If you don’t yet have the funds to invest in camera equipment, buy yourself time by learning how to take great product photos with your smartphone.
Smartphones have drastically evolved over the last few years to include cameras advanced enough to snap professional quality images, especially for viewing on the web. But just because your smartphone can take high quality pictures doesn’t mean it’s going to turn out perfectly the first time around.
Here are some simple guidelines on how to improve the product photos you take on your phone:
1. Get Close
Many cell phone cameras, especially the iPhone, really start to shine when you bring them in close to your subject. The small sensor provides a relatively wide depth of field so you can get entire objects in focus where cameras with bigger sensors and longer lenses would have trouble.
When getting close, you can also usually have more control over the lighting of your subject. Are bright patches in the background of your composition throwing off the camera's meter and making your subject dark? Get closer and block it out all together. Small detail shots can be quite effective if done right.
2. Crop, Don't Zoom
Many smartphone cameras offer a digital zoom function, but you're almost always best served by pretending it doesn't exist. Even in the liveview preview, you'll be able to see how noticeably your images degrade the second you start to "zoom." The camera is simply extrapolating what's already there and basically guessing what the image looks like. It gets ugly fast.
When you're cropping, however, you're actually just sampling pixel info that was actually recorded. Many smartphones have 8-megapixels of resolution and sometimes more. That means you can crop substantially and still have plenty of resolution left for display on the web. And the lack of gross upscaling artifacts will help mask the fact that it was taken with a phone.
3. Edit, Don't Filter
If you want your images to be unique, the last thing you should do is paint them with the same filters that literally millions of other people are using. For the record, I'm not anti-Instagram. I think the sharing element is fantastic, but the pre-determined "retro" washes are played out. And that goes for every other app slinging the same stuff.
4. Ditch The Flash
The problem with many smartphone flashes is that they don't actually, well, flash. They're glorified LED flashlights, thrust into a duty they're not fully prepared for. They are bright, but the color temperature can be gross and they miss one of the primary duties of a strobe: freezing the action in the frame. The actual "flash" duration is much too long, so you end up with an image that's both blurry and terribly-lit. Not to mention how close it is to the lens, which makes those horrible demon eyes almost a given.
5. Don't Forget The Rules Of Photography
This is by far the most important suggestion of all. The rules for taking a good picture don't change when you switch between cameras. Just because the camera can also make calls, doesn't mean you should ignore everything you know about balanced composition and expressive lighting. If you need to keep the rule of thirds or golden ratio layover on your screen at all times to help remind you, certainly turn it on.
image source: misi.co.uk