Tips for Photographing Jewelry

© by Rena Klingenberg; all rights reserved.

Photographing jewelry is an important skill for jewelry artists, because jewelry is a visual product.

When photographing jewelry, consider ways to make your jewels pop out - like this coral does against dramatic black displays

Although there are challenges involved in jewelry photography, you can easily get some really professional looking photos using flatbed scanners or digital cameras.

To sell your jewelry online – from your website, eBay or other online auctions, or web stores – you’ll need to post good, clear pictures of your work. You’ll also need good jewelry photos for your business card and any flyers, brochures, or other marketing pieces you make.

Photographing Jewelry with a Scanner

I often use a scanner for photographing jewelry, and I’ve learned it’s really a great and simple tool for quickly getting beautiful, artistic shots. You don’t need to be a camera buff to get good images with scanners.

Jewelry that’s basically two-dimensional is easy to shoot this way. You can get wonderful photos of earrings, necklaces, and other pieces that can be laid flat on the scanner glass.

My rose quartz and 14k goldfill wire jewelry set, photographed quickly with a scanner. The only editing I did on this scan was to resize it.

For tips on successfully photographing jewelry with a scanner, see Using Scanners to Photograph Jewelry.

For most pieces, you can easily work within the capabilities of scanners and get professional looking jewelry photos. But they do have their limitations – namely, it’s hard to shoot three-dimensional pieces.

With a scanner, you can’t easily get good pictures of things that don’t show to their best advantage when lying flat. “Standing up” shots of rings and cuff bracelets are nearly impossible to photograph with a scanner. You’ll get a much better shot of these using a digital camera.

Photographing Jewelry
with a Digital Camera

Digital cameras probably give the most professional looking results for jewelry photos. But they’re more expensive and have a steeper learning curve than scanners, because there are so many variables and adjustments involved in using digital cameras. They also require extra equipment like a tripod, a light source, and the right kind of lens.

For important digital camera features and recommended cameras, see Best Digital Cameras for Photographing Jewelry.

If they're not overdone, a few props can enhance jewelry photography

Photographing jewelry is challenging for two main reasons.

First, since most jewelry is shiny, with reflections bouncing off every surface, lighting is one of the trickiest but most important factors in jewelry photography. With a digital camera, getting just the right amount, size, color, and placement of lighting is vital.

You can use a light box or photo tent to guard against glare and get your lighting just right.

Commercially-made boxes and tents can be quite expensive, but here are several ways you can easily make your own quick, cheap photo tent or light box for taking better jewelry photos: Make Your Own Light Box.

The other critical and challenging element in jewelry photography is getting sharp, close up photos that show the jewelry’s detail, beauty, and depth of field. A macro lens is a necessary to accomplish this.

Think of non-traditional "jewelry displays" you can hang your pieces on for photographing

Once the elements of lighting and macro lens are in place, you’ll have a lot more versatility with a digital camera than with a scanner.

You’ll be able to shoot some of those neat photos of a bracelet, ring, or other piece standing up dramatically with no visible support by using a little modeling clay under the jewelry to hold it in the position you want. You can then move the digital camera on its tripod to whatever angle will give you the best shot of the jewelry.

Regardless of the photography equipment you use, you’ll need a good background. Try this cheap, cool, and versatile background for photographing jewelry.

You may also want to have pictures of your jewelry being worn by someone. See these tips for getting friends to model for your jewelry photos – and the results of a lovely Parisian-style jewelry photo shoot.

And after taking your jewelry photos with a scanner or digital camera, you’ll need to do some photo editing to crop, resize, and adjust your shots.

Also see Stephenie Gardella’s Gimp photo editing step-by-step tutorial for higher quality jewelry images.

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