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The 5 Essential Ring Photography Tips for Beginners

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Welcome to the second installment of Picup Media’s jewelry-specific how-to guides! If you have not read the first installment, click here and read through to learn about the different necklace photography techniques.

Ring photography requires knowledge, skills, and techniques to entice customers to purchase the jewelry. This is because the piece is small and often showcases intricate and unique designs that may be too difficult for beginners and, at times, for experienced jewelers and photographers to capture. A little carelessness and lack of tools and knowledge can quickly ruin the photo shoot resulting in disappointing and uninteresting ring product images. In this post, we’re going to impart five essential ring photography tips for an enticing online jewelry display.

“Good jewelry photography is a combination of 4 key elements: camera, lens, lighting, and knowledge. When one of these elements is lacking, the outcome may paint your brand a negative reputation, which could mean lost sales and trust.”

As we approach Valentine’s Day and the popular wedding months, we think it’s time to prevent the seasons of stale sales by taking advantage of nearly year-round sales opportunities. Do you feel like your online storefront scares your customers away? Read through as we teach you how to photograph a ring that will make your customer’s eyes sparkle.

The 5 Essential Ring Photography Tips for Beginners, Jewelers, and Photographers

#1. Prepare your ring for the photo shoot

Ring photography for beginners - clean your jewelry before photoshoot

Jewelry is one of the most challenging commercial subjects to photograph because it’s highly reflective. The rings make it doubly challenging because it is tiny and often have complicated designs. It’s this quality that makes preparation a critical aspect of ring photography.

Diamond rings and other gemstone pieces have to be spotless when photographed to avoid a time-consuming process. It’s advisable to use a clean cloth every time you hold the piece so your fingers won’t leave a mark on its surface. Those marks are a result of a greasy grip in which the oils from your fingers rub against the diamond and other stones; thereby affecting its shine and brilliance.

Remember always to handle it sparingly and clean it as much as possible to avoid disappointing photos. There are more inexpensive ways available online to clean the jewelry item to ensure that it stays sparkling. Check out the Gemological Institute of America Inc. (GIA) for more cleaning techniques.

#2. Gather all the equipment you need

Rng photography for beginners - gather all equipment
  • Macro lens and camera
  • Putty/props
  • Lightbox (DIY or commercial) and lightbox
  • Others (if you feel the need to explore and experiment)

#3. Understand how your equipment works

Understand how your equipment works

As a jeweler yourself, we believe that taking photographs of a ring is part of your many significant business activities; hence, investing in a good macro lens is a decision that should not be delayed. This tool is essential in capturing closeup ring images, especially when the piece features intricate, tiny details that shouldn’t be hidden or missed by the customers.

The macro lens enables a life-sized reproduction when the camera sensor appears bigger than the subject. When buying a macro lens, take note of the magnification ratio capabilities. The magnification ratio represents how enlarged the subject should be in the photo when taken at a close distance. A true and decent macro lens can boast a 1:1 magnification, although other macro lenses have an even higher magnification capability.

If you’re using a smartphone to take jewelry photographs, read our jewelry smartphone photography tips as it outlines the proper equipment, including macro lenses, to achieve high-quality images for your website.

Use props to make the ring stand

Do you ever wonder how other jewelers can make their rings stand during the photoshoot? Keep the ring standing upright by using props like Elmer’s Putty, dental wax, and other types of holding wax. Putty can be found in most craft stores making it easy to find.

When using props like the ones mentioned above, remember to use a tiny amount so they won’t be visible in the final image. Some props can leave an oil stain, so consider where the surface should be placed but don’t worry, it will not stain the ring. Simply wipe it off after the photoshoot.

Use soft, diffused lighting by using a lightbox

Lightbox is commonly used in jewelry photography because it’s the easiest way to achieve soft, diffused lighting. You can find it in the market today; however, the lightboxes available in the market are designed for general types of products, other than jewelry.

Unlike other products on the market, jewelry is the most difficult to photograph because of its qualities. It’s tiny, reflective, and at times, finicky. Hence, a one-size-fits-all lightbox may not be a solution. Consider making a DIY lightbox or scour the internet for jewelry-specific lightboxes like the GemLightbox.

When it comes to lighting, soft, diffused lighting is the ideal lighting source for jewelry, other than natural lighting. The even distribution of light ensures that the rings will be photographed without unattractive glares and shadows. Further, pay attention to the position of the lights. Turn off the on-camera flash as direct lighting will never provide you with stellar results. You can illuminate the ring from the side using LED lights. This will add shine and sparkle to the jewelry.

If you’re photographing the rings at home, click the link below to find out about other alternative equipment you may use in case professional and fancy ones are out of the equation for now.

#4. During the photoshoot, consider the following

Once you’re done preparing the rings to be photographed and the equipment you need, get ready to start the photoshoot. When photographing, consider the tips below to ensure salable ring photographs.

  • Position the ring on a surface that matches your desired background

A white background is often preferred by jewelers and other online marketplaces because of its advantages. It makes the final ring photo look professional, classy, and sophisticated. If this is the look you’re going for, you have all the equipment you need like the lightbox. As an alternative, you may also use a white tile or a roll of white paper.

  • Avoid distracting background

This reinforces the statement previously mentioned. You should avoid photographing rings against a distracting background as it takes away the customer’s attention from the subject. The ring should be the focal point of your photos, and the use of a white background can easily achieve this for you. It also helps in highlighting the stunning design and intricate details of the piece.

On the other hand, you may still explore and experiment using creative backgrounds as this is good for social media branding, but always provide the customers with images shot on a white background so that they can see clearly the details of the jewelry. The white background photography will help convert your online visitors to buyers as it will answer some of the product-related questions they have in mind. If you’re selling in online marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon, an uncluttered and often pure white background is required for product image listings.

  • Use manual focus, adjust the aperture setting, and control the depth of field

Ring photography requires high accuracy in terms of focus and auto-focus could sometimes be unreliable because of the size of the subject. While this may be challenging for you as it takes multiple shots to get the result you want, manual focus could be the key to producing great ring shots. Turn on the image stabilization or use other stabilizer equipment to reduce the camera shake. Keep snapping ring photos until you get the hang of it. Once you become used to this process, you’d be a naturally effective jewelry photographer.

Controlling the depth of field (DoF) when photographing a ring may be difficult, but it can be fixed by paying attention to the aperture setting or the opening of the lens measured in f-stops. DoF, as defined here, is “the zone of acceptable sharpness within a photo that will appear in focus.” It is common to use a small aperture opening (larger aperture value) in ring photography because of the close distance between the subject and the camera. Macro photos often showcase shallow DoF; hence, photographers and other jewelers turn up the aperture setting value to achieve sharp and perfect focus.

When adjusting your aperture setting, make sure that the shutter speed level is kept at an acceptable level. This will depend on your lighting and shooting environment.

  • Be mindful of the symmetry and balance

As they say, symmetry is commonly associated with beauty. This remains true for ring photography. The intricate quality of the rings demands so much symmetry and balance. An unbalanced photograph is very uncomfortable for the customers. This is not the final image that you would want your customers to experience if you want to entice them to purchase your jewelry. Balance and symmetrical qualities are a pleasing photograph composition that elevates the caliber of your branding and photography.

#5. Sit down for a post-production process

Sit down for a post-production process

It is a fact that no matter how much you follow all photography techniques, nothing will come out perfect in just a click or two. At times, the lighting needs to be adjusted, and the unattractive shadows, dust, and other blemishes have to be removed. There are post-production processes involved to perfect your ring product images. You can polish the final images through the use of Photoshop, or you can outsource it to professional jewelry photo retouchers online. This will save you time and let you focus on other important dealings in your business.

If you’re not too familiar with the convenience of the outsourced post-production process or have no idea what services you can avail from jewelry photo retouching companies, you can read through them here.

Watch how we photographed rings using the GemLightbox and a smartphone. It’s fast, easy, and most of all, social-media ready!

Do you have other ring photography tips to share? Feel free to comment below!

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