Take Great Jewelry Pics!

If you sell silver jewelry and take your own photos for your website or your ebay auctions, then you should find this information useful. Anyone can take great jewelry pics, but it takes some fore-thought and practice. Here are a few pointers from someone who has been doing this professionally (mind you I am not a professional photographer, but have made a living selling wholesale silver jewelry for about 8 years). If you sell online, this is SO important! Crappy pictures will result in low sales volume. To compete you need attractive, quality photographs. Of course it helps to have quality jewelry to sell.

  • Get a good camera and learn how to use it properly
  • Setup a lighting system
  • Find the right perspective
  • Get a few key materials to facilitate the process
  • Develop a system to process the photos efficiently

1) CAMERA-

I prefer Canon cameras. They have the best optics on the market, even in the low end models. But of course there are other good brands. If getting a new camera, consider a Canon. I use a Canon G5, which you can get for about $175 used on ebay or $500 new. At a MINIMUM, you need a camera with a good “macro” mode. This is simply a button you press on most cameras that allows you to zoom in very close and still maintain focus. In natural light, you can usually use macro in the AUTO mode in most dig cameras and get very good results. Consider a wide angle/ macro lens if you have a Canon G5, G7 or another brand with interchangeable lenses. I got my extra lens for about $100, now you can probably find for $50 or less. For my camera, the way I take 99% of my pics (using light box) is to put the camera in Manual mode and adjust the aperature value (AV). The lower the value the more light in (this is because the lens stays open longer). For example AV of 1 means the lens stays open 1 second (LONG TIME!). 1/10 = 1 tenth of a sentence. 1/400 = 400th of one second, etc. I usually use an AV of between 200-400 (with light box) then use manual focus.

2) LIGHTING –

You can get a great light box for about $300-$400. Here is the one I use:

http://easyproductphotography.com/products/gem-eBox-photo-light-box.html

  

Sometimes you can also find them on ebay for less.

If you are on a budget (who isn’t!) you can make your own light box for about $5 or less. This is just one way you can do it. Once you get your box made, use some 100 watt lights (you can get some pretty simple ones at Home Depot for about $5-$10 each – you will need three – get the kind that have clamps so you can move them around easily)

http://photodoto.com/create-your-own-light-box/

You can also try natural lighting. But don’t take pics in direct sunlight! Way too bright. Do it in the shade. But my preference is light box.

3) PERSPECTIVE-

many overlook this and this is where the art lies.There are many sellers who go out and get a great camera and a fancy light box and still take crappy pics!  Take your pics from a perspective that highlights the best aspect of the item you are shooting. If it’s the gemstone, then focus on the stone, if its the filigree (which by the way, photographs VERY well) focus on that. Get the lens as close as possible then zoom in as far as possible while maintaining crisp lines. Put the lens on the same level or even a little lower than the item being phographed. Don’t aim straight down or too far away,  see the examples below. Which do you like best?


taken from close range, angle       taken from top, straight down        AV=400
  
White background Auto         White Background Manual Focus, AV=400
  
 


4) MATERIALS –

Dentl wax, believe it or not is very handy! Clear wax material enables you to get the rings or pendants to stand up on their own. Background is super important. I personally do not like white – looks to sanitized. You want your lighting structure white… I mean the material the items are placed on… experiment with different materials and textures. I like slate because it works nicely with light – absords, not reflective. Easy material to take pics on. When you get good you can try shiny material like the black tiles I use. You will have to experiment with your camera settings (most notably AV) to get this right.

Shale/ slate background
  
                                                Macro/ Wide Angle Lens for Canon G5

5) PROCESSING –

What do you do with the pics? There are many ways to handle this. I will tell you my method as an example. First I open the pics individually in photoshop. I have an old version. I simply crop the photos really close to the item in pic. Keep the dimensions around the same for all pics that will be displayed together. I mean, you want all squares or all rectangles, not a combo because they will not look good together on the website. Next I use Atalsoft Eyebatch Software: http://www.atalasoft.com/eyebatch/ to batch process the pics. If I have 50 pics, I process them all in about 20 seconds. I make thumbs, then I make larger images around 375 pixels. Now you have a thumbnail (100-200 pixels is best) and a larger size pic that look great and are very small size which is good for websites, ebay, etc.

This is just some info to help get you started or improve what you already know. In fact your techniques may be better than mine! But I hope there is something in here that will be of use to you.

Have a great weekend and be sure to see our New Arrivals – lots of new stuff added in the past week.?