Ever wonder why jewellery looks extra stunning and sparkly in catalogues and advertisements than in real life? Or why your diamond ring doesn’t seem quite as stellar in the photos you’ve taken of them?
Photographing jewellery isn’t as easy as it sounds until the photographer understands and masters the keys to taking great pictures of them—sharpness, lighting, and exposure—and how to adjust them in each situation to achieve the best photos possible.
TIPS FOR PHOTOGRAPHING JEWELLERY:
- Clean your Jewellery:
The first obvious step to taking beautiful jewelry photos is to make sure that your items are clean and polished. What may not seem evident to the naked eye will be revealed once it gets blown up in the highly-detailed images taken by your digital camera.
Unless your items need some serious cleaning, you can remove dust and add shine to your jewels by wiping them down with soft, damp cotton or microfiber cloth before the shoot. You can also wear cotton gloves, so you don’t end up leaving fingerprint marks every time you handle them.
- Use Macro Lens:
The most critical piece of equipment you’ll usually need for jewelry photography is a macro lens. When shooting with a DSLR, compatible macro lenses ensure that you get the most spectacular images beyond life-size, which is why they don’t come cheap.
One of the things you need to consider when choosing a macro lens is that it helps to have two—one with a shorter focal length, which allows you to work much closer (as these typically have a very short minimum focusing distance) and reveal minute details in more significant pieces of jewelry; and another with a longer focal length, so you can conveniently shoot from a more comfortable distance.
Shooting close to your subject can also make the camera lens show up in the reflection, so you may want to create your lens “hide”—a white piece of paper with a hole in the middle to conceal your gear and reflect some of the light towards your object.
- Keep It Simple:
The best way to feature the full glory of a piece of jewelry and make it stand out is to photograph it on its own. This is particularly true for pieces that already have a lot going on in terms of colors, sparkles, and design. Instead of complicating the shot with other jewelry or a potentially distracting background, your jewelry subject may be better off with a minimalist setup.
Try placing the jewelry piece on top of a wooden table, a plain white or reflective surface, or zoom in on key features to exclude the rest of the object while you use a wide aperture to blur out the background.
- Stabilize your Camera:
The best way to ensure that your images come out tack-sharp is to use a tripod and preferably a remote shutter release to stabilize your camera. Not only will it eliminate camera shake, but it will also help keep your subjects framed in the same way so you can have an easier time adjusting your focus and modifying your lighting.
- Focus With Precision:
The usual goal is to highlight the star of your jewelry, such as the main diamond or the charms on a bracelet, so you’re likely to use Auto Focus on them. However, even in close-ups, the focus may still be off, so you’ll need to verify it afterward by reviewing the image and zooming in for a closer look. If it’s not accurate, refocus, check, and lock it.
Before you end the shoot, make sure you also have winning shots where you have the entire piece of jewelry in focus. This is also in case you’re shooting for a, and they only have space for one or two product images that need to show all the details and intricacies of the jewelry. It may sound impossible even with a wide depth of field, but this can be achieved with focus stacking. This technique will allow you to capture several shots with each part of your jewelry in clear and sharp focus so that you can come up with a final image wherein everything is in focus.
- Choose the Correct White Balance:
One of the biggest mistakes that you can make when photographing jewelry is not being aware of your white balance settings. When shooting jewelry for documentation and sales, it’s crucial that you capture accurate colors in your images. You wouldn’t want to photograph silver rings and submit them looking like gold rings and vice versa!
Prevent this by manually adjusting the camera’s white balance until the jewelry in your photos start looking like they do in real life. You may try using a grey card to correct the white balance for your current lighting condition or shoot in RAW so you can easily adjust the white balance in post-processing without sacrificing the quality of your images.
- Modify Your Lighting:
Even for jewelry, many photographers would advise that you use natural light. But for a more professional result, you’ll want to use off-camera flashes to create a more controlled lighting setup.
Whatever you decide to use, what’s important is that you can create soft and even lighting to eliminate as much shadow as possible.
You can further improve your lighting setup by making the most out of your available light sources, such as with reflectors or light boxes. An excellent example of a professional light box is the Glow LED Studio-Cube ($65 for the 17-inch cube, and $95 for a larger 27-inch cube), wherein you can place the product to achieve soft illumination from all directions. This helps take the guesswork out of highly complicated lighting setups for jewelry photography.
While you’re at it, turn off all other unnecessary light sources in the room and don’t mix different types of lighting that may produce different color temperatures.
- Manage Reflections:
Gemstones and metals are highly reflective, so you’re likely to find yourself (and your camera) reflected in the jewelry—which is something you don’t want.
Eliminating reflections is a trial-and-error process when it comes to jewelry. As previously mentioned, placing a paper around and at the bottom of your camera lens will help block off reflections and bounce more light back towards your subject.
For an even better-looking DIY setup, we’ll teach you how to photograph jewelry on white background: place more white papers behind and underneath the jewelry! No need for expensive installations. And then, use a diffused overhead light on each side to provide enough lighting without creating overly reflective spots, and slightly elevate your camera (with the tripod) so you’re shooting slightly down at your product.
- Feature Contrasting Colours:
To create robust and attractive images, you can feature contrasting colors by placing your jewelry on gripping and colored surfaces. Experiment and see the type of images you can come up with when you use complementary colors with your pieces of jewelry.
Using a solid color or several shades of the same color will instantly help make your items stand out, such as in the photo above. But remember, try to keep it to a minimum and avoid using too many shades that can distract your viewers’ attention away from your main subject.
- Upgrade the Setup:
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being a little more creative with your styling. If you want to add interest to your shot, you can very much do so! Just be warned that placing too many elements in your frame can distract your viewers from focusing on the beauty of the jewelry.
As a general rule in photography, keep it simple and mind how the background, colors, and other elements interact with your subject. They should always complement the jewelry and make it stand out, as seen in the photo above.
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