Ingenious Tip for Taking Professional Looking Product Shots on the Cheap with Your Smartphone

The guys over at HouseholdHacker have come up with and shared a cheap product photography trick that’s incredibly simple but yields awesome results. And all you need to take advantage of it is some sort of reflective surface (they used a glossy black trashcan…), a computer monitor, and a smartphone camera!

There’s really not much to it, but the results are impressive given how absurdly simple it is. Just set up your glossy platform in front of the monitor, pull up a photo of some great bokeh on the screen, and set up an LED lamp if you need some more lighting.

When you line up your shot, you’ll get something that you don’t typically see smartphones spit out:

Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 10.01.16 AM

The technique is incredibly simple and literally anybody with a smartphone, a monitor and some sort of glossy surface can take advantage to up their product photography game right away.

This will work even better as individual bits of gear get upgraded, and it’s a great trick to show your kids who are just getting into photography, or your friends who sell a lot of stuff on eBay but never give much thought to the photos.

You know they’re gonna ask you for photo tips (for the umpteenth time) the next time you see them… and since they didn’t listen to you the last twelve times you told them about the rules of composition, you might as well share a neat trick instead.

(via Gizmodo)

  • Mike

    Messed up white balance, looks nowhere near “professional” (wrong word but I understand what you were trying to say).

  • NickGHK

    What if I don’t want a pic of a gnome?

  • Brooke Becker

    Your right, I wouldn’t go as far as to call that professional looking …

  • Alan Klughammer

    Find a background and light your subject. Yup, absolutely ingenious.

  • Register

    In one article, PetaPixel tells us how depressing the market is for PAYING photography jobs.
    In the next, they are saying people can take (and I quote:) PROFESSIONAL (looking) product shots on-the-cheap with a smartphone and an LED light.

    Product photography is a highly technical job both before, during and after the shoot. Not the same angle works for all products, neither does the same lens, nor the same lighting, etc. etc.

    Product photography is a serious business, and the companies who succeed are the ones who invest in good product photography. The investment required to make a shoot is easily compensated by the added sales the professional images generate.

    From now on, please rename articles like these for what they are: “Here’s another creative way to pretend you know how to do product photography! Do so at your own risk.”

    Thanks, Petapixel!


    The Professionals.

  • Mike

    Then we have a very big problem, buddy.

  • Bill Binns

    Jesus. I don’t think the post was aimed at Budweiser and Rolex marketing execs. It’s a little tip for people selling things on ebay and such. Have a look through some ebay postings and you will see that such advice is badly needed.

  • NickGHK

    Well, that’s me f**ked, then.

  • Mike

    I think it’s OK to disguise the gnome as the thing you want to photograph. Must contain a gnome as instructed, I’m afraid.

  • Mike

    Instructions unclear, ordered a Hasselblad Lunar and lost my wife

  • NickGHK


  • NickGHK

    Where’d my pic go?

  • NickGHK

    O – there it is.

  • Mike

    Looks pro, mate!

  • Nothanks

    This is a website about photography. As such, it has the obligation to treat photography in the most professional way. Suggesting how-to’s on the cheap, workarounds, etc. will only make potential clients do the same, furthermore causing the perceived value of all things photography to plummet.

    One day, Petapixel publishes an article with a “flowchart” so photographers can try to explain to their clients “why photography can’t be cheap”, one of the reasons being the high cost of equipment!

    Then, articles like the Gnome picture appear, giving do-it-yourself instructions for doing something “professional-looking” and “on-the-cheap”!

    THIS is why clients say all the time “oh, you’ll just use a cheap backdrop” or “you can just Photoshop that out”. They don’t even ASK, they ASSUME all photographers do on-the-cheap cutarounds, and so, are not willing to pay much, sometimes not even at all.

    Petapixel must get its act together: are you FOR photographers and FOR the photography business, or are you a “photo-hobby” site? You can’t be both, make up your mind!

  • Bill Binns

    “As such, it has the obligation to treat photography in the most professional way.” Huh? Says who? Where did you get the idea that this was a site for pro photographers only?

    if you are earning a big chunk of your income from product photography, you have bigger things to worry about than Petapixel DIY posts. Ever heard of digital 3D rendering? Soon, product photography will only be done by people selling crap on ebay.