Throughout recorded history, people have been obsessed and fascinated by jewelry. It has always been seen as an accessory to adorn, and many have flaunted it to show off their wealth and status. Something so revered, so appealing, needs to be presented fittingly as well. You’re probably aware how jewelry is stored and sold; in elegant boxes where it rests on velvet cushions draped in silk. But what about photographing jewelry? Let’s talk about how jewelry needs to be photographed to preserve its allure on film.
Familiarize Yourself with Photography
Before you start photographing something like jewelry, you will need to have mastered some of the basics of photography. This includes learning your way around your camera, learning the fundamentals of taking good pictures, and having practiced these skills until you are comfortable with your skills. Jewelry makes for beautiful photos, especially seeing how it is an attractive object just on its own, but until you know what exactly makes for a compelling photograph you won’t be making your jewelry look as flattering as it can.
As always, one of the most important factors to consider when taking a photo is the lighting. Every scene and subject require different lighting to bring out the best in them. You will have to plan ahead for your photos if you want to make your jewelry stand out. For this sort of photography in general you are going to need evenly dispersed lighting without reflections and shadows.
When viewing jewelry photographs, people want to be able to see the item and its details. Reflections and bright lighting on your jewelry will hide these details and make for an off-putting final result. To avoid this, ensure there is ample and equal lighting around the jewelry. Be it next to a window or surrounded by artificial lights, your jewelry should be lit up from all sides and should not be reflecting anything on its surface.
Another crucial thing to remember is to use neutral lighting when photographing jewelry. This is because it is super important you accurately capture the color of your jewelry. Jewelry looks best when it looks itself, and people will complement your photography when they see the real thing and realize how accurate your photos were.
Speaking of capturing detail, proper focus on the jewelry is the key to photographing it. You’ve most likely seen the classic images or clips of jewelers holding up jewelry and examining it thoroughly under a thick lens. This is exactly what you need to be doing for your photographs, because people who see your pictures will most definitely want to focus on the minute details and imperfections if any are present.
The best way to go about doing this would be to buy a macro lens for your camera. These lenses allow you to focus on object from very close and in great detail. This makes for highly detailed photos of your jewelry from up close where people can see all the tiny details on the fancy necklace or ring you’re photographing.
Show It All
When photographing jewelry, remember to show all of it and keep it all in focus. Jewelry is designed to be beautiful from every angle and does not necessarily have one point of focus. For example, a ring has a nice design or stone set on top, but the ring itself is also made to be pleasing to look at. Necklaces have jewels or other eye-catching adornments at the bottom, but the chain itself is also meticulously designed to look good.
So, when photographing jewelry, don’t just focus on one aspect of it and keep the rest as a blur. Show all of it under even lighting so people can admire every bit of it. You will have to learn how to place different items of jewelry as well, so that all or at least most of it is in view. Necklaces can be laid out in various ways on a flat surface, rings and earrings can be laid down and photographed from an angle or made to stand up.
Use Models or Mannequins
There are other ways to showcase your jewelry as well. It is made to be worn, after all, and will often look its best when showcased that way. For that reason, consider using a volunteer model or even a mannequin to show off your jewelry in your photographs. This way you can show jewelry how it is supposed to look when being worn by someone. You could even poke holes in cardboard and string jewelry through it to photograph it suspended, but it won’t nearly have the same effect as a model.
Keep Your Camera Steady
Seeing how detail and focus is a big aspect of jewelry photography, it is worth noting that the slightest twitch of the hand will result in minor blurring and a less-than-perfect photograph. Keeping the camera completely steady is important, but also impossible to do on your own. The solution is very simple. Simply invest in a tripod and your photos will turn out infinitely better going forward.
Keep Your Jewelry Clean
This should go without saying but seeing how much we’ve emphasized detail and focus for jewelry photography, it is expected that the jewelry you will be photographing will be as clean as it can be. Even the most minor smudges or bits of dust will ruin a photograph. Be sure to learn how to clean jewelry properly.
Keep it Simple
The focus of your photography is the jewelry. If you opt for fancy backgrounds people wouldn’t pay as much attention to the jewelry itself. If you keep trying to make different layouts with your jewelry, people won’t be able to get an idea of how it really looks. Jewelry photography demands minimalism and simplicity; with simple and almost blank backgrounds and the jewelry being laid out in simple ways that shows off every angle and every bit of it.
Jewelry photography requires attention. Even if one thing is off, the entire picture seems off and people either aren’t interested in the jewelry anymore or fail to discern what makes it special. If you’re ready to tackle jewelry photography, take a look at our top 6 DLSRs for indoor photography to aid you in this endeavor. And if you’re confused about which camera type to go for, our guide on DSLR versus mirrorless cameras can also help you make a more informed buying decision.