The Secret to My Amazing Jewelry Photos

by Shirin.
(Boston, VA)

Setup for Photographing Jewelry

Here is an example of a photo taken with this setup, so you have an idea what I mean by a professionally-looking photo.

I have been asked (on numerous occasions) to share the secret to my professionally-looking photos taken in the comfort of my own home.

Guess what? I am sharing it for the first time ever, and I am doing it here on JMJ to pay Rena back for all the great info she shares so graciously with all of us.

I have learned a lot of useful tips when I was just starting out, and I am forever grateful to all of you who shared them, and glad that I didn’t have to learn them the hard way.

Ok, so today is my turn to share something, hopefully useful to some of you.

We all know how a picture is worth a hundred/thousand/million words, and how bad photography doesn’t really help you promote your creations and sell your art.

I have tried many ways of photographing my jewelry trying to make it look good enough to tempt people to buy it.

I made my own light boxes, tried natural light through the window on a glorious sunny morning, took photos in almost all rooms of the house, as well as practiced taking them outdoors, etc.

As you see, I wasted a lot of time and not so much money (thankfully), but nothing worked until I finally developed my own method that I am happy with, and judging by the comments I am getting, others are happy with the results as well.

The secret is terribly simple:

Setup for Photographing Jewelry - Shirin

White poster board behind a glossy surface. That is all I use for my photo studio. Also, note the wire line attached to the sides of the board. I use it to hang necklaces or earrings.

  • White foldable poster board sold in most office supplies stores. I got mine at Target, and I think it cost me no more than $8.
  • Glossy surface. I was lucky enough to own a small black glossy coffee table I bought years ago at Walmart for $10.
Setup for Photographing Jewelry - Shirin

I use this box under the board for an extra elevation in some photographs. For example, when taking photos of earrings, I need the board to be at a certain angle to make sure the earrings are hanging closer to the front of my glossy surface, and farther from the board. This way I don’t have that sharp line where black and white meets and spoils the photo. The farther my jewelry is from the board, the more naturally my background looks in the photos.

After experimenting with different angles and placements I take photos with a flash setting on my camera, mainly because I don’t have any good windows around, and flash seems to work fine.

Setup for Photographing Jewelry - Shirin

I need to have the board lean towards the front when taking earrings shots. I can move it forward when I have smaller earrings and I want the reflection to get into the picture, and I can move it back when I have longer earrings.

I am sure a well-lit location would not require the use of flash, but that is up to you to experiment with.

Feel free to ask me questions and have fun taking your own professionally-looking photos.

Shirin
Shirin Designs
Store

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Comments

  1. Thanks so much for sharing your affordable, do-able setup for getting great jewelry photos, Shirin! I especially like your use of the reflective surface, and your tip for leaning the board to the best angle for jewelry hanging from the wire. And I have rarely seen jewelry photos shot with flash that look as professional as yours – so I appreciate your sharing your method! πŸ™‚ I know a lot of folks will be helped tremendously by your post here!

  2. Rena, thank you so much for your kind words, and for everything else in this last year since I’d discovered your journal. You have helped me tremendously in starting my business and mastering my skills. Thank you!

  3. Shirin, thank you for sharing your technique and your quick responsiveness to our request! It’s such a simple and ingenious setup. And I would not have thought a flash could work. Thank you!

  4. Colleen says:

    Shirin, thank you so much for sharing your photography ideas! I made myself a photo box a couple of years ago, it works just ok. To many seams and awkward when trying to take a pic of a long necklace. I will try your method for sure. I like the idea of not having to use the two lights on either side of the the photo box, it gets a bit hot and they get in the way. Using the tall poster board and the wire…GREAT. It’s so nice to have people out there that are willing to share their great ideas. Thank you!!!!

  5. Thanks Shirin! I use the same tri-fold poster board and wire for hanging. I’m currently looking for a black glossy table. I suppose if I can’t find something suitable, i could glossy spray paint a flat board to use as the surface. But usually the glossy furniture premade is really glossy and very reflective (as in your photos). And of course your pictures of your set up really helped too. So simple and yet so effective. I don’t usually use a flash because of the glare. But with this set up, I’ll try a couple of ways. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Thank you all for your support.

    CindyC:
    I am dreaming of trying this setup with a white glossy surface. I was looking into purchasing a white glossy wooden tray, but whatever I came across was a bit out of my price range. And I did try to make my own, I had a white painted piece of board, the kind that is used in modern furniture, so it was nicely painted but wasn’t as silky smooth as the black table I had, which I thought wouldn’t be a problem. So I bought some glossy clear spray paint and gave it two coats. Well, it didn’t work. I could see all the tiny imperfections on the board, and because it wasn’t mirror-smooth, it didn’t give me a good reflection, just something very matte/blurry instead of clear. But that was just my imperfect board. Let me know if it works for you, I am curious.

  7. Shirin and Cindy, for a glossy white surface you can buy a glass or plastic pane and rest it over white cloth or paper. I’ve also put a mirror down, with a white pillowcase behind and under it. This creates a totally white background and reflection, without altering the reflective surface of the mirror itself.

    You can also spray the pane with white paint. This can be a bit tricky. I buy my panes from the thrift store, using picture frames.

    I really like the use of your tri-board. I’ve considered doing the same, but it’s not very practical for my set-up. Good use of focus too! Very professional looking.

  8. Hmm, good ideas using glass with fabric underneath, Autumn. I suppose this would work for black too. So many good ideas to try. I’ll try some this weekend. Thanks!

  9. I have used ceramic tile…the larger size for flooring…as a reflective surface. I purchased it at the local tile outlet store…one in white and one in black. I have also used textured ones in the past for an artsy look.

  10. Thank you!!!!

  11. Thanks Autumn and Rae for great ideas on reflective surfaces. Got to try it.

  12. Nice timing. πŸ™‚ I’m taking photos of my jewellery for the first time ever tomorrow and this will be the set up I’ll go for. Thank you so much for sharing this, there are always such generosity on JMJ and as I’m just starting out with my new jewellery-business it’s priceless to get help from people who know what they are doing. Thanks again, and good luck in the future with your awesome jewellery. Hugs from Sweden.

  13. Very good information! I’m going to buy a piece of opaque white and opaque black plexiglass and see if that works!
    Thanks!

  14. Valerie says:

    Shirin,

    Thanks for sharing so generously. I’ve struggled with photos and can’t wait to try your method. How do you get your name on the bottom of your photos?

  15. I second Rae. A black granite tile 12×12 provides a nice reflective surface.

  16. Cat Slavin says:

    What great ideas! And thank you, especially for the pictures of your set up.

  17. Thank you all for your advice and words of encouragement.

    Answering Valerie’s question:

    To put my link in the photo I use a simple editing program, and add text to the picture. I can change fonts, color, size. I find it time-consuming to do it for every single photo I take of the same item, so I only add it to the main shot that I use for my social networking. And other photos I post in my store (angle shots, on a mannequin, etc.) are left without any links. Hope that helps.

  18. Genius!!! Thanks for sharing Shirin. πŸ™‚

  19. This is such helpful information, thank you so much for sharing.
    I have a smoke colored glass shelf, very dark, I’m going to use that and see how it works.

  20. Brilliant! I’ve been struggling to take decent photos, and even went to a night class put on by a professional photographer to try and work out where I was going wrong. I did learn how to use my camera properly, which was a help (!), but the teacher reckoned that I’d never be able to take the kind of photos I needed (partly I have to say due to the camera I have), and I’d be better off taking my jewellery over to her in batches to get it photographed, but I can’t afford to do that, and actually don’t want to.
    This is so simple and easy, exactly the sort of set up I need! Thank you so much for passing on all your tips, I will try and find the materials here (Island off the Scottish coast) or get them the next time I go to the mainland – this is so much appreciated.

  21. Kathy Spiers says:

    Thank you so much Shirin for so generously sharing this info with us! Very much appreciated. I’ve been making jewelry for a couple of years only and have been absolutely blown away by how openly most jewelry designers are willing to share their knowledge-it is an honor to be part of that type of community! Thank you again!!

  22. I ended up taking some photos after posting my reply. After fiddling with everything for changing black and white backgrounds, semi-reflective glass to mirror, et al…I’m thinking the tri-fold board and simple surface might be better! I use crystals as props and “signature accent” items, but those just don’t work for some pieces. I think I may start doing a simpler setup.

  23. Thank you Shirin for sharing these valuable tips. when it comes to photography I always take it in day light with no flash . will definitely give this a try .

  24. Hi All

    I have a couple of ideas that I use. I use 9″ x 9″ scrapbook paper and/or glossy paper for photos. If you want to use multiple pieces to increase the size I just butt them up against each other and tape on the wrong side. The glossy paper is great for a reflective element. You can go to Michael’s or any scrapbook store to buy and the choice is huge. I hope this helps some of you! I have used this for my jewelry business for years. If you want to see a pic of what it looks like just take a look at my website. All the backgrounds are scrapbook paper.

  25. Genius idea! I love it and can’t wait to try this. Your jewelry is so beautiful!

  26. Wonderful ideas, thank you so much for sharing.
    I’ve been running around my house with the camera and my jewelery trying to find the best possible light and angle. Still haven’t found it due to the general lack of sunshine here in Germany , but now i have something new to try.

  27. First THANK YOU Rena for emailing me the link here! I HOPE I can find one of these boards in Australia, if not I will make one! I’m American so I know what to look for, it’s just a severe lack of stores here. I’ve also tried everything BUT this! I do have a question though, some of my larger necklaces need to be on a bust or mannequin. Is there anything I should do differently, like use a matte base? I’ve really got to get this show on the road, it’s my crap photo skills that are holding me back. Thank you Shirin you may have saved my sanity!

  28. This! This is what I needed! I’ll have to figure out what’s wrong with the flash on my camera but… I already have everything else! I have terrible photos of my jewellery. The best pictures I’ve taken out on the balcony, but it is north facing on a tree lined street so the natural light isn’t the best. Also, it’s winter now here where I live and just too cold to stand out there for very long. My apartment is dark, dark, dark. I thought I was going to have to buy professional lighting and reflectors and so on (which I really don’t have room for because my apartment is also tiny tiny tiny.)

    THANK YOU for this!

  29. Swun Kou says:

    I love the earrings photographed Shirin, and thanks for the great tips.

  30. judy kameny says:

    Hi Shirin,

    This is great information, thanks so much! I’m a newbie and my question is, what kind of camera do you use? I’ve heard of people using their IPhone cameras – is that okay to produce professional-looking results if I use this setup?

    Thank you!

    Judy

  31. Thank you everyone for your kind words and for finding this information helpful.

    And to answer Judy Kameny’s question about the camera I use, I use my DSLR Canon Rebel camera. I think it is the very basic of digital Canon cameras. But if you don’t have a professional camera, then probably your phone camera will do. Nowadays phones take amazing photos. Also, I managed to move my setup closer to a window, and now I like taking photos without my flash for some shots, and I actually like the result. So I don’t see why a phone camera won’t work. Doesn’t hurt to try, anyway. And good luck!

  32. judy kameny says:

    Thanks so much, Shirin – can’t wait to try it!

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