If you have been following this blog, you’d know by now that photographing jewelry is one of the most difficult tasks to carry. Many jewelers make too many mistakes not only because of the lack of knowledge in professional photography but more so because of the innate qualities of the subject. Jewelry pieces are small. They are shiny and reflective. In addition, without a little creativity and resourcefulness, it is challenging to highlight the entire details of your beautiful creation.
Jewelry photography could be a bit of a trial-and-error process, but with some basic guidelines, you can minimise the amount of time you’ll spend photographing jewelry.
Whether you’re a budding jeweler or a seasoned jewelry maker, there’s always a way to simplify the process. Read on and learn how to photograph jewelry at home. Find the props you can use as alternatives and finally enjoy the photo shoot.
How to Photograph Jewelry at Home: Your Five-Step Journey
Step #1: Decide on your background
The power of white background photography cannot be overstated. Whether you’re a novice or otherwise, a white background is your friend when it comes to photographing jewelry for your website. It instantly eliminates some of the common jewelry photography problems because of its clean, simple, distraction-free and high-energy vibe.
To create a perfectly white background at home, you can use a roll of seamless white paper. It is inexpensive, easy to dispose of, and almost a no-brainer solution for most photographers. It also comes in other colours like black, which can be used for selected pieces of jewelry. It is perfect for light-toned pieces and adds drama to the photograph; however, gems that were not cut perfectly would do well on white backgrounds.
Others use a matte finish vinyl backdrop which eliminates glare. It is durable, easy to clean, and does not wrinkle like your seamless white paper. This type of background is ideal for those of you who photograph jewelry constantly. It saves you from buying rolls of seamless white paper every time you have a photo shoot.
Step #2: Find a spot where there is natural lighting or set up a controlled lighting environment
Controlling the lighting is one of the important aspects of jewelry photography so find a location that would allow you to do so.
Some gemstones look best early in the morning and/or in midday. Make sure that you understand your subject before deciding on the lighting system you’d use. Generally, natural lighting is the best option if you want to present the natural colour of your jewelry. Do not mix different lighting sources. If you use natural light coming from your window, make sure to turn off your fluorescent light or other lights in your working space.
Use diffused lighting to capture the best colour of your jewelry, especially if you are photographing coloured stones. It distributes the light evenly and prevents harsh shadows. Diffused lighting need not be complex. You can simply put a translucent paper between your light source and your jewelry to evenly scatter the light.
Step #3: Mind the reflections
If you want your jewelry pieces to achieve a “magazine look”, watch out for unwanted reflections. Jewelry reflects everything in its surrounding. The last thing you would want is to put up a photo of your jewelry on your website with your light bulb reflecting on it.
Don’t forget to use reflectors to shield your jewelry from external objects that may reflect on it. Reflectors need not be expensive. You can place whiteboard around your controlled environment, and you’re all set. Further, you can experiment, move it around until you find the best position where all available light is directed towards your subject.
If you don’t have whiteboards at home, take a white sheet of paper and position it around your subject to bounce light.
Step #4: Position and macro lens matter
Proper positioning makes your jewelry images powerful and compelling so don’t forget to consider the unique characteristics of your jewelry. Gemstones are cut in a way that would best showcase its colours. For example, if you have a cabochon with a 6-ray star, it would be perfect to photograph it with the light focusing on the centre of the star.
When it comes to positioning your jewelry, ask yourself, “what is my objective?”, “what do I want my customers to see?” and tailor the angle of your camera according to your responses.
On the other hand, if you want larger images of your rings, bracelets, and other pieces, you may need to use macro lenses. There are different types of macro lens, from 15mm to 105mm and more. Make sure to think about what you’re using it for so you can choose the best and most applicable to your jewelry product.
Macro photography could be a challenge for others as it may involve focus stacking. In focus stacking, you have to photograph your jewelry several times showing different focus areas and combine those images.
Focus stacking is necessary as sometimes, you may notice that your lens doesn’t focus when you take pictures too closely. Without focus stacking, some areas of your jewelry may appear blurry.
Step #5: Lifestyle shots show your customers what your jewelry can do or make them feel
“I don’t think we’re just seduced by brands. I think we’re seduced by the imagery that surrounds that brand. It’s that these pants are gonna make you slimmer…this perfume’s gonna make you sexier… we buy into the dream that surrounds that product much more than we buy into the product, and then once we start using it, we start to believe in the dream of what that product does for us in a lot of ways.” — Morgan Spurlock, Ted Radio Hour – Brand Over Brain
Take those lifestyle shots. Your customers are human beings. They need to feel how it would make them feel when they buy and wear your jewelry just by looking at your photos. Will it make them feel beautiful and special? If so, your jewelry pictures should showcase that. Let them perceive your jewelry pieces as treasures that would complete their lifestyle or a lifestyle they desire.
Remember that all purchases, especially jewelry purchases, are an emotional process, not logical. Your lifestyle shots can appeal to those emotions. It has the power to meet your customers’ emotional needs.
Perfecting the art of jewelry photography takes practice. The more you do it, the more you’ll get better so get your camera ready and begin taking jewelry photographs at the comfort of your home.