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The Guide to Selling Your Jewelry

Photographing Jewelry

Re-Issue Number 7

October 7, 2013

Photographing Jewelry

Present your work like a pro


     Whether you are selling your jewelry on-line or submitting to a magazine or a juried art show, a bad picture can rob the most wonderful piece of jewelry of its luster.  Good photography is a challenge, but not an impossible one.  Check out the photography advice on etsy.com for some tips on taking decent pictures with nothing more than the camera on your phone.

     But to get the final word on photographing jewelry we went to the guys who make the jewelry in Bead Style look great in every issue.

     They spent years honing their skills and have pretty impressive equipment.  But you can improve your photographs without the pricey equipment or years of study.  In an article for Bead&Button's The Beader's Handbook, photographers William Zuback and Jim Forbes shared some tips on getting good shots of your handiwork.



     You don't need a fancy studio, but you do need a decent camera mounted on a tripod.  if possible, use a digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera rather than a point-and-shoot model.  Take some time to learn about F-stops, shutter speed, and exposure, and then experiment with your camera to learn how to achieve the desired results.  A cable release will help you take clear, steady shots, and a macro lens could come in handy for closeups.



     While there are many ways to light a scene, using a diffuse light source is key.  Diffusion softens shadows and bathes your jewelry in a pleasing glow.  Try draping a sheet between your light source and photographic subject, or bouncing the light off the ceiling , or directing the light source into a white umbrella.  For an easy-to-use light diffuser, attach diffusion material to a simple wooden frame.


Background and props

     You want to draw attention to the jewelry, not the background, so a piece of plain, neutral gray paper, which you can buy at craft or photo stores, is usually best.  Also, props can be distracting, so unless you need them to support or suspend a piece of jewelry, don't use them.


Using a gray card

     A gray card is a photographic standard that will help you get an accurate exposure through your camera's light meter.  When you get your shot set up, take a photo with a gray card in it, then take your other shots.  Use Photoshop or Photoshop Elements to balance the exposure to the gray card, and then apply the settings you just created to the rest of your shots.



*  Invest in the best DSLR ($500-$5000) camera for your budget.

*  Set your camera to record in the Adobe RGB color mode, if available.

*  Take shots from various angles, filling the frame with the subject.

*  Save original files in RAW or TIFF format.  Use high-quality JPEG only if the other formats are not available.  It's fine to save copies in JPEG form.

*  Use a back-up system for saving your original image files.

*  Invest in Photoshop ($530-$650) or Photoshop Elements (65-$100) software for color correction.

*  Don't use more than one type of lighting (daylight, tungsten, and florescent are the available types).  Mixed lighting confuses the cameras light meter readings.


Interested in learning more?

     For step-by-step information about using gray cards, visit earthboundlight.com/phototips/white-balance-gray-card.html or outbackphoto.com/workflow/wf_65/essay.html.  For in-depth coverage of photographing small objects, read Charles Lewton-Brain's "Small Scale Photography."  For one-on-one assistance, visit local photography stores (Cord Camera). 



from a supplement to Bead Style magazine