I want to take pictures of hands/people with mobile phones including the screen.

What is the best way to take the photo to get a clear image of the hand/person and have a clear image of the screen. Most likely I would like a creamy bokeh background effect as well.

I want a clear picture with either fingers in front of the screen or beside it and without noticeable post processing artifacts.

An example of types of images I want is http://www.peekcalendar.com

A similar question asked on stackexchange is:

What's the best way to take a picture of an LCD or CRT screen?

Should I take a picture with the screen off, then photoshop the screen in? Should I take a picture with the screen on but have it just be a white screen give off lighting to the hand?


3 Answers 3


If the picture's main purpose is to showcase the app design (like the example you've given), the standard approach is to Photoshop the screenshot on afterwards. Bear in mind though that a screenshot may be quite low-resolution compared to a multi-megapixel photo so it can be difficult to get a very high-res version of the composite picture that still looks sharp.

However, it is possible to get pretty decent publicity shots showing the software running on-device with no Photoshopping. Here are a couple of examples I did for a client some years ago:

enter image description here

enter image description here

Here are some tips I learned while trying to get those shots right:

  1. Soft ambient light is best. There was no artificial light involved in those shots at all. They were taken in a large, airy atrium of an office building, so there was plenty of daylight but no direct sunlight or spotlights.

  2. Use a smallish aperture so the whole screen is in focus, and keep the background as distant as possible so it's still nicely blurred. These were actually both taken at f/4 which is just about OK, but if you look closely the corners of the screen are out of focus. Given a second chance I'd use something like f/5.6 - f/8.

  3. Turn down the screen brightness: an overly bright screen will always end up over-exposed when you're metering for the hand. Experiment with this to get it right.

  4. This is the big one: use a large black card or the black side of one of those reversible reflector discs to eliminate reflections. However I posed these shots in the atrium, there was a window reflected in the screen, so I got an assistant to hold a large black reflector between the window and the phone and bingo - no reflections!

  5. Have some screen wipes handy to clean the screen beforehand so dust and fingerprints don't ruin the shots.

  6. Oh, and make sure your model has clean fingernails. :)

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I always found it amusing that these "large black cards" seem to be called gobo for "go between". A lovely descriptive low-tech term. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cornelius
    Feb 14, 2014 at 11:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nice! I'd never heard that term before but I like it too. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 14, 2014 at 11:35

I would do it with the screen on and then superimpose a screenshot by deforming based on the corners of the screen. That's pretty much the only way you are going to get such a clear looking screen. Have the same thing on screen so that you get the appropriate reflections, though if it is going to be moving, you are probably best to do a blank screen unless you are capturing a video feed directly from the device. You are better to have no reflections than to have reflections that don't match up with what is happening on screen.


If your Camera has Bracketing (take multiple picture with under and overexposure), you would most likely get an image with the right exposure of the hands and an image with the right exposure of the screen, then you blend them together in photoshop.


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