Professional and high quality iPhone product photography sounds unbelievable and crazy? Stop believing stereotypes that taking good product photos can only be real with an expensive DSLR camera and lens. If you need to sell products on eBay, Amazon, Craigslist or Etsy on budget, this article will help you make excellent product photos with iPhone in just 7 steps.
If a few years ago you could say with certainty that for photographing products you need a good DSLR camera and expensive lighting, now you just need to take your iPhone (starting from 5S) and set the correct lighting (light box) and the background. Having set this product photography kit you are ready for taking good product photos. Nowadays, most modern smartphones can successfully compete with many middle-class DSLRs. You are free to take pictures using both lifestyle and studio product photography. Product photography with iPhone is actually quite easy and does not require any complicated skills.
However, for making good product photos with iPhone, it's not enough just to place the product on the table and take a picture. I'll give you my basic list of all the necessary gear that you need and which I used in this iPhone product photography tutorial:
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To be honest, you don't need to be a professional product photographer with 10 years of experience, since with the right guidance you can make professional product photos with iPhone at home factually in half an hour.
The first thing from where your preparation will begin is the choice of the product photography background. I recommend picking not only the traditional white color but also gray, blue and black. I often use these colors, but if you gonna make creative and unusual photos, choose more vivid textures.
If the color is not so difficult to determine, then the material is a bit more complicated. I saw a lot of articles that recommend choosing a white fabric for a single-color background. The fabric is the worst thing you can choose for photographing products! Believe me, I have used all the known materials - the fabric was the most uncomfortable. The main problem of the fabric is creating a lot of folds. The only case when you can use the fabric is when you need to show its texture.
The most practical material is a white paper roll. I bought at once 100 meters and have been using it for several months. This is the most budgetary method and the most practical since you can simply cut off an unnecessary piece in case of impurity. The best choice for iPhone product photography is ready-made backgrounds. Such backgrounds are made of a material that does not create obscure shadows, absorbs light well, and is very dense and easy to clean.
This is the most important point of this list, since no matter how classy DSLR camera or smartphone you have - without good lighting it's just an expensive box, especially in photographing products. I always laughed at tips that recommend using natural lighting from the window for product photography. Remember once and for all - you will not get a good and sharp image using lighting from the window. Moreover, it will severely restrict you because outside there is not always a good sunny weather. Also, not all of your windows on the sunny side, so you are allowed photographing only a couple of hours per day. Natural lighting is suitable only for lifestyle product photography. You can go in two ways - using lamps or buying ready-made lighting for product photography.
The first and most budgetary method is using lamps since the most people have them at home. Even if no, their price does not exceed $10 per item. You need at least 2 lamps with powerful bulbs starting from 100 W (the scattering of light will anyway slightly reduce their power). You can purchase a third lamp for avoiding unwanted small shadows by lighting the product from above.
If you have professional lighting equipment, then be sure to use it. Strobes often have very powerful light and are tough enough for quality product photography, but they are not cheap, so use strobes only if you already have them. Forget about flashes! You must set up permanent lighting that does not create glares on the product.
In the next step, we'll talk about the ready-made equipment for photographing products with the built-in lighting.
The best that you can come up with for product photography with iPhone is buying or creating a lightbox. My first makeup product photography was taken on the table with attached paper to the wall and two lamps placed on either side of the product. It wasn't so long, as everything took up a lot of space and time, and it was simply not convenient to use. After that, I took a cardboard box, cut the holes for light, laid the background and began to take pictures. Since the light did not dissipate and, reflecting from all angles, a DIY lightbox has concentrated on the product, I've had fewer problems with lighting. I used this home photography studio for a long time, but it did not solve the problem of taking away a lot of space. In addition, the design was quite flimsy since everything was joint by scotch tape.
The best choice was buying a ready-made professional lightbox with built-in lighting. Why the best? Because it costs a little, but as a result, you get an easy, convenient and portable studio for professional product photography. There are many photo light boxes, but most of them do not differ from each other. There are several points on which it is worth paying attention to:
Even with properly exposed light, there you may still lack light in front of the subject, and the lamp that you put in front of it will significantly interfere with the shooting. The best way is to get a ring light for a smartphone. The built-in iPhone flash has a very direct and hard light that has a bad effect on picture quality, but this ring will give a more diffuse light.
Undoubtedly, you can take pictures with the standard Camera application for iPhone, but it doesn't have any manual settings, which is very important for this kind of photography. The best choice for product photography with iPhone is Camera+ with its extensive picture-setting functions.
Recently this application has received a new update, and its functionality has become even wider. Personally, I take photos using the free Lightroom on the iPhone because it has all the necessary settings for the pictures, as well as possible to directly make editing or send photos to your PC using Adobe Creative Cloud. You may even use Lightroom mobile presets to enhance your lifestyle product photos.
To get really sharp pictures - use a tripod. This is not so critical, because a few photos will be taken without it since you need to show different camera angles. Also, the iPhone camera for product photography has an excellent stabilization. But if you want to get the best image - use a tripod and remote control (I've used a monopod connected to the iPhone via Bluetooth).
The iPhone camera is popular all over the world and allows you to take great pictures of almost anything, but like everything, it is not perfect. Sometimes you can’t change something in it, make the angle wider or do optical approximation, but with the help of special lenses for iPhone you can easily improve the product picture on your smartphone simply by installing this lens. I recommend using macro lenses for product photography.
I really recommend to buy a Bluetooth or better Wireless remote control because in order to make a photo of really great quality with good sharpness, you need to keep your smartphone as still as possible. Even your finger on the screen will cause some motion. You can temporarily replace the remote control with headphones and take pictures with the sound button, but this is not convenient.
Once you're done with the preparations, start shooting! I decided to make a photo of the most popular drink this summer, Aperol Spritz, so I pre-prepared everything I need to create the right picture and, after placing all the elements, set a smartphone.
Adjust the camera to the values that show the best picture. In my case, it's 1/2000 ISO 200.
Before shooting manually adjust the white balance by selecting the eyedropper in the settings, but do it only after adjusting the lighting for product photography.
Having installed a smartphone in front of the product, you can start taking pictures. Don't put it too close, because it may cause distortion of the object. Taking photos, play with camera angles and pick the best ones.
After you have taken all the necessary photos, you need to bring them into a great view. For this purpose, use the best free photo editor. I use Lightroom Mobile, Fotor (read Fotor review), and Snapseed.
Lightroom CC Mobile
Highly functional application for shooting, color correction and batch photo post processing. It has a user-friendly interface in the style of all popular photo editors on mobile devices and a wide range of tools. Suitable as the main mobile photo editor, and an excellent addition to the full desktop version. Lightroom deservedly received the award as the best application for photo editing on mobile devices.
Fotor is a great mobile photo editor with a wide range of features. There are all the necessary functions for iPhone product photography. Of course, this image editor is more suitable for portraits and landscapes, as it has a huge set of effects, but it's quite suitable for professional product photography editing too.
A powerful photo editor for iPhone, iPad, and Android with extensive tools. Snapseed is suitable for both simple and deep image editing directly on the screen of a tablet or smartphone. Oh yes, don't forget about supporting RAW files.
I do photo editing in Lightroom CC Mobile since it was easier. All you need is to make a color correction by adjusting the contrast, white balance and sharpness a bit.
If you need to make more serious changes or just look at your photos on the big screen - use Lightroom software (download Lightroom presets for product photography) or Photoshop. You can also use Pixlr (read Pixlr review) or Gimp (read Gimp review) to delete the product photography background. All you need is to clean the background, or better cut out the image (if it's a white background), make a color correction as well as clean the object itself from dust, etc.
360 product photography is becoming more popular every year and allows you to increase sales due to the fact that the customer will be able to see every corner of the product and it will not have sudden surprises after purchase. It is proved that this method of taking product photos increases the number of customers and buyers.
In order to take such a picture, you need to purchase a special rotating panel like I have (Foldio 360) or make it your own. I strongly recommend buying it on Amazon if you plan to shoot products permanently.
After you have received the required number of shots (in my case it is 36, i.e. one shot every 10 degrees, which is already enough for a great overview), you can take 360 shots. But it’s useless I think, you can immediately load your images into special programs – Spinzam, Sirv or Imajize and get a complete 360 image. If there are some flaws in your image, first make some photo retouching in Photoshop. Read my full 360 product photography guide to take product photos of the highest level.
This is a USB flash drive which is really necessary for all photographers working with both iPhone and DSLR cameras. You can easily transfer all your images from the device to this drive via Wi-Fi connection, and then simply insert it into usb port on your laptop or desktop and perform further actions with the photo.
Why you might need a bag if you do not take a big DSLR. But in fact if you put together all your iPhone product photography equipment, namely a tripod, lights, interchangeable lenses and other items that you use, you will get a nice bunch of things then you need to conveniently carry and store. This is where a small bag will help you.
This type of case has a lot of fans, although they double your smartphone’s size and weight. But you must admit that it is really convenient - there are no wires going to the power bank, everything is right with you. This gear will prolong your iPhone product photography process 3 times, because we all know that using the camera discharge your phone very quickly.
On the web, you can find a huge amount of reviews and training videos, but as I said above - such product photography tutorials have a lot of mistakes that can repel the beginners. I've found some really useful videos that visually show you how to shoot product photos with iPhone well.
How to Take Amazing Product Photos with Your iPhone:
The video tutorial from guys working at MyPhoto Studio. They produce lightboxes for professional product photography, as well as excellent jewelry photography props (I'm using their reflective boards). Here you can find the basic tips for product photography with iPhone X.
How to Shoot Better Small Product Photography with Your iPhone:
This video lesson will teach you how to take great product photos using creative backgrounds and natural light. However, be careful - you should have the same good lighting from the window as the author.
Easy Product Photography with Your iPhone or Smartphone:
Unfortunately, it's a pretty unpopular video tutorial, even though this guy gives really great equipment tips for the professional product photography. His channel also offers a few videos about lighting, tips for shooting, and so on.
As you can see, for taking a really high-quality product photo you don't need to have expensive equipment and a huge photo studio. You can do this at home for the lowest cost merely with the help of your iPhone.