DIY: Capture the best product images with a smartphone
Posted by Andres Aguerrevere on
When buying a product an essential part of the process is being in touch with it, see its characteristics and trying to understand how it works. When the process takes place in online stores product description, reviews and images are key to help customers decide whether it suits their needs or not.
As sellers we must take this into consideration when photographing our products, the quality, angle and lighting in the pictures are essential to give buyers the most precise view possible of the products they want to purchase. If you think you need to hire a professional photographer or to buy a professional camera to shoot your products, we have great news for you.
With the right phone, setting and apps you can handle this process on your own, but making sure you offer your potential customers the best quality in your product images.
The first step is to get yourself a phone with a good camera, here are some devices that have one with quality good enough to help you get the photos you need:
12-megapixel iSight camera
Video Recording HD (1080) @ 30 frames per second with audio
The important thing to consider when choosing the smartphone you are going to use for your photo-shoot is that the device has autofocus and the maximum megapixels possible. Then you are ready for the next step, selecting the right accessories to help you get the best shots possible.
The variety of accessories for photo shoots is huge, and the ones you choose will depend on the purpose of your photos, for this case, product image, we recommend using the following elements:
Backdrop: Use a light background; white or grey, to give your photographs a clean a consistent look, avoiding distractions. You can easily create it yourself by using a shit, foam board or rolled paper. It is recommendable to add a sweep or floor; this will give your photos a more professional look.
Table: this will make it easier for you to take the photos you need by giving your product some height. And depending on the equipment you use to help you stabilize the phone, it can be useful as well for this purpose.
Lighting: There are different options you can use for this purpose, but the best and easiest is to use natural light. Place your table and product near a window where you can capture natural light. Be careful with the casted shadows. If you can’t find a good source to place your product you can always rent a light-box. Or make one yourself, this is a great option because you will spend less money and keep it for future occasions.
Phone stabilization: Natural light gives your product photos a beautiful color but they can sometimes turn out blurry, so you need a gadget to help you stabilize your phone while taking the photos. Even though many cameras contain software to help you with this, it is always recommendable to use a tripod. However there are other accessories you can use with your smartphone:
Gorilla Pod Mobile:
It's a compact tripod, ideal to use on a table, it is flexible and can be placed in different positions. It includes a mount and a stand.
Lenses: Yes, it is possible. Thanks to technology now you have the possibility to add external lenses to your smartphone. This is a great option when you need to zoom in your product, or to solve lighting and focusing problems. This are some lenses used for smartphones:
Photojojo iPhone & Android lenses: the great thing about this one is that it is a set that includes 5 different lenses depending on what you need. ($20-$100).
Olloclip iPhone 4-in-1 Lens: this portable lens is a great option since it contains 4 lenses into 1 unit, which helps you avoid carrying a complete set. The downside to it, is that it is only available for iPhone ($70)
And finally, after you’ve decided on the right phone and accessories, you should look through the different editing apps for smartphones. There are hundreds of options to look for, so, find those that have professional reviews. These two are among the best options available: Free Adobe Photoshop Express and Photoshop Touch ($5).
With the right instruments at hand half of the job is done, now you have to make sure to use every element you have correctly; you get the best results to present your clients. Remember that your product photos are part of the storefront of your online store, they must be beautiful, high quality and with great detail.
Let’s follow a step by step by guide on how to capture these beautiful photos.
1. Preparation: After you’ve gathered all the necessary equipment, it is time to prepare everything to get your photos, pay attention to these details before starting.
Lighting: make sure you have a good source of natural light, this way you avoid blurry photos or missing out important details
Background: set up your table and backdrop, with the product you need to photograph.
Place and stabilize your smartphone: it is important to ensure that your product is right in the center of the frame you are about to take.
Pay attention to details: confirm that your product is clean, without any stains, price tags or any distracting elements. Perfection is key.
2. Capturing: Once the product is ready, verify that all settings are adjusted to what you need.
Adjust the settings: consider all aspects of the capturing and saving process; zoom, grid, live exposure, autosave, and quality.
Settle camera settings: zoom, whites balance, exposure and focus.
3. Take your photos
4. Editing: When you’ve got all the photos you need, it is time to give them the final touch to make them perfect. Using your editing apps consider these 5 basic elements: Crop & Straighten, Sharpen, Contrast, Shadows, and Vibrance.
Once you’ve done all the necessary editing, make sure you create a backup for the images so you avoid losing any of them. Photo shooting products with a smartphone can be a long process, there are many details you need to consider, but once you’ve taken care of everything the results you’ll get will make all the process worth it.
After knowing the basics, consider these important tips to improve the quality of the results you'll get:
Good lighting is key, so whenever a customer looks at the photo, they can easily see all the details of the product. But be careful with the position, avoid casting shadows over it.
If you don’t have a good towel, make sure to use at least a sheet of paper, in light colors to have a background with an uniform and clear color.
Zoom in the details of your product; make sure that any words or numbers are clear enough to be read.
Capture different angles; place yourself in the buyer’s position and think of what you would like to see on pictures when buying a product online.
Avoid distractions, as said before the background must be in one color without patterns or shapes place the product in the center and crop it enough so there’s not too much space around. But, be careful not to crop any parts of the product.
Make sure to take different photos before moving anything, this way you are ensuring you have many options to choose from when the editing process starts.
Don’t over edit your images, if you overload with too many colors you’ll miss out the real colors of the product.