Mannequins vs. Models: What’s the Best Way to Photograph Jewelry? (Part 2)
Published on: March 28, 2018
Last updated: October 28, 2020
Welcome to PART 2 of Mannequins vs. Models: What’s the Best Way to Photograph Jewelry? In this post, we’re going to explore some of the advantages and disadvantages of using mannequins when photographing jewelry for your website and/or eCommerce store. If you haven’t read the first part of this post, click here and read on so you can decide whether live models are for your business or otherwise.
Before you get too thrilled about buying a new mannequin display to use for photographing jewelry, find time to consider both options as one may be more rewarding than your deliberate choice. As we’ve mentioned in the first part, the battle between mannequins and live models is generating mix views from jewelry retailers like yourself and your potential customers. On the other hand, there are still some customers, like those two in the image below, who admit that the use of mannequins, albeit not preferred, will not put them off from buying.
Does it really matter?
Yes, it does! But it depends on your end goal, the quality and value of your jewelry pieces, your target market, and the brand identity you’re trying to establish. This means that even though some buyers are not easily put off by the visual appearance of jewelry pieces on mannequins, the choice you’ll make will still have a significant effect on your business.
Let’s proceed so you can start weighing the pros and cons!
Mannequins vs. Live Models: What’s the Best Way to Photograph Jewelry?
Some small and medium jewelry retailers online find mannequins an ideal choice for so many reasons. If they ever entertained a thought of shifting from mannequins to live models, it’s probably because they get frequent requests from potential buyers requesting a photo of the jewelry piece on models or they’re exploring other options to improve their sales. The reasons are endless, yet you can’t deny the number of online jewelry retailers using mannequins in their product listings.
If you’re wondering what makes others stick with it, here are some of the advantages and disadvantages derived from using mannequins, and decide for yourself.
1. Mannequins offer a variety of options to suit your needs
Mannequins come in many forms, materials, and sizes, which allow you to find the one that will give your jewelry piece a flattering fit. For instance, the linen design of this 3D Juvale Jewelry Headless Mannequin Bust can help bring out the natural color of your jewelry and give it a more natural look. Meanwhile, this black velvet jewelry bust display comes with a three-dimensional bust that can accentuate the beauty of your pendant necklace. Both of these bust forms come in different sizes, so you don’t have to worry if your necklaces are of different lengths. In fact, you can opt for an average jewelry bust form. It’ll be useful for any lengths of necklaces.
When buying a mannequin, be careful in choosing a color. Colors can affect the quality of your jewelry photography. While black mannequins are commonly used in photography, opt for white or other neutral color forms as it can add quality-enhancing effects to your final photo.
2. It’s the budget-conscious’ best friend
Unlike live models, you don’t have to spend an outrageous amount to buy a mannequin. Its price ranges from $40 to $600 depending on your chosen materials and forms. We checked the Etsy forum and discovered Morplan as one of the recommended mannequin stores if you’re in the UK. Morplan offers a wide range of mannequin choices from high-end to economy within the same price range. Its sophisticated looking mannequins are a good substitute for other mannequins that creep out some customers. If you’re worried about sizing, Morplan allows you to create your own mannequin form so you can be sure that the one you’ll have fits your needs. If you only need a mannequin for a day to finish photographing all your jewelry pieces, you can hire a mannequin from them for a lower price; however, if you regularly photograph jewelry pieces, buying one is more economical.
3. It’s easy to work with; therefore not as time-consuming as live models
Mannequins don’t require makeup, styling, or instructions. Because it’s stationary, it doesn’t require different poses. You can just put on the jewelry piece that you want it to model, as shown in the neck form above, and you’re good to go. As such, mannequins are an ideal option for jewelers who don’t have the luxury of time to work with grand photoshoot setups.
4. It adds a sense of scale
If you only want to give your customers a size reference, you don’t need to spend too much money on hiring live models, especially if your business is at its infancy and you don’t have friends or families who can model for you. Using a mannequin when photographing jewelry can do the same job as live models in terms of showing scale, albeit, it lacks personality. Nonetheless, it does the job too, as evidenced in the image above.
Mannequins provide a simple solution to sanitary issues. If you’re one of the online jewelry retailers who sell one-of-a-kind earrings, this should be the way to go for you.
5. It helps you achieve consistency
Who says you can’t have a professional-looking website and/or eCommerce store if you use mannequins? In fact, mannequins are an easy way towards achieving consistency because unlike models that come and go (which means there will be times when you have to use different models), you’ll get to use the same mannequins over and over, thereby giving your website a consistent appearance. For instance, if you use white linen bust when photographing jewelry pieces, ensure that you use the same bust consistently through your site.
Consistency is a critical component of your design and content. It makes your customers feel comfortable whenever they visit your website. It also minimizes confusion when shopping for an item since uniformity allows a painless comparison of items. This way they’ll know what they want, and they can make their buying decision quickly and without your self-sabotaging elements. It is your key to better customer experience.
1. Mannequins don’t tell stories
We all know that customers want stories. It’s this element that helps them connect with the product as stories stir emotions leading to desire all the way to making a purchase. Unlike live models with personality, mannequins cannot move to demonstrate different poses; hence, it makes it harder for customers to visualize themselves wearing that product.
Take a look at the sample image above. A diamond engagement ring should make you feel dreamy and romantic, but the appearance of a mannequin hand form makes it look dull and unrealistic (not to mention that the photo requires post-processing as it looks blurry). The mannequin form used doesn’t equate the value of the jewelry piece in the photo.
2. Others find it…creepy
Let’s admit that some mannequins look creepy, especially the bald ones that look like cyborgs; however, others also find wigs and faces disturbing, as shown in the insights we’ve gathered above. If you’re photographing necklaces, make sure to crop out the faceless head and the hair. As much as possible, you need to minimize the appearance of the mannequin and focus more on the product. The downside to this is that close-up shots of jewelry pieces on a mannequin don’t communicate scale so you have to figure out the proper balance.
Whether you choose to use live models or mannequins, the need to post-process your jewelry images is a requirement as nothing comes out perfect naturally. Depending on your photography skills, live models may only involve a minimized effort when you reach the post-production stage. On the other hand, if you opt to use ghost mannequins, you have to have extensive jewelry photography post-production skills for a guaranteed optimal finish. Ghost mannequins can push your jewelry image to the next level as it makes your jewelry pieces look as if it’s floating on an invisible human form. You have to have photo retouching experts like Picup Media to get the job done for you while you chill.
Post-production process, which involves photo retouching, background and dust removal, and an overall jewelry image polishing can help you achieve a high-quality visual presentation regardless of the choice you make.
There’s simply no definite correct answer to the question: “what’s the best way to photograph jewelry given the two choices?” You may benefit from using mannequins while others may benefit from using live models. Remember that every online jewelry retailer has different experiences, target customers, and even jewelry products and branding, so it’s impossible to come up with a one-size-fits-all solution. The solution is to do A/B testing so you’ll know what specifically works for your target customers.
How about you, what do you use? Which works best for you? Feel free to share your experience below!
Need help with jewelry photography?
Click the link below to know more about our simplified jewelry photography approach. Get to photograph jewelry pieces in just one click using the GemLightbox and your smartphone.