How to Photograph Jewelry

Photographing jewelry requires a smart setup because correct lighting is key in making sure that the materials show properly in the image. This means that you need a controlled environment, for example a light box, and props to help you get the correct angle.

Jewelry photography goes beyond the standard product photography settings because metals and gemstones are more reflective. So, besides creating the best setup, you also need to know the best camera settings to capture all the details without bokeh and unwanted shadows.

This niche requires some practice but with the following guidelines you will be well on your way.

The Backdrop

As mentioned, a light box is the best option for jewelry photography because this is the most controlled environment. It offers a clean uniform background on all sides so that you can create consistency while changing the angle.

However, a photography light box is most effective with artificial lighting so if this is not at your disposal, you need an alternative that can use natural sunlight. This is not as difficult as it sounds – you can go a long way with a big window and white sheet or white roll of paper as a sweep.

When using sunlight as your main light source, place a flat surface as close as possible to the window. A chair works better than a table because you can hang the sweep over the backrest.

Remember that there should be no sharp edges in the backdrop because this will show up as shadows in the image. The sweep should have a gentle curve, instead.

For jewelry pieces, a white background is better because it provides a more accurate reflection of its true colors. The light that bounces back off the white backdrop better illuminates the piece while a dark background color would absorb the light.

The Lighting

Professional photographers often use umbrella lights to set the perfect conditions. However, when you are working on a smaller scale or using a lightbox, you might want to work with smaller fill lights instead.

Make sure that the spread of light is uniform and try to create as little shadow as possible. The shadows that you do get must be edited out to create clear and consistent imagery.

You can use a standard macro photography lighting setup for photographing jewelry i.e. a light source from the left and right. For lighting from the camera itself you can try the standard accessory kits for flash lighting setups.

Camera Settings

Use the macro photography settings on your camera and place it on a tripod for maximum stability. The pictures should come out as clear and consistent as possible.

A 60mm lens works best for such a close distance and small objects. A 1:1 magnification is ideal but an 0.5x magnification will also suffice as long as you keep your scale and image size the same (more on that later).

The correct aperture, in this case F11 or F16, prevents bokeh which is very important in product photography. We need to Understand bokeh as details fading outside the focus of an image.

The Best Props

Knowing which props to use is a major part of how to take pictures of jewelry for e-commerce purposes. These props provide you with the right angles and show how the piece would lie naturally on a person.

There are several jewelry photography props options. A bust is popular because it mimics a person and you can display both necklaces and earrings or rings on a hand bust.

Alternatively, you can DIY your own prop by covering a piece of cardboard with white paper and adding a piece in the back so that it can stand on its own. Create 2 vertical slits so you can hang a necklace and simply use the backpieces of earrings to secure them.

To have a ring stand upright, you can use double-sided tape, glue dots or even blue tack but this would require more editing. It is easier to find a nice stand that can act as the signature prop in the collection.

Another method is hanging the pieces from a thin white strings. The string is less visible in a photography lightbox and easy to edit out either way.

Image Size

It is not possible to have all the images in the series conform to the same scale simply because jewelry pieces are different sizes. Sticking to the same scale would mean that certain pieces appear to small on the image to properly see the details.

In jewelry photography, the details of the piece are essential for the viewer to get an accurate idea of the style. So, even though the final image size online should be the same, the objects in the image should not be put to the same scale.

In other words, use the same file size or dimensions of each image but increase or decrease the scale according to the size of the jewelry piece.

What to Capture

As mentioned, details are especially important but how to photograph jewelry to display all these details? Plan your image series before you get started so you can tick off all the necessary angles and zoomed in photos, as you go.

This is an example of all the images you can/should take;

  • Full piece showing how it naturally lies on a person
  • Top angle + all sides
  • Zoom in on all interesting details
  • Closing/clasp
  • On a model to show scale

The more pictures the better for your customers but use the same order for each product. This creates calmness for the viewer’s eyes and makes the website seem more professional.

You can also use the pictures as styling inspiration. For example, include a photo where several jewelry pieces are paired together or style your model a few different ways.

Keep this guideline on hand while looking at your earlier photos and identify the jewelry photography mistakes. Then plan out your shoot and carefully follow these steps for professional results.

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