers.
You can optionally take different types of shots, for example one on a white background and one lifestyle shot.
Experiment with Perspectives
Don't just stick to eye-level shots. Try overhead or low-angle shots for dynamic perspectives.
The 45-degree downward looking angle is a more natural angle and can make your customers relate more as that is similar to how it would be viewed in real life.
Editing Your Photos
Use editing apps to adjust brightness, contrast, and saturation. Remember, the goal is to enhance, not drastically alter.
Ensure your photos have a consistent look. This enhances your brand's professional appearance.
This could be consistency of angles, backdrop, or even colors in your photos.
Apps like Snapshot allow you to remove the background of your photo and regenerate it to something completely different.
It uses AI to instantly regenerate the images and the results look very realistic.
Snapshot also offers 80 free image generations per month for free so you can try it out without any commitment.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Keep edits minimal. Overdoing it can make your product look unnatural.
Editing should be used sparingly and only when necessary. Often, with the right lighting and backdrop, editing might not even be necessary.
Poor composition can distract from your product. Stick to basic composition rules we referenced in Composition and Framing to ensure the product remains front-and-center.
Professional Equipment: Do You Need It?
While smartphone cameras are incredibly capable, there are instances where professional equipment can add value. For example, professional cameras can use sophisticated lenses to change how a photo looks.
However, these cameras and lenses can be expensive and hiring a photographer to take pictures is often not economically viable. For most e-commerce purposes, a smartphone coupled with good technique suffices.