Brands

How to take professional product images with your phone

Taking your own photos is a game changer, especially now that we are quarantined due to Covid-19. There are some times you should hire a brand photographer, and some times when you can do a quick and easy photo shoot all on your own with just your phone. If you just need a few images of yourself, your product, or just something to post on Instagram, you can easily do that without hiring a photographer for a whole brand shoot (and I’m a photographer who does brand shoots, but some things are easier if you do them yourself!)

Before I dive in I just want ya’ll to know that if you have any questions at all, please email or DM me on Instagram! I know learning something like this online can be difficult, so please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or if you need help! Now let’s get to it!

Supplies:

-your phone
-whatever you’re taking pictures of
-a window
-1 shooting surface (your backdrop– can be a poster board, blanket, the floor, a countertop, a sweater, wrapping paper…whatever matches your aesthetic)
-1 white reflective surface (a poster board, pillow, sheet, piece of paper, anything as long as it’s white!)

Lighting:

You are going to get your best results when shooting with JUST natural light!! If you take anything from this post, let this be it!

Find a window in your house with bright, even light. Below is an example of a window that is too bright. See all those sun spots? That’s not what you want!

If your window has sun spots, don’t worry, just check back at a different time. As the sun rises and sets, it may only hit your window like that during a certain time of the day. I have a specific time period that I take pictures in my house at, because all my windows face the same way and have sun spots at certain times. (bright even light is also the light plants like, do with that information what you will 😉

Turn of alllllllll other lights. You’d be surprised at how much an artificial light all the way across the room can effect an image. Turn them all off!

This is my room, where pretty much all of my images I shoot at home are photographed in. See how there are no sun spots on my bed but it’s still bright? That’s what you want!

Setup:

After you find the window space you’re using, it’s time to set everything up! Take your shooting surface and place it right next to your window (on the ground, a table, etc.). It’s ideal to get your surface up to the height of the window, so if your window is tall and you have a chair or table, put everything on that.

Next prop your white reflective surface up parallel to your window, but on the opposite side of your subject (you’ll notice in the photo that I had to use a pillow to prop my board up, but I could have just propped the pillow up like that if I didn’t have the board!). This will make it so that the light coming in through the window will hit the white surface, and reflect light onto your subject, which gets rid of harsh shadows. Do an experiment: raise and lower the white surface next to where you are shooting—you’ll see the shadows get lighter, even if it’s really subtle!

Styling:

The most asked question! I don’t have any answers on what is right and wrong as far as styling goes, but I do have some tips on what I do!

With anything I shoot, I like to make it as natural looking as possible. I think to myself “if I saw this scenario in real life, is this what it would look like”. Depending on what I’m shooting, that might look different! The example images in this post are examples of that. The t-shirt one is an outfit, but it’s exactly how I would wear it in real life. The only thing you could say is wonky is that my shoes are up on my shoulder not under my fanny pack. That was a design thing because I wanted the t-shirt to be the focal point, so the shoes and fanny pack frame it. Same thing with my laptop + headphones image. That’s what it would look like if I set my laptop and headphones down.

Again, this is not the right or wrong way! I’ve done so many different “styling patterns”, and this one is easiest for me and matches my style. Here are some patterns I’ve seen and LOVE–

image credit

Explosion: I LOVE this image by Kate La Vie, so much! It’s like she took all of her favorite things and threw them in the air like confetti (don’t try that, especially with scissors….). But doesn’t it just remind you of a party explosion? To style this way, make sure your main subject is where your eye goes first. Don’t have too many words, patterns, pictures, etc. right next to each other. The start adding fillers!

image credit

Type A organized: you know those people who make sure all their pencils are in a perfect row? This is what that style reminds me of. Everything is still in a natural element, but the organization is not natural, which is NOT a bad thing. It pulls in your attention, but it’s not so obvious that it’s an eye sore

image credit

Perfectly placed: There’s absolutely nothing natural about how this image is styled, and that’s why I love it! Its bold and it makes you stop in your tracks (er….your scroll). This is a really great styling pattern if you have a lot of images you need to have in one image—think of it like a “visual list”, you can easily see everything.

left image credit ——– right image credit

You can also choose to shoot from above, or from the side. Depending on what you’re shooting, one way might work better than the other, or both may work. Take for example this latte. It looks good shot from above, and from the side.

If you go on Pinterest and search “flatlay styling” you’ll see soooooo many other examples and styling patterns! Make a board of images that inspire you, and think about what you love about it and how you can recreate it in your own way. You could even get really specific and search “coffee photography” or “t-shirt photography”, or whatever you are shooting.

*Random tip for fashion bloggers! For outfit pictures, get a custom hanger with your name, IG handle, or website on it! Then if your image gets shared anywhere, people will be able to find you to follow along!

Shooting:

This is the easiest part!! Use the standard camera app on your phone. The standard camera app will give you the best quality images, because it’s not opening the camera through a third-party app and distorting the quality. You don’t need to do anything with the settings or anything, just take the picture!

Editing:

I highly recommend having an editing style so that all your images are consistent! My favorite editing app is Lightroom Mobile, it’s free! Within Lightroom you’re able to import presets to paste onto images, and make quick and easy tweaks. If you love the look of the images in this post, they were all edited with my own preset! You can purchase it HERE, below are some before & afters using my presets!

Other great apps for editing are A Color Story, Film Born, and VSCO! They have standard filters built in to the app.

Other Accessories:

Above are the very basics you need to take these pictures, but as you learn more while you’re shooting you may want to buy some more accessories for shooting! Below are some things that may help in transforming your images!

  • Phone tripod with remote shutter-I have a tripod for my phone, but nothing like this! I’m really wishing I had a shutter remote for mine, that would make portraits of yourself SO much easier
  • Contact paper, wallpaper, or colored poster boards- I have a few different contact paper styles that I’ve stuck on both sides of a dollar store foam board and they work PERFECT (make sure they are matte so they don’t show glares). Here are a few different styles:

I hope this was helpful!! Again, if you have any questions, please email or DM me!

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