The camera does not make a great photographer any more than paint brushes make a master painter. You need Creativity, Discipline, and Good Lighting!
After all, why spend thousands of dollars on a professional camera when you can get the same exact results using the camera you probably have in your pocket right now -- your Cell Phone!
Here's how you can get Professional Studio Quality Pictures using your cell phone:
1. Make Sure You Have a Continuous Light Source.
No Flash, Please! -- Don’t use the flash on your smartphone. While the flash may be great… well, not great... for a night out with friends, it is a feature that it is far less superior to professional cameras. The flash on a smartphone is intense, casts a reflective glare, and makes every subject appear bathed in the light a car’s high beams.
For example, if you’ve ever taken a picture of your family while they’re dining in a beautiful, low-lit restaurant, you know that the flash will make your family look like a group of surprised garbage-diving raccoons that you just spotted in a dumpster.
***HERE IS THE SECRET!***
Use a Softbox Lighting Kit (that's it!)
Here is our recommendation for a complete Studio/Office/Home Lighting Kit with everything in one box! (YES... even the Tripod Stands & Bulbs):
Rather than using a flash or waiting for “the right time of day”, take the time to look into a portable photo studio box for product photography OR a continuous lighting kit more for videos & portrait photography. The key is to have complete control of your lighting environment, allowing your cell phone camera to capture images at its optimal exposure setting. When choosing to use a portable lightbox:
- Ideal setup is counter height -- to make it easier for you to see the product and maneuver your camera during the shoot.
- Place your light sources directly opposite each other on each side of the light tent with the camera centered in front.
- Your backdrop, attached inside the tent, should fall freely down in a gentle curve (no hard angles) at the back then across to the front/bottom of the light tent. This continuous curve will give you the option to shoot the product with virtually no shadows or background distractions if that’s the look you desire.
- If you are using a fabric backdrop, make sure your backdrop is free of wrinkles and debris, for a completely smooth look.
- When you place the product inside the light tent, be sure to leave space between your subject and the walls so that you can position the smartphone camera to only see the backdrop and not the edges of the light tent.
- Consider ambient lighting in the room you are shooting from and adjust the lighting for the light tent as needed. Pull the curtains on the windows and keep the room low-lit. This will help you achieve optimal balance.
Pro Tip: Store your backdrops in a cardboard tube to keep them wrinkle-free between photo shoots. Use a lint roller to remove dust and debris.
2. Experiment With Light, Angles, and Negative Space.
Don’t Zoom or Crop
Don’t use your smartphone camera to digitally zoom in on the product. Instead, manually shoot from a closer distance by moving and adjusting your tripod. Smartphone cameras don’t focus well when you use the zoom function, and you don’t have the ability to manually adjust the focus. The quality of the image will deteriorate if you zoom even slightly, resulting in pixelation.
Measure your negative space to develop interesting compositions. Consumers like to see multiple shots of every product from a variety of angles. Each one doesn’t have to be head-on.
Experiment with Light Tent Photography
Play with hard and soft shadows. Move your subject forward or backward relative to the light sources and experiment. You can also point the lights slightly at an angle, rather than straight on at the tent. As you experiment with your light tent you will develop your own tricks and tips for virtually eliminating the need for post-production editing. Do not use the editing features or “filters” on your phone. Always bring your images into a post-production software to keep your images crisp.
3. Take Advantage Of Built-In Smartphone Camera Settings & Features.
There are tons of benefits to learning every feature and function of your built-in camera’s capabilities. Here are some general features that every smartphone camera is equipped with:RAW
Shooting in RAW prevents your smartphone’s camera from adding additional, automatic edits to your photos. The feature also prevents your smartphone from compressing the files. This means that you will have much larger file sizes, but they will not appear pixelated. With RAW images you will have complete control over the editing processes when you transfer the image to a PC.
Pro Tip: Because the file size is dramatically larger, it is helpful to have access to cloud storage so you don’t have to transfer your photos to a computer immediately.Manual Controls
The main difference between point-and-shoot compact cameras and DSLRs are the manual controls. Your smartphone camera’s settings often default to “point-and-shoot.” Today, most smartphone cameras have the option to use manual controls, allowing you to adjust shutter speed to experiment with light, for example. You can also adjust the ISO and white balance. ISO stands for International Standards Organization and is the standardized photography industry scale for measuring sensitivity to light. The lower the ISO, the less sensitive it will be to light, so keeping it on the low-end will produce clear, less grainy, shots.
Use your smartphone camera’s Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) to your advantage. This feature is another that has come leaps and bounds since the camera’s addition to mobile phones. The primary function of OIS is to stabilize your shots and reduce blurriness. This function, combined with a tripod, will significantly reduce or entirely eliminate the odds of creating a blurry image during your shoot.
4. Use A Solid Color Background.
Most light tent kits will come with a continuous edge background described above, in either white or very pale gray to make your product “pop.” If you’re considering experimenting with other backgrounds and textures for rustic shoots, continue to stick with neutral colors. Avoid bold textures that create shadows and distract from the product or loud prints, which will consume the subject.
5. Stabilize Your Camera.
We highly recommend investing in a tripod if you are considering taking your smartphone photography to a professional level, especially product photography. A tripod for smartphone product photography will entirely eliminate the possibility of blurry photos and will allow you to effortlessly change angles, allowing you to work quickly and efficiently.
The OIS on your smartphone will only do so much to eliminate blurriness and pixelation. Set your smartphone securely on the tripod and use the 2-second timer to ensure that the camera does not vibrate at your touch and your tripod remains steady. Now begin shooting!
For more photography tips, inspiration, and complete DIY lighting kits visit www.liteboxphotography.com