You Can Use Your Smartphone to Take Beautiful Product Images

Y’all its 2019 our smartphones have amazing cameras on them. We’ve all seen the “Shot on iPhone” billboards. I’ll admit that when the cameras on our phones started to significantly advance and especially when portrait mode came out, I was excited and scared at the same time. Excited because the quality is incredible, the photos I can take with just my phone present an opportunity for a great shot even when I don’t have my heavy camera in hand. Though I got scared like many other professional photographers have with the fear of becoming obsolete. However, that fear is a rather irrational one. A great shot isn’t just created with an expensive camera, a little creativity is necessary, but you can do it! Even non-pros can create gorgeous images and save a ton of money taking great shots by themselves, we see it everyday on Instagram, but you just need to know a few things first. Let’s look at some completely unedited images I snapped on my iPhone. I’ve decided on a few interesting items for subjects, ha. Let’s dig in…and yes, I did eat the pineapple, but I did not drink the whiskey, I shot these very early in the morning…

Find Your Light.

The holy grail of a good shot no matter what equipment you are using is lighting. Whether you are taking a shot of food for your recipe blog or an outfit flat lay for your boutique’s Instagram or of a person modeling what you sell you need good light! Natural light is and will probably forever be my favorite light source and its readily available to all of us for free…the sun hasn’t started charging us for usage yet. ;) So even if that shot makes the most since in your kitchen because you prepared that delicious plate in your kitchen if you don’t have a great window letting in plenty of natural light you need to get creative a build a mini-set near a window to get your shot. The same applies to any image, find your light my friend. Here are two shots of the same thing, one in a poor lighting situation and one in the right natural light situation.

Bad light in my kitchen with a light on and very minimal natural light.

Bad light in my kitchen with a light on and very minimal natural light.

Better light under a window.

Better light under a window.

Far prettier to look at!

Far prettier to look at!

Ugly light in my kitchen.

Ugly light in my kitchen.

Natural light near my window.

Natural light near my window.

Make It Interesting.

This one can come easy if you have a little creativity flowing through your blood and if you know what you are after in creating an attention-grabbing image. I love adding props. Adding interesting items will actually make your product shot more attractive. And while creating an interesting shot is the goal, it will also needs to make sense to our senses, so pay attention to how straight your image is. If there is a windowsill or any sort of horizon or background line in your shot make sure it’s straight in comparison to your subject. I shoot laying on the ground sometimes, and often I’m in some sort of ab crunch that can make getting a shot difficult to get my horizon line perfect if my core is screaming. If I was shooting far enough away I can usually crop the image to correct it. However, bear in mind your goal should always be to try to get it right in camera because it will save you time or worse happens, and you aren’t able to crop your image. Below are examples of creating an interesting image with props in comparison to lack thereof and a straight shot versus a crooked shot.

This is dramatically crooked to drive home my point ;)

This is dramatically crooked to drive home my point ;)

Still a great iPhone shot, but maybe you want something a little more interesting.

Still a great iPhone shot, but maybe you want something a little more interesting.

Just straighten it up.

Just straighten it up.

Props are awesome if you ask me. But does it help that I do this for a living and tend to have lots of fun things around the studio to add in to product shots.

Props are awesome if you ask me. But does it help that I do this for a living and tend to have lots of fun things around the studio to add in to product shots.

Shooting In Portrait Mode.

Now maybe you don’t have portrait mode yet on your phone, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a great shot, but I want to show you the difference between portrait mode and just a regular camera shot. Even if your fancy phone boasts portrait mode not every shot you take would be better in portrait mode. Again, this depends on what you are shooting and the end goal of your image. Portrait mode applies depth of field to your image and light plays a massive role in a great portrait mode shot too. Depth of field is applied when the aperture is adjusted in your camera. Depth of field in super basic terms can be explained by how in or out of focus the foreground and background is around the subject of your shot. Pros shooting with pro cameras are adjusting this setting among all the other settings because we are shooting on manual, but that’s not why you are here so I will keep this on subject. The portrait mode on my iPhone 8 plus adjusts by itself when I move, but there are now smartphones with cameras that you can adjust your aperture. I was so excited about my new iphone when my husband surprised me with it as a gift strictly because of portrait mode, but he also recently informed me that iPhones/Apple are actually behind their competitors in this technology. Apparently Android smartphones are even more advanced, whomp whomp. Check out the Best Camera Phones according to AndroidAuthority.com. To break down aperture in the way it was first explained to me that I actually understood you want think of aperture as a window. Just like the size of a window determines how much light comes in, your aperture also determines how much light it lets in your image along with the depth of field. If you really want to dig into understanding aperture better I suggest this article: “How to Understand Aperture in 5 Simple Steps”. I’m a show me, don’t tell me type of learner so if you are like me these images may help you understand this portrait mode setting better.

Notice how the background is also in focus. This is not in portrait mode.

Notice how the background is also in focus. This is not in portrait mode.

Portrait Mode or adjusting your aperture will give you this effect.

Portrait Mode or adjusting your aperture will give you this effect.

Without portrait mode.

Without portrait mode.

With portrait mode.

With portrait mode.

Follow these three guidelines and they will help you create better shots of your products for your business, social media pages and your blogs by using just a smartphone. I still recommend using a pro or at least a pro camera for some shots. It can be a real struggle using a smartphone image on your website for things like banner images, and if you plan to send your images off for print advertising that might be a better job for a pro too, you will run into file sizes and other time-consuming tech-y stuff.

As always should you need some assistance, I’m happy to help. I offer just product photography too. And don’t worry I’ll be shooting with my good camera and lenses. I use all the necessary lighting techniques to get the best shots and curate them to fit it your brand, which may mean a little perfect prop shopping and a few good hours creating and editing your images, but I love it! Just click the big yellow button to get in touch!

Talk to ya soon,

Linds