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How to Shoot Professional Products Images on your iPhone

Updated: Nov 8, 2021

iPhone Product photography 101:


Because you're a maker, not a photographer!


Maybe you've got a new product line, but you've already spent your budget on professional photography for the quarter. You need some great images of your products whether it be jewelry, ceramics, notecards, etc, to showcase on Instagram, Etsy, and your personal website.


This is where this handy dandy at-home product photography guide will come in handy. As a professional photographer, I know that it can be daunting and expensive to hire a photographer each time you have a new product launch, so I wanted to share some tips and tricks to taking professional looking photographs in your home, using objects you have in your house when you're in need of a quick shot or two for your website or social media.




Step 1: Lighting & Location


The most important thing to consider when choosing a location to photograph your products is the light source and quality. What does this mean exactly? This means you're going to want to go to the room in your home that gets great window light. Tucked up right next to the window is best to avoid any shadows (including your own).



As you can see in the example above I have a chair with a strong piece of cardboard for my surface. You can use ANYTHING you have in your home that will be sturdy and can fit next to your window.


An overcast day is actually perfect as you'll avoid getting harsh shadows from direct sunlight. (If drama and harsh lighting is the aesthetic you have created for your brand, then by all means shoot with direct light). Cloudy days provide soft and diffused light which typically lend itself to an even and soft light on your product. If it's a bright and sunny day and the sun is pouring in through that window, you can always diffuse the light with a shear curtain or even a thin white table cloth. No professional diffuser needed!


You'll also want to turn off any other lights you have on in the room. Different kinds of light, whether it's the sun, the clouds, an overhead light, or a table lamp, they all have different color temperatures on the Kelvin scale. Mixing these light sources can lead to some unflattering and muddied down images.




Step 1 Con't: Supplemental Lighting


Don't let this scare you! Supplemental lighting at home is a simple thing to do and REALLY makes a ton of difference (It's always in those details, bebes).


The majority of light is coming from your window, which is your main light source. The side of your product on the opposite side will be in the shadows. Adding just a little bit of fill light will make your image look that much more professional.


To make the fill light, use some white pieces of cardboard or even a white piece of fabric and put it facing the window on the shadow side of the product. You can even paint a piece of regular cardboard white. It will "bounce" the sunlight coming through the window back onto the shadow side of your beautiful products.


Play around with what looks good and feels best for your product!



Step 2: Layout/Scene


Alright, now that you've got location near your window to shoot, let's talk about styling.


First, decide on the surface you'll want to use. This can really be anything from wood to marble (if you're lucky enough to have a marble counter) to any fabric you have lying around. I would pick something in a solid color that will compliment and enhance your product. Neutral colors are probably best as a jumping off point.


When it comes to taking photographs, I will typically shoot a product alone first and then add in props. Sometimes it's nice to have this image of just the product(s) on hand. As for propping, these can be anything you have around the house; houseplants, knickknacks, mirrors, even food! If you're selling jewelry with floral accents, for example, maybe include some flowers in your composition. If you're a ceramist selling a mug, maybe fill the cup with some steaming tea with a yummy muffin or biscuit on the side. **Bonus in that you get to eat said muffin or biscuit afterwards**






The main thing to consider is "Will this enhance my product? Or will it take away from the product?" If you're not sure whether or not a prop "works", I'd say leave it out. A great thing to ask yourself when thinking about props is "How do I want my clients to feel?"



Step 2 Con't: Layout Scene with Upright Product


Grab a white or neutral colored fabric (I used a white bed sheet) and drape it over your chair. If you're working on a table, you can grab whatever you may have to give yourself a high enough surface to drape over. If you're up against the wall, use some painter's tape to tape the fabric to the wall. If you've got your product on a table, maybe you can pile some books up and drape the fabric that way. Be creative!


The white backdrop will allow your products to stand up, but will also help to isolate them and really make them POP!







Step 3: Editing on your iPhone


Maybe the most important aspect of using photos you take on your iPhone or your smartphone to promote your products is editing. You have all the tools you need right on your phone camera and don't need to get any fancier. The tiniest bit of editing can really go a long way and will give your photos that edge that sets them apart, and only takes a few seconds per image.


The main thing you'll want to avoid is OVER editing, and I'm sure you've seen it: too saturated, too sharp, too contrasted. If you're not sure what I mean by this, try taking one of the editing sliders on your phone and take it all to the right and then all the way to left. You'll see what I mean! You want to make sure your edited images remain true to how your products look in the flesh. Don't take this too seriously and play around for what looks good!


Typically, I will add the following edits to an image taken on my iPhone*:

Exposure: + (add just a pinch)

Highlights: + (only if needed)

Shadows: - (bring down a bit)

Brilliance: + (just a little)

Contrast: + (again, you only need to add a little. Contrast goes a long way and you don't want to lose detail)

Vibrance: + (use this instead of the saturation slider)

Sharpen: + (always add a touch of sharpness, but don't over do it)


*Editing is of course a subjective process. These are the settings I typically use to enhance an image and still make it look true to itself.



Step 3 Con't: Editing on your iPhone


There are also a few settings on your phone you're going to want to change to make sure your images are set to be all that they can be from your iPhone.


1.Go into your Settings and go down to Camera

2.Where it says "Formats", make sure your phone is set to "Most Compatible". This setting will not compress your photo, saving it at a higher quality.

3.Turn "Grid" ON. This will help you compose your images that are pleasing and even on all sides. Try to use that rule of thirds!

4. Turn on your "HDR" settings. This will help read light and shadows.

5.Use the side Volume up or Volume down button(s) to take your image. This seems to reduce some "camera shake" that can occur when you hit the regular picture-taking button.

6. Your images will now be saved at the highest quality your phone has to offer!




Step 4: Post & Get Paid!


You have now successfully taken a (semi) professional image using your iPhone! So get that image up on Instagram, on Etsy, on your personal website and start getting paid!


To review:

  • You can take professional looking images right at home, using the things you have in your home; no fancy equipment or lighting needed!

  • When using props, make sure they enhance your product and that they are not taking away from it being the focal point of the image. If you don't have a nice surface, get creative and use pieces of fabric, any wooden surfaces, plexiglass, flat stones at a park, etc.

  • Props can be anything you have at home from house plants to old books to feathers, flowers, cloth napkins, or even your pet! If you're a painter, maybe have some brushes and/or paint at the edges of the frame of your photo. The possibilities are endless!

  • When setting up your scene, consider the context of your product, the feeling you want to emote, and what wats you can add to that emotion (and remember that less can be more).

  • Don't underestimate the power of simple editing on your phone. A little bit can really go a long way!




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iPhone Product Tutorial
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Peace & Hugs,


Barbee