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Smartphone Photography Guide: Footwear

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Get smarter with your smartphone and take your business to the next level!

If you have been following our Smartphone Photography blog series, you probably caught our latest two articles about how to create beautiful mobile product images of furniture and apparel. In these posts, and in many others, we concluded that publishing great product images is a crucial step toward making money online. Product photography is a gateway to customer satisfaction, leading to higher web traffic and, ultimately, to higher profits.

You might not have a mountain of resources at your disposal, but if you own a smartphone, you have the perfect tool right at your fingertips. Nowadays, cell phones are equipped with 8MP and even 16MP cameras! This means sharper, clearer photos — and better colors, too. It also means that your product photography budget has just been saved! As long as you are dedicated to learn how to beautiful mobile product images of furniture use your smartphone’s camera application to its full potential

, you don’t need expensive camera equipment to succeed as an eCommerce retailer.

In this tutorial, we will explain everything you need to know to create truly amazing mobile product images that will inspire your customers’ trust.

Preparing footwear & studio

First, get yourself totally set up for success by following these five steps:

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 to the cost-effective “Camera+” or an equivalent application that 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 obtained both of these tools, make 100% certain that you know how to operate them in their full capacities. Read online tutorials and experiment with settings and buttons until you are confident that you can use these tools 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. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to make images at all, so understanding and being able to manipulate light to your advantage is a key skill to learn if you hope to create product photos that will wow customers and tempt them to click that “Add to Cart” button.

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 certainly have the gear, space, and budget to set up a full-scale product photography studio and use artificial lights to create the look that you want, natural window light coupled with white foam core board is the perfect solution for e-retailers with lower budgets. Because shoes are generally quite small, finding enough natural light should be relatively easy!

3. Find or make a neutral backdrop

You might not think that a product image’s background can have much influence on whether or not a customer purchases a particular product or not, but in reality, backdrops are extremely important! Your background should not only flatter and draw attention to your products, but they 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.

For footwear, 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

Footwear products can range in size and shape, but we can all agree that, regardless of shoe size, shoes are small enough to photograph just about anywhere.

Don’t strain yourself by placing the footwear on the ground or crawling all over the floor to photograph your footwear. Placing each pair 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.

5. Prepare your product

Before you begin shooting, double-check that each product is ready for its closeup.

It’s important to make sure that your product has been thoroughly examined and cleaned, since customers will notice imperfections and these mistakes are time-consuming to fix in post.

Polish each pair of shoes, closely examine details like laces and leather for damages, and confirm that your sample pair accurately represents the product.

Some imperfections, such as scratches, will have to be cloned out in post, but fix as many mistakes as you can beforehand.

Photographing Footwear

Now that your product(s) 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.

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 down in enough detail that you could take your setup apart, put it all back together again, and reproduce identical images.

Using a tripod is a great way to ensure consistency

Using a tripod is a great way to ensure consistency.

In addition to boosting the professionalism of your online catalog and boosting the value of your store’s branding, consistency will help you to greatly speed up your workflow in future photoshoots.

2. Keep track of positioning

One of the most important aspects of consistency is arranging each pair of shoes in exactly the same positions as you photograph different angles and compositions. Pivot each pair of shoes in a 360-degree circle to capture different angles of the pair standing upright, but make sure to also capture a close-up of a single shoe and experiment with flattering, non-conventional arrangements as well. The easiest way to ensure that your shoes are being photographed in the same spot through all of this repositioning is by marking positions with tape or X’s.

These two pairs of shoes are completely different, but consistent positioning and lighting choices make them seem like they belong in the same store

These two pairs of shoes are completely different, but consistent positioning and lighting choices make them seem like they belong in the same store.

3. Position shoes away from the backdrop

Don’t position your shoes too close to your background or you will have to waste time minimizing dark shadows in post.

Give your footwear some space from the backdrop to create even, soft lighting with minimal shadowing.

As you can see on the image, the heels are positioned too close to the backdrop, resulting in dark, distracting shadows.

4. Get low and shoot straight

Placing your footwear on a table allows you to photograph products from eye level, which is a very flattering angle for footwear product photos. Instead of standing up and looming over your product, try crouching or positioning your camera phone at more of a straight-on angle by utilizing a tripod.

DON´T try looming over your product, The customer will not get a precise look of the product

DON´T try looming over your product, The customer will not get a precise look of the product.

Get a flattering angle by positioning your camera phone at eye level using a tripod

Get a flattering angle by positioning your camera phone at eye level using a tripod.

5. Don’t forget to focus

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

However, our phones don’t always make the right decisions about where exactly to focus, so it’s important to help your phone along by tapping the desired focal point. Ideally, you should focus in the center of the closest shoe, where laces and straps will be.

Do not publish blurry or out-of-focus images; this will cause customers to question your integrity as a seller!

6. Capture standard shots first. Then get creative!

Shooting close-up shots of product details is always good practice, but don’t let that distract you from capturing several standard, straight-on photos that provide views of each product in its entirety. Only after you have created those basic images (front, back, sides, slanted) should you photograph details that make products special, such as tags, logos, laces, and material patterns and textures.

Smart footwear

Below, you will find example images of standard and detail images for both a pair of boots and a pair of heels. Use these images to jump-start your own product photography!

Smart footwear

7. Consider creating lifestyle shots

For apparel and footwear, lifestyle shots can be powerful marketing tools because they encourage customers to imagine themselves wearing your products.

After you have captured standard and detailed shots of your footwear, consider modeling the shoe on someone’s foot to get your customer visualizing!

Smart footwear

8. Avoid duplicates

It may be very tempting to capture the same image several times, just to make sure that you got everything just right, but we advise against this. The point of using your smartphone for product photography is not only to save money but also to save time. Don’t create more work for yourself by making too many images that you’ll need to cull through later on. Only capture those images that you definitely plan to use!

Post Processing & Publishing Images

Once you are finished photographing, load the images into a mobile image editing application such as Adobe Photoshop Touch or Camera+ to adjust each image’s brightness, contrast, sharpness, and other basic levels. This is not a crucial step by any means, but tweaking these settings can definitely add more “pop” to your images, which sometimes makes all the difference in a customer’s decision to purchase a product or not.

Ideally, here’s how your product photos should look before and after editing:

Smart footwear

6. Upload

If you don’t have the time or know how to edit the images yourself, you can always send them off to a professional outsourcing company who can really make your image(s) 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!

After post-processing, all that’s left is to uploading your images onto your eCommerce website and plug them into your product listings. Depending on the platform that you use, you may be able to upload the images directly from your camera application by syncing a marketplace’s app, such as Etsy’s, to your camera’s photo album. Each app is set up differently, but takes no time at all to learn, so select your favorite and you’re in business!

This mini-series on Smartphone Photography 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 your 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!