Product photography at home using your smartphone
Updated: Jun 18, 2021
I've been asked to do a Facebook Live for photography 101 using a smartphone. I have to admit, using a phone to take photos in my studio is not really my thing. At least not anymore.
But as our phones are now easier and faster to use when taking photos, and requires less work editing, I decided I'll take the challenge and share my knowledge doing this LIVE on Facebook.
How to take professional photos with your smartphone
I get a lot of questions from small business owners wondering if they can use their new phones to take white background images and if it would be professional looking. My answer is yes, you definitely can take white background images using your smartphone. All you need to know is few basic steps and have basic equipment. It is simple, and totally doable, so let’s see how we can get the best quality images for your e-commerce implementing these few things.
1. Pick the right smartphone
When choosing a smartphone to take photos of your products, you need to choose a phone that has 12 or more Megapixels on your camera. Basically the more megapixels it has the more information an image contains. It will be easier to edit it after. So go with a phone that will take your images to another level and hey, you can then take professional photos of your pet later. You know those professional images of your cat might get you trending on Social Media :)
Here is a list of phones for the product photography:
Apple iPhone 7. Camera specs: 12-Megapixel camera. ...
Samsung Galaxy S8. Camera specs: 12-Megapixel camera. ...
Google Pixel & Pixel XL. Camera specs: 12-Megapixel camera. ...
LG G6. Camera specs: 13-Megapixel camera.
2. Natural Light is the Key to a good shot
Find a place in your home that has lots of natural light. We do not want to use flash light when doing product photography. I recommend being closer to a source of natural light to make the best out of your product photography at home. The closer you are to a window for example, the softer the shadows will be around your item. If you move away from the window, you will see sharper edges of those shadows, which is not bad for creative, lifestyle images. See my example here:
3. Stability. Choose a tripod.
There are thousands of options when it comes to tripods. If you want something easy to carry around, yet stable. I strongly recommend Manfrotto PIXI Mini Tripod, it sells for around $20 on Amazon. Stable, has a great grip for your phone and super easy to use.
4. Pick your Backdrops
If you need to get some simple white background images done, get a paper sweep or a poster board from Staples or any craft store. I get my boards from Home Depot, they have a nice finish, it’s easy to clean in case you end up spilling a product on it. They are a bit more expensive, but two of them will be enough, they sell for $8.
Image using a white wood board:
More advanced options :
5. Set up your photo station
When you’re ready with your backdrops, use a table and a bit of scotch tape to keep the paper sweep in place. If you’re using the poster boards stack them, one on the bottom one in the background next to a wall. Place your tripod in the same level as your product and move your product closer to the camera, avoid placing the product next to your backdrop, you want to create space so when you’re using a low aperture on your camera you will have a nice blur of the backdrop.
6. Better light options
You’re still not getting the perfect results? To create a more balanced lighting environment to bring out the finest details of your product, use bounce boards, you can make them using more of the poster boards and taping them together, or you can get them on Amazon.
In case it is too bright, use a light diffuser sheet. You can find them for as low as $7 per piece.
Place it over the light source to create softer light.
What’s easier than that? Use a day light curtains, it works just as well.
Lights I recommend for beginners :
BEFORE YOU START
Make sure to charge your phone. And make sure you have a backup storage for your images. You don’t want all of the setting up and shooting to go to waste.
Not necessary but…I love turning the Grid on it allows you to keep all the images in the right place saves you an extra step when editing. Turn it on here: Settings->Camera-> Composition-> Grid.
How to control your exposure: When the camera is open tap the screen and you’ll see the change of light. It’s the exposure. If you tap the circular Exposure button, then touch your product so that the camera knows to expose it. Voilà!
Keep your subject focused. The focus will go where you tap. So make sure your item is focused before the next step.
When you like the setting you’ve created, set a lock on them. It’s easy: Hold your finger on the screen until you see that the settings are locked. This will stop the camera from automatically adjusting the settings while you are taking shots.
Preserve settings on your iPhone
You can now preserve the settings on your iPhone, go to Settings -> Camera -> Preserve Settings, this will allow you to preserve the last mode, such video, rather than automatically reset to photo.
Exposure preserve allows you to preserve exposure adjustment.
Or you can even save creative controls, like last used filter, aspect ratio, light or depth settings.
Now we start taking the photos!
Your settings are locked, but you can still control the exposure by taping on the object on your camera to focus on it and dragging up to brighten or down to lower the exposure.
Best to avoid the following three things in order to get the best product shots:
- Zoom feature, as this will reduce image quality
- Selfie camera, which isn’t as good as the back camera
- Flash, as this will overexpose the photo and mess up the colors
How to edit your images:
Download Lightroom app. It might seem scary in the beginning but it will become very easy to use once you get the hang of it.
Using Lightroom App you can adjust brightness, contrast, sharpness, highlights/shadows, and white balance. Be sure to keep it natural, you want your product to look as it is in real life. So avoid using filters or high saturation on your images.
Once you are happy with your first edit, save your preset and apply it to the rest of the images. It will only take you a bit of time to tweak some setting rather than doing it from scratch.
Follow me on Instagram, as I will be sharing my Lightroom presets this summer!
Thank you for reading, if you have any questions feel free to contact me.