Product photography is an essential part of the online market. The perceived value of your products, as well as, the integrity of your brand is often assessed based on the quality of the product images.
Customers can’t rely on other senses like touch, smell, taste and hear the way they are used to when appraising tangible products. Customers rely almost entirely on visuals to understand the product they are buying. Therefore, great product photography can go a long way.
Below I am going to share my favorite tips on how to create eye-catching photos with your smartphone.
All the gizmos and gadgets can be intimidating when you are just starting out. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a camera to get great product images.
There are plenty of cheaper ways to create striking content for your product. For instance, you can create eye-catching photos just using your smartphone and some inexpensive equipment. So what exactly do you need?
If you already have a camera then great! Use that! But if you don’t, it’s not necessary that you purchase one to start your product photography. Today’s smartphones can take amazing product photos and they are a great tool to learn basic photography on.
Newer models of smartphones like the iPhone 7, Samsung Galaxy S4 and Google Pixel are equipped with temperature settings and 12 MP and 13 MP lenses. These lenses optimize the different types of light you will be shooting in (which I will cover below). So, if you have any of those versions or newer you are good to go!
While you can get away without having a professional camera, I would highly recommend a tripod for stabilization and consistency. Here is the tripod I use for my smartphone. It comes with 3 extra lenses that you can clip on your phone which are super cool to have and incredibly user friendly.
Also, you’re going to want to set your camera up with minimal aperture. This is important to get the most depth out of your camera. The sharpness of your photo is defined by the width of the depth field.
Light plays a huge role in the quality of your photos! It can make or break them, especially in product photography.
In a lot of cases, striking photos and a carefully worded description are the only factors for a customer to decide on whether a product is worth purchasing. Therefore, the decision making process is heavily weighted on the product photo. You want quality product photos that accurately represent the product you are trying to move.
Natural Light, as in sunlight or “soft light” is my personal favorite. It provides a softer range and makes for beautiful, organic looking, eye-catching photos created even on your smartphone.
This type of light would work well for product shoots done outside. Especially if the product is used by or worn by a person in the shot. People tend to look better in natural light.
If you are shooting inside but want to use natural lighting, have your product face the window. This will gain the maximum amount of natural light possible for your image.
If you are shooting outside, the primary times to shoot are early morning or late afternoon. When the sun is out but not too harsh and not too high in the sky so you don’t get weird shadowing or glare.
Personally, I notice that I respond differently to products when they are in a natural outdoor setting. Not only because nature provides the best backdrop, but it also creates a wistful mood that always draws me in.
Here is a soft lighting system I would recommend using on products. They could be also used for video, self-portraits, etc. I would purchase two of those. One can be used as an overhead light and the other placed slightly lower to fill in any shadows. This set is also a great option.
Artificial lighting could mean anything from candles and fire to light bulbs. It is commonly known as “hard light” because it provides a more focused, smaller light surface. This type of lighting is great for product photoshoots. For these, the product’s physical details need to be accentuated to impress a customer.
For example, for something like a watch you’d probably like to shoot indoors with artificial lighting. This is because all the tiny details are what makes this particular watch special, so they should be emphasized.
Generally, you should pick one type of lighting per photo shoot, so you don’t get in your own way. Whichever lighting type you choose, it’s important to turn off all other lights not to contaminate the set. Whether it is shutting of the light inside the room or closing the blinds on windows.
Technique for your smartphone and more
Rule of Thirds
This is the foundation for all great photography and is usually covered in most introductory photo classes. Don’t underestimate this powerful tool! The rule of thirds breaks up an image into nine equal segments to create a balance composition. It helps the photographer know where to place emphasis.
The goal is to have the product or model placed along the lines, particularly where two lines intersect. Take a look at your favorite photos, it’s likely they all follow the rule of thirds.
Shots and Angles
I highly recommend shooting a variety of photos with different angles, lighting and backdrops. This will help stimulate the right experience for your customers.
For example, if it’s a clothing product shoot the garment alone as well as on a mannequin. It’s helpful to color contrast the product with the backdrop to make it stand out better. Then, capture images on a model with various angles.
This one is huge! Often if a website only shows one type of image, I won’t even consider buying it because I need to know how it fits for me to commit to it. Which photograph stands out to you more? Which one makes you more likely to buy these shoes?
An eye-catching photo tells a story, it paints a picture, especially if you are trying to promote something. You want your customer’s to be able to envision themselves using your product.
For instance, if you are trying to photograph a dress, the white background will help pull focus to the physical details of the dress. But if you shoot a model wearing a dress at a picnic with her beau or walking down the beach at sunset, then you give your customer a chance to see themselves wearing that dress. These types of photos make the wheels turn in their head and is more likely to get you the sales.
Inspiration for eye-catching photos
It’s likely that you have your own favorite stores and Instagram pages. They draw you in with eye-catching photos and showcase products in a way that makes you want to buy them. (I’ve had to stop following some of my favorite stores on insta so I’m not too tempted).
Photographs are powerful! It’s a good idea to take a look at other businesses with the same vibe or similar products. Draw inspiration from these and learn how to showcase your products in a proven-to-work way.
That’s all for now, friends. I hope these product photography basics help you hit the ground running and create some eye-catching photos with your smartphone.
There is so much to learn about photography, and it can get quite complicated, but it doesn’t need to be. Start with what you know and work your way up. You can enroll in a class, watch YouTube videos, read blogs and you’ll be on your way. You can always upgrade your gear as you learn. For now start with what you have and have fun with it!
Still looking for a photographer for your business? Photos by Pala Mikayla guarantees a fun, lively atmosphere, quality guidance, and professional services… while still having a good time. Check out my work!