When it comes to ecommerce, your photos can often make or break your store’s success. Jewelry photography is no exception.
If you’ve attempted jewelry photography before, or just admired how other brands do it, you’ve probably realized how difficult it can be. Many say that photographing jewelry is tougher than other items, like clothes or furniture.
It’s true that photographing jewelry can be tricky. But with the right tools and tips, you’ll find that it’s not impossible to have beautiful photos without hiring a professional.
In this article, we’ll give you a crash course on how to take jewelry pictures like a pro.
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Jewelry photography equipment
Taking great photos of jewelry doesn’t have to involve purchasing high-end gear. With just a few essentials, you can create your own photography kit and take beautiful product images.
Let’s explore each of the items you’ll need for your jewelry photography shoot:
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a high-end camera lens to create good jewelry images. New jewelry sellers can also execute a shoot with an Android or iPhone. Personally, I suggest using whatever camera you have handy, be it a point and shoot, a digital camera, or a smartphone.
Not to discourage you, but you’re going to shake your camera a lot during a photoshoot (it happens to everyone). The way to avoid camera shake is to use a tripod. Tripods hold the camera steady so you can use optimal aperture and ISO settings. You could get a basic one from Amazon for $30 or even less.
Again, you don’t need to get anything fancy. A standard folding table—ideally with a width between 24 and 27 inches—should work just fine.
When photographing a product, there’s always a shadow side that makes it difficult to create a good image. To create soft lighting, you can put a white form board to reflect the light back into the shadow.
Tape or clamps
You’ll want clamps or tape to keep your foam boards in place when shooting on a table.
How to photograph jewelry
Once you’ve got your tools, it’s time to make some photo magic. Here are the steps you should be paying attention to when photographing your jewelry.
Set up your table
Where do you want your “studio” to be set up? If you have a window with good natural light, set your table up to the left or right of it at a 90-degree angle.
Behind it should be your sweep, or white paper background that makes a smooth surface behind your jewelry. You can use tape to adhere your sweep to a wall, brick, or wooden block to hold it up.
Your camera and tripod should go in front, facing the jewelry and sweep.
Position your lighting
If your room is nice and bright with natural light, you likely won’t need to fuss with artificial lighting. If not, you’ll want to put your light source(s) at a 45-degree angle from your product. Put your softbox or light tent in the same position behind the light to make sure the light is diffused, or evenly distributed across your jewelry.
If you’re seeing a shadow behind your jewelry when you take a photo, move the jewelry closer to your camera (and farther from your sweep).
Style your jewelry
If this is your first foray into jewelry product photography, it’s OK to stick with just a white background. But know that you’ve got complete freedom to experiment (you’re shooting for your own jewelry store, after all).
To create compelling images, you can place your jewelry pieces on props, such as:
- Stands or ring holders
- Simple textured backgrounds
- A marble slab background
- Group photos with other accessories
The styling will depend on how you want to present your items. Although there are several ways to do it, it’s best to start simple and then create and test different styles over time.
Prepare your jewelry
Before starting the shoot, make sure to clean and polish your jewelry. The level of detail captured with a proper lighting setup and DSLR camera makes doing this a necessity.
Wipe down your jewelry every time you hold it. And after you polish it, place it in the center of the sweep's flat area. You can also leave some room to sneak your white reflector in later. (Note: Wearing cotton gloves is a good way to save reshoots and time.)
Set your camera
Your camera’s settings will make a huge difference in how your final photos turn out. You want to have at least one photo with full focus on the entire piece, instead of focusing on only one part. If you’re using a camera you can adjust manually, make sure your aperture is set to f/10 or higher, and your ISO is set as low as possible, like ISO 100.
A high aperture and low ISO will help make sure your photos are sharp and detailed so they can see exactly what they’re getting (this is also important for earning their trust!).
Pay attention to your white balance. Is your jewelry showing in the intended color? If not, adjust the settings manually until it looks right.
Take the photo
It’s go time! When you’re setting up to take the photo, keep in mind the position of your camera. Keep it at an angle, pointing down toward your jewelry. When positioning your light(s), make sure they’re slightly higher than your product and angled down toward it.
Be sure that all light sources are set to the same power level and that the frame is fully filled with light, or you may end up with uneven bright spots.
Retouch and finalize
Retouch is an important step for giving your final image that extra oomph. If you’re not familiar with photo editing, you might want to hire a professional. You can use a website like Fiverr or Upwork to find someone in a pinch.
If you’re planning to learn by yourself, there are tons of free resources to help. Just keep in mind that it can get pretty complicated, so you’ll need to be dedicated to learning the tricks of the trade. (Or, of course, you can just edit the basics and be on your way.)
Jewelry photography tips
There’s no single right way to have beautiful jewelry photography, but there are some guidelines to help make sure your final product is the best it can be. Here are some tips.
Keep backgrounds simple
You may be tempted to use a glitzy, vibrant background for your photos. But at the end of the day, this only distracts from your product and makes it tougher for your visitors to visualize.
It’s best to go with a plain white or black background. Just keep in mind that some online marketplaces don’t accept black backgrounds, so white is the safest choice.
Not only is this best visually, but it’s also easier for you along the way. As we’ve discussed, creating a white background is simple. It’s also easier to edit out any small issues in the retouching process.
Take consistent photos
Create some core guidelines for all of your photos—then stick to them. Keep track of things like your lighting, backgrounds, position of equipment, and camera settings.
There are several reasons for this. If your photos have too many varying styles or elements, it might distract your visitors. But even more important: it might dilute your brand identity. The more consistent your photos, the easier it will be for customers to understand what your brand is all about.
On top of that, your site will look much cleaner and more professional.
Use less props
This ties into the theme of simplicity that we touched on earlier. If you use too many props in your jewelry photography, your visitors will likely get distracted or even confused. It’ll take away from the glory of your pieces, especially when you have props that “upstage” your jewelry.
Keep it sweet and simple. Let your products shine and speak for themselves.
Take gorgeous jewelry photos today
Creating a beautiful jewelry ecommerce store isn’t as tough as it might seem. You don’t need to spend an arm and a leg on professional gear or a proper studio. All you really need to get the job done well are a good camera, sufficient lighting, a white background, and a photo editing tool.
You can easily create your own starter studio for less than $100. And as you get more experienced and your store continues to grow, you can gradually upgrade your studio with higher quality tools and resources.
Photographing jewelry FAQ
What is the best way to photograph jewelry?
The best way to photograph jewelry is to ensure your pieces are lit evenly and consistently. Create your lighting setup at a 45-degree angle to the jewelry. Then set your camera to the correct aperture and take the photo. I recommend using a mirrorless DSLR camera to get the best results.
How do you photograph jewelry in natural light?
Find a space that’s near a window. Position your setup 90 degrees to the left or right of the window. If harsh shadows appear, use a diffuser to soften them. Those without a diffuser can use a common household item such as a thin sheet, parchment paper, or a frosted shower curtain to create a softening effect.
How do you photograph jewelry at home?
- Prepare your jewelry.
- Position your lighting.
- Set up your table and sweep.
- Style your jewelry.
- Set your camera.
- Capture the photo.
- Edit and finalize.
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