Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Photographing Jewelry: Summed Up In One Word

ARRRGGGHHH! That would be the word.

I think most amateur photographers like mys
elf would agree that it is a pain to take decent pictures of small shiny objects like jewelry. Since I'm endeavoring to sell my jewelry online, taking decent pictures (forget great pictures) is really a minimum requirement and sometimes achieving even that makes me a little crazy -- okay, a lot crazy. (For proof of encroaching insanity just look at the whole of my blog!)

The laws of human nature are such that

a. Most people won't spend their money on an item sight unseen.

b. Most people won't spend their money on an item only slightly seen.

c. Most people get really mad if they buy
something only to find that it isn't what they thought based on looking at the pictures.

My photography equipment includes a light box that I point very hot lights at, with considerable effort made to keep the bulbs from touching the oh-so-flammable material. Sitting on a teeny tiny stool at the foot of this setup, I aim my little camera at the piece of jewelry I've ever so artistically arranged in the light box, and start snapping. I constantly check and reset my camera settings: program mode, aperture priority mode, ISO speed up, ISO speed down, adjust my white balance, check for shadows, check for bright spots, shoot at a left angle, right angle, side, go low, go high, get the whole piece in the shot, get just an edge in the shot, zoom in close, pan out wide, go team go!

Seventy pictures later, when every conceivable angle and technique I know has been used, I can finally download my pictures, and voila! I've got four or five decent shots if I'm lucky. Wow. This is when I do some soul searching. Just how bad are the pictures, really? Can I bear to sit on that hard little stool with my arms hanging in the air in order to retake some shots? Do I wait to post my listing until tomorrow when my arms have stopped shaking? Or do I just throw myself into another round of picture taking?

Fortunately, the above scenario isn't always
the case. Some jewelry, because of the colors of the components used, can be much easier to photograph than others. Light colors mixed with shiny sterling silver make good photos especially difficult to achieve -- for me anyway. I know there are a lot of people out there who have mastered the art of jewelry photography, and with equipment similar to what I've got. I'm getting marginally better as time goes by.

I think, however, that I will buy a cushion
for my stool. It's a business expense, right?

sterling silver,handmade,jewelry,camera,photography,beadyize,online sales,pictures,light box
(I was wishing I could get rid of the black spot that showed up in the middle of each of these shiny sterling silver rounds in this photo. When I looked closer, I realized that the black spot was actually a reflection of my camera with my fingers surrounding the lens. I was quite pleased with the effect once I realized what I'd captured, even if it was accidental.)


Lily said...

I feel your pain! LOL. Taking pics of jewelry can be VERY frustrating at times!

I don't have a traditional light box. Instead, I cut the bottom off of a milk jug (cleaned out thoroughly, of course). Then I put the item on a background and put the milkjug over it. The hole where the cap goes on is where I put the lens of my camera, looking down through the hole at the item-- the flash is on the outside, so it diffuses flash-back.. it's worked for me in the past, especially since I am a notorious cheapskate and didn't want to deal with buying a lightbox and lamps. It's goofy, but it worked for what I needed.

I wish I could show you an example of how the pics came out from my shop-- but none of my current pieces needed that.

Carol said...

Oh....I HATE taking pictures of my creations!! I have a similar set-up as you do, but my camera is totally automatic, or I'd have slit my wrists by now! I love the shot of you!! Adorable!!

Auntie Dis said...

Oh I can so sympathize with you here! It has taken me three years, but I have found the best solution yet! Throw out the lightbox, the lights, the stools, (but not the new camera!!) and start going outside into the natural light! It's worked wonders for me. Of course, this stinks when it's 3 AM and I've created something I just can not wait to list!

Renee said...

I know what you mean I swear jewelry is so hard to take pictures from, personally I end up editing mine in photoshop. I don'[t have the best lense.

Although I love the pic with the silver beads that one turned out fabulous!

La Alicia said...

I think that your pics look great! We are all our own worst critic! :) I think the key is patience. (I'm still working on this one!) And since we are all shooting digital these days -- take lots of pics - if you don't like 'em delete 'em! :)

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