Thursday, July 28, 2011

Photographing your jewelry

If you are selling online, you need good photographs. There are a ton of tutorials, tips and resources for taking good pictures, just search Google or YouTube.

Here's a quick overview of how to improve your online pictures -- which means improving your online sales, as well!


Having a lot of light is important. Jewelry looks better with sparkle. More light = less blur. Natural light = true color. Standard light bulbs, while they might seem bright enough to us, can make jewelry look yellow (if incandescent) or blue (if fluorescent) in photographs.

Some people use light boxes. The idea behind this is to put your jewelry in the center of several reflective surfaces. Again, more light = better pictures. Not necessarily glaring sunlight, which can have it's own problems, just light from more angles. You can buy a light box, or make your own. Search Google or YouTube for "DIY photography light box." 

Macro lens

"Macro" is a special setting on some cameras, which allows you to put the lens very close to the object. "Telephoto" means you can take a closeup from very far away. "Macro" means you can take a closeup from... closeup.

If you are not using the macro setting, you are going to get blurry pictures when you get too close. But if you don't get close, potential buyers are not going to see the beauty and detail of your work. Macro is the only way I know of to get the sharp detail you need to sell jewelry online.

Not all digital cameras come with a macro setting. If you are buying a camera you plan to use for photographing your jewelry, make sure it has a macro setting -- typically indicated by a symbol that looks like a little flower.

White backdrop

I've seen beautiful photos shot on black, patterned or colored backgrounds, and with a variety of props such as necklace displays, leaves, and other items. But if you're having trouble with these, try shooting against a white background. White reflects light, offers truer color, and also makes it easier to "touch up" your photos with your editing software. When you've achieved sharp, bright pictures with a white background, then begin introducing other elements.

Offer several different views of each item

Etsy does this as standard procedure for listings, but it's a good idea in any online selling situation. Try shooting from different angles. Have shots with props and without. Use white and dark backdrops. Have a closeup picture of the details and also a picture of the entire piece.

Digital editing program

This might be something such as Adobe Photoshop, Corel PaintShop Pro, Photoscape, Picasa 3 or GIMP. Some cost money, some are free. A photo editor is necessary because -- in spite of all your best efforts -- you're probably not going to get the perfect picture out of your camera. It will still need some cropping, brightness/contrast adjustment, color balancing, and maybe something like a speck of dust or hair removed from the background.

How I take my photos

I take all of the photos for JLHjewelry using a Fujifilm digital camera with a macro setting. I typically use a combination of indirect natural light and fill-in flash. I do not have a light box or a tripod. I photograph all of my pieces against a piece of plain white paper. I finish the photos with GIMP, the GNU Image Manipulation Program, which is free to download.

Jen Hilton makes one-of-a-kind jewelry sold through her website She is the founder of the Triangle Jewelry Makers and is featured in the books "Steampunk Style Jewelry: Victorian, Fantasy, and Mechanical Necklaces, Bracelets, and Earrings" and "1000 Steampunk Creations: Neo-Victorian Fashion, Gear, and Art" available at Amazon and other booksellers.

1 comment:

  1. Also: practice, practice, practice! And experiment. Try different backgrounds, different lighting situations, different props. Props & backgrounds can be found anywhere. Also, the use of a tripod or monopod is recommended.