Options for Photographing Jewelry

by Linda.
(Nova Scotia, Canada)

Options for Photographing Jewelry by Linda  - featured on Jewelry Making Journal

Recycled Aqua necklace on Display

When I started making jewellery 18 years ago photographing my pieces was a difficult task. Cameras were not as sophisticated as they are now unless you wanted to spend a fortune. Home computers had just become the norm, but online shopping was still in its infancy. Unfortunately due to this, many of my earlier creations went unrecorded, which I regret.

Options for Photographing Jewelry by Linda  - featured on Jewelry Making Journal

Miracle Beads on Wood Background

When I first started selling online, I created a very basic website and recorded most of my images by laying them on my scanner. Worked well for the purpose at the time, but looking at those images now you can see the quality is not great! (see pic) It is, however still a reasonable technique to use if you do not have a decent camera or the ability to download your photographs.

As the years progressed I started to take my photographs outside on sunny days, placing my items on natural backgrounds (see pic). The lighting is great as long as you do it in the summer when the sun is at its peak or you get lots of shadows. I still use this technique when I make items in the summer months!

More recently my husband bought me a light box as a birthday gift. It is a square nylon collapsible box in which to place your subject. You then shine light through the sides which act as a diffuser to enhance the features of your piece. Any light will do as long as it is strong enough to light the subject adequately. I use desk lamps with white bright light which acts almost like daylight as proper studio lighting is frightfully expensive.

Options for Photographing Jewelry by Linda  - featured on Jewelry Making Journal

Black/Grey Pearls White Background

You can also place your creation on any background inside this light box such as a display stand (see pic) You can also lay it flat on the white surface. (see pic) I prefer to take my photographs at angles to the work, my favourite being the one pictured on the white background.

You don’t need an expensive camera to take your photographs, most cell phones will do the job nicely. (Pic on stand in light box taken by camera phone) If you can afford the light box, expensive camera, studio lights, reflectors and more, your photos will look simply amazing.

Options for Photographing Jewelry by Linda  - featured on Jewelry Making Journal

Egyptian Themed Necklace using a scanner

Tip: check your local library – ours has a media lab which has all the items listed which you can use for free (even a camera) and they sometimes have classes on photography. Or ask at a local photography club, someone may like to ‘practice’ on some still life subjects and give you the photographs free or for a small price. Or join them and learn to do it yourself!

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  • Colleen says:

    I just bought myself one of those collapsible light boxes! I made one years ago that was just ok. Beautiful jewelry by the way and I like the angle shot!

  • Judy says:

    Colleen, I’ve just decided to buy one of these myself. Would you mind sharing details on what you chose (if that is allowed on this forum)?

  • Judy, if this helps, I got mine at Amazon several years ago.

  • Judy says:

    Thanks! I’ve looked at a few on Amazon, just trying to figure out the best option.

  • Debra Lowe says:

    Great tips, your work is gorgeous.
    Thanks for sharing~

  • Claudia says:

    Linda, your work is really beautiful! ….. I bought a light box a few years ago. I first saw it in the “Sky Mall” catalog on a flight with Southwest Airlines! I think the “Sky Mall” catalog is out of business, though. I have a very simple “Kodak Easy Share” digital camera. The light box is easy enough to handle, and it came with 2 lights, but I use another light that I own, too. I take many shots of the same piece of jewelry, and then just delete the not so good ones. Most of the time, I take the photos with the jewelry on a display neck. Maybe this week I might experiment with different angles. I still need some practice. Thank You so much for the inspiration.

  • I have used two desk lamps with my big white plastic box and got some surprising results. Apparently, the bulbs in the lamps were of a different type so I ended up with interesting subtle shadings. Maybe I can reproduce that?

  • Leslie says:

    Linda, I love the angle shot! I have a collapsible light box from Shibusa Studio. What I love about it is that is comes with 2 rows of LED lights across the top – one row in front and one in back, so I only occasionally have to supplement with additional light sources if my props or positioning create a shadow on some part of the piece. I also turn off any room lights as this affects the white balance and tends to make the “white” too yellow.

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