Light, light and more light

Great mood photos are best created in a natural light. Try taking your photos close to a window and the larger the window is, the wider and softer the light will be (and the other way around). If you want to take photos of a window, it's a good idea to choose a north or south facing window. You can use transparent curtains if you want to spread the light. Try using the light in different ways and see how it effects on your photos. You can also try using headlights and side lights. Look around you and see if the light falls beautifully in different places!

Taking photos in the summertime is usually easier due to the longer and brighter days. It is more challenging to take great photos of those short and darker winter days. If you need to take photos on a dark day, try finding a big window to get as much daylight as possible. Alternatively, we recommend that you wait a day or two and see if the light changes. On the other hand, too much direct sunlight can also be quite a challenge. To avoid hard shadows or contrasts you can place a light diffuser film between the light source (window) and your lens. You can try using a light curtain or a white paper as a light diffuser. Our best tip is to take your photos on a light day. Pull the curtains or blinds aside and if necessary, try opening a door to add some extra light.

Hand holding a circle of light with dark background

Flash, backlight and light reflector

Using a flash normally never looks good in a photo. The flash often results in a too bright and flat subject in the foreground and a background that is way too dark. The backlight can add an exciting light to your photos but it can be quite difficult to adjust on a smartphone. It might cause the product to appear very dark on the front but you can often minimize this with a light reflector. If you don’t feel like buying one or a reflex screen, you can make a simple one yourself using a piece of white paper or a cardboard covered with aluminium foil. When you are using a light reflector, you are able to avoid hard shadows. This will it easier to see the small details on the product. Place the light reflector on the opposite side of the product from where the light source is and reflect the light back upon the product.

Hand holding a Nikon camera in front of white wall

Colouring point

Be aware of fluorescent lamps and other artificial light that adds a colour scheme to your photos. This means that the artificial light can actually change the colour of your products on the photos (e.g. green, red or yellow dye). The easiest way to control it is to turn off the light that adds the colour scheme. Candles create cosiness but it can be very difficult to catch this in a photograph. The flame often becomes very strong and white and causes the candle to become very bright in the upper part. The flame will spread a warm dye on the other products, and the same applies to lamps and spots in the ceiling, which probably will do nothing good for your photo.

Three challenges with photos

1. Glass, silver and mirrors can be quite a tease as they are mirroring everything! At first, you might not realise it, but when you look closer, it can almost destroy a photo. If you’re taking photos of a mirror you can try to turn it slightly so a nice subject will be shown in the mirror. If you’re taking photos of glass and silver, you can choose a neutral background behind you and the camera. Also, be aware that strong colours such as for example a red sweater will be easily shown in the silver.

2. White products can also sometimes be a challenge. They often become whiter and very flat. A way of coping with this is to use a darker background or darker items on both sides of the white product. You can also try to use two pieces of black cardboards – but make sure that they can’t be seen in the picture.

3. Clean up your photo to make it more simple and clean. If the background seems a little disturbing, it may be enough just to take a small step to one side, bringing a new background to the subject.
Customers viewing range of dinnerware and vases

Straighten up and crop

If your photo afterwards appears slightly crooked and the products are tilting a bit, you should either take a new photo or correct it in your editing software - if there is enough photo to crop. When you do the shooting, think about how and where the photos will be used and build the image for a relevant format (square or high-format and maybe both). Remember also to consider where you put the different products according to a potential cropping of the picture.

Yellow book on a table with a macbook

Shooting from above and great mood photos

Some products are not suitable for the same angle, maybe some of the proportions of the products are missing (especially because there is a wide angle in the camera). When you do the photographing on a table, kneel slightly and shoot directly at the product or slightly from above, so you can see a little of the inside of e.g. a cup. However, some products might gain a nice or fun detail by taking the pictures directly from above, depending on the motive. It is often tempting to shoot pictures that show how many products you have in your store, but please reconsider. In many cases, it may be a better idea to do close up of the products instead. You should often choose either to put the main product in a more calm environment or create more focus on a few products.

Notebooks on a table with a smartphone and a green plant

Photo apps

Today many smartphones have a so-called Pro mode. With that mode, you are able to manually select for example ISO, closing time and exposure compensation. You also have the option of downloading or purchasing an app for your mobile phone if you want to be able to control more settings on your camera. There are many different apps available and here are our suggestions:
  • VSCO (allows you to set white balance, ISO and closing time. There is also a possibility for finishing).
  • 645 Pro Mk lll (An app for photographers used to operate a professional SLR camera).
  • Open Camera (Only available for Android. It has many options and new features are added on a regular basis.)
  • Manual (available for iOS only. Allows you to control the settings yourself e.g. closing time, white balance, etc.).
  • Lightroom (Lightroom is really best known for photo editing, but in this app,  you can do everything from taking the photos to editing them).
  • Camera + (for iSO). Allows you to control the exposure by touching the screen where the light is to be measured. You can focus a place and control the lighting from somewhere else).
Light table with smartphone and macbook and glasses

Editing

There are already editing options on your smartphone, but if you want more than that, you can download many good apps that can help you: Lightroom, as already mentioned, which is perfect for basic editing. Snapseed is very user-friendly (good filters and effects). Darkroom has nuanced filters (a favourite among photographers). Easy to use and you can use the photos directly from the library. AfterFocus includes deep blur that is not possible for the camera in a smartphone.
If you have a SLR camera, you have a little more options. We will now mention a few options. Setting the ISO in your camera allows you to take good photos in poor lighting conditions. A high ISO will give the images more light, but they also get more grounded. A low ISO requires a lot of light but gives the pictures more details.
Is the product optimal? Look closely at the products and make sure that they appear at their best. Remember to flip motives correctly, possibly remove price tag, wipe dust, stickers, etc.
HDR: High Dynamic Range Imaging is a technology you currently find on many mobile phones. The idea is that the camera combines multiple photos of the same subject. Then the colours and lights are mixed in a way that gives a more optimal photo. Optionally, let the camera automatically determine when HDR is needed.
The aperture controls how much light you let into the camera. The lower the F-number is, the brighter the picture becomes - and at the same time there is less depth of field in the photo. Shutter speed: Controls how long time the shutter light into the camera. In a dark room or a dark day, it could be a good thing to use a slow closing time, but this also affects sharpness. If you have set the camera for a long closing time – a slow shutter speed, you must keep the camera completely still. Avoid moving subjects in the image and preferably use a tripod. A tripod is a very important tool for making bright and sharp pictures, so this is a good investment for your photos.
With smartphoneswe are so privileged that we often can take as many pictures as we want. That improves our chance of striking the perfect photo. So take plenty of photos and choose the best to avoid blurred and shaken photos that often can happen with a smartphone.
The small lens on the phone easily becomes greasy even though it can be difficult to see at first sight. However, this can ruin all pictures so always check the lens and clean it with a corner of your shirt. You can also buy a polishing cloth for the purpose.
The most simple advice we can give is to know your smartphone's limitations when you’re taking photos. Consider when another camera or professional photographer needs to solve your wishes for the photos.
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