There are two types of small business owners in the world: those who put in the effort necessary to create eye-catching product photos and those who settle for crappy photos and actually expect them to sell.

Which one are you?

Well… let’s not dwell on that answer. You’re here because you want to improve and that’s all that matters!

Luckily, the CEO of PicMonkey (and lifelong photographer), Frits Habermann, recently answered a question on Quora about how to take better photos with an iPhone.

Check out his in-depth iPhone photography tips below and then try them out next time you’re taking product photos. 

On Lighting

Dark product photos are just sad. If shoppers can’t see the details, they’re not gonna give up the dollars.

Frits agrees:

One of the easiest ways to get better pictures is to light your subject well. With phones, this usually requires turning off the flash. Of course this isn’t always an option — sometimes the setting is just too dark to not use flash. But generally speaking, flash tends to be too harsh and results in blown out photos or bright spots on people’s faces.

To get better lighting, try framing your photo with your iPhone and then tapping the area where your subject appears. This will cause your phone to figure out the lighting around your subject. If this doesn’t do a good enough job, tap the yellow square that appears and then the light bulb icon.

Move it up or down to adjust the lighting until the subject is well lit and not blown out. Note that you’ll need to do this quickly, since manual lighting adjustments don’t last long — make sure you’re ready to snap your photo when you start tinkering with the lighting.

Use Natural Lighting When Possible

One more thing about lighting — natural is usually the best way to go. If you’re shooting people, place them next to something naturally reflective like a wall in sunlight. If your subject is not in direct sunlight, but the wall is, then the reflection off the wall will light your subject in a much more appealing way than a flash or direct sunlight.

If you don’t have that option, you can use an adjustment like Levels in PicMonkey and other apps to replicate the look without blowing out your photo.

Try Out Portrait Mode

The following iPhone photography tips regarding portrait mode won’t apply to every iPhone unfortunately. Currently, portrait mode is only available on recent “Plus” models of its iPhones — iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X.

If that applies to you, Frits has some great tips to offer:

I also recommend experimenting with the iPhone’s different modes. Portrait mode is great because it puts the focus on a specific area and lightly blurs everything else, thereby drawing attention to your subject.

If you’re using portrait mode on an iPhone, you’ll probably want to back up a bit since this mode automatically crops closer to your subject. If you’re lucky enough to have an IPhone X, play with all the new portrait modes to get a much more interesting lighting effect directly from the camera.

Composition Matters

With a camera in our pockets or purses at all times, it’s no surprise we all think we take pretty good photos. (But do we really?)

There’s no denying, though, that getting great at anything takes practice. (And the inevitable trial and error.)

That’s why following Frits’ iPhone photography tips for understanding composition will help you improve your product photos immensely:

The biggest way to improve your photos is to be clear on what your subject is, and use composition to tell that story. Getting familiar with composition rules — like the rule of thirds — can be very helpful.

Ultimately, what matters is the relationship between your subject and the other elements of your photo. For example, using odd numbers in a picture makes for more engaging photos. If you have some rocks as your subject, ensure there are three or five in the frame, not four. If you can create a leading line out of those five rocks (i.e. line them up so they point through the frame), all the better.

Also, don’t forget about negative space (the area surrounding the main subject of your photo) and use it to give your subject some breathing room.

Put Things in Perspective

You might be a straight shooter normally, but Frits says it’s time to try something new:

Experimenting with perspective also leads to better photos. Many people walk up to something, hold their phones out straight in front of them, and take a photo. If you want to get more interesting shots, mix it up!

Try standing above your subject and looking down, crouching low, moving closer, standing further away, moving to the right or left, and see how that changes your photo.

Take a lot of different pictures and then evaluate. You’ll be surprised at how the same subject can look vastly different just by playing with perspective.

Multiples Matter

Whether it’s trying out a new recipe, writing a blog post, or taking product photos, our first drafts are rarely perfection.

That’s why Frits’ iPhone photography tips involve avoiding the ‘one and done’ mistake at all costs:

Don’t be afraid to take lots of pictures! Many people take 1 or 2 pictures of a scene and move on. When I’m shooting a landscape with my iPhone, I typically shoot 3-5 pictures right after another.

Maybe there’s a breeze that moves some leaves, so the more photos I take, the more likely I get one where the leaves aren’t moving.

With people, I take even more. If I have a group shot, I typically take 10-20 photos, just hitting the button one after another. Most of them will have someone looking away from the camera, or in mid blink. By taking more pictures, I have a higher chance of that one shot where everyone is looking at the camera, smiling and with eyes open.

Practice Makes Perfect

Editing your product photos is a big part of turning them into money-makers. PicMonkey is a great tool for improving your photos and creating graphics.

A huge thanks to Frits Habermann for sharing so many helpful iPhone photography tips. Hopefully you’ve found some advice here that you can apply to your product photos.

Just remember that practicing is necessary in order to get better at anything — and in order to know what types of photos will encourage shoppers to buy.

If you haven’t checked out PicMonkey, it’s an awesome and affordable tool (I use it nearly every day!) for editing your product photos, creating social-media graphics, product collages, and much more.

For a little more help with product photography, check out these posts:

Which of these iPhone photography tips will you try? 

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