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Smartphone Photography Guide: Accessories


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Use your smartphone to capture high quality images of your accessories at an efficient pace.

One of the largest product genres in the eCommerce world is accessories. Because it is one of the largest markets, there is a pressing need for fast turnaround of a high image count. Using your smartphone to capture images of your accessories will speed up your processing time and push images to your site faster.

Nowadays, smartphones are equipped with high quality cameras at 8MB to 16MB, and apps can allow you to edit images as you desire based on your settings. This means sharper, clearer photos — and better colors, too. Everyone’s a digital photographer! As long as you are dedicated to learning how to use your smartphone’s camera application to its full potential, you don’t need expensive camera equipment to succeed as an eCommerce retailer.

We will photograph a handbag, a pair of gloves, and a belt in this article. There’s a wide variety of accessories out there, so we want to demonstrate a few of the many ways to photograph accessories. Although they may range in size, shape and color, you will notice that very little changes in the process, and our approach can be directly utilized in any accessory situation.

So let’s get to the accessories photography tips!

Setting up your accessories & studio

1. Acquire a smartphone with a decent camera and camera app

Before you do anything, make sure that your smartphone is equipped with an adequate camera for product photography (at least 8MP) and an advanced capture application. A basic “Camera” app has likely already been installed onto your phone, but we recommend upgrading. The cost-effective “Camera+” (or an equivalent application) will give you a large amount of technical control over your product images.

The iPhone 5S is equipped with an 8MP camera

The iPhone 5S is equipped with an 8MP camera.

After you have installed your smartphone app, make 100% certain that you know how to use your camera to its full capacity. Read online tutorials and experiment with settings and buttons until you are confident that you can use your phone to create images that really shine. And while you’re prepping for battle, go ahead and clean your phone and camera lens so that nothing — not even fingerprints and dirt — can stop you from claiming victory!

2. Create the perfect lighting situation

Lighting is the very foundation of photography. You wouldn’t be able to make images at all without it, so understanding how to manipulate light to your advantage is a necessary skill for product photography. Whatever you do, make sure that you produce bright, well-lit product images; not only will good lighting allow customers to fully admire your products, it will also make your products seem desirable and well-made.

Although you may have the gear, space, and budget to set up a full-scale product photography studio complete with artificial lights, natural window light is a perfect solution for a budget minded photographer. Accessories are generally quite small, so finding enough natural light should be relatively easy! Just choose a big window within your home or studio and set up shop there.

3. Find or make a neutral backdrop

You might not think that a product image’s background will have much influence on whether or not a customer purchases a particular product, but backdrops are extremely important! Your background should not only flatter and draw attention to your products, but it should also fit into your company’s branding, meet marketplace platform image requirements, and be consistent with every other backdrop in every other product photo in your online catalog.

A large roll of paper was used to drape as a seamless background

A large roll of paper was used to drape as a seamless background.

For any accessory, this is most easily accomplished by using a white backdrop of rolled paper, poster board, or white foam core board that has been “swept” or lightly folded and secured to a table, as shown above. This technique will create a seamless clean look in your product images, and the reflective white material (particularly with the foam core board and poster board) will bounce soft light back onto your products in a flattering way.

4. Place the backdrop and product(s) on a table

Accessories range across many shapes and sizes, but we can all agree that they are small enough to photograph just about anywhere. Don’t strain yourself by placing the product on the ground or crawling all over the floor to photograph certain items. Placing each accessory on a small table, on top of your chosen backdrop, near a window will provide an effective yet inexpensive studio setting in which you can work.

A folding table is used here, positioned in front of a window with a white seamless backdrop

A folding table is used here, positioned in front of a window with a white seamless backdrop.

Photographing different accessories

Now that your product and studio have been prepared, it’s time to pull out your smartphone and start making great images! Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Mark an X on your backdrop for easy placement and use an iPad or notebook to trace your steps to rebuild your set every time!

Mark an X on your backdrop for easy placement and use an iPad or notebook to trace your steps to rebuild your set every time!

1. Repetition is key

Understanding the importance of consistency will help you to create beautiful product images that excel both technically and aesthetically. As you work, pay attention to every decision that you make and record everything in detail. You want to be able to take your setup apart and put it back together again later, so you can reproduce identical images. Pay special attention to product placement. Mark an X on your backdrop so you know exactly where you placed the last product, where you’ll place this product, where you’ll place the next product, and so on. In addition to boosting the professionalism of your online catalog and the value of your store’s branding, consistency will help you to greatly speed up your workflow in future photoshoots.

2. Work your styling magic

Some accessories need help to look their best. Make each piece shine by adding a few extra minutes to style it and make the product stand out. Don’t just throw the accessory on a table and photograph. Since everything else in our photoshoot should go fast and easy, spend your most time here and make your product look great.

This bag is left as is

This bag is left as is.

This bag has been stuffed with cloth to help it stand

This bag has been stuffed with cloth to help it stand.

Empty handbags have a large hollow center and look droopy and sad. Stuffing the purse props it up and gives it life, making it look full and happy.

This belt has just been laid out on the table

This belt has just been laid out on the table.

This belt has been coiled up and held together with tape

This belt has been coiled up and held together with tape.

Although a belt may look good laid flat on a table, which shows the product for what it is, try coiling the belt for an appealing stylized shot of your product. Either option can create a good image to represent your product. The more images you have of your product styled in different ways, the more your customer will see.

These gloves are just laid on the table

These gloves are just laid on the table.

These gloves have been styled on top of one another

These gloves have been styled on top of one another.

The image on the left is a good representation of the gloves, but try to lay your gloves on top of each other to showcase one specific glove. These small styling techniques draw attention to the best aspects of your accessories, while making them look interesting to your customer. Having both of these shots in your product imagery will help sell your accessories.

3. Don’t forget to focus

Focusing your camera may seem like a no-brainer, especially since many smartphones contain autofocusing capabilities.

Focus smartphone images

However, our phones don’t always make the right decision about where exactly to focus, so it’s important to help your phone by tapping the desired focal point. Ideally, you should focus in the center of your specific accessory. Do not publish blurry or out-of-focus images; this will cause customers to question your integrity as a seller!

4. Position your self properly

It’s always difficult to decipher where to set yourself and your camera in your space. It depends on the type of accessory. Some, like handbags and belts, can sit straight up by themselves. In these cases, you should position yourself low and straight on to the product. You may need to lay other products, like scarves and gloves, flat on a surface and photograph from above.

Bad angle belt smartphone image

Bad angle: too high above.

Belt after smartphone image

Good angle: straight in front.

Bad position: too angled and low

Bad position: too angled and low.

Good position: straight above

Good position: straight above.

Bad position: too high above

Bad position: too high above.

Good Position: straight in front

Good Position: straight in front.

5. Capture standard shots first. Then get creative!

Shooting close-up shots of product details is a good practice, but don’t let that distract you. Always capture several standard, straight-on photos that provide views of each product in its entirely.

Bags angles smartphone images

Only after you have created the basic images (front, back, sides) should you photograph details that make products special, such as tags, logos, straps, buckles, and material patterns and textures.

Close-up angles smartphone images

Close-up angles bag smartphone images

Some items, like belts and gloves, may have fewer images than a larger item like a purse. Items with more detail should have more images.

6. Accessorize With A Model or Mannequin

In some rare cases it can be useful to showcase your accessory on a model or mannequin.

For instance, you can demonstrate a handbag’s actual size when positioned on a model. Although your product will be supported with informative content about the product, like sizing, it is important to show your customer visually as well.

Styled on model with neutral clothing and tight crop to emphasize the belt

Styled on model with neutral clothing and tight crop to emphasize the belt.

It is really common for people to view photos and skip past text about the product. If you share details like size visually, your customer will be informed prior to purchasing and receiving.

Styled model from head to toe with neutral clothing to show the size of purse on body

Styled model from head to toe with neutral clothing to show the size of purse on body.

These gloves have been styled on a model’s hands to show length and fit

These gloves have been styled on a model’s hands to show length and fit.

Post processing & publishing

Once you are finished photographing, load the images into a mobile image editing application like “Adobe Photoshop Touch” or “Camera+” to adjust each image’s brightness, contrast, sharpness, and other basic properties. This is not a crucial step by any means, but tweaking settings can add more pop to your images and influence a customer’s purchasing decision.

If you don’t have the time or know-how to edit the images yourself, you can send them to a professional outsourcing company who will make your images shine. Here at Pixelz, we specialize in taking quality product images and editing them even further to create truly stunning product photos with pristine backgrounds, beautiful colors, and crisp sharpness. With our quick turnaround guarantee, your images will be web-ready in no time!

Ideally, here’s how your product photos will look before and after editing.

Before

Before

After

After

Before

Before

After

After

Before

Before

After

After

6. Upload

After post-processing, all that’s left is to upload your images onto your eCommerce website and plug them into your product listings. Some marketplaces, like Etsy, have apps that allow upload directly from your camera application. Select your favorites and you’re in business!

Our mini-series on Smartphone Photography for furniture, footwear, apparel and accessories products should equip you with all of the tools and know-how that you will need to quickly and cheaply craft great product images and free up time and money for other business and personal projects.

As you come to fully understand the process and gain experience, your efficiency and effectiveness will increase — and hopefully, so will your sales. Good luck!