Jewelry photography: How to shoot Jewelry (DIY Tips)
Jewelry Photography isn’t easy. It’s one of the difficult and tricky to shoot genres.
Many photographers who claim to do Jewelry photography are unable to do a good job consistently. That’s because while it looks like a simple table-top shoot it is most definitely not.
Let me explain what makes Jewelry photography tricky to shoot. Jewelry has a highly reflective, shiny metal surface and diamonds/ Gemstones. Metal absorb light and diamonds reflect and refract light. The way to light up a shiny metallic object for a shoot is different from lighting a diamond. This makes photographing jewelry a difficult job to do.
But don’t worry. You’ll be able to take really good pictures once you follow my tips below. One thing I’d like to say here is, You’ll be needing to shoot in Manual Mode on your camera. So having enough experience of shooting in manual mode is a must.
List of items you’ll need for shooting jewelry.
The camera you’ll need is a DSLR that lets you shoot in RAW format and allows you to set the aperture and Shutter speed manually. Any decent brand DSLR would do the job. Just FYI, I shoot with Canon 5D Mark III whenever I have to shoot on a 35mm format.
The kit lens that comes with the camera won’t do. You’ll have to invest in a Macro lens. This is because the kit lens’ minimum focusing distance will prevent you from going close to the subject and getting a good magnification. I use a Canon 100mm f2.8 Macro lens for my Jewelry photography assignments.
No matter how steady you think you can hold the camera, it’s always recommended to use a good sturdy Tripod. Having your camera mounted on a tripod has its benefits. You can focus properly and use a variety of shutter speeds and ISO settings without the danger of having a camera shake.
4) Shooting Table
Any sturdy table would work. The size of the table would depend on set up. To make it easy for you to decide, I’d say get a table around 3ft x 2ft.
5) Lighting equipment
Get some basic lighting kit with Soft boxes. If you check online, you should get enough options to choose from. A three light kit should work in the beginning. Once you have sufficient experience with shooting jewelry you can expand your equipment inventory.
6) White Background
While Jewelry photography can be done against a variety of Backgrounds, I would recommend white background. Get a couple of White chart paper sheets. You can choose from a variety of backgrounds to place under your jewelry. You can have a piece of an acrylic sheet or an un-even surfaced tile or glass sheet or any thing else you can thing of. Be creative but don’t go overboard. You don’t want the background to fight for attention with the Jewelry.
7) Other Important extras
Tracing paper sheets, Blue tack, Clamps & Tapes, Thermocol sheets or foam boards, Acrylic Sheet/ Polycarbonate Sheet piece.
Now that you have collected the things required to do Jewelry Photography let’s see how to do shoot the Jewelry pieces.
1) Set up your shooting table
Choose a place to position the table. Position the white paper background on which you’ll be placing the jewelry. You’ll need to place the white paper sheet in a way that you get a seamless background. Fix your Camera on the Tripod and position it in front of the set up.
2) Lighting the jewelry
Start by positioning the first light with the soft box on top and a little behind the jewelry piece. This diffused overhead light will light up the form of the jewelry evenly. Now you need to position the other light in front. The placement of this light will depend on what jewelry you’re shooting and how you have positioned it. Move around the light while observing the effect of it on the jewelry till you feel satisfied with the result.
3) Manage reflections
Jewelry has extremely polished surface and the diamonds/ gemstones are reflective too. You need to check for reflections and block the un-necessary ones. There is no sure shot way to do this. It will always be a trial-and-error process. You can block your reflection in the jewelry by remote shooting or self-timer mode.
4) Clean up Jewelry
You might say that’s elementary but I am talking about a level up. Use Cotton, lint-free gloves while handling the jewelry. This is the one of the most important steps so take it very seriously. That’s because after the shoot when you enlarge the image 20 to 200 times the actual size, every flaw gets enlarged as well. You’ll see fingerprints on the jewelry, dust specks, microfibers etc. which is not visible with naked eye.
Some people would do this step right before placing the jewelry the first time. I tend to do it once I get my lighting and shot right. That’s because in this process I tend to move the jewelry around while looking thru the lens to fix upon the shot. This can leave dust specks or fingerprints or microfibers on the jewelry. So use your discretion on when to do this step.
5) Camera Settings
Set the Aperture to f11. Anything less than this will give you a shallow DOF (Depth of field). Which means less detail in the jewelry as the focus falls off. Set the ISO to 100 and don’t increase it. This will prevent from getting noise in the shot Image.
6) Processing and Retouching
After the Image is shot in RAW format, it requires to be processed. This can be done in Adobe Lightroom or even Adobe Photoshop. (I am not aware of any other softwares out there other then these two) Adjust and fix the White balance and exposure and export the Image to a Tiff format. This Image you would have to further edit and enhance in Photoshop or any other Image editing software you have. This process can’t be explained in 4 lines as it is a complex process. If you’re unable to do this then hire a professional Image editor/ Image editing service. This step is necessary to make the Image look professional.
Below are some images I have shot and then added the effects later in Photoshop.
Ps. Should you require someone professional to do an excellent job, you can get in touch with us. We do provide Jewelry Photography service. We handle the entire turnkey project. Right from creating concepts, to handling shoot production, to providing professional retouching service as well. We also provide Video shooting and making Reels for Social media sharing. We can do film shoot as well.