Photographing jewelry

Colleen Baran
For most people, hiring a photographer to take pictures of your jewelry is just economically unattainable.  The cost of materials alone is scary sometimes, so we have to become a Jackie of all trades (sorry guys) and give it a go at home.  These days digital photography is a real life saver, and on top of that, there are many photographers online willing to help us out.

This is a very very good tutorial from Strobist blog.  It teaches you how to make a really cheap light box for macro photography.  Knock yourselves out.

I’ve been taking photographs of my jewelry for a couple years now, and I SUCKED at the beginning.  The pictures weren’t clear, shiny silver rings would reflect everything around them (including my own face), the colors would be weird, and the composition shabby.  This is something you get the hang of when you practice a lot, so don’t be discouraged.  Here are some of my own tips, in case you’re not already building the light box mentioned above.

1. Take the pictures in natural sunlight preferably.  Indoor lighting (lamps, neon, etc.) have a different light temperature than daylight, so they affect the color in your pictures.  Have you ever notice how green people look when you take pictures inside a building with neon lights, or how orange everything looks in candlelght?  That’s color temperature.  Our eyes adjust to light changes, so we can see even when there’s the slightest amount of light.  Film and digital cameras, however, aren’t quite so skillful, and they sense different kinds of light in a unique way.  There are ways to counteract this like filters for your camera, for the lights, and also the mighty Photoshop.  In my experience, the less tweaking you have to do to a picture after it’s taken, the better the image will be, and there’s a considerable amount of worktime saved.

2. Take the pictures in indirect sunlight only.  What I do most of the time, is place a white cardboard on the driveway under the roof, so I get all the light that is reflected from the sky.  This way, you don’t get annoying shadows and high lights that can often distort the look of your piece.  You can do this by a window or use a light diffuser if you do go outside.  Just don’t take pictures outside at noon, really.

3. Take advantage that you’re setting up the shoot to get all the possible angles you might ever want for that piece, so you don’t have to go back and take more pictures later.  You’ll end up with a lot pictures and only use a few but better safe than sorry.  A good idea is to take pictures of how the pieces look when a person wears them.  I get a lot of emails within etsy from people who want to know how that certain ring looks on, and it does make a difference when somebody is deciding if they should buy it.

4. Make your jewelry the main focus point of the picture.  This sounds logical, but it can sometimes slip our minds when we’re experimenting and trying out different styles.

Here’s a couple of jewelers who do a great job photographing their work.  Abigail A. Percy and Colleen Baran.

*Photo credits: Colleen Baran via Flickr

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1 Comment

Filed under process

One response to “Photographing jewelry

  1. Light tables are simple and easy to make. Commercially they are expensive, but a little pvc and plexiglass will do the trick. Sure has helped me!

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