Product Photography in the Age of Smart Phones

Product photography studio with lighting equipment around the table

Professional Product Photography? Why do I need to hire a product photographer? I have an iPhone!

The amazing technology going into smartphone cameras makes everyone believe they are now as good as any professional photographer. So, why would you ever hire a professional photographer for your product photography? Here’s why.

The key to professional product photography is not the camera, it’s the lighting. This secret is true across all forms of photography and any photographer who is being honest with you will tell you that. Today’s digital SLR cameras, and even some of the latest smart phone cameras, can detect lighting levels and have auto focus with image stabilize. These things use to be the technical domain of the experienced photographer. While they still are at an elite level, it’s hard to argue at what point these become less relevant.

What is still 100% true is the quality of lighting makes or breaks your photo. And, when it comes to product photography, lighting is the critical factor that elevates your photos to pro level. You can try this on your own and see what I mean. Take you ultra-cool iPhone and photograph any ketchup, mustard jelly jar in your refrigerator. Do you best to set it in the best lighting situation you can. Then, Google that product online and compare the photo there with the one you took. You will see what I mean. The two product photos are like night and day. Why? Professional lighting. That’s why. Pros use thousands of watts of strobe lighting, soft boxes, reflectors, fill lights, Gaussian filters, flags and shadowing techniques to achieve that perfect product photo. And that becomes the visual standard we, as consumers, are accustomed to seeing and the standard by which we judge quality.

Yet, I often encounter startup companies that think their iPhone photos are good enough. Because, after all, Apple has told them they now have the power of professional photography in their hands. I often see startup product companies using their own pictures on Amazon and their own eCommerce sites and I truly believe they can’t consciously see the quality difference because they don’t have a pro-level product photo to compare it to. I can instantly spot them. And you can too, if you pause and evaluate your initial reactions to them when you see them. They seem…well…less-than somehow. Like mom and pop put them together. And, it erodes your trust in the quality of the products they are selling.

For all the time, money and passion you put into bringing your products to life, you owe it to yourself to hire a professional photographer to capture your blood, sweat and tears in the best lighting possible to ensure you sales match your expectations.