Capturing more sales by displaying your products online works well if your online catalogue is always updated. It helps to stay current when you can take quality product photos yourself. Modern smartphones make it more than possible, they make it easy. Plus, you can upload shots to your F1RST profile directly from the same phone.We asked our go-to photographer Bruce Pena to show us the way. Here’s his advice: 

You need:

  • A smartphone, mine is a Blu Lifepure Mini
  • Smooth cloth or paper, large enough for your product(s). *I recommend a white and a black set-up, depending on the product you’re shooting. Black background for white or light items, white for medium to dark items.
  • A powerful flashlight
  • A plain white t-shirt
  • Bulldog clips

1. Set-Up

Use your bulldog clips to help you place the cloth/paper behind and under the item, creating a uniform background. You could create a fancy setting, but isolating your item is actually recommended.

2. Let There Be Light


You won’t get that professional looking focus without a) enough light and b) angled light. Overhead lighting is a NO.You can shoot near to a window (pull back the curtains!), but if natural lighting is difficult to find then place the flashlight inside of the t-shirt, to give the effect of natural light. It works pretty well. Turn OFF your camera flash, but don’t turn off all other lights in the room, it will end up looking too dramatic, and (worst of all) won’t properly show the item’s detail.

3. Angle, angle, angle


The best shot is almost never from the front. To show off more of the product, play around to see what works. Move the product. Move your camera/phone position. Every item is different. A book, for example, may actually need to be photographed straight on. Just don’t let the edges of your background be seen, please. For these Oakley’s check North Shore Optical (and yes, this photo really was taken with my Blu smartphone).

4. Avoid the shake


#PointFocusShoot Hold those hands still and you should be good to go, but if you find this difficult then you may have to invest in a tripod for your phone – yes they have those now! Call Radioshack direct from F1RST if you’re interested.

5. Exposure

Increase the exposure in your camera app (usually that’s your built-in camera, you don’t absolutely NEED to download anything) to minimise the look of wrinkles or creases in the background cloth/paper. If your camera app doesn’t have manual exposure settings (or you don’t know how to find them), I recommend tapping the screen to adjust the exposure automatically. If you are shooting with the white background, tap on the darkest area of your product. If you are shooting on the dark background, tap on the lightest part of your product.

6. Reflect on Things

For shiny stuff, like this mini bottle of Deckie’s Passion Fruit Liquer (available at West Bees Supermarket), there may be a reflection of yourself in the object, minimise by wearing black, or covering up with cloth.

6. Snap!


Take your photo. Once again, yes this photo was taken with my Blu smartphone. Btw, these mugs/tea cups are available at Caboodle Gifts.

7. Upload!


Do it direct from your phone or download them to your computer if you prefer and upload from there (as pictured). Maybe you want to edit them a little, sure.

8. Get Detailed

Add the product price & a short description.

9. Sell While You Sleep

24 hours a day that catalogue is at work, no matter what you’re doing.


Bruce reminds everyone at F1RST of a South American footballer, no matter what haircut he has. He is a good friend, has a healthy appetite, and drives a zippy, little, yellow car. But most of all, he looks at everything as if he’s behind a camera. It’s true, he even put it on his website.

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