Brands

How to take professional product images with your phone

Taking your own photos for your business is a game changer, especially now that we are quarantined due to Covid-19. There are some times you should hire a brand photographer, like when you need to revamp your website, or you’re adding a ton of new awesome products!! But there are also some times where a quick phone pic will be more than perfect!

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!

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, grass…whatever matches your aesthetic)
-1 white reflective surface (a poster board, pillow, sheet, piece of paper, anything as long as it’s white and you can stand it up somehow!)

Lighting:

Lighting is actually the most important part of a great image! You can take something from ordinary to extraordinary just with good light.

Find a window in your house with bright, even (indirect) light. Below is an example of a window that is too bright. See all those sun spots? We want the light to be even, with out any sun spots! (unless you like the pattern of the window, there are no rules in art!)

If your window has sun spots, just check back at a different time of the day. 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.

Turn of alllllllll other lights off. Yes even that lamp. You’d be surprised at how much an artificial light all the way across the room can affect an image. The color of the light coming through the window is a different color than the color of lightbulbs, and we don’t want clashing colors because it will throw off the white balance. Long story short–turn all the lights off (trust me!)

This is my room (below), where pretty much all of the 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 the kind of bright, even light you want!

Setup:

After you find your window space, 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. 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! In my examples I’m showing a poster board, but on wedding days I just prop up a white pillow next to my shooting area when I’m photographing the invitation suite, jewelry, etc. No way in haaaaaiiiiiillllll am I carrying a poster board to a wedding 🙂

Styling:

I really am not tooting my own horn right now, but people have told me that I’m good at styling. I don’t know what I do that makes them think that….but I guess my plan is working?! I don’t have any answers on “how to style”, but here’s what I find works best for me!

With anything I shoot, I try to make it look 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 image of the t-shirt is a whole outfit laid(layed?) flat, but it’s exactly how I would wear it in real life. The only thing you could say is wonky is that the shoes are up on the shoulder, not under the fanny pack. That was a design choice because I wanted the t-shirt to be the focal point, so the shoes and fanny pack frame it. Same thing with the laptop + headphones image. That’s exactly what it would look like if I naturally set my laptop and headphones down anywhere.

Again, there is now the right or wrong way! I’ve done so many different “styling patterns”, and having things “naturally placed” works better for my style! Below are some examples of images with different styles that I 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. 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. Then start adding fillers. It’s easier to add in what your main subject is first, then add on-brand fillers around it!

image credit

Organized: you know those people who make sure all their pencils are in a perfectly in a 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

Type A: 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

Here are examples or some more naturally styled products! Try shooting the same thing at multiple angles to see the different looks you get. Depending on what you’re shooting, one way might work better than the other.

If you go on Pinterest and search “flatlay styling” you’ll see soooooo many other examples of how people style images! 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, exposure, or anything, just take the picture!

Editing:

I highly recommend exploring what editing style matches your brand, so that 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! They give images a bit of vibrance without changing the natural colors

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

Other Accessories:

Above are the very basics for taking phone pictures, but as you keep getting creative you may need some tools to help your visions come to life– below are some things that may help!

  • 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 self-portraits 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:
  • Accessories– 3 words: Homegoods, Marshalls, TJ Maxx. Keep the receipt.

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

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