How Much is Photography Costing Your Jewelry Business?
Published on: August 8, 2018
Last updated: August 12, 2020
It’s no secret that jewelry photography can be extremely resource-draining for your jewelry business.
If you’re doing it yourself, there’s a massive learning curve for the use of your camera & lighting equipment, not to mention any additional learning required for software for post-production.
And if you’re hiring a professional, you could be spending thousands on every batch of new products you release.
In this blog post, we’ve broken down the average costs associated with photography for your average jewelry business.
So are you doing worse or better than your average jeweler? Can you create efficiencies in your photography process? Read along and find out!
Jewelry is considered to be one of the most difficult genres of photography. There are very fine details that can only be captured with special equipment. There are also the reflective properties of the metals and the unique colors of gemstones which require extensive technical knowledge and experience to capture beautifully.
Therefore, jewelry photography has remained mysterious and very secretive for decades – many have attempted and failed miserably, and only a handful have been able to master it. For those who’ve mastered jewelry, almost none of them will share their techniques in fear that they’ll be stolen. That is why professional jewelry photography can charge exorbitant prices for their services.
So while we have experts on the side of the spectrum that can produce exceptional results, we have your average jeweler who simply needs images for their online website or something to share with customers and social media on the go.
Your average jeweler with little or no photography experience is left with very few options. It’s either they figure it out themselves or get someone else to do it for them. But at what cost?
The Costs: Do It Yourself (DIY)
Time Cost: 1 – 20 hours
The first step in this journey is researching what equipment is required. A quick Google search reveals hundreds of articles containing hours and hours worth of reading and consideration. The jeweler is bombarded by hundreds of suggestions for different cameras, lens, lighting systems.
It’s an overwhelming experience for someone who doesn’t necessarily have the time to scour the internet. Not surprisingly, many jewelers skip this step and go directly to the camera store, completely underestimating the complexities of jewelry photography. We’ll get to that part in a bit.
And how do we know this all? We’ve been in the same position as you. We’ve done the research ourselves, and we’ve generously condensed EVERYTHING useful that we’ve learned into a single page. Pretty neat, huh?
Purchasing your equipment
Money Spent: $2,000 – $?????
After shortlisting a few cameras, lens and other pieces of equipment from the previous step, you finally decide its the time to purchase “everything” you need. As you input the value of each item, you watch as an initial 3 digit figure amount jumps to 4 digits, only just shy of 5.
The jewelers who skipped the first step would normally be in for quite a shock
Either way in both circumstances, the jeweler has high expectations on the results as they’ve just invested significant sums of money into photography equipment. Little do they know…
Time Spent: 20 – 100+
This is the stage where a jeweler realizes that the journey ahead will indeed be a long and rocky road.
Excited with their new photography equipment, jewelers go back to their workbench only to find that they are spending countless hours on configuring their camera settings and positioning their lighting equipment and jewelry in a way to produce a passable result.
Increasingly frustrated, the jeweler’s browser and Youtube search history become littered with jewelry photography keywords. Some even go as far as blaming the equipment and purchasing “more expensive tools,” or opt-in for a professional jewelry photography course. Focus shifts away from the core business functions, and as a result, the business suffers. Costs can get to astronomical levels in this stage. Even then, the images won’t turn out that much better
At this point, there are two options left for jewelers. They either:
- Give up and pay a professional photographer
- Take half decent photos and have them retouched
And as they say, time is money. No wonder many jewelers just end up hiring a professional photographer!
Time Spent: 20+ hours for learning to retouch and 0.5-hour for each image if DIY
Money Spent: $5 an image if outsourced, otherwise, just software licensing fees if DIY
Total Time Spent: 20+ Hours?
Money Spent: $2,000+? – $5 an image thereafter
Post-production has fortunately come a long way since the emergence of outsourcing within the last two decades. Jewelers can submit their images to a company specializing in retouching (Picup Media can do this for you!) to remove imperfections and correct the colors otherwise not captured in the original image. Some jewelers still prefer to retouch their own images to their own taste, however, this comes at a steep learning curve and time consumption to process each image.
Total Time Spent: 1-2 Business days per photo session
Total Money Spent: $25 – $50 an image
While there are many professional photographers, only a few excel in jewelry photography. Those who excel in jewelry photography either charge by the hour or by per image. For most cases, a decent jewelry photographer will charge anywhere from $25 – $50 an image. For a very high-end photographer, they could charge $600/hour!
However, many jewelers forget that a photography session requires your store to be turned into a makeshift studio for a few days, or your stock to be shipped to the photographer’s premises. Having a day where your business is effectively out of business is a huge cost. There is also the risk of damaged or stolen goods when shipping to and from the premises.
So how much has photography cost your jewelry business?