If you don’t have a high-end camera, you are out of luck when it comes to taking photos for your store, right? Wrong, friend. You’re probably carrying the camera you need in your pocket every day.
Investing in a professional photographer is more of a luxury than a necessity. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be bringing in sales long before you make that investment. Let’s talk about how you can take your tiny pocket computer and produce high quality product photos with your smartphone.
Position your Products
The first step is to make sure that the scene you are setting will make for a good image to begin with. Anyone visiting your site wants to see product-focused, high quality images that make it really clear what you are selling.
To that end, you want to make sure your products are clean and your setup is correct before you start snapping. There are a few basic rules to follow:
Watch your backgrounds
A plain white background is best for most of your product shots. This lets your product really take the spotlight and removes any distractions.
You can also set the scene with contextual shots that show your products in their environment. For fashion, that could be on a model. For cooking gear, you would shoot in the kitchen. Camping gear looks great outdoors.
No matter what, make sure the background works for the product and for your target customer. Avoid distractions and make sure any scenery adds to the focus instead of taking away from it.
Get your lighting right
Natural lighting is free, and much more forgiving to work with than artificial lighting. If you are shooting indoors, set up your white background “studio” with a window to either the left or right, and a white reflector of some sort on the opposite side. You want to light your product evenly and without shadows.
Shoot multiple angles and details
Customers will want to see as much as they can before they make a commitment. As the price goes up, so does their need for knowledge. Make sure to provide lots of high-quality images of your most expensive products to help make the sale.
Shoot all the sides and angles you can, and make sure to zoom in on detailed areas and points of use: zippers, buttons, controls, straps, etc. Anything people will interact with frequently is fair game for a close up.
Choose Your Camera
Not all smartphones are created equal, especially when it comes to their cameras. iPhones are known for being miles ahead in this department, but the truth is that some Android phones are catching up. That means you can finally take great images without owning a phone that will be intentionally obsoleted by its maker in six months.
Your best choices for a phone camera are the following:
- iPhone 8 or newer
- Google Pixel 2
- Samsung Galaxy S8 or S9
- Samsung Galaxy 8 Note
The current standard for phone cameras is around the 12 megapixel mark; anything on that level will give you the image quality you need. Odds are that either you or one of your friends have a camera that will suit your needs.
Once you’ve got a phone with an appropriate camera, the next step is to think about how to use it well. No matter how great your camera is, you’ve got to think carefully about how you use it to get the best results.
Choose the highest quality/resolution setting you can
Unlike film, space here doesn’t cost you anything. Choose the largest file size and the highest resolution setting your phone allows. This will give you the best image possible to start with, and you can reduce file size when you edit.
Don’t zoom in
Digital zoom is not great for picture quality, and it’s the only type of zoom you’ve got with a phone camera.
If you need a close-up shot, just move in close to your product. You’ll get a much better finished product photo than zooming in.
Forget taking a selfie
Use your rear-facing camera instead of your selfie cam. It will almost always be higher resolution than the front facing camera. Also, trying to take pictures with the selfie camera will almost always give you weird angles. Not worth it.
Clean your lens
Lenses are easy to carry everywhere in pockets and purses. Make sure you clean your camera lens well before your photo session. Dust, dirt and smudges on your lens will be super noticeable.
Turn the flash off
The flash on your phone is…not so good. Get your lighting right and let your flashlight remain a flashlight, because it’s no good for photography.
Steady your camera
Your best options is to invest in small tripod. This is a tiny purchase that will make a big difference. Just elimination camera shake will make a big difference, and let you keep your camera in place between shots.
Take Your Product Photos Further
You aren’t entirely limited to the quality of your phone's camera and default settings. There are other ways to go above and beyond to get better images.
Play with your settings. Go into the settings for your camera and see what you have the power to change. Try out one setting at a time, and see what kind of differences changes make to your final image.
Use an app. You can also download third-party camera apps from your app store. Some of these offer a hugely increased functionality over your default camera software. Download some of the highest rated apps and see what you can do.
Edit elsewhere. Don’t use your phone to crop or edit your images. You’ll get much better results by bringing your images back to your computer and using Photoshop, GIMP or Darktable to edit your images.
Don't overdo it. Whatever you use to edit your photos, beware of overediting. Less is more. Cropping, removing backgrounds, etc. is fine, but it’s easy to go way too far editing and end up with an image that looks like you used a Snapchat filter.
Edit your images. If you want polished and edited images without learning how to use editing software and spending your time editing all of your own photos, you can just pick the shots you want to use and drop them off with Pixc. You’ll get back perfectly edited photos in 24 hours or less.
Consider getting an add-on lens your phone. You can add a lot of functionality to your phone’s camera with additional lenses. Close-up or wide angle lenses could be very useful for getting regular product shots, and others like the fisheye could help you create interesting social media content.
Start Taking Photos
You don’t have to have a professional camera or even a professional behind the shutter button anymore. If you need better images for your store, it’s easier now than it ever has been. Grab your smartphone, setup your “studio” and start taking your photos of your products.
Remember that if they aren’t perfect, you can always take more.
Have any questions about taking product photos? Ask 'em in the comments!