When it comes to branding or visual marketing, iPhone photography seems to be a very polarizing subject for many entrepreneurs. Many people are quick to write it off, automatically associating it with amateur status. Meanwhile, others see it as their only real option to create any visual content at all.
Admittedly, I was in the first camp. When I started my first business, I knew brand visuals were important. Every brand I was aspiring to be like had such beautiful imagery; everything they did was elevated in my eyes and I trusted their product almost immediately as a result. It somehow got me visualizing how I could live my best life if I only had their product. Their ability to sell through their visual marketing worked on me and they didn’t even need to be salesy.
But I always thought gorgeous brand visuals like this were only possible with a DSLR camera. Do I still think this? No, and I’ll you why.
When done properly, mobile photography can look incredible. And I mean, reeeeally hard to tell from photos taken on other cameras. But unfortunately, it is something that is rarely done right; and those images, while created with good intentions, are what give iPhone photography a bad name. So, as a DSLR owner and user, I want to clear a few things up because when it comes to your brand, mobile photography is still a skill worth knowing.
iPhone Photography: How You Can Use It For Your Business
Believe it or not, your iPhone is capable of creating the type of product shots you need for your website. How do I know this? Because I’m speaking from experience. In fact, I have a story to share of when iPhone photography saved my rump.
We just produced my new collection but some unexpected production delays meant that the entire schedule had to be pushed back, which was a HUGE problem. Why? Because my team and I had already been marketing a launch date to our customers based on the original timeline. We had to launch on that date or we’d have to backtrack on our messaging and create all new copy and marketing collateral. I also had editors and buyers following up with me for when they could expect an updated line sheet to preview the collection for their own deadlines.
Needless to say, I was panicking. When we finally received prototypes to photograph, I was so pressed for time that I couldn’t find a photographer with any last minute availability to get this done. So with one goal in mind (to produce ready-to-use images of the new pieces in less than 3 hours), I switched gears. I did own a DSLR camera and a light box in our midtown studio but it wasn’t an efficient use of time to relocate seeing as I wanted to have everything done in 3 hours.
So first, I made a list of everything I needed: a white backdrop, good lighting, and a camera. I took computer paper and propped it up to create the white backdrop. Office lighting wasn’t optimal but it was bright enough and I knew I could fix the harsh yellowy-ness in editing afterwards. And as for a camera, my iPhone would have to do (I had a 6 Plus at the time). So I gave it a go and shot everything right then and there. I also edited everything on my phone as well (no time to upload and catalogue in Lightroom).
Thankfully, it worked out. I was quite happy with how the images turned out and for what I needed them for, I haven’t felt the need to reshoot them – the product shots you see for the Marcas collection on our site are still those same iPhone photos that I originally took. And want to know what’s even better? I actually saved money by shooting these myself and was able to use some of those extra dollars on marketing spend instead. So to say it all worked out is actually an understatement.
Sometimes the perfect moment happens and all you have on you is your phone. This is a great thing though because you can create some really stunning visual content with just that alone. Even if you don’t share the image on your brand’s Instagram account, it’s still worth elevating what you associate with your personal branding as an extension of your business. Here are before-and-after looks of some lifestyle photos I took with my iPhone:
I took this photo in Sydney, Australia on the Bondi to Coogee Walk. It was a really humid day (like unbearably hot) and taking really crisp photos was hard since the lens on my phone kept fogging up. But with a little bit of editing magic (I increased brightness and vibrance, brought up contrast a bit, and sharpened), I was able to get the photo looking exactly how I remembered the view to look like in real life.
I was in Spain last month working out of the courtyard of my Airbnb in Madrid. For once, my workspace was too gorgeous not to share. You can see all of the adjustments I made to the photo in the before and after comparison (including adjusting vertical and horizontal perspectives, increasing exposure and vibrance, and cropping the overall image size). I also dropped in a screenshot of my website on my laptop instead of the client work that I was actually working on (because branding).
Favorite Apps and Resources
Usually if I shoot on my phone, I’m editing that same pic on my phone. There are a million photography and editing apps available now and while it’s completely up to personal preference, I stick to the same ones for consistency (and to speed up my workflow process). My go-to apps for mobile editing are Snapseed and VSCO and I edited both the product shots and lifestyle imagery that I shared here using both. Just remember to keep your stylistic editing on-brand and true to your aesthetic.
Beautiful visuals are important when building a trustworthy brand. As far as your entrepreneurial toolkit goes, iPhone photography is a skill worth having in your back pocket, no matter where you are in your business journey. But if you are just starting out, it can prove to be very valuable in the beginning. Literally. Unless your business is a photography-focused one, you may be better off holding onto those thousands of dollars before going out and purchasing a DSLR. Eventually, it will make sense to invest in better technology or gear further down the road but you can worry about that when your business grows and gets to that point.
But iPhone photography is so much more than snapping a pic and posting it on social or your website. It’s not something you should cut corners on or it can be the one thing that associates your brand with “amateur status” in your customers eyes. So take the time to learn proper photography concepts (lighting is still everything!) and establish your brand identity and strategy so everything will come together.
I’d love to know how much you rely on mobile photography for your brand. Leave a comment below and let me know if you have any other tips or photos to share. And if you’re interested in learning how to make mobile or iPhone photography work for your brand, get in touch. And make sure to subscribe to our email list for more tips here.
Also, this post contains some affiliate links to support this blog and keep it running. This is, of course, at no cost to you, and I only share products that I use myself and absolutely love and believe in.