7 Simple Things You Need for Photographing JewelryOctober 15, 2014 - Holly Cardew
When it comes to photographing jewelry, a lot of eCommerce store owners are intimidated by how small, shiny and intricate the products can be.
But photographing jewelry can actually be easier than taking photos of larger items because the studio setup is a lot easier to put together.
Once you’ve nailed your setup, check out these seven simple things you’ll need for photographing jewelry.
1. A window
Taking a photo of shiny jewelry using your camera’s flash is never a good idea! The jewelry will reflect the bright light, leaving your product covered in white light spots with harsh shadows in the background, like in the two examples below.
Unless you’re a very skilled photographer with a very professional studio, take your jewelry product images using natural lighting. Remember that with natural lighting, you want to use the sun as an indirect light source, so position your product near a window during the day.
As with a built-in flash, bright sunlight will create reflections and harsh shadows, so you may want to diffuse the light. You can do this by covering the window with a white sheet or piece of paper; any other colour will change the colour of the light.
2. A white sheet or piece of paper
The reflective property of most jewelry means that it will absorb all other colours, so you should shoot on a white backdrop to avoid altering the colour of the piece. White also reflects light whereas dark colours absorb it, so your product will be better lit if you shoot on a white backdrop.
Though taking good product images of jewelry is much harder than taking a good product image of something like a plain blue chair, jewelry does have the size advantage. You don’t need to stretch a white sheet from wall to wall to create a white backdrop — just use a piece of paper and fold it in half so it stands up. It’s that simple!
3. A mannequin bust
Use props to present your jewelry in the best way possible. Most craft stores will sell mannequin busts for necklaces, which are a great way to give your products a nice and realistic shape.
I’ve found that most stores stock black busts, as they make jewelry stand out and give it a sense of elegance. However, as I mentioned in the point above, photographing your product on white will make it look much better. Jewelry is no exception. So if you only have a black jewelry bust, cover it with a white cloth and then take your photo. You can always remove the background later.
Have a look at the two examples below. I removed the background to make it easier to compare, but you can see that the necklace taken on white looks much better. The exposure and contrasting appear much more natural.
Don’t have a mannequin? Create a kind of jewelry clipboard. Grab a piece of cardboard, cover it in white paper and pin or tape the ends of your necklace to the back. You can always adjust the length of the chain with where you choose to clip it, so don’t worry too much about the size unless you have a huge piece.
Using cardboard might take a bit of extra time, but as with using a mannequin it shows the natural shape of the necklace and will look pretty good when you take the photo from the front.
5. Blu-Tack, glue dots or double-sided tape
When it comes to rings, Blu-Tack, glue dots and double-sided tape can be really useful. You can stand the rings up horizontally and get a really nice angle, like in the photo below.
Use fishing string or thread for things like dangling earrings. This take a bit more time to set up but will produce a great photo. A good idea is to use a piece of cardboard folded in half and stretch the string from one panel to the other, like in the image below. Just make sure your dangling pieces have stopped moving when you actually take the photo.
7. A small aperture
This is a tip for those using DSLRs to take their product photos. To get your entire product in focus, set a small aperture: f/8 and f/16 should work pretty well. I don’t want to get too technical but if you want to read more about aperture, check out our blog post that explains aperture, ISO and shutter speed for product photography.
Long story short, this aperture setting will allow you to focus on the entire jewelry piece without leaving the corners blurry. If you look at the two shots below, the first was taken with an aperture setting of f/3.5. As you can see, the edges are out of focus, particularly on the left earring. When the aperture is set to f/8, both earrings are completely in focus.
Photographing jewelry is simple!
Sounds almost too easy, right? Most of those things you can find lying around the house, so stop making excuses and go take some awesome product images! If you need inspiration, here are a couple of online jewelry stores with great product images: