Easy Product Photography Can Happen In an Instant

Shooting Product Photographs With a Smartphone or Tablet

Great product photos are vitally important when running an online store but you don't need an expensive, high-end camera in order to get the shot. You can capture excellent photos with a piece of tech you probably already own – a smartphone or tablet. Today’s mobile devices come with super sharp lenses and easy photo editing apps so shooting great photos is as easy as point and click. . . almost. Here are a few tips that will guarantee you the perfect shot every time.

Shoot in natural light when possible

Lighting is one of the trickiest aspects of shooting a great photo. You’ll get the best results when you shoot in natural sunlight from a window or even outside in the morning. If that’s not possible, position a desk lamp on either side of your product and bounce the light off a white board behind the object. By using two lights you cancel out the shadows and by bouncing instead of lighting directly, you avoid those annoying glare spots.

Capturing great product images can happen with your smartphone!
Photo courtesy of Cathy P, 2 Little P's, www.2littlePs.com

Use a backdrop

If you’re shooting your items from the front, it’s important that you use a solid color backdrop to block out any clutter behind the object. White is great from a lighting perspective, but a color might make your items pop. Just remember that the final images will be lined up next to each other on your website so limited your color choices to a few that match your overall color scheme.

If you’re shooting an item from above, especially a small item such as earrings, experiment with different textures. You’ll be surprised by how many options you have right around the house. Try a woven placemat, a wooden cutting board, a marble cheese plate, even a piece of slate from the yard can make a unique and distinctive background for your shot.

Hold steady with a tripod

Sure, you can simply hold your smartphone and shoot but a tripod will give you both consistency and control. There are two types of mobile tripods; all in one units and clamps. If you’re photographing small items, you can buy a flexible, mini, smartphone tripod for under $20 on Amazon. If you're shooting with a tablet, invest in a steady camera tripod and a mount designed for your specific device. Combined, the set will run you around $50 but you can find tripods at the local thrift store for a lot less. NOTE: Always buy the correct mount for your specific tablet. The wrong size unit can allow your tablet to slip and break.

Edit with a light touch

Most mobile devices come with a photo editing app that can do all kinds of fancy things. You can posterize your pictures or make them look like snapshots from the 70’s. Resist the urge. This isn't an art project. You want your customers to see your products in a way that as closely resembles real life as possible. Do use the cropping tool to get rid of extra blank space and tweak the brightness and contrast if you must. Otherwise, leave your photos alone. This isn't the time to go all Salvador Dalí.

Let your product images evoke the mood of your website!
Photo courtesy of Cathy P, 2 Little P's, www.2littlePs.com

One is not enough

A customer can’t pick up your product and look at the back side, so you have to do it for her.

Shoot every product from a variety of angles and always include the back and any relevant detail shots. For example, on a bracelet, you might want to shoot a close-up of the clasp.

Also think about photographing your products in their natural habitat. Put the bracelet on an arm, put the bowl on the kitchen counter, show a child playing with your toy. All of these are fine as long as you also provide one, clean shot of the item on a solid background. That’s the beauty shot that is going to draw your customers in.

The “in use” shot is the one that’s going to make them click and buy. Learning to shoot great photos with your mobile device can take a little time. You’ll need to experiment with the lighting conditions in your house to find the best time of day and the best place to shoot. (Which will change with the seasons!)

You might want to buy a tripod or build your own photo booth. But soon you’ll get the hang of it and once you have a routine figured out; shooting great photos will be as easy as point and click. Once you've replaced all of your old, grainy store photos with glorious new product images, you'll see the difference in your sales numbers and that makes the learning worthwhile.