September 13, 2021
 DIY product photography on a smartphone

Humans are visual creatures. According to some studies, 90% of the information we obtain is visual. Ecommerce entrepreneurs know how important it is to produce high-quality images for their shop and social media websites like Pinterest.

Amazing product images can entice customers to purchase products, even when they can’t hold them.

When you first start an ecommerce store, you may have big product photography ideas. But you probably don’t have the tools or resources to get professional product images.

Don't fret.

Many online store owners use DIY product photos on their product pages. You don’t need a professional photographer or a photo studio with product photography equipment. You can have beautiful product photography on a budget using items you already have at home.

In this tutorial, we’ll go over:

  • How to create product images for a website using your smartphone.
  • How to light your products without buying lights.
  • What kind of DIY product photography background works best.
  • Which free apps you can use to edit your photos.

Here are some product photography ideas and tips for the at-home photographer.

DIY Product Photography

1. Use your smartphone camera instead of a complicated, expensive camera.

2. Use natural light to take photos instead of buying a lighting rig.

3. Choose the right backdrop. White poster board is a great, cheap choice.

4. Set your camera up for success. Use a tripod and make sure it stays steady.

5. Take advantage of free editing apps to enhance your images.

Now that you have these basic DIY product photography ideas let’s dive into how and why you should implement them.

1. Use Your Smartphone's Camera

A good photograph is made up of a series of choices about:

  • Equipment
  • Lighting
  • Exposure
  • Styling
  • Editing

The camera is just one of the components that make a professional-looking product photo. You might use a fancy DSLR. But if you don't know how to make the colors pop or capture the best angles, then your expensive camera is wasted.

DSLR cameras require the user to have more advanced knowledge about things like shutter speed, white balance, and ISO — camera phones are point-and-shoot.

It’s easier to learn how to create product images for a website using a smartphone camera because you already own and know how to use it. Plus, you can edit photos right on your phone with loads of free apps.

For gorgeous product photos look for a smartphone camera with:

  • High pixel count: This ensures photos are high-quality and zoomable. New iPhone and Android phones with 12 megapixels and up are ideal.
  • Good color quality: Not all cameras display color the same way. Find a camera that captures color accurately, so you don't have to spend too much time editing.
  • Low light capability: This will be important when you don't have access to natural light.

2. Use Natural Light to Take Photos

The light source is a critical element in photography. Experts recommend artificial light for product photo shoots because you can control it.

But beginners won't have a product photography studio setup with lighting equipment. When you’re a novice on a budget, the best choice for product photography is natural light.

When you’re indoors, stage your products near a large window, which lets in more light. When your subject is closer to the window, you’ll have softer light with darker shadows. When it’s farther away, you’ll get lighter shadows.

Many photographers prefer overcast weather to direct sunlight, which can create harsh shadows. However, it's safer to start your photoshoot at the brightest time of the day, so you don’t lose light before you're finished.

If your lighting setup is too bright, you can use a diffuser to soften it. Diffuser sheets are inexpensive, but you can also make your own out of parchment paper, printer paper, or a frosted shower curtain.

If you have a larger budget and smaller products consider purchasing a lightbox. The translucent sides and white backdrop will give you a product photo with good lighting, minimal shadows, and a neutral background.

How to Create Product Images for a Website: Lighting Tips

Here are a few tips on lighting for your DIY product photography.

  • Don't use your phone's flash. It's often harsh and makes the image look flat.
  • Adjust the camera’s exposure. Images that are correctly exposed have plenty of color and detail.
  • Use white and black foam boards to play with shadows. The black foam board makes shadows deeper, which helps enhance a white product on a white background.

3. Choose the Right Backdrop

When it comes to product photography ideas, it’s best to focus on the product and keep the rest of your image simple.

Opt for a white background for product photography. White reflects natural light onto the product and contributes to an evenly lit photo. It also makes the editing process more straightforward than with a patterned or brightly colored background.

A DIY product photo with a white backdrop

Sweeps are backdrops that cover the transition from the vertical background to the horizontal space your subject sits on. Sweeps are preferred as product photography backdrops because they showcase the product seamlessly — often, it seems like the subject is floating in space.

You can purchase a sweep (available on Amazon) or go the DIY route and create your own out of white paper or poster board. What you use will depend on the size of the products you’re shooting.

Secure the backdrop behind your product using tape or clamps. When using paper backdrops, make sure you don't create any hard folds. Keep it gently sloping.

4. Set Your Camera Up for Success

You may be used to snapping pictures casually. But if you’re using your smartphone for product photography, then you should take the time to set yourself up to take the best photos possible.

How to Create Product Images for a Website: Camera Set-Up Tips

Here are a few tips for setting up your smartphone camera for a DIY product photography shoot:

  • Use the back camera. It often has a higher megapixel count than the front camera you usually use for selfies.
  • Use a tripod. A tripod keeps your camera stable, which ensures sharp and consistent images.
  • Use a Bluetooth remote. This will prevent the camera from shaking every time you tap your phone to take a photo.
  • Set up on a flat surface. A tabletop will work for small objects — make sure it’s level.
  • Take photos from different angles. Visual appearance is a key deciding factor for 93% of online shoppers. Remember: Your customers cannot hold the item. So, take close-up shots and provide plenty of visuals for reference.

5. Take Advantage of Free Photo Editing Apps

Aim to take the best photos you can — and then make them even better with photo editing. Do a bit of photo enhancement to really bring your product photography ideas to life.

These are some of the best free photo editing apps:

  • Lightroom is a photo editing app developed by Adobe, the same company behind Photoshop.
  • VSCO is many Instagram users’ favorite photo editing software. It has everything a beginner needs to enhance their images.
  • Snapseed is a photo editing app developed by Google. Advanced tools like healing, brush, and curves, let you retouch your photos like a pro.

How to Create Product Images for a Website: Photo Editing Tips

Here are a few tips that will help as you perfect your product images:

  • Choose the best shots of the set. Don’t waste time editing photos you won’t use.
  • When batch editing photos, crop everything before you start tweaking light and color.
  • After you edit the first few photos, save the settings as a preset so you can apply the same adjustments to the rest. Don't forget to check on each photo and adjust as needed.
  • When you use a white backdrop, you can apply a white background layer to remove blemishes or creases from your background.

Final Thoughts: Budget DIY Product Photography Ideas for Ecommerce

You don’t need a degree in photography to learn how to create product images for a website — nor do you need expensive tools. With these DIY product photography tips and simple tools you have at home, you can have great photos for your e-commerce product listings.

Are you just getting started with ecommerce? Nexcess makes it easy to start selling your products online fast with StoreBuilder.

And if you’re ready to launch your ecommerce website, check out Nexcess’s managed WooCommerce hosting packages today.


Nexcess, the premium hosting provider for WordPress, WooCommerce, and Magento, is optimized for your hosting needs. Nexcess provides a managed hosting infrastructure, curated tools, and a team of experts that make it easy to build, manage, and grow your business online. Serving SMBs and the designers, developers, and agencies who create for them, Nexcess has provided fully managed, high-performance cloud solutions for more than 22 years.

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