Top 8 Tips for Webtastic Jewelry Photographs

Canon EOS RebelEven if you know the basics of good web design, your jewelry might left gathering dust if your jewelry photographs are poor.

But how to do away with those sad, dark, fuzzy little pictures you're posting for the world to see (and judge you on)?

Online Jewelry Image (Very) Basics:

In case there is any doubt, you need to know the following at the very least:

  • Dark, blurry, harsh shadows, overexposed = bad.
  • Clear and bright, attractive, sharp, professional looking = good.

Why Photographs Are so Important for Selling Jewelry Online

On the web, great jewelry photographs are not just important, they are paramount! Jewelry is the type of thing you like to touch, feel, and try on. You can t do that on a computer screen so you have to do the next best thing. Describe it thoroughly and enticingly, and have lots of great pictures. And lots of different views of the same piece.

Jewelry Photography Tips

So how do we create those beautiful pictures that will get people to drool enough to make them take out their credit cards?

You need to get a little technical. Otherwise you need to shell out some big bucks to a photographer. So unless you have the cash, or you were smart enough to think ahead and marry a photographer, you need to learn a few things. You need to know your camera settings and how to change them, learn about lighting, and fix camera shake, and how to do some photo editing.

Here are 8 proven secrets to improving your jewelry photographs:

1. Always use the "macro" setting.

Usually a little flower picture on most digital cameras. This is the setting you should always use for close-up detail.

2. Always use a tripod!

Tripod imageI can't emphasize this enough. Taking close-ups of anything is tricky because camera shake (even from the slight shake of your hands) is going to make your pictures blurry.

The best thing to do is to use a tripod, and use the countdown setting on your camera. Most digital cameras have a 10 second countdown setting so that you can set up your camera and run to the other side to be included in a shot. It can be annoying to wait the 10 seconds but it is worth it.. Even the slight shake of pressing the button can wreck your shot.

The better quality cameras have 2 second delay. Gotta get me one of those one day.

3. Learn about the "white balance" (WB)

This will help keep your colors true. Instead of "auto" use the appropriate WB setting.

Usually you can choose from fluorescent lighting, incandescent (regular lightbulb) lighting, sunny day, and cloudy day. The easiest way to get good lighting is to go outside on a cloudy day. Less shadows, less glare, and good color capture.

4. Use a light tent or light box indoors, or shoot outside on a cloudy day.

Jewelry Lighting Tent Studio

Shooting outside on a cloudy day is a trick a photographer told me once. The light is softer, shadows are minimal, and the color you get is true to life. This is probably the easiest way a beginner can shoot jewelry successfully.

Not all of us are lucky enough to have good weather often enough to shoot outdoors or are able to work during daylight hours. I often shoot indoors because nighttime seems to be the only time I can find to do it.

So I know whereof I speak on this. If you shoot indoors, use a light tent or lightbox, use lots of light (daylight bulbs, not yellowish incandescent), light from both sides , and either turn the lights away from the piece and bounce the light off white paper, or cover your lamps with wax paper to reduce shadows.

If you're seriously going to do a lot of indoor jewelry photography, you should use a lightbox. I've tried a lot of different things to get that perfect lighting, and I like my light tent.

If you need to do this on the cheap though,   but this is the absolute best tutorial I've ever seen for making an inexpensive lightbox

5. Use a neutral background.

This one is a somewhat optional one because I've seen some great shots with patterned backgrounds that set a mood perfectly.

But you really have to know what you're doing.

The best thing to do is experiment and see what seems to show off your work best.

But do it consciously. Know what you want to achieve and then look at the results critically.

For example, if you want to give a feeling of "deliciousness" or "luxury", know this beforehand and try to create that. After you take the shots, take a look, or better yet, have a friend look and ask them what feeling they get from the picture. Does this picture appeal to them? Why or why not?

6. Learn about exposure settings.

The exposure setting can brighten or darken your pictures.

Here's how this works. Your camera analyzes the lighting of your picture and makes a decision based on the lights and darks it sees. Professional photographers often use a "grey card" to set the exposure because if there are lots of light colors the camera will think it's really bright out and lower the exposure, and if there are a lot of dark colors in the frame it will think it's dark and overexpose the shot.

Myself, I never use a grey card. Couldn't even tell you how to use one properly.

What I do is take a look and give an educated guess. If I'm using a white background, I know that the camera will underexpose so I bump up the exposure a bit.

Usually there are settings that look like this, "+0.5, +1.0, +1.5, +2.0" and "-0.5, -1.0, -1.5, -2.0". To overexpose the picture so that it looks close to perfect I might make the exposure setting +1.0.

7. Do some photo editing to turn so-so in to great jewelry pictures

After you get your pictures taken - and take lots!, you want to fix up your pictures a bit with a photo editor.

I almost never get everything perfect so before I post them anywhere, I load the pictures into the computer and correct them as necessary. My first step is to use Picasa (a free download from Google) because I find it's the best at guessing at the proper color settings, and besides that it's dead easy to use. Very unscientifically, I judge "by eye" and tweak as necessary by playing around with the settings.

I sometimes then bring it up in Photoshop and tweak a bit more but then I'm a bit of a nerd who likes to tinker. Probably not necessary for most people starting out.

8. Crop, crop, crop!

Cut out any extraneous bits so that your jewelry is front and centre. Nothing should distract you from the beauty of your jewelry

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2 Comments

  1. catnpr
    Posted November 22, 2011 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    I really didn’t like using Picasa, and also found that it added lots of unnecessary files onto my computer. I found another free photo program called Photoscape that is easy to use, works well, and doesn’t create duplicates of my files all over my computer. Plus, my pics aren’t automatically posted to the web as with Picasa. Give it a try and see how you like it. I have no affiliation with this company.

  2. christineg
    Posted November 22, 2011 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    I’ve never heard of that one. I’ll have to take a look. Picasa posts your pictures to the web without you telling it to? Mine doesn’t. There must be some kind of option you can turn on or off.

3 Trackbacks

  1. By ChristineGierer on June 30, 2010 at 12:16 am

    Just posted 8 Top Tips for Webtastic Jewelry Photographs: http://www.handmaderesults.com/2046 #jewelryphotography #handmaderesults

  2. By Christine Gierer on June 30, 2010 at 3:00 am

    Jewelry Photographs, Handmade Jewelry Photography Tips for the Web http://bit.ly/aJYba8

  3. By Hali EXCESSorize on July 7, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    RT @How2MakeJewelry: Just posted 8 Top Tips for Webtastic Jewelry Photographs: http://www.handmaderesults.com/2046 #jewelryphotography #handmaderesults

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