Great photography is a necessity when you have a handmade jewelry website. Unfortunately, handcrafted jewelry is very difficult to photograph. Many jewelry artisans cannot afford to go to a professional and so they want to do it themselves. There are some simple techniques that even amateur photographers can use to obtain better results with minimal effort. The following suggestions should allow anyone to achieve results they can be proud of.
In the olden days we spent thousands of dollars on film and photo processing but nowadays we are so blessed with the digital camera. I could write an article just about the virtues of the digital camera. It does not have to be the top of the line professional camera anymore as most digital cameras have a macro feature which is specifically for photographing small objects like handmade earrings and handmade bracelets. It is worthwhile to read your camera manual to learn how to put the camera in macro mode.
If you are thinking of investing in a new digital camera just for photographing your handmade jewelry, one of the most convenient features we use constantly is a direct camera to computer cable. We adjust all the settings from the computer and press the space bar to take the picture. No more shaking or movement of any kind and all the settings are the same every time. Technology makes our lives much easier.
The keys to good handmade jewelry photography are sharpness, lighting and exposure. The macro lens is a big help for the sharpness factor. Another key to a sharp image is a tripod. It is absolutely essential to use a tripod or similar camera support when taking pictures of handcrafted jewelry. A sturdy tripod is better than a flimsy one, but any tripod is many times better than no tripod. Always use a tripod and your photos will be sharp.
The second key to great handmade jewelry photography is the lighting. Normally diffuse lighting works best for jewelry so that there is no glare. We cannot sit around waiting for the perfect slightly cloudy day to take pictures of new handcrafted jewelry designs. You have probably already discovered that an on-camera flash does not lead to good photos. Not only is the flash too bright at such a close distance, it will also create bright spots and distracting shadows. Rather than flash it is better to use continuous lighting for photographing handmade earrings and handmade bracelets. Using daylight balanced bulbs for lighting provide natural-colored light. You can purchase these from photography suppliers. We use 5200 K bulbs which resembles daylight most closely. Even these lights will need to be diffused and for that use a light tent as the diffuser.
A small light tent makes it easy to reduce glare and control shadows for handcrafted jewelry photography. These are commercially available in a wide range of sizes and shapes, but are generally quite expensive. It is not difficult to make your own lighting tent from white rip-stop nylon material, a couple of metal coat hangers and double-sided tape. The light tent tends to soften the shadows and eliminate glare, while providing a clean and clutter free background. We place the tent on a glass table and have a light under the table to reduce shadows.
Proper exposure is the last key to good handmade jewelry photography. If your background is actually white but appears gray in your image then the image has been underexposed. This means you need to let more light get to your camera’s image sensor. Adjust your camera exposure compensation setting to slightly overexpose the image. Nearly every digital camera has an exposure compensation setting, but you may need to read your camera user manual to find how to adjust yours. Once you locate the controls for exposure compensation simply increase the exposure until the image looks correct. We adjust the white balance so that the background shows white and this dramatically affects the crispness of the colors.
If you are comfortable with photography you can experiment with the settings for aperture and shutter speed to see how they affect the exposure. Once you find the perfect settings for your handmade jewelry you will find that you can easily adjust them for different pieces. We tend to take photos for new handmade earrings and handmade bracelets all at once so that everything is set up properly only once. You can also look at the settings on photos that you are happy with and keep the same settings each time.
Imaging software, even inexpensive software like Photoshop Elements can make handmade jewelry photography much easier. It may seem like it would be faster to use an image exactly as it was shot. But in reality, it is difficult to get your handmade earrings and handmade bracelets to look exactly how you would like it to appear. Imaging software allows you to crop an image, re-size it, adjust the exposure, remove the background and even sharpen the images. I especially like the auto-enhance for just the right color balance.
We having been taking our own handmade jewelry photos for many years and just as it is with making our handmade earrings and handmade bracelets, it does get easier with time. I hope these suggestions help you to take great photos of your unique handcrafted jewelry.
I personally think that taking good photos is more difficult than making our handmade jewelry! Everything has to be perfect to do justice to your handcrafted artisan jewelry. A picture is worth a thousand words if you’re a writer, a picture is priceless if you are trying to market your handmade jewelry and unique gifts online! You can never have enough information about photographing handcrafted jewelry so please check out these great Handmade Jewelry Photography Tips.
This is an original article by Jennifer Hisir of Handmade Jewelry by Copper Reflections