How to create amazing photos for your online shop with your phone
Written by: Monica McCoy
At diligent, we are usually in charge of taking the professional photos for product listing or corporate websites. But sometimes it's the client who want to take the pictures. In these cases, one of the most common question we get asked is how can I take good pictures for my online shop? So today I'm going to share my best tips on how to create amazing photos for your online shop with your phone.
How to create amazing photos for your online shop with your phone
Let's get one thing out of the way. Obviously, a smartphone won't take the same quality photos as a professional camera will. However, in recent years there has been a huge jump towards better quality, so you can get some amazing shots from your phone, whether you have an iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Sony Xperia or an LG.
In fact, websites are a great place for photos shot with smartphones, because they require a smaller size. My colleague, Jerom, shot a few good photos with my phone and posted them in my Instagram, for example.
It's been said that the best camera is the one you've got, and your phone is always in your pocket or purse (or right in your hand). What's more, they're super easy to use, I bet you use your camera all the time. So take advantage of your phone, you don't need a deep understanding of photography to take great shots.
The fact that you can share the photos from your phone instantly is one thing traditional cameras are still lacking. So don't take your phone for granted; if you need to upload an image quickly, just whip out your phone. I'm going to tell you how to create amazing photos for your online shop with your phone.
Know your camera
This little tip can be applied to any camera, whether it's a smartphone, compact or reflex. Snap a few shots in different environments and see what results you get. If there's any advantage digital photography offers it's the fact that you've got no limit to photos you can take. So test different automatic and manual modes and test out all the settings.
Explore the camera's settings and make sure it's configured to take photos with the hightest resolution and quality possible. If your camera has the option to snap shots in the RAW format, by all means, take advantage of it. By understanding what your camera can do you'll be able to squeeze out its maximum potential.
Pay attention to the light
Light is one of the most important aspects in photography, and even more so when you are using your phone to take photos. Although the latest phones can capture great shots even with little light, such as the Samsung Galaxy S7 or the Google Pixel, most of them struggle in poor lighting conditions. With little light they often generate “sound” in the image. For example, back in the day the grain effect in analogue photos, especially in black and white photos, was considered a positive and charming characteristic. Now that we have ways to hide this noise, it's considered poor quality when you see the grain or noise in a photo.
When photographing a product, the lighting tends to be controlled (the product doesn't move, so you can illuminate it however you like). Try to use a neutral background and at least a few lateral light sources with even light. If you're using natural light pouring in from your windows you can use a white poster or cloth on the opposite side to kill the shadows.
Create the perfect atmosphere
My colleague, Jerom created an improvised setting so you can have an idea of what this setup would look like. He used A3 sheets of paper, some ordinary drawing lamps, and to disperse the light he placed the A3 sheets on the inside of the lamp shades to deflect the light.
If you don't really understand how to use the flash, it's best not to use it because it tends to eliminate all shadows and the end result is that the product loses its natural look. It's best to illuminate the product with lamps and white paper as you can see in the photos. Take your time to set it up right and experiment a little. Think carefully about where you'll place the camera. You'll find what works for you.
If you want to photograph a scenery try to capture the shot in a way that it's all illuminated in a uniformed fashion. And if you're indoors, turn on all the lights. If one part of your shot is super light and another is super dark, but you don't know how to fix it, see if your phone has an HDR (High Dynamic Range) mode. HDR takes two photos, one for high lighting and one for shadows and then it'll process it in a way that puts the two together. Some smartphones, like Samsung or those made by Google, can give you amazing results with this setting.
Don't use the digital zoom
With the exception of a few phones, such as the iPhone 7 Plus, the zoom in smartphones is digital, not analogue, so it increases the size of the image in an artificial manner, thus losing quality. Some models process the image well and hide this loss, but it's always there.
That's why it's better to get closer to the object you're photographing (most phones offer great macro results) otherwise you can crop the image. You can also use extra accessories that add small lenses to your phone or directly to an adaptor that lets you reflex focus.
Clean the lens and seek stability
Smartphones spend their lives going from our hand into our pocket or purse. So naturally, the lens is constantly being smudged. This obviously affects the quality of the images you take. So make sure to always clean it before taking photos.
Stability is also a big issue we all come across, especially when we have to use a button on a touch screen instead of a physical button. While you often won't notice if you moved a little while snapping a shot, your photo can be significantly improved by being taken from a more stable position. If you can't use a tripod (there are many especially designed for phones) you can simply rest your elbows on a stable surface. This small change can make a big difference in the quality of your images. And if you didn't know already, most smartphones let you take photos using a physical button as an alternative to the touch screen button. Usually this button is the volume button. Give it a try!
Edit your photos
Personally, we always use Photoshop to edit. While I want to emphasise the importance of using good lighting, you can make your photos even more perfect by retouching their imperfections and sizes. You'll also be able to match the lighting in all the photos in your online shop so that they have a uniformed style.
If Photoshop isn't your jam you can also edit your photos directly from your phone. Lots of phones include a basic photo editor app, such as Google Fotos, preinstalled on all Androids. You can also download some great editing apps like Snapseed or a very simliar one, Adobe Lightroom. And they're free to download. These apps will let you improve your photos immensely in a matter of seconds.
And if you want to edit from your large screen on your desktop computer you'll be able to edit the smallest details. If you have Photoshop you can do anything with the photo, the options are practically endless. Otherwise you can use some free programmes online that require no former experience and that let you edit the photo easily. We like Picmonkey.
I hope this post was helpful in clearing up your doubts. Now that you know how to create amazing photos for your online shop with your phone, don't waste another minute. You can now show your clients professional-looking photos in your product listings.