Beauty Blog Photography on a Budget - Part 2: Taking Pictures (with a Smartphone)

sobota, avgust 16, 2014

I've talked about inexpensive studio set-up for beauty blog photography in the first part, so today it's time for some quick tips on taking photos with a smartphone. I only own an ancient Nikon Coolpix S200 with 7.1 pixels, which takes rubbish pictures and currently my Samsung Galaxy S2 is the best thing I have (update: since January 2015 I'm using Galaxy S5). Maybe if I have a windfall I'll buy a proper new camera, but for now what I have suffices. As you might imagine there are no fancy settings there, however, there are a few things to tweak when taking product pictures. Of course proper cameras all have the same functions, as these are just basic settings.

Adjusting white balance 
To avoid the picture looking too dark and grey, ramp it up.

Never use flash. 
I would advise against using flash because it makes the images too harsh, washes them out and the colour accuracy is lost (no flash when taking swatches, please). 

Guidelines divide the picture into nine rectangles (the rule of thirds) and come really handy when setting up a picture. 

Set focus mode to macro if you're doing close-ups. Having a product that is in focus closer to the camera than the rest, will make that blurry background.
edit: Galaxy S5 has an automatic focus as well as it has the option of blurring the background later.

I never do this, as I find automatic work well on my smartphone, but if you find your pictures are to noisy (grainy), setting ISO lower will fix that. Higher ISO settings are generally used in darker situations. On proper cameras this setting is far more important.

Now for the Captain Obvious advice - keep the camera steady (as I said in the previous post, I use a box instead of a tripod) and focus on the item you are taking a picture of. On my camera I have to do this manually, but some have that automatic like Samsung Galaxy S4 that I was using for these pictures (which I borrowed. It only reminded me how much I'd like a new phone).

Taking pictures of white products 
With a white background it will result in the picture looking very dark. Since obviously, you can't have it all white, what I suggest is ditching the white background and go some place else or use some sort of an object that gives texture to the background be it that adorable weaved basket, your makeup, a magazine/book or decorated paper, the possibilities are endless. 

Take a lot of pictures with different settings and from different angles
You don't want to transfer the whole thing to a computer only to see it's out of focus or just bad. Also take pictures at the highest resolution because they are easier to edit later. 

Compose your shot thoughtfully
Consider what are you going to use as a background and how cluttered do you want it to be. Try filling the entire picture with a product. With a lower quality camera, the closer the product, the better the quality of the picture. If it's too far you lose details and it results in the picture looking almost blurry, so when you have to sharpen it, it creates noise (which you can reduce with software, but it won't be the best picture).

Create you own style
Don't copy, but be inspired by others. Some like taking pictures with flowers or magazines in the background, I use makeup or different boxes, baskets, etc., there are so many ways you can set your background. Some of my favourite picture inspiration: Ajda's, ArtDonatella, Bella Chique, I Covet Thee, Makeup and More, Makeup Ninja, Makeup Savvy, Minnebelle, Blog of Vain Pleasures.

In the next post I discuss photo editing.

Again if you have any helpful tips write them in the comments. I also wouldn't object if you recommended me an affordable, but decent camera. I hope this was helpful and have a great day.

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  1. Vedno maš super fotke :) In pa super nasveti ! .. Edino kaj mene dostikrat moti je to, da so izdelki v ozadju tud precej fokusirani, pač meni je všeč če je zadaj večja zamegljenost, ampak to je moje mnenje :)

    1. To je predvsem odvisno od leče, ki jo uporabljaš :). Seveda za telefon ne moreš kupovat posebnih leč za razliko od dražjih fotoaparatov. Lahko popravljaš potem z softwarom, ampak niso vse slike primerne za to :)

  2. Se že veselim objave o preoblikovanju fotografij - se mi zdi, da bom to še najbolj znala izkoristiti, ker so mi zelo všeč tvoje fotografije ravno zato, ker so lepo svetle:)

  3. Super nasveti, nedolgo nazaj so punce v facebook skupini spraševale za kakšne nasvete. Takšne objave vsekakor pridejo prav - predvsem za tiste, ki nimajo DSLRjev (no pa tudi tiste, ki jih imajo in bi lahko kaj izboljšali) :)

    1. Hvala :) Sem videla, da so punce spraševale, sicer pa sem imela osnutek te objave napisan že zelo dolgo, tako da se mi je zdelo, da je že skrajni čas, da to objavim. Tvoje slike so pa itak moja inspiracija :)

  4. I cannot believe these are taken with a PHONE :-O Pretty amazing.

  5. I have the same phone and take my blogging pictures with it! Adjusting the exposure and white balance have made a world of difference. Your tips are SO helpful and your pictures look ah-mazing :) Bookmarking this post right away.

    xx from

    1. Yes, white balance is a pretty nifty feature :) I'm glad you found my tips helpful :)

  6. WOW!!!
    You just blew my mind :)

  7. I am totally amazed with this trick! I really thought you were using a DSLR in your photography!!