How to Take Product Photos with an iPhone

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How to Take Product Photos With an Iphone At Home - iPhone taking photo of sunglasses on a pink background

Struggling to showcase your products in their best light without a professional camera setup? Great news: you don’t need a fancy DSLR to capture breath-taking product photos. In fact, you can take great product photos with an iPhone!

We’re giving you everything you need to know on how to take product photos at home with an iPhone.

Psst… Check out all the tips we cover on the left. Skip ahead to get answers to your burning questions!

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Ready to learn all about taking product photos on your phone? Let’s get snappin’!

Tip 1: Find the Right Camera Settings On Your iPhone

Understanding your camera settings is key when it comes to how to take good product photos on your phone.

These iPhone camera settings and functions are especially important to know. You’ll find yourself using them over and over again!

How to Turn on Grid Lines in Your iPhone Camera Settings

How to turn on grid lines for iPhone Camera in iPhone Settings
iPhone Camera Settings – Turn camera grid on and off .

The iPhone Grid overlay is incredibly helpful for composition, especially when it comes to the Rule of Thirds.

(We’ll cover this more in Tip 6!)

iPhone camera grid lines allow you to line up your shots with ease.

You can find the toggle switch to turn them on and off in your settings. Here’s how:

  • Tap your iPhone settings
  • Scroll down the list of settings options until you find “Camera”
  • Find “Grid” and toggle the switch on the right to On

And done! ✅

The next time you open your camera, you’ll see your Grid.

It looks like several faint gray lines dividing your screen into 9 squares.

Check out the example to the right for a visual! →

These lines will help you balance your product photos for the perfect shot.

And if you ever need to turn off the Grid, just revisit your Camera settings and flip the switch to off.

iPhone Grid Lines over Camera screen to help create composition for product photos
iPhone grid lines appear over your camera screen.

Understand What AE/AF Lock Is, And How to Use It!

The iOS camera comes with AE/ AF Lock, an exposure and focus locking feature.

This tool allows you to select the focal point of your image and lock it in while you frame your shot.

The AE/AF lock tells your camera what the main focus of the image is, decreasing the odds that you’ll have a blurry picture or lose detail in your shot.

This is important when you’re taking a photo in changing light, with moving subjects or in high-contrast settings!

How to Take Product Photos with an iPhone- Use the AE/ AF Lock to set your focal point. Drag the sun up or down to adjust exposure.
AE/ AF Lock on an iPhone Camera

To use the AE/AF lock on your iPhone:

  • Turn on your camera
  • Select the focal point of your picture by pressing and holding it on the screen.
  • A yellow square will appear on the screen.
  • AE/AF Lock will also appear at the top of your screen, letting you know your focal point is locked in.

You can also drag your finger up or down to adjust the exposure of your image.

You’ll see the little sun to the right of the AE/AF lock square move up and down with your adjustments.

In the image to the left, you can see that I’ve increased the exposure, bringing the sun towards the top of the bar!

Tip 2: Prep Your Product to Perfection

Prepping your products for photos is an important step that we all too often miss in the hustle and bustle of the day. But nothing is worse than capturing the perfect product photo on your iPhone, only to see dust or tags visible in the shot!

No guide to how to take product photos at home is complete with this simple but key step.

That’s because prepping your products makes all the difference when taking professional-looking product photos on your iPhone.

Before you get ready to shoot, make sure to do the following:

  • Clean the product to make sure no smudges, dust or debris are visible
  • Remove any excess labeling and packaging from the product
  • If you’re shooting clothing or apparel, make sure to remove wrinkles and creases
  • While you’re at it, make sure to clean the lens of your iPhone camera to keep your shots crisp and clear!

Check out this example from the skin care line Drunk Elephant.

Each item was removed from the original packaging and arranged tastefully. No extra packaging = extra impact for this shot!

Tip 3: Adjust Your Lighting

“Underexposed and overexposed photos will lack detail.”

Kayla Marie Butler, The Ivory Mix

Relying on the lighting you have available when shooting product photos at home can be tough. However, with a few lifestyle photography tips, a basic intro to exposure and some tools, you can make any light source work for you.

Here’s how!

Shoot By a Window

Natural light is your friend, especially when shooting product photos on your iPhone. Why? 

In most cases, direct sunlight results in overexposure or harsh lighting that cuts detail from your photo.

The same is true when you shoot in dark rooms or shadowy locations. That’s because underexposure results in flat, underwhelming images.

Most household lamps also add a yellow hue to your lighting, which is difficult to correct in editing.

Don’t worry, there is a secret weapon in every house: (I hope) windows.

iphone photos- blush bed with window in background
Photo by The Ivory Mix.

Windows provide the perfect mix of filtered sunlight and just enough shade to bring definition and soft shadow to your photos.

Don’t have a window readily available?

No worries!

Just search for a shaded or covered spot outdoors for the same effect.

Make sure to put your window to the side of you or your subject for optimal photos on your iPhone!

Purchase a Photo Lightbox Kit

If windows and natural light just aren’t an option in your home set-up, you can still get great lighting with a softbox or photo lighting kit. Amazon has a ton of options for all price ranges, like this handy tabletop photo tent set-up for $32!

Most photo lightbox kits come with a white photo tent and crisp white LED lamps to provide clean, bright lighting for your product photos.

If you’re still struggling with heavy shadows, invest in a bounce card to reflect light onto your photo subject. If you’re on a budget, a white foam board from a craft supply store will also work nicely!

Photo by The Ivory Mix

Add More White To Your Photo

If all else fails and your photos are still coming out too dim for your liking – just add more white! Add white to the background, to your model’s clothing, or to the flooring in the backdrop.

This will help brighten up your image – and be easier to manage in the editing phase. 

Do Not: Use Flash Photography

Before we dive into a complete list of additional equipment to make your at-home product photography studio complete, let’s cover one major lighting don’t: using flash photography!

Flash photography may cause distracting light reflections in your images, wash out detail and flatten your subjects.

Although it may be tempting to boost your lighting with the flash tool, it’s not the best source of light in photography.

More importantly, it won’t do your product justice!

Tip 4: Purchase Additional Equipment

We’ve mentioned some of the gear above that will make the puzzle of how to take product pictures with an iPhone even easier.

Rest assured, you can take amazing product photos with just an iPhone, but having these items in your arsenal will make the whole process a breeze!

How to take product photos with your smartphone - iphone taking product photo of gold pineapple and white camera
Photo by The Ivory Mix

So what gear should you consider to become a pro iPhone photographer? Here’s your shopping list:

  • A tripod to steady your shots and eliminate blur
  • An attachable macro lens to capture close-ups and detail
  • Platforms for easy-breezy flat lays
  • Solid backgrounds for scenes
  • A photo lightbox kit to create a popup studio on the go
  • Artificial lighting to capture photos in low-light areas
  • Bounce cards and reflectors to eliminate pesky shadows

And speaking of backdrops… that takes us right into our next tip all about the importance of what’s behind (and underneath!) your products in photos.

Tip 5: Create a Clean Backdrop

Want to take a great product photo with just your iPhone? Then spend a little extra time planning and polishing your backdrop!

A clean backdrop highlights your photo subject and doesn’t steal attention.

If your backdrop is cluttered, messy, or busy, it could draw attention away from the product. That’s the last thing you want when promoting your goods!

Some things to keep in mind when planning a backdrop for an at-home iPhone shoot:

  • Plan your colors and textures around your photo subject
  • Tidy up! Take a moment to dust or remove smudges or imperfections that might distract
  • Less is more. The more staged, complex or downright busy an image is, the more focus you’re pulling from your product!

We’re in love with this product photo from Sol de Janeiro. The product is front and center on a flattering color background. Not to mention the patterns around it are made with the product itself!

Tip 6: Photograph From All Angles and Compositions

One of our favorite tips to share with members learning how to take professional product photos with an iPhone is all about angles and composition.

In fact, Kayla of the Ivory Mix has some great hacks for experimenting with angles and compositions in our webinar. We’ll give you the overview of her wisdom below – tune in to the webinar for even more!

Fill the frame with your subject

If you want to make your product photos stand out on social media (see: tips for Pinterest product photos), here’s a hint: experiment with unexpected angles and perspectives.

One of the key compositions to keep in your back pocket is filling the frame with your subject! 

“A lot of us just tend to point and shoot at a subject without thinking ahead of time how we are capturing, and what we’re capturing in the image itself.”

Kayla Marie Butler, The Ivory Mix

In the webinar, Kayla uses the example of a historic building she took a photo of on her smartphone. Our first instinct is to fill the frame with the entire building, but the details that make it interesting or unusual are often lost this way.

iPhone photography tip- fill the frame with your subject - entire building versus capturing the detail of the facade by getting closer

When she got close to the building and filled the entire frame with the facade of the building, the architectural detail and intricacy took center stage. This took the entire look and feel of the image from a basic photo to a work of art!

Bottom line: Don’t be afraid to get close to the subject and frame it, even if you’ve styled an entire set around it. It makes all the difference!

Do Not: Use the Zoom Feature on Your iPhone

Seems counterintuitive, right? If you want to capture detail, why not just zoom in on your iPhone to fill your frame?

Here’s why: Professional camera set-ups often have an expert telephoto lens that physically extends to zooms in and out without reducing image quality.

Your iPhone lens doesn’t have that.

When you zoom in, you start losing detail. The image quality will reduce, and you’ll get that unpleasant blurry and pixellated look.

Instead of zooming in, just get physically closer. You’ll thank us later!

Use the Rule of Thirds

Remember that rule we briefly mentioned in tip 1? Here’s how the iPhone photo grid helps with your composition.

The Rule of Thirds is a handy photography hack that helps structure photos, where the focal point of an image is placed at a point along a 3×3 grid. 

You can structure a photo any way you like using the grid, as long as your subject is centered along one of the lines or intersections.

Use the Rule of Thirds in iPhone Photos - place focus on an intersection or on a line

For the best effect, try centering your subject on one of the vertical or horizontal lines, or offset your product by placing it at a grid intersection in the upper or lower corners. 

We recommend that you try multiple shots with different compositions and angles.

You want to provide yourself with options in the editing process for the very best shot you can get!

Shoot from above, get down low, and move around.

Get the shot! You’re capturing art!

For a giggle, check out the dedication of this Instagram user featured on @influencersinthewild.

We’d do anything for the perfect shot, let’s not lie to ourselves.

Even if it means having breadsticks poured all over our faces.

How To Take a Perfect Flat-Lay Product Photo

One of our very favorite tips from Kayla’s webinar is structuring your flat-lays for product photos with an “S” in mind. Here’s why:

“When we look at a photo, our eyes sort of naturally dart around in an S shape.”

Kayla Marie Butler, The Ivory Mix
Smartphone Photography Tips - Create an S shape in your flatlays with product and accessories

Experiment with putting your product and flat lay accessories along the lines of an imaginary S shape. You’ll be amazed by the results!

Tip 7: Use Editing/Photography Apps

Now the fun begins! After you’ve captured your product photos with your iPhone, it’s time to whip out the photo editing apps. Here’s a full breakdown of some of our favorites:

  • LightRoom, for expert editing features on the go
  • Be Funky, for resizing, blemish removal and touch-ups
  • Photoshop Fix, for removing unsightly parts of your photo
  • Snapseed, for easy-to-use photo editing tools
  • VSCO, for lighting and color editing, as well as stylish filters and effects

“Editing can make all the difference in the world. Editing really creates the finishing touches. Don’t neglect this because it can really turn a bad photo into a great photo.”

Kayla Marie Butler, The Ivory Mix

Editing your photos may seem intimidating, but it’s simpler than it sounds! If you’re new to toying with exposure, contrast, white balance, etc. we recommend you start out with Lightroom Mobile.

It’s free, and you’ll have access to the full suite you need to understand how to touch up the lighting of your photos! Here are the steps you should take when putting the final editing touches on your iPhone product photos:

Judge Your Exposure

Ask yourself, is this photo bright enough?

If it’s not, you’ll want to brighten things up a bit first. Here’s how:

  • Tap “Light” in the Lightroom menu (at the bottom of your screen)
  • Select Curve
  • Push the middle of the curve up slightly using your finger

This brightens all the elements of your photo more evenly. The light curve encompasses all the lighting in your photo. The top of the curve adjusts all the lightest elements, and the bottom adjusts the darkest elements.

That’s why the middle is your safest bet – it covers the majority of the light in your photo!

You’ll also want to adjust:

  • Shadows
  • Contrast
  • Highlights
  • White Balance (if the lighting is looking a little too yellow or blue)
  • Sharpness

When making edits, start small. Overdoing any of the above can result in an overexposes, harsh, or flat-looking image. You only want to add just enough to bring out the best elements of your photo.

Try not to change the natural state of your photo too much, for best results! ✨

Share Your Photos on Social Media

Congratulations, you’ve done it! Your product photos are picture-perfect and ready for the world to see.

Now it’s time to share your product photos to your social media platforms.

Promoting on Instagram? For the best times to schedule, handy auto-posting features and an easy-to-use hashtag finder, prep your images with the Tailwind Instagram scheduling tool.

If you’re creating beautiful Pinterest boards chock full of your amazing products, load up your Pin-worthy photos into the Tailwind Pinterest scheduling tool!

Check Out Our Webinar For More Product Photography Tricks!

Did you learn a lot of valuable photography tips from this article? Would you believe there are even more tips and tricks packed into our Smartphone Photography Pro webinar?

Kayla Marie Butler of The Ivory Mix is dishing on all the tips you need to be an iPhone product photography pro.

As a dazzling stock photo creator and interior designer, she knows her stuff, and trust me, you should too! For:

  • Product photoshoot planning tips
  • More on working with lighting and shadow and
  • In-depth tutorials (with screenshots!) on editing with Lightroom Mobile,

…drop everything and view our free webinar now!

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