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How to Photograph Jewelry

Updated: Jul 11, 2021

How to Photograph Jewelry

CREDIT: Photographing jewelry well is not easy. But if you do it right, the results can be astounding. The different photos you can find in the extensive selection of jewelry here are a testament to this fact. Apart from marketing jewelry and jewelry-related services, great photographs also open the doors for jewelry exhibitions and collaborations. So, what do you need to do in order to properly photograph your jewelry?

Clean your jewelry

CREDIT: First things first: you can’t capture the best photos if your pieces aren’t looking their best. Before anything else, make sure that all the jewelry you want to photograph has been properly cleaned and polished. This will make it much easier to capture their best natural qualities.

Use the right camera

If you don’t have a DSLR or a mirrorless camera, check to see if your phone’s camera has adjustable settings or even a dedicated macro mode. Macro settings are aimed at capturing large images of very small subjects. If your phone’s camera doesn’t have a dedicated macro capture mode, you can still use it for this purpose if its manual settings can be tweaked, which we’ll explain more later on. With all that being said, while today’s smartphones now come equipped with advanced cameras, these simply don’t compare with the high-res capabilities of DSLRs and mirrorless digital cameras. Even entry-level digital cameras can capture jewelry better than any advanced smartphone. And as the extensive selection of photography gear currently on the market shows, there’s no shortage of affordable entry-level DSLRs and mirrorless cameras available. If you’re planning on doing a lot of professional jewelry shoots in the future, these cameras are definitely worth the small investment.

Avoid camera shake

There are different ways to avoid camera shake so that you take sharper pictures. Whatever phone or camera you have, using a tripod can eliminate the need to actually have your camera in your hands while shooting. You can also use modified tripods that allow for different shooting angles. If you use a camera remote, you can eliminate all contact and potential camera shake while shooting. This is crucial because the smallest amount of shake can greatly disrupt the details and overall quality of your photos – especially for jewelry or any macro photography.

Aim for natural lighting

CREDIT: When it comes to configuring the lighting, remember that your goal is to capture as much of your jewelry’s natural beauty as possible. This is why natural, diffused light is the ideal lighting for most types of jewelry. It’s certainly the easiest way to ensure that the lighting is even, thorough, and doesn’t cast harsh shadows. You can also configure studio lights to make the lighting as natural looking as possible. Furthermore, you should also adjust your lighting depending on the type of jewelry. Opaque turquoise stones for instance might require bolder lighting than most translucent gems or metallic pieces, which in turn look better in softer light. You can use reflectors to add or subtract to the light for each new piece. If it’s your first time photographing jewelry, using a neutral, non-distracting background will make lighting your pieces much easier.

Adjust camera settings

Arguably, the automatic settings on a smartphone’s camera can be good enough for capturing nice photos of jewelry. However, if you can either tweak your phone camera’s manual settings or get your hands on a DSLR or mirrorless camera, you can be much more in control of the output. In terms of the basic settings, photographer Shashank Sharma advises using slow shutter speeds (0.5 to 1 second) because you’re just photographing a still object. For the aperture which determines the amount of light that gets into the camera, bigger numbers (f/14 to f/22) mean less light, which is mostly what you’ll need. As for the ISO, choose the smallest possible number (100 to 200) on your camera in order to capture the sharpest pictures. Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of properly using manual settings to capture jewelry. But you can start with these settings and work your way up from there.

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