Are you operating on a budget, but need original product photos? The good news is you’re probably holding the key piece of equipment you need to get it done right now. While professional photographers would probably rather you didn’t know; here’s what you need to shoot product photos with a smartphone.
A Good Tripod
The quality of your photographs improves exponentially when you mount your camera on a tripod. In addition to holding your camera steady, the tripod also enables you to maintain uniformity in terms of the size of the images in the frame and the angle from which it is recorded. Ideally, you’ll choose one with pan, tilt and height adjustments so you can have the greatest amount of flexibility when you compose your shots.
A Stable Surface
Depending upon the size of your products, a good dining room table will usually suffice. Let’s say you sell electronics for example; you’ll want a surface capable of supporting the weight of your goods without moving while you’re shooting the pictures. This, along with your tripod, guarantees your images will be nice and sharp
A Consistent Background
White backgrounds have become the norm in product photography for several reasons. The neutrality of white allows your product to stand out in bold relief. It also reflects light back onto your subject to illuminate it more evenly. Further, a white background makes your product appear to float against the rest of a page, which gives your graphic designer the ultimate flexibility in terms of mixing images and copy.
Now, with that said; if you have a specific tone you’d like to set, you can also choose a background more in line with it—like unfinished wood for a rustic feel.
You can also use large swaths of fabric draped so the background and the surface the product rests upon blend seamlessly. This gives you a wide variety of textures with which to work. However, you’ll want to stay away from patterns that would compete with your product for attention in the picture.
A Set of Studio Lights and Reflectors
Yes, you could rely upon natural light for your pictures, but this would limit you to shooting at certain times of the day—and in certain locations. With studio lights, you can set up in any room capable of being rendered dark.
While professional photographers rely upon flash units, go with video lights instead. They’ll make it easier to see what your picture will look like before you record it. What’s more, if you make product videos, you’ll get double usage out of them.
White foam core board, cut into a variety of sizes, will serve you well for reflecting light and controlling where it goes. Placing one opposite of your light source will reflect softer light onto the other side of the subject of your photo, to give it more dimensionality.
A Light Box
You can make a simple lightbox by cutting openings in all four sides and the back of a large cardboard box, then covering them with panels of white translucent fabric. Place your studio lights so they shine through the panels and you’ll have soft, even illumination for your merchandise.
Of course, any tools are only as good as the person employing them. However, you don’t have to be the greatest photographer who ever lived. All you have to do is find some pictures you like, then set up your equipment and move things around until the picture on your screen looks like them. Once you’ve mastered that, you can branch out into creating your own ideas from scratch. The key is knowing what you need to shoot product photos with a smartphone.