Easy Jewelry Photography with a Digital Camera

How to Make My $15.00 Photo Studio
Ā© by Cheryl Coccaro; all rights reserved.

Jewelry photography lighting can be tricky when using a digital camera. But every jewelry artist needs to be able take great photos for their website, promotional materials, and eBay or other auction sites.

Below, Cheryl tells how to make this $15 jewelry photo studio.

When I first started selling on eBay I needed a better method for taking photos of my jewelry. I used a very popular Rubbermaid (TM) Cake Carrier, inverted it, and cut a hole in the top of it to insert my camera lens. First I tried putting rope lighting inside the cake carrier, secured with plastic ties. Then I tried putting the rope lights outside, on the top of the cake carrier.

This setup was partially successful for jewelry photography, but sometimes my pictures showed a circle of ring lights on the face of my stone.

The $15 Jewelry Photography Studio

The setup I use now is a Rubbermaid (TM) plastic file box with a lid, placed on a table by my back patio sliding door – it’s my $15 jewelry photography studio! This is an affordable studio you can easily put together yourself.

For the best pictures using this setup with your digital camera, see Jewelry Photography Success Tips for Your $15 Photo Studio.

These jewelry photos were taken in the afternoon when the light is the brightest. I used no additional lighting and no flash. The only editing done on these photos was resizing.

The file box with my earrings displayed inside, ready for me to shoot

These next two shots were taken using my digital camera, in macro mode, on a tripod and no flash. I used the self timer mode because all my photos are shaky without using that wonderful tripod:

Commercially available setups like this for photographing jewelry with a digital camera include Cloud Dome and EZee Cube Photo Tent.

I bought the Rubbermaid (TM) file box in Walmart for $14.99, and I imagine it’s also available in most office supply stores. All I did was turn it on its side!

Cheryl Coccaro

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  • kbdc says:

    I had bought a ceiling light fixture from Home Depot. The box it was in is approx. 15″x15″, square. I spray-painted it black. Then, I fitted some of that foamy ‘gator board’, from Michael’s Craft place, at the back, sides and bottom of the inside of the box. I glued a piece of bright white board on the ‘ceiling’ of this box. I do have a Nikon DSLR with a 60mm lens, however, I have found that using ambient light with a flashlight in my teeth has worked very well. I have been using this exact same box to photograph, macro style, for about 7 years. It is my portable ‘Studio’.

    I display my jewelry in the box utilizing seashells, granite remnants, black velvet flatboards, etc.

    Further, I purchased an inexpensive white umbrella from an eBay seller. The umbrella allows me to bounce my light source, therefore greatly diminishing those BrIGhT white spots (blown out pixel “highlights”) that can occur if you try to put a light source directly on your shiny jewelry. In this way, I can take pictures of my jewelry at any time of the day.

    I, also, use a plain ol’ kleenex, the kind you blow your nose into, to diffuse my flash. I just kinda fold it over the flash, loosely (avoid blocking your lens, of course!). It becomes a hands-free, cheap as heck, diffuser. I use this technique ALL the time, jewelry, people, etc.
    Remember, bouncing your light source is the best way to diffuse the light.

    And…one more thought, I LOVE canned air. I buy it from Costco, by the 6-pack. I blow the dust off of my jewelry and photo surfaces constantly. I believe it is better to reduce dust debris before the picture, vs having to go to a post editing software and erase the distracting spots later.

    This is my 1st time writing here (thank you!, btw, great forum!), I will try to discover how to attach some pictures….

  • Jeanne Lyons says:

    This sounds like a great, easy box to try. Just a few questions that may be obvious to others, but I have a hard time visualizing from words, to be able to figure things out. I’m more a visual learner. When you say you cut a hole in the top for the camera, do you mean the top of the box’s actual/blue lid? Do you close the blue lid when taking the photo and put the camera through that hole? I’m having difficulty visualizing where the photo is taken from.
    Sorry for all the questions but this is something I’d really like to try but I’m too confused yet.

  • Hi Jeanne! I don’t know if Cheryl (the author of this post) will stop in here to answer your questions, so I’ll give it a shot. šŸ™‚

    (1) “When you say you cut a hole in the top for the camera…?”

    Cheryl mentioned that she “used a very popular Rubbermaid (TM) Cake Carrier, inverted it, and cut a hole in the top of it to insert my camera lens”.

    So I’m assuming that cake carrier is NOT the rectangular bin with blue lid shown above.

    Instead, I think it’s a round Rubbermaid container for round layer cakes that’s not pictured in her article – and she cut the hole in the lid of THAT carrier.

    (2) “Do you close the blue lid when taking the photo and put the camera through that hole? Iā€™m having difficulty visualizing where the photo is taken from.”

    I’m assuming the blue lid of the rectangular bin shown above stays open and out of the way during photography. Otherwise its intense blue color would probably cast a blue-ish tint on everything inside the Rubbermaid tub.

    I think Cheryl puts her camera on a tripod in front of the open Rubbermaid tub and takes pictures with nothing between her camera and her jewelry.

    The Rubbermaid container filters the natural daylight coming in through the sides of the tub, eliminating glare on the jewelry.

    I hope this helps, Jeanne! And I hope this jewelry photography method works out for you. It sounds like a nice but cheap way to improve the lighting for jewelry photos. šŸ™‚

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