Smartphone Photography 101

Smartphone cameras have come a long way. Back in the day, so-called serious photographers shunned any shots taken on something that could also be used to call grandma. These days, though, all it takes is a modern smartphone to take exceptional images of your gear.

Take a look at our tips for getting the most out of your shots when listing on Reverb. Even if you’re using a regular camera, all of these guidelines definitely still apply.

And don’t forget, the Reverb iPhone App is live! Our app makes it easy to snap shots and make a listing. With the Reverb App in hand, you’ll be slinging gear with the best of them in no time.

Fundamentals

  • Use natural light.
  • Shoot against a single-color background like a white sheet or a hardwood floor.
  • Take a mix of full body shots and more detailed closeups. The more images the better.
  • Be creative and have fun. Nothing gets gearhounds hot on the trail of a new piece like a set of intriguing images.

Lighting

Whether you’re using an iPhone or some sort of top-secret NASA camera of the future, lighting is what truly separates the hits and the misses when taking photos of gear. Warm, even lighting will help your gear come across clearly and vibrantly for potential buyers.

Some tips for lighting your shots:

  1. Go outside. Take it from me, the sun is definitely cheaper than a new set of lights. Try shooting outside in a shaded area or on an overcast day. It’s best to avoid direct sunlight (especially when dealing with delicate instruments).
  2. If indoors, try using natural light from a window as your main source.
  3. If natural light isn’t an option, try using two lamps positioned as close as possible to your gear.
  4. Watch out for shadows. Don't worry, no one's watching as you contort your arms in bizarre, circus-performer-like ways.
  5. Avoid usiong a flash. It's almost always better to wait for improved lighting conditions than use a flash. Imagine your gear is a sensitive rock star that has the front of house guy tell the crowd to refrain from flash photography during the a set.

Get Up Close and Personal

Your gear isn’t like your date to the middle school dance: It’s okay to get nice and close. Buyers like to see every nook and cranny of a piece of gear they're eying. Give the people what they want.

Try filling the entire frame with highlighted portions of the piece. If you’re shooting a guitar, maybe some detailed shots of the pickups or a cross-section showing the height of the strings off the fretboard. Close-ups are also an vital way to show any issues or imperfections with your item.

The More the Merrier

Reverb doesn’t limit the amount of images you can add to a listing, so be bold. Take as many photos as you need to tell the whole story. Experiment with different angles and lighting, and have fun coming up with interesting shots. Heck, if you want to sneak in a few of you windmilling your axe with your favorite Springsteen red bandana, we won’t tell anyone.*

*except our mailing list

Other Tips

  • Crop, don't zoom. Zooming on a smartphone distorts the quality of the image. A quick crop achieves the same effect without degrading the image.
  • Clean your lens. It’s best to use a soft cloth like you would with your guitar, but a quick wipe with a shirt will work in a bind. Just not the one with barbecue sauce on it.
  • Use a tripod. Tripods and simple mounting devices for phones are easy to find and help eliminate blur in your pictures.
Real shots from real Reverb listings

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