Photo by Mark S Johnson on Unsplash
If you own and operate any kind of e-commerce store that sells jewelry, you need to know how to photograph jewelry like a professional. Even if you’re just selling some of your old jewelry online, it’s important that you can photograph it in such a way that the product appears irresistible.
Luckily, photographing jewelry is easier than you think. It’s also a lot simpler than other types of photography since your subject is very small. With the right background, a bit of patience, and the advice in this article, you can create your own studio at home to photograph jewelry professionally.
How To Photograph Jewelry: Setting Up Your DIY Studio
The great news for people looking to photograph jewelry is that you can make your own DIY studio at home with very little space. You can do it in any room. All you need is a small table, the proper backgrounds, and some good natural lighting.
Natural lighting is very important when taking pictures of jewelry. You never want to use your flash. The flash from your camera will often reflect off the jewels and make them less appealing. What you want to do is set up a small table in front of a window in your home. Take pictures during the day when the light is shining in. This is what we call using an indirect light source.
One thing to keep in mind is that direct sunlight can be a little bright and have the same effect as a flash, so if it’s too bright, simply cover the window with a white sheet or something else that’s thin to make the light softer.
You’re going to need a backdrop for your jewelry. You can use any backdrop you want, but we recommend a white background. A black backdrop will absorb all the light and the pictures will look silly, especially for trying to sell jewelry. A white backdrop will reflect the light and make the colors pop.
Because jewelry is so small, you don’t need a big heavy backdrop. Even something as simple as a plain white piece of paper will be sufficient. You’re going to be taking pictures close up, so you can almost always find an appropriate background somewhere in your house.
If you want to be a little more creative, you can put your pieces of jewelry on props as well. Something like a textured background, a ring holder, or even a marble slab background. It all depends on how you want to present the product. Try experimenting with a lot of different backgrounds and props.
The Best Camera & Lens For Photographing Jewelry
Photographing jewelry does not require a super expensive camera. Just about any camera can take sharp pictures of jewelry. It’s actually more about the lens. We recommend a camera with a macro lens that has a focal length of 60 millimeters. This focal length will give an impressive magnification of 0.5x, which is perfect for jewelry and other small objects.
That being said, you can even take photos of jewelry with your smartphone. Taking dramatic pictures of tiny things is surprisingly easy. After all, you’re not trying to photograph stars thousands of light-years away!
Regardless of what camera and what lens you’re using, you must have a tripod. You won’t be taking pictures of jewelry with just your hands. You need a solid tripod set up at the proper angle to make sure your pieces of jewelry are in focus. Once you have your jewelry set up on your background, attach your camera to your tripod and get in position.
As for what settings to use, be sure to set your ISO to 100 and keep your white balance accurate to capture the intended colors. You want to use a high aperture with full focus to get the sharpest image. Plus, don’t forget to photograph the entire piece of jewelry. You don’t want to focus on a single part of it. Get the whole piece in the frame.
How To Properly Use Props With Jewelry
Depending on what you’re taking a picture of, you may want to use a specific prop. For example, nothing sells a necklace better than displaying it on a mannequin. Almost every craft store sells mannequin busts for necklaces, and this is the best way to sell your product.
But there are some ways around this if you want to do it DIY. For example, a simple piece of white construction paper with two slits made at the top for holding a necklace can work just like a mannequin.
But what about rings? If you want your ring standing up in the pictures, try double-sided tape or glue dots on a white background. You can keep any piece of jewelry standing horizontally or at a sharp angle by using double-sided tape. Just make sure the tape isn’t obvious in the picture.
Lastly, we need to talk about earrings and string. Using the same method we talked about before with the white construction paper. Cut some slits at the top and use a very thin white string to suspend earrings or even rings. The construction paper works as the white background, making it seem as though the earring is suspended in mid-air. It’s simple and free while working to present a piece of jewelry beautifully.
How To Photograph Jewelry: Taking The Photo
Taking the photograph is honestly the easiest part. It’s setting up the shoot itself that takes all the work. Once you have your jewelry set up against the background, it’s time to mount your camera with your macro lens to the tripod and take the picture.
You always want to avoid camera shake, so you really can’t skip getting a solid tripod. Even if you’re using your phone, a tripod is highly recommended. Feel free to adjust your camera using the ball head of your tripod to get the best angle before locking it in place.
The angle is something that will take practice. Try shooting from a wide variety of angles to get the most appealing pictures of your jewelry. It’s always better to have more pictures to choose from than not enough.
As for lighting, it’s generally recommended to have even and thorough lighting. This means at least two sources of continuous light, one from the left and one from the right. However, if you’re not using flash lighting equipment like umbrellas and stands and are only relying on natural light from the window, be sure to place your jewelry in such a position that there is no glare or reflection coming off the gems.
The next thing to do is set your aperture. Remember that you don’t want any bokeh effect when taking pictures of jewelry. This means a larger aperture is not super ideal. An aperture that is too large will end up absorbing a lot of light but leaving only a small part of the subject in focus. You want all of the subjects in focus, so try using the aperture priority mode on your camera – or in manual, going as high as F/11 or even F/16. You’ll get less bokeh and more detail.
The last step is to just take the picture. Be sure to use a remote so that you don’t have to physically touch the camera. The last thing you want is to cause vibrations when the photo is being taken.
And finally, stay consistent. Even if you’re taking a lot of photographs of different pieces of jewelry, use the same background. If you’re going to use marble, keep everything marble. If you’re doing white, keep everything white. This helps shoppers easily check out the different products you have available without losing interest. Also, keep the image sizes exactly the same. Differently sized images can be off-putting to shoppers.
As a side note, be sure that you have enough images from various angles to really sell the jewelry. Don’t make somebody wonder what it looks like, always show them what it looks like with a collection of great photos.
The very last thing you need to do after shooting all your pieces of jewelry is post-production. Make sure you have a reliable photo editor and learn the basic editing techniques to make sure your photos really stand out against the competition.
Taking pictures of jewelry is really quite simple. The best part is that it doesn’t even cost any money. Using nothing but white construction paper, props found around the home, and a bit of string, you can take professional photos and sell your jewelry online.
But there are still a few things to keep in mind. When possible, you want to utilize a macro lens. Additionally, you’ll always need to use a tripod to keep the images sharp.
You should also never clutter your background with too much noise.
Keep the subject in focus and show the whole piece of jewelry. And when you’re working with natural light, be sure to avoid any glare or reflection.
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