We’ve all seen those beautiful jewelry photos! You know, the ones of stunning pearl necklaces against a white background? They are beautiful, classy, and timeless. Nothing focuses a buyer’s attention on your jewelry more than a bright white background. It’s one of the reasons that professional photographers use it so often. The fact is it sells jewelry. This technique is known as high-key jewelry photography, and it has been proven time and again to sell products. It’s a great tool to use for keeping the viewer’s attention focused on your merchandise.
In addition, beautiful images are also a must to sell on platforms like Amazon or Ebay. These platforms have strict photo editing requirements and enforce a white background for all photos.
Unfortunately, jewelry is one of the toughest products to photograph. They are small and highly reflective pieces which require careful preparation and proper placement of lighting. There’s a little bit more to creating these types of images than placing your items on a white background! So, in an effort to help all our readers that are in the jewelry business, we’ve created this extremely detailed guide for your next shoot.
1. Get the right jewelry photography equipment
Shooting photographs of your jewelry doesn’t have to be complicated, but you need to have the right equipment for getting the job done properly. Here’s a list of the items you will need to ensure you capture fantastic photographs:
- An entry level DSLR Camera
- A macro lens 85 – 100mm range or a set of extension tubes that enable your lens to shoot macro images
- A sturdy tripod
- A cable release, tether to your computer or you can use the mirror lockup and timer on your camera
- A light tent
- We highly recommend purchasing a three light kit with a softbox for each light. If you choose to purchase lights from a home renovation store, please note that fluorescent lights will not work if you use a cell phone.
- Purchase some white reflectors or make your own. Just be sure to use a pure white surface so that the light that you bounce back on your jewelry is bright white.
- Small mirrors, approximately 3-4 “square work quite well when shooting small images. You can find a great selection at your local craft store.
- “A” Clamps are useful in just about every genre of photography. Ask any pro, and they will tell you that they use them for all sorts of jobs. Clamps are very handy, pick up a selection of clamps in different sizes. You won’t regret it.
- Finally, you need to purchase a white acrylic tile. This will help you create those beautiful reflections.
The following items should also be a part of your equipment list. They will help you to shape or place your jewelry. You want each piece to sit or be suspended in an attractive manner that shows off all its beautiful details.
Equipment for placing jewelry
- Purchase a small bright white tile or piece of Plexiglas. This will serve as a base for your jewelry and the shiny surface will create a nice reflection.
- A cool temperature glue gun is useful for helping you to place your jewelry, on the tile carefully. Use the gun to stick your products in place. Be sure to use the lowest temperature possible. You don’t want to damage or melt your products.
- Purchase an open frame or double weight mats for suspending your jewelry. Use these to achieve that “floating look.”
- Use clear thread to suspend your jewelry from the open frame or tie the jewelry in place. Fishing line works quite well in a pinch.
- Purchasing a clear earring holder is also a useful item. This simple little tool will make taking shots so much easier.
- You should also purchase a bracelet round. You can use a 1.5” PVC pipe on the inside of the bracelet. It’s also possible to purchase suitable display tools.
- A necklace form is another useful tool. It will allow you drape necklaces in an attractive manner for shooting.
You should also have the following tools handy. They will help to ensure that your jewelry is blemish free. Save yourself the trouble of retouching jewelry and removing fingerprints in post-processing. Pick up these cheap but very necessary items:
- A dust blower. Use it removes dust and small hairs from jewelry. Photographers use these same tools to remove dust from their sensors. You can do the same with your products.
- Cotton gloves to handle jewelry. These white gloves will prevent finger prints on your product.
- A polish cloth like the Mayflower Polishing Cloth is useful for making your product shine. Just remember that you shouldn’t use it on pearls or soft stones.
2. Setting up your Jewelry Photography Studio
Now that you have all the equipment you need, it’s time to set up your studio. All of this prep is worthwhile, and it will help you to ensure your images are of high quality and show off everything that is amazing about your product.
- Start by selecting a sturdy table that is approximately 4’ high. Folding tables work quite well for this purpose, and the best part is they can be easily stored.
- Use a white tablecloth to cover the table and create a background.
- Place the tent on the table and position your lights with soft boxes around the tent. One light should be positioned above the light tent, use a boom to shine a light down into the tent.
- Position the other two lights on both the left and right sides of the tent. The light should shine horizontally across the light tent.
You have now created the perfect setup for capturing beautiful images of your jewelry.
3. More Tips About Lighting
There are a few key points to remember when setting up your lighting. The first point is that however, you choose to light your studio be sure that all the lights match. If you use Fluorescent lighting, be sure that each light is the same color. You can seriously alter the look of your jewelry by using different colors of lights. So stick with LED or Fluorescent throughout the entire studio.
The second point is to expose your photos for the jewelry, not the white background. The bright white background will fool your camera, and the jewelry will appear underexposed in your shots. The background is bright white, and it will naturally overexpose. You want this to happen that’s how you achieve such a brilliant white that enhances the look of your product. The only danger is that the overexposure can become too extreme and this will, in fact, ruin your photographs. Getting the exposure correct is an important step in taking great photographs. Be sure to take your time and carefully photograph your products. It’s a step you won’t regret when your images turn out perfectly.
4. Camera Settings
It’s important to use the proper camera settings to ensure your images are captured and will appear their best on the media you intend to display them on. There certain settings that you should use to ensure your photos look their best. If the image you are shooting will be used on the web, then be sure to set your aperture to F/5.6 or F/8. You can use a complicated technique called focus stacking to ensure there is no light diffraction in your images.
If you are publishing your images on the web, then you need to use the smallest aperture possible. Set your camera to F/32. Don’t worry about any light diffraction that may occur that can be fixed during photo editing. You may want to consider outsourcing time consuming edits such as retouching, which can take several hours to get done.
5. Shooting the Jewelry
Now that everything is organized let’s talk about shooting your jewelry. The set is quite simple.
You need to arrange your lights so that both the jewelry and the white background are illuminated. Generally, you want the background to be exposed just a ½ stop less than your jewelry. If you purchase a higher quality set of lights you can adjust the strength of the lights with a few quick buttons pushes. For those working on a tighter budget who don’t have the ability to control the strength of your lights, you can still dull down the strength of your lights by heavily diffusing the light.
So now that you have the jewelry positioned correctly and your lights adjusted, it’s time to position your camera. Look for a good angle you are satisfied with then set your exposure. If you are using a DSLR, you should use spot metering to determine the correct settings. If you use a setting like evaluative, the camera will take into consideration the brightness of your background, and you will end up with a dull grey image. That’s not what we are shooting for here. The background will appear very bright in your images in comparison to the proper exposure that will occur for your jewelry.
6. It’s Time to Edit Your Photos
It will take you a little while to perfect these techniques, but once you get it right, the whole process will become much easier. After shooting and uploading the images to your computer, you’ll want to edit them to enhance the metal, add shine to the stones, and add shadows or reflections. This is a very time consuming task that can be easily outsourced.
You can also replace the color of your jewelry pieces in post production so you don’t have to shoot the same piece of jewelry in different colors.
Now you’re ready to start increasing sales with your improved jewelry photography. If you have any advice for fellow e-commerce businesses, please leave us your tips in the comments below. We would love to hear from you.