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 How to Capture Professional Product Photography Using a Smartphone

Presentation is everything when it comes to eCommerce and the market is saturated with competition. Jewelers and artisans who are already equipped with a natural eye are able to capture professionally staged product photos in just minutes. These are the same people who own thousand dollar photography equipment knowing it elevates their sales and they are only getting better at their gig the longer they practice.

If you’re an individual who is at the beginning stages of developing their eCommerce store, it can seem a bit daunting when you see the competition you are up against. A quality product image can profoundly increase sales and conversions but it doesn’t take high tech equipment and a photography expert to begin taking quality photos.

Great and professional seeming photos can just as easily be taken on a smartphone with the following three concepts taken into consideration: Lighting, Background, and Perspective.


1. Stick to Natural Lighting

Can we all agree that flash photography produces horrendous results? Even if you claimed your room at night has enough light from the lamp in the corner, you still run the risk of having a grainy photo or worse, having photos with that orangey hue nobody likes to see.

Photographing your products in natural lighting will avoid any off color hues and artificial overexposure caused by flash. If you’re a night owl, tough it out and wait until it’s light out. It will be so worth having a more beautiful image.

Indoor lighting gives off a delicate glow

There are different forms of natural light you can utilize which all provide different results. The most popular choice for products is soft and diffused lighting. This can be performed in the shade, indoors, or anywhere outdoors on an overcast day. Diffused light does an excellent job of evenly distributing light across a subject, however be aware of any unwanted shadows casting and adjust accordingly.

Another form of direct light is known as hard light, or direct sunlight. This creates a dramatic effect but others may find this too sun-bleached and unappealing. Conceptually, there are objects that work well in direct sunlight such as shades and swimwear.

smartphone product photography

Handling an eCommerce website means you have to provide the next best thing to the in-person shopping experience, so choose natural light every time if you can help it. Nothing is more beautiful than the power of the sun which ultimately translates the true color composition of the object you are selling to your customers.

2. Set Up Your Background

Setting up the background for your products can be understood through two methods. You can either showcase your product as the single hero of the photo with a single color backdrop, or your product may need to be placed in an artfully arranged environmental backdrop. These two methods are equally effective but the nature of your product will determine which background to choose.

Smartphone product photography for ecommerce

Single color backdrops eliminate any other distractions and enable your customers to admire the object as it is. Tech related objects, wearables, and contemporary jewelry are often depicted against a single color backdrop. The most popular backdrop of choice is white, but any other color works as well if it makes sense.

Üllo wine purifier in an ultra pure white background gives an air of sophistication and innovation

Source: MNML Design

Üllo wine purifier set in a domestic environment gives the customer a better sense of use case and makes it more of a relatable object

Source: MNML Design

Environmental backdrops work well when you want to tell a story. The idea is to use different textures that work well together that convey a more emotional message to your customer. A product placed on a rustic looking table top in a garden or nestled beside folded up cloth and with stones sporadically placed around your product will tell your customer a different message about the brand than a single color backdrop. If this method is right for you, a good rule of thumb is that environmental backdrops only work when there is no confusion of which object is actually for sale in the photo.

3. Using Different Perspectives

If presentation truly is everything, the angle and perspective of your image can influence the way a customer feels. There are a myriad a different angles and perspectives to choose from, however the top four used in product images are aerial, front view, angled vantage points, and macro.

Macarons taken from a straight angle aerial perspective. The textured background works well in this case because the macarons are so simple in form.
Atolye Gozde branding collateral uses a unique combination of the aerial flat lay method, single color background, and minimal environmental embellishments of a palm leaf.

Source: Frames

Try shooting your product from above on a straight angle perspective known as an aerial shot – with this method, you can enhance your product image even further by intentionally arranging objects in a meaningful way. This is known as a flat lay arrangement. Flat lays and aerial shots have become a standard across eCommerce sites, but you can spice it up by choosing a beautiful background for texture such as a marble tabletop or a burlap tablecloth.

Ohhio Braided furniture for pets uses a front view perspective in beautiful diffused lighting. Also bonus points to this for having a cat in the picture!

Source: Ohhio

Aerial and flat lays can’t work for everything. A front view perspective is highly recommended for objects with mass and dimension such as art objects, furniture or lighting. With this method you can rotate your object which can enable you to capture multiple shots showing off all sides. Use a front view perspective to respect the object’s true form.

Letterpress set arranged in a flat lay showcased with a high angled vantage point. Lighting is minimal but the effect is moody and gives enough of a soft glow to see all objects.

Use a high and angled vantage point for a stylistic shot that still shows off the product in a way that is true to form. High angled vantage shots can be taken from all sides. A blend of aerial flat lays taken from a high angled vantage point is a perfect way to beautifully showcase multiple products without much effort.

This macro shot of these handmade goods allows the customer to examine the fine grain of the wood and details in the painted design

Macro photography is a stylistic way of capturing product images if you’re interested in revealing fine details. Consider a macro shot for handmade items. A beautifully captured macro shot can be an extremely fun way to attract leads as a cover photo but don’t let this be your only method! It can actually be misleading for customers because macro skews size and form completely out of context. Use macro as an assisting technique along with the standard true to form shots.

Expensive photography gear is not always the answer to a beautiful shot. When all of these helpful tools and concepts are applied properly, it is guaranteed that they will transform your iPhone photography from sub-par to outstanding.

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