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Growing Your Business, Issue #002 -- 8 Tips for Photographing Jewelry
October 15, 2013

How satisfied are you with the photos you have taken of your jewelry? When you look at your photos and compare the images with those found on top selling websites how do your photos compare?

Having high quality photos of your jewelry is number one when it comes to selling your work and selling yourself. Not only are photos the only virtual connection your customers have to your jewelry, when it comes to purchasing online, it is the key to selling yourself when you are applying to juried craft shows.

The hard truth is that even if your work is breathtaking you can kill your chances of getting into a show if your work does not look outstanding in print. I would go as far as to say that even mediocre work has a better chance of catching the interest of a jury if it is presented in a professional package with stunning photos.

Perhaps you don't even know where to begin when it comes to taking photos. Whether you have already photographed your work or you are just thinking about it, here are some helpful tips for photographing jewelry.

8 Tips for Photographing Jewelry

1. Light Source

The best and cheapest light source available is the sun. Taking photos with lots of free sunlight will minimize the sometimes harsh shadows and unsightly yellow cast from using a flash.

The key to photographing in the sunlight is to take your photos away from the direct sun. You can either set up your photos by a large window when the sun is strong, but not directly shining in, or on a table that you can set up outside in a shaded area right next to the direct sunlight.

In other words if the light is shining on your table move your work over just enough to catch the shaded area so that you are close to the maximum light.

2. Backgrounds

Choose backgrounds that are neutral and do not compete with your work. As a rule I do not use textures that are more powerful than the item I am photographing. For example: if I where photographing an earthy line of jewelry I might want to use a natural texture in the background such as burlap, slate or weathered wood.

I would make sure that the textures I choose are not in competition with my designs. A burlap texture might look great with a bold wooden bracelet and not so great with a delicate necklace.

Experiment with different backgrounds and view your photos on a large computer screen before deciding how the background works with your jewelry. The background should enhance your work not overpower it.

3. Sharp Focus

Having sharp photos is a must when it comes to presenting your work. Experiment with different functions on your camera such as macro and manual mode. Whether you have a point and shoot, SLR or a DSLR you can try shooting in "P" mode if you are not too familiar yet with your camera. "P" mode works well for almost anything.

Using a tripod or a mini table top tripod is great for avoiding camera shake and getting a sharp focus. One of the best tips for photographing jewelry when you cannot get in close enough without getting image blur is to take the shot a little further back on the highest resolution your camera will allow then use photo editing software to crop the image nice and close.

4. Use a Makeup Brush

Buy a nice poofy makeup brush and keep it handy when taking photos. Keep it with you when you are photographing your work and brush off dust and particles from your jewelry just before taking the shot.

Keeping a soft cloth at your side will also be helpful for wiping fingerprints and smudges off shiny stones. It may not sound like much, but when it comes time to view your photos on a large screen little tiny fibres and finger prints will show. It is best to view your images as large as you can when you are editing. This way you can be sure that if a jury is going to see them on a large screen the photos will be tip top quality.

5. Askew is the way to go

Taking photos head on is one of the most boring ways you can show your work. In order to showcase your jewelry and tell a story of intrigue, photograph your designs from all sorts of different angles. You will see how doing this alone will bring life to your work and improve on the overall composition of your photographs.

Choose your focal point and let the rest of the photo fade off into the distance.

6. Less is More

Do not pack too many items in your photo. It may be nice to photograph your jewelry in a little vignette, but putting too many display items around your work will only distract from the work itself.

The same goes for how many pieces of jewelry you put in one shot. As a rule it is best to only have one piece of jewelry in one photo, but as you become more expert in your photo taking you might experiment with photographing sets of two or three matching pieces.

The trick for how to photograph jewelry in sets is to only include the key elements in the frame. In other words, you would not photograph a set of earrings, necklace and bracelet at a distance with lots of white space around it. Come in close to the designs and capture only the key elements in your photo frame.

For online purposes you can include additional shots of each item so that the customer can see each design fully.

7. Reflecting Light

You may want to purchase a silver board or use a shiny metal sheet such as foil to reflect light back to your photographing area. Having a board propped up behind your work to reflect the sunlight will bounce more light onto your photographing area and soften any shadows.

8. Editing Your Photos

Some of the best tips for photographing jewelry are not in the taking of the photos, but in what you do after the photo is taken.

Having good editing software is a must. It is a rare photo that does not need some sort of editing even if it is just adjusting the file size and the DPI (dots per inch). You will always want your image to be 300 dpi and your pixel height and width will depend on the show you are applying to or where you are uploading your photo to.

You need not spend a bundle on software. If you are looking at Photoshop you can purchase Photoshop Elements for about $99.00 and that is all you really need. You can also download PhotoScape at for free. I love using a combination of the two.

I use Photoshop for resizing, cloning areas to remove dirt or fibres and for adjusting the brightness and contrast. PhotoScape is great for adjusting the white balance when you are looking for a crisp white background and your background is a little too blue.

PhotoScape has lots of neat little functions such as: sharpening, brightening, vintage photo effects, easy crop and rotation and great color adjusting. It is an easy and intuitive program to use.

Just a word of wording when downloading any free software... You will want to uncheck any add on downloads they offer that may replace your browsing toolbars for the internet or your home page.

Free programs like to install extra stuff on your computer such as: conduit, visual bee and other stuff that I hate. I find conduit to be invasive. Although they do not harm your computer they take over the home page and add toolbars.

What I do is uncheck any programs I do not want and after I download the software I go into "control panel" and "uninstall a program" and remove the unwanted programs with the same date showing that I downloaded the free software.

There you have it... 8 simple tips for photographing jewelry. The best way to get good at photographing jewelry is to take the shot... again and again : )

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Until next time... xo Patricia The Jewelry Making Website

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