Take Great Ecommerce Product Photos With a Smartphone

how to take product photos for ecommerce

Smartphones today have some incredible cameras capable of taking photos that rival some professional cameras. When ecommerce store owners are getting started they will want to have great looking product photos, but naturally will be budget conscious. What better way to figure out how to take product photos for ecommerce than by using a smartphone that you already have?

Will my Smartphone Camera Take Good Product Photos?

If your smartphone was made in the last couple years, chances are it will be able to take high enough quality product photos for your ecommerce store. If your smartphone is due for an upgrade, you may want to look at models that have a higher megapixel (MP) count than your older smartphone had.

Without getting too technical, the higher the megapixel count of your smartphone camera, the better the quality your product photos will have. A megapixel is 1 million pixels. Each pixel is a small square of color in your photo. A 10 megapixel (10MP) camera will have roughly 10 million tiny squares (pixels) per square inch, while a 2 megapixel camera (2MP) will only have about two million squares (pixels) per square inch. The more tiny squares you can pack into each square inch of your photo, the more crisp and clear it will look.

You can see why having a higher megapixel camera will make for better quality product photos for your ecommerce store now.

Which Smartphones are the Best for Taking Ecommerce Product Photos

how to take product photos for ecommerce

If you have, or can get a smartphone that has at least 12MP, you should be able to get the image quality you are looking for. Any of these smartphones will work:

  • iPhone 8 or newer
  • Google Pixel 2 or newer
  • Moto G Power
  • Samsung Galaxy S8 or newer
  • Huawei P20 Pro or newer

There are a wide variety of price points in the list above. Make sure to do your research when looking for a smartphone for ecommerce product photos.

Smartphone Camera Accessories

You may be tempted to pick up your smartphone and start snapping away. While you could do this and produce some fairly decent photos, you will want to optimize them as best as you can. Your ecommerce product photos will be competing with other companies and you want your products to look the best.

Tripods and Smartphone Stands

One of the easiest things you can do to ensure you get great ecommerce product photos, is invest in a tripod or stand to stabilize your camera. The increase in clarity of your product photos will be amazing and worth the investment. When you take a photo with your handheld smartphone, there is some slight movement, which translates to a slightly blurry or fuzzy photo. The idea is to get the best looking pictures possible, so a tripod will help stabilize the smartphone and reduce or eliminate the blurriness.

If you are selling smaller items, you can even get away with a table-top tripod. Those range in price, but you can usually find a decent one under $20. For larger items, you may need a full-size tripod. Regardless of which size you purchase, make sure it has a smartphone clip that will fit your phone.

Wireless Remotes

Even if you have your smartphone stabilized on a tripod, most smartphones require you to either tap on the screen, or click an external button to take a photo. When you tap the smartphone’s screen, you will accidentally move the camera just a bit. This will produce a slightly more blurry product photo than if you never had to touch the smartphone.

Wireless remotes are pretty inexpensive (usually under $10), so you won’t have to invest a lot. There are even some smartphone tripods that are bundled with a wireless remote, so you can get both in one package. Most wireless remotes connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth, so setup is a breeze.

After you connect your wireless remote to your smartphone, you will be able to snap photos with a click on the button without having to touch your smartphone.

Use Good Lighting

While your smartphone is capable of using a flash to take your product photos, that won’t always look the best. If you are more budget conscious, try to use a room with a lot of natural light. This can make your products look great and not require any investment.

If you can afford to invest a little in some lighting, you can get a photo light box. Not only will this illuminate your products, but it will help eliminate background distractions. If you have smaller products, this can be a great way to capture them. For larger products, you may want to try a large sheet of white paper draped down a wall behind and on the floor under the product to produce a similar effect. You will still need lighting, but a few well placed lamps could do the trick too!

Smartphone Product Photo Apps

For most purposes, the built-in camera app will work just fine for taking product photos. Some third-party apps will allow you to customize your photos even further, and shoot in a RAW format to edit on your computer if you choose to do so.

Some photo apps are free, others are paid, and others are free with in-app upgrades. I won’t list the prices here because those are subject to change in the future. These apps are all highly rated and packed with the features you can use to enhance your product photos.

Consider Camera Angles for Product Photos

When taking ecommerce product photos you should consider how your customers will want to view your products. You may want to take photos of the front, back, top, bottom, and sides of your products. All of these views will give the customer a good idea of what the product looks like from all angles.

Of course, certain products look the same all the way around, such as drinking glasses, so you may only need one photo for those products. However, even if you don’t think an angle is important you may want to take the photo anyway. You never know when a certain product angle will be the difference that makes the sale for you.

In addition to all of the sides of a product, you can play around with the angle your products are facing the camera. You may have one photo where the product is angled slightly so customers can see both the front and the side, for example.

Product Photo Editing

You don’t need to be a Photoshop wiz to make some basic touchups to your product photos. There are a few things you can do, which will greatly enhance your ecommerce product photos that don’t require a lot of editing skills.

Remove the Ecommerce Product Photo Background

Even if you get a perfect photo of your product, the background of the photo might distract potential customers. That’s why a lot of product photos have no background. It lets the customer focus solely on the product. Even with a plain background in a photo light box as described earlier, you can still get shadows in the background. Editing this out might seem like a daunting task if you aren’t familiar with Photoshop, but it doesn’t have to be!

By using free online tools like Remove.bg, you can get rid of most backgrounds in just a few seconds. It works by uploading your ecommerce product photo to their service, and then downloading the enhanced version without the background.

Here is an example of a photo of a product that was taken on a windowsill. The product itself looks great because of all the natural light coming in, but the windowsill is somewhat distracting.

Lipstick on a windowsill.

After running that photo through remove.bg, it will look like this:

Remove the background of your ecommerce product photos for a cleaner look.

Remove.bg also allows you to edit the end result by:

  • Erasing any background that didn’t get removed automatically.
  • Restoring portions of the product accidentally removed by the software.
  • Adding in a new background.
Modify the background of your ecommerce photos to make them stand out better.

As you can see above, a new background can be added, which may help the product stand out a bit. This is especially useful if your product is close to the same color of your website’s background. It also looks a little better than that old windowsill.

The whole process after taking the photo including uploading it to remove.bg, and downloading the product photo without a background took under 30 seconds. To make things even easier, there is a free WordPress plugin Remove products background for WooCommerce. This plugin can do all of this automatically from your shop’s WordPress admin.

When You Should Keep a Product Photo’s Background

For some products, it might make sense to keep a background in the photo. Maybe it isn’t the original background, but some color can add contrast to a product that might get lost in your website’s background.

For instance, if you are selling a product that is white, it may get lost in your site’s white background.

There are other situations where having a background in a product photo will enhance the photo. Some products benefit by showing the context that they are used in. Hiking boots would do well by showing the rugged terrain they are capable of conquering. Furniture may similarly benefit from being displayed in the room they are meant to be used in.

Some ecommerce sites will want a uniform look on their product photos. It may make sense to remove the backgrounds on all of your main product photos, while having a few with a background in your product gallery. Ultimately, the choice is yours. Do some research to see what other competitors are doing, and figure out what your customers respond to best.

Get Help Editing Ecommerce Product Photos

If you’re running an ecommerce business, you may not have time to edit hundreds (or thousands) of product photos. Or you might be finding the whole process a little more than your technical skills can manage.

To get the best looking product photos you can hire a professional editor. They can take your photos and make them look great by cropping, straightening, removing backgrounds, adding watermarks, and so much more.

There really is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to take great looking product photos with a smartphone for your ecommerce site. Have you tried taking product photos with a smartphone? What challenges did you face? Were you happy with the results?

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Scott DeLuzio