Product photography with a phone


Shot with a HTC One phone camera. No flash. No editing.

If we want to get our blog posts, Pinterest images and Facebook pics noticed, clicked on, liked and shared we have to include eye-catching imagery and statements that entice our target market. I do a lot of product photography for businesses for their websites, brochures etc but can understand that it simply isn’t economical to get a professional in for those quick shots for social media.  Yet it is still very important to have a high quality photograph that makes your product look great. The good news is that with a little extra time and effort it is possible to take great product photography with a phone. Here’s how:

Use a background that complements the colour of your product and makes it stand out

I used two slate place mats. By using the same colour for the base and the background I’ve got no horizon line in the background to distract the eye. It’s fine to use two different textures or colour as long as they go well together. Use a background that is bigger than your product so that you won’t see the edges. I buy sheets of board from a DIY store and paint them or glue textured cloth on to them. You can also pick up small samples of laminate flooring for £2 each and these make great bases and backgrounds. (See flower shot below).

Set up in “easy” light

Shoot during daylight hours. A north facing window is best but any window will do as long as the sun isn’t shining in onto your shot. You need to switch off any electric lights in the room and turn off the flash on your camera. The  daylight should be coming in from the side, then you won’t be blocking it with your body.



You can also do product photography outside in a natural environment, without backgrounds but just keep it simple and uncluttered. Only include what enhances the shot. Shoot in the shade, out of direct sunlight.

Get rid of shadows with a reflector

“Oh no!” I hear you cry. A piece of expensive photographic gear. Nope – a piece of white paper, envelope or card will work just as well. Place it near to the shadow, opposite the light source (the window) and see how it gets rid of the shadow by reflecting the light onto the product.

Clean the lens on your camera

The lens on a camera phone can get very smeary with fingerprints, making your images look misty. Just give it a quick wipe with a soft cloth, like a spectacle cloth.

Learn how to focus with your phone camera

Not everyone is aware that you can tell a smartphone camera exactly where to focus. This is very useful when you’re photographing things close up. I lined up my shot and then tapped the screen so that it focused on the candle label. My phone also adjusts the exposure when you do this and got it exactly right for the key part of the photograph. Once I knew it was focused accurately I pressed the camera symbol. You can also use the volume controls on most smart phones to take the picture. You need to hold the phone very steady. I rested the base of my phone on the table to steady it.

Take several pictures from different angles

Fill the screen and really make your product the hero of the shot. Try some different angles and see which looks best.

Leave space for text

If the photo is for a social media post, consider leaving some space for a heading, quote or selling message. These can be added really easily with Canva, a website where you can add graphic design elements for free. Everything on this post was done with Canva.

Experiment with Apps and filters

Google the top 10 photography apps and then have a play. I use Retrica and RetroCamera but there are literally hundreds out there. Just don’t over do it, remember that less is usually more and you want your product to be the hero not the creative effects.


Taken on HTC-One camera phone. Filter applied.


If you liked this post you might also be interested in this one: How to take high impact images for social media.

If you want to improve your photography skills I run courses on how to take pictures for social media and blogs and regularly do blog posts with free tips and advice.

Did you like this blog post or find it useful? If so, please leave a comment, sign up for email reminders at the top of the page or share it with your friends (or even better, all three!!). Thank you – Jane :-)

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2 Responses to Product photography with a phone

  1. Marie September 9, 2014 at 7:46 pm #

    There are some useful tips there Jane. I like camera+ for taking pictures with my phone.

  2. Toni September 10, 2014 at 7:06 am #

    That picture looks familiar Jane! Great post with some really useful tips Thank you. 🙂

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