Hey everyone. In this blog post, we're going to be talking about four tips to get the most out of your smartphone product photography. Let's dive in.
First hot tip, use the Lightroom CC app on your phone. It's available on both iPhone and Android, it's perfectly free, and you can actually use the built-in camera right inside the Lightroom app to take your photos. This can solve a lot of problems that smartphone users have had with weird abnormalities happening when using the camera that comes with the phone.
Not only can you use the camera within the Lightroom app, but Lightroom also allows you to change the file format that you take your photos with. You can change the file type into something called “DNG” and that’s a raw file format that captures a wide range of data when taking a photo, so that when you edit your photos afterwards, it can pull in data from the actual shot, as opposed to just manipulating the pixels that exist within the image. So, it helps retain really great image quality and allows you to get a lot more out of your edits.
I highly recommend downloading the Lightroom app for your phone because you can:
- Take photos with it, right within the app using the built-in camera.
- You can use that DNG file format instead of jpeg for better quality photos.
- You can edit your photos with Lightroom as well afterwards.
And speaking of editing your photos, that is my second tip for you today.
Definitely, DEFINITELY, edit those photos. This goes for any photo you're taking, but especially if you're using your smartphone, because smartphones can be a bit limited in terms of the wide range of tones they can capture, making it difficult for photos to really pop without some help from editing.
I (you guessed it) recommend using the Lightroom app for editing. As a second option, Snapseed is another great app for editing your photos. Both of those apps include a color embedded profile with your photos, which is really important to make sure that your colors remain true when you upload to Instagram or the web. There’s nothing worse than spending the time and effort to edit your photos and make them look great, just to upload them and have them look drab online.
Bonus! If you actually subscribe to the Adobe Photography Plan, then you have Lightroom on your computer as well, and you can sync between those two programs. The app on your phone and the desktop Lightroom CC program, will both have the same photos in their library, so you can swap back and forth between your devices and your photos will always be there!
For some quick edits that are easy to do inside Lightroom, I recommend a quick crop and resize (based on whatever platform you’re using for you photos), a quick adjustment on the exposure, highlights, shadows, white and black tone sliders, and if you need to make any adjustments to the balance of colours, you can do that in Lightroom too.
Hot tip: If editing isn’t your thing, you can get presets for Lightroom mobile (even the free version), and use them for one-click edits! Easy-peasy, lemon squeezy. Oh, and hey - I sell a set of Lightroom presets that you might love. You can check ‘em out here.
Tip #3: Have great lighting!
It is never more important to have good lighting than it is with smartphone photography.
If your light isn't bright enough, then your smartphone camera is going to have to compensate in a couple of different ways (and, spoiler-alert, those ways are less than ideal)
One, it'll try increasing something called the ISO, which digitally increases the sensor's sensitivity to light. When that increases, images tend to get really grainy due to digital “noise”. Weird pixelation and distortions start happening, and it’s an all-around bad time. It severely reduces the quality of the photo, and no one wants that.
Another way the camera will compensate is by reducing the shutter speed, which causes something called motion blur. Motion blur occurs when the shutter speed is low and even the subtlest of movements will create blurriness in your images. That results in some highly uncool looking photos. And since we’re (obviously) going for max-level cool, that just won’t do.
So, you absolutely need to make sure that you have really great light for your product photos when you're using your smartphone.
Seek out bright, indirect light (ie, light that doesn’t come directly from the source to hit you or your subject, aka, direct sun = bad) like in the shade on a bright sunny day, or inside your home near a bright window.
Last, but definitely not least - keep an eye out for something called lens distortion.
This tends to happen a lot with smartphones, especially when you photograph something up close and personal. It stretches and distorts the edges of a photo, and can make ordinary objects (or even your face - the horror!) looked bizarre. For example, if you photograph a mug it may look wider at the top than it does at the bottom.
Here are some strategies to help mitigate this annoying little issue.
First, try rotating your camera to test out different orientations. Rotating the camera (and in turn, the lens), may reduce the issue of that particular shot.
Second, try portrait mode or zooming in - but NOTE: only zoom in if your smartphone has the feature of multiple lenses at various zoom lengths. Digital zoom (the kind that occurs when your “pinch and zoom” on your screen) is really destructive to photo quality.
Additionally, that Lightroom app that I told you about has a feature in which you can correct the lens distortion, and it will even automatically pick up the phone model that you have and make adjustments that typically occur with that particular lens in your camera. Cool, right?
And that’s it! Those are my hottest tips for how to get the most out of your smartphone camera.
If you want to take these tips from today and level up your Instagram feed, you’d also love my free guide on the 5 styles of photos for a dynamic and engaging Instagram profile. Want a copy for yourself? Click here!
Amy is a product and brand photographer turned educator, and she teaches makers, artists, and creative entrepreneurs how to take gorgeous photos for their businesses. Check her out at Amy Take Pictures.