Now your jewelry is done, and it looks great! So you take a quick picture, post it and your jewelry will sell itself…..right? Well maybe. People often find that taking pictures of their art is far more difficult then they first imagined. To really impact your sales you will need to post good, clear pictures of your work. Good images of your jewelry areal so very valuable for your business cards, flyers, brochures, and any other marketing pieces you make.
Your photographs will need proper lighting, sharpness, exposure, and in the case of gemstones, some sparkle. Achieving these goals can be challenging but doesn’t need to be overwhelming. To me one of the most important aspects of great photos is lighting. Most jewelry is highly reflective. Light bounces off in all directions. It can create “hot spots”, unwanted shiny spots that are difficult to remove, and it can keep details of your work in shadow. Lighting is one of the trickiest but most important factors in jewelry photography. Soft, diffused lighting works best for jewelry shots.
You have probably already discovered that the on-camera flash does not lead to good jewelry photos. Not only is the flash too bright at such a close distance, but they are usually in the wrong position to actually light up the jewelry properly. Using a light box or photo tent will help guard against glare and get your lighting just right. Now the commercial light boxes and tents can be quite expensive, but you can easily make your own quick, cheap photo tent or light box for taking better jewelry photos from everyday items. Take a piece of white translucent fabric and devise a way to hang them between your lights and your jewelry. A sheet, some nylon even on old white T-shirt all work well. You can also use a large plastic container and direct the light through the top or sides. Natural light is by far the best light that you can use, but artificial light also works very well. When using artificial light for your jewelry photos, you’ll get the best results with some sort of natural daylight bulbs.
The other critical and challenging element in jewelry photography is getting sharp, close up photos that show your designs beauty in sharp detail. To really get close and sharp you need a macro lens on your camera. Next you need to set your cameras depth-of-field in your camera. Your camera should be set to manual mode so that the smallest aperture setting can be selected. For consumer cameras use F8.0, for professional camera use F16.0. This allows you to focus on the entire piece of jewelry, rather than only parts of it. I also highly recommend you to mount your camera to a Tripod to get the sharpest photographs possible. If you hold the camera with your hands, no matter how steady you are, the camera will move slightly and your photos will have blur.
Now some of the tech stuff is out of the way let’s get down to the fun part, setting up your shots! No matter how technically perfect the shots are it needs YOUR touch to be creative. You will want a non competing background. HINT: Scrapbook paper, lots of amazing designs. Move your pieces around to see what is most pleasing to the eye, watch the line of the necklace when it’s laid out. Angle your ring to show off the lines. You can have a bracelet, ring, or other piece stand up dramatically with no visible support by using a little bees wax under the jewelry to hold it in the position you want. You can then move the digital camera on its tripod to whatever angle will give you the best shot of the jewelry. You can also suspend an item by fishing line to get that floating look. Getting someone to model your jewelry is also a great way to show it off. You may also want to have pictures of your jewelry being worn by someone. The pictures don’t have to be a big production. Some of the most elegant jewelry photos are taken outside in nature, among the elements.
Now that you have some great shots, you may need to do a little photo editing to crop, resize, and adjust your shots. Don’t have Photoshop? Not to worry I often use a free, easy photo editor called Gimp 2.6. (Get the free Gimp download.) Relax and have fun with your images, practice, practice, practice . Soon your images will have the same WOW factor that your pieces have!
-Leah Alden Jaswal