If, like many of us jewellers, selling your jewellery to an admiring customer is the goal behind your craft and hard work, then photography cannot be over looked.
A well photographed piece of jewellery is paramount to compete in both the online and offline world, helping to get your jewellery noticed, respected and desired.
In the online world good photography not only gives you more chance of being noticed, but it also gives you more chance of ranking further up in the results pages of selling platforms such as Etsy, Folksy, Not On The Highstreet, Ebay and Amazon, as well as being great for SEO results on google if you have your own website.
In the offline world, good photography gives a really professional and high standard feel for printed materials to advertise yourself such as business cards and leaflets. It also gives you plenty to work with to catch peoples eye at events and exhibitions.
Through watching the handmade jewellery scene here at Kernowcraft, we have noticed huge shifts in the standard of photography and this is not only due to better equipment. Photography has become yet another reflection of your brand and your work and it is now almost always the deciding factor in purchase decisions.
So... whether you are using a DSLR camera and a light box or a camera phone and an editing app, this blog gives our top 5 tips on photographing your jewellery...
Creating a style to adhere to when photographing your jewellery will make a huge difference to the over all look of your brand and jewellery.
The composition of your shots ultimately creates your style. This includes background / backdrop, props, colours and filters - if you choose to use them.
Think about what you want your jewellery to reflect, what style you want to have. For example, beach chic? bohemian? Classic and elegant? Fun and bold?
Everything down to what you lay your jewellery on contributes to creating a style.
Choose a colour theme and stick to it. Having images that look consistent in their colours creates a really nice over all portfolio (especially for Instagram and platforms like Etsy). Even if your jewellery ranges in colour, the rest of the shot can keep the theme.
Experiment with different backgrounds - wood, slate, fabric etc and then choose one or two that you would like to use. Try to stick to these for all of your solely product shots.
If using props, ensure they too have a theme and use them throughout each shot. Maybe a shell here and there, or a branch to lay your jewellery on or even gemstones scattered about. This can help to create a really beautiful and dynamic image.
It is important to remember to try and ensure that the background and props do not distract the piece of jewellery itself.
Lighting and focus have a massive effect on the overall quality of your image. A well lit image with a certain area in focus gives a really professional, clean look that helps to show your jewellery for it's true beauty.
You can create photographs with good lighting and nice depth of field beautifully through investing in photography equipment or there are also ways to achieve this using your camera phone!
Whether through natural light, a soft box or lamps, ensure your images are not too bright and not too dim - it sounds simple but it's amazing how easy it is to make this mistake. The right amount of light will show the true beauty of highly polished piece of metal or sparkling gemstone but will not 'white' out certain metals and colours. If you do find it difficult to get the right light due to weather or equipment shortage, there are ways around this in the editing process (See tip 5).
Creating depth of field through focus is a really nice touch to add to photographs, especially when you want to bring the focus in on a particular area of your jewellery. Focus is traditionally achieved through using a good DSLR camera with a good lens and working with the aperture. However, if you do not have a DSLR or the budget to invest in one, photo editing apps like Instagram or Afterlight have options where you can create the same kind of effect. For example, in Instagram the 'tilt shift' option allows you to blur all of the image apart from area you wish to look in focus.
Or of course you could hire a professional photographer to take your main product shots. We have known many jewellers to do this, and all have said that the investment is always worth it.
Having images that show your jewellery in context, i.e being worn, or next to something that helps to determine it's size, can be really helpful in the customers decision making process. It also helps your jewellery to stand out from others.
Context shots can be additional photographs to the main product photos, however it is still important that these photographs are the best they can be, otherwise you risk them having a negative effect on the main image.
Great context shots can also be really effective for eye-catching adverts, or as part of your displays at shows or fairs.
We have found that the best indictor of the size as well as how it looks on is the human body. You can obviously use yourself for certain pieces such as rings and bracelets, but others may prove more difficult, unless you are a master of selfies of course!
If you decide to use a model, try to have the main focus as your jewellery and the model as part of the background. This can be difficult but more close up shots help to achieve this, or shot's were the model is looking away.
Context is also great if the piece can be worn a number of ways! And remember to try and make you context shots fit in with your style (Tip 1).
Jewellery is a particularly hard subject to photograph, there are always elements that the camera just won't pick up. For example, certain gemstones such as labradorite and rainbow moonstone can have beautiful blue flashes that only show at particular angles and in certain lights.
Whilst you want to capture as many of the wonderful elements of your jewellery as you can, it is important to consider the angle of your shot. You don't want be left with a photograph that, whilst you can see the flash of a gemstone, you can't tell what the piece of jewellery looks like as a whole.
Angles are also important to add depth to your jewellery as well as helping to show it's true size. For example a ring can look completely different from directly above than what it does from the side.
Try to find an angle that shows the whole design, trying to include some depth. This can take some experimenting with slight variations of lower or higher angled shots.
When making your jewellery, try to keep in mind the photography process after. For example, take a look at the stone you are setting and see which way up it works best for the way in which you envision the finished piece sitting in the photograph.
Also, when taking the photo try to look at your jewellery like you have never seen it before! This can be really difficult, but it will help you to decide which angle shows your design best. Whilst you may like the way a close up, side angle shot looks, it may not show enough of the design for someone to decide that they like it enough to buy it.
Sometimes it is easy forget about one thing whilst focusing on another, leaving you with what could be the perfect shot but with something not quite right. Luckily there are so many great editing tools that can help, and for all budgets.
However, if you choose to edit your photographs it is really important keep a true representation of your jewellery. Keeping your jewellery close by whilst editing is a great way to compare and ensure the image is accurate.
There are many options when it comes to editing software. If, again you have the budget to invest or already have a programme like Photoshop then these are really great for targeting specific areas of a photo. Alternatively there are many free or lower budget online editing software and apps for your phone (Afterlight - is a great editing app for mobile).
Elements that can be edited to help create a more professional look include, brightness - which helps to adjust lighting, focus (as mentioned in tip 2), sharpness, shadows, highlights and contrast. (Instagram's editing feature have all of these options!)
Things to look out for incase of over editing are things like adding a heavy filter, over saturating the image or over fading the image.
If you have more advanced editing software, then you could also try taking out or de-saturating specific colours that have leaked or been reflected into the photo from the surrounding environment. For example when shooting silver, we often find that it reflects a lot of yellow. In Photoshop we are able to specifically take the yellow out of the metal to give a more true silver colour.
Tip 1: ReVere Jewellery - Half Moon, Full Moon ring using one of our beautiful Black Lip Pearl Cabochons. We love the really fun and consistent style that Revere Jewellery has throughout all of her photographs.
Tip 2: When Caitie met Soda - Comet Catcher Necklace using our mesmerising Black Diamond Nugget Beads. This image from When Caitie met Soda shows off her beautiful design so well. We especially love the way she brings our focus to the diamonds.
Tip 3: Salt & Silver Jewellery - Sterling Silver and Natural Turquoise Ring using our amazing 100% natural Turquoise cabochons. We highly recommend taking a look at the Instagram account of Salt & Silver Jewellery (@saltandsilverjewellery). Their images have a gorgeous clean and fresh style and many of their shots such as this one, put her jewellery in context whilst still keeping the main focus on the design.
Tip 4: Silver Valley Jewellery - 'Desiderata necklace' featuring lotus pendant with one of our popular labradorite cabochons. The very talented work of Silver Valley Jewellery is reflected perfectly in this head on, slightly low angled shot of their necklace. You can see all aspects of the design, whilst still recognising the depth - perfect main product photo to catch someones eye.
Tip 5: Make The Look project by Kernowcraft - Aquamarine Nautical Necklace - We created this nautical themed necklace as a step by step project for our Make The look category. It is a good example of how we have taken the yellow out over the silver in the editing process.
If you have any further questions, feel free to call our friendly team who will be more than happy to give you some advice through Facebook, Twitter, Email or simply calling us on 01872 573888 9am-4pm UTC.
Alternatively, for more information and how to's on all areas of jewellery making visit our other Gemstone Setting Advice pages.