One of the things I’m working on this year, as part of my effort to revamp and revitalize my craft business, is new photographs. For one, I have a lot of un-photographed inventory right now. For another, my photography has gotten better. And when selling things online or applying to juried shows, photography is the only way you really have to present your work.
Jewelry is notoriously finicky to photograph. Metal and crystal colors seem to fight every step of the way to not be true to life. You need to get close, sharp, photos to really get the small details in jewelry. But after several iterations of my photographs, I’m actually really happy with how they’re turning out.
Want to see how far I’ve come?
This is the first pair of dice earrings I sold on Etsy. Not a terrible photograph, but not good product photography. Fortunately, I figured that out fast.
One of the photographs I took this morning. Much better, right?
So, how did I get from the first picture to the one from today? There were lots of steps in the middle, but the core of how I’m taking and posting nice photos now is actually really simple.
- Got rid of the busy hanging prop. I do still take photos both of my earrings hanging and laying down, but for the hanging photos I use a small solid colored bucket (that matches the feel of my shop) and a white earring display fake ear bust. What prop of set up works best for you will depend on your jewelry, but it should never distract from the jewelry.
- Yes, I admit I bought a nice camera. But you don’t have to. As long as you have a macro setting on your camera (looks like a little flower) you can take decent up close pictures. I upgraded to a Nikon SLR because my previous camera’s automatic white balance sucked. But I use very little of the advanced features of my camera when taking jewelry photos. I don’t have the time with the number of pieces I need to photograph.
- I do have a light box. It was actually used in the first picture. It was not used in the second. Here’s what my photography setup was today:
That, folks, is a folded box and some white poster board leaning on a large vase on my kitchen table. The ambient light from a cloudy day outside is perfect. Yes, it does mean I need daylight to take my best photos. So Saturday mornings have become photography days.
The next thing to know is that photos do not come out of my camera ready to post online. Here’s what they look like when I upload them to my computer:
I use Gimp, a free photo editing software, for quick and easy touch ups.
First, the photo needs to be cropped. It should be taken down to as close to the items as possible, while still making sense. In this case, I chose to keep the complete earring card in the photo.
Not bad, but dark. Next, I open up the Levels tool. I slide the right side all the way to where the chart starts, to brighten the grey up to white. On the left side I slide it in just a little bit, to keep the darker tones and a good contrast.
And that’s it! Saved, this photo is ready to go on my website.