Jewelry Photography - Tips and Tricks
Jewelry photography may be very tricky sometimes. Each jewelry piece has its own unique look: different colors, different materials and so on. Some has lots of reflections. Some, like diamonds and gem stones for example, has little sparkles that are easy to admire when you actually hold them in your hand, but are very hard to capture with the camera.
As a jewelry designer or manufacturer, you must wonder how they create all these perfect Images you usually see in different types of jewelry advertising. Yes – sometimes those ads look so perfect that it’s hard to believe that these are real jewelry. And yes again – some of them are not real at all! Whether it’s a huge amount of photo retouch work that polishes every corner of the jewelry and adds this magic touch of too-good-to-be-true sparkle or it’s simply the fact that what you see is not a photo at all, but a computer draw that looks perfect.
As a professional jewelry photographer myself, I challenge myself to achieve these kind of perfect Images that will make people want to purchase the jewelry today!
Almost every one of my customers tried first to take pictures of the jewelry by himself. Some of them even bought all kinds of professional equipment that is made especially for jewelry photography. You know – all those little tents, light boxes and special lighting. They all ended up with – still – amateur photos that didn’t do any justice to their beautiful pieces of jewelry. But they knew that their jewelry deserves more, as they wanted to reach more prospected buyers, so they started to look for professional photographer who is specialized with jewelry, and this is how they found me.
Why Professional Jewelry photography is so important?
When you are coming to show your jewelry pieces to the world, you really like to think big. Even if you only have a tiny jewelry workshop in a small town - these days, when the internet opened new horizons to each and every one of us, you know you can reach so much more!
People are buying more and more over the internet or through a printed catalog. They don’t actually see or feel your jewelry; they only see a picture of it! So with all respect to the jewelry piece itself, they actually buy a picture. And as we all know, picture is worth 1,000 words, so no matter how great will be your product description, they will still base most of their buying decision over the jewelry picture (the description is also important of course, but it will only support the decision).
The conclusion of all that is pretty clear: the jewelry pictures must be no less than perfect! It has to be very sharp and professional, to show the sparkle, to bring out the true colors and to have a perfect background. The picture has to make the potential customer actually feels like getting this beautiful gem right now!
How can you do it?
Finding a local jewelry professional photographer is not an easy task, especially if you don’t live around New York, Los Angeles, Toronto or any other big city that is full of talented photographers who has lots of experience with jewelry.
Some of my customers tried to use couple of photographers in the past and had hard time with the process and with the results. Jewelry photography is very different than, let’s say, wedding or children photography. So even if you know the best wedding photographer in town, ask to see his or hers jewelry photography portfolio before you hire them to do the job.
There are couple steps that will help your jewelry photography project to become successful:
- Think about your goals. What would you like to achieve? Who is your target market? What are the sales levels you wish to reach? Write all these before you start anything else.
- Now, try as much as possible to match your answers to your budget. For example, if you wish to reach the entire world or even ‘just’ North America, you will probably need a huge budget… on the other hand, if you wish to only reach a small town, a smaller budget will work well for you.
- Think of yourself as an explorer. If you never used professional photographer for your jewelry /products before, you have a lot to learn about it before and during the process. Each kind of jewelry looks better from different angles, with different lights and on different backgrounds. Your photographer would be a great help in showcase your jewelry in its best. Don’t hesitate to ask your photographer to try couple of angels or backgrounds, and allow you to choose the right once.
- Do your research! After defining your target market, set your budget and decide what photography style you like – search the web for more Ideas and options. I suggest looking at more than one search engine; try 2 or 3 different search engines to get a wider variety of results. Save those that you like best on file for future reference (show those Images to your photographer/graphic designer and other professionals, so they will get a clear Idea of what you like. We don’t try to copy anyone’s work of course; just to get a general inspiration!).
- Find your photographer! Through an internet search or a friend’s/colleague referral; view their online portfolios, choose the once you like best and ask for more than one quote. When you ask for the quote, don’t forget to mention your exact requirements, i.e. – how many jewelry pieces you would like to shoot, how are you going to use the photos and for when do you need it to be done. I also recommend you to actually talk to the photographers over the phone or meet them in person if it’s possible. Having good communication and understating with your photographer is extremely important!
- If you can’t find a great photographer that can work within you budget in your area, don’t hesitate to call photographers from another cities or even countries (I work in Toronto and serve customers in the USA and other countries!). Sometimes the cost of shipping the jewelry to the photographer’s location via FedEx, UPS or other couriers, will pay itself, especially if you look for a long term results. Getting the best photos that will help you reach more customers and increase your sales may be very profitable and will justify paying a little more for the back-and-forth shipping of the jewelry.
- Need to shoot diamonds and precious stones that can’t be shipped away just like that? If you have a serious amount of jewelry pieces to shoot, It may be better for you to pay a good professional photographer the expenses of coming to your location for a day or two with all the necessary photography equipment and get the job done for you. And one more tip about diamonds photography: when you have a photo session of very expensive jewelry, work with one piece at a time. Finish with one, put it back and get to the next one. It’s the safest way!
What should you ask your photographer
You finally found the perfect photographer! Before you hire him or her, I suggest you to find out the next important details:
- Files: generally, there are 2 kinds of files. The first is the large/original files. These are the files you need for prints and any kind of enlargements (catalogs, posters, printed advertising, etc.).
The second kind of files are the small versions of these large files, which are great for any web use: your website, emails, social websites such as Facebook or MySpace, and so on.
Please note: you can downsize the large files to become a small files, but you cannot do the opposite (unless you want to get a horrible pixelated Images!). This is why it’s so important to make sure you will get ALL the large files from your photographer.
- Prints: in these digital days, prints are not a must. As long as you are getting all the large files from your photographer (on CD, DVD or directly to your FTP server) you will not necessarily need any printed files. You can always print them yourself anywhere you like.
- Extra expenses: Before starting, make sure you will not have to pay any extra expenses such as traveling fees or assistant fees that were not mentioned by the photographer on the official quote.
- Photo retouch: It’s not a secret anymore that the most beautiful Images in the world are retouched with professional photo retouch softwares. Whether it is jewelry, shoes, bags or a beautiful young model – those Images get a serious touch-up! Good photo retouch work will enhance the photo in many ways: it will remove unnecessary reflections, add exactly the right sparkle if needed, clean the background to perfection and more. So, before you hire your photographer, make sure to include a professional photo retouch work for each and every Image, or to have someone else for the retouch job. It’s more important than you may think.
Plan Your Photo Shoot Carefully
After all said and done, you have to plan your photo shoot carefully. Remember – it all starts on your plan. After searching the web and probably getting many Ideas, you have a vision of what will fits your jewelry best. If you are not sure, or if you have couple Ideas and visions that not necessarily goes well one with another, simply consult with your photographer. Experienced Jewelry photographers will listen to your Ideas and goals and will be able to give you the right advice and solutions to help you showcase your jewelry in its best.
From my own experience, there are couple Issues that comes up with most jewelry photo sessions:
Proper angels – some jewelry will look simply amazing from very specific angels, and very plain from different one. Make sure to make the right choices!
Background – Lots of times we will end up with the decision to have a pure white or pure black background for the jewelry pieces, but many times we will love to see them over a gradient background, nature color or an interesting texture that will bring out specific stone colors or shape.
Focus – if you attend to sell your jewelry online or through a catalog, you will probably look for a very sharp Image that will show a clear and perfect Image of the jewelry from every angle. On the other hand, if you wish to have nice artistic gallery of the photos while not exposing too many details to your competitors, you may consider the split focus style, where the focus is only on the main part of the jewelry (main stone for example) and the other parts of the jewelry will blend blurry and nicely with the background.
Use a model – I suggest using model for at least couple of items. For example, if you need the photos for a website, use a model for some beauty shots of the model wearing some of the pieces for the home page and couple of sub-pages, and show all the rest of the pieces by themselves on a plain background. This is, of course, just a suggestion; you may choose to show ALL your jewelry pieces on a model or on a plain background.
Choosing the right model is a subject of its own and I will probably dedicate another article for this Issue. Very briefly I can just say that I strongly recommend you to hire a professional experienced model and to make sure that they sign a ‘model release’ form that allow you to use the pictures legally in every way you agreed on.
Contact us for a FREE Qute! Click here