DIY crafters who have crossed over to selling their handcrafted jewelry naturally want to know how to photograph jewelry for Etsy and other great platforms where anyone can sell crafty products.
The three most important aspects of jewelry photography are exposure, lighting, and sharpness. These three factors determine the overall quality of shots, and mastering these three means you’re successful in learning how to photograph jewelry for Etsy.
Is jewelry photography beginner-friendly?
Yes, any beginner can learn the essentials. If you’re investing in new skills to save money for the long term, you’re on the right track. If you’ve got experience with shooting in Manual Mode on your digital camera, learning how to photograph jewelry for Etsy becomes that much easier.
And should you need equally reliable jewelry-making supplies, check out Xinar’s incredible catalog of precious and semiprecious beads and findings and our impressive lineup of locally made (note: US-made, nickel-free, and lead-free) 925 sterling silver charms for your jewelry projects!
With that out of the way, check out the tips below that will help you master how to photograph jewelry for Etsy and other platforms:
Pick the Right Camera
The first step in learning how to photograph jewelry for Etsy is manually adjusting the aperture and shutter speed and shooting in RAW. Any modern DSLR can be used effectively for jewelry photography. Learning the ins and outs of the camera, you plan on using will help you achieve the desired effect quickly and easily.
Make sure your lens has a large aperture if you’re shooting with a DSLR or mirrorless camera. The maximum aperture of many beginner or kit lenses is too tiny to be useful for macro or product photography. For the sharpest images, use a lens with an aperture of f/1.8 to f/4.
Don’t try to look artistic by shooting close-ups of your jewelry with a small aperture. Customers are more likely to buy from you if they see clear and well-focused photos. Your client is interested in seeing everything. If you want to impress them, ensure the aperture is set to f/11 or higher, and the ISO is as low as possible, ideally ISO 100.
Work with the Right Surfaces and Background Color
Part of learning how to photograph jewelry for Etsy is figuring out how to blur the background by shooting with a wide aperture and isolating the jewelry piece on a wooden table, a white background, or a reflective surface.
The less experienced may view a white background and immediately think it is “boring” or a “missed opportunity for branding.” By using vibrant, dynamic backdrops, they hope to stand out. That’s an incorrect assumption. There is a good reason why a white or neutral background is required or recommended by many online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, Rakuten, and others. You can keep the attention on your product with a simple white or light gray background. Black is also a popular color choice for jewelry photos, but keep in mind that some online marketplaces may reject your submissions if they detect black in the images.
Photos taken against a white background are simple to edit without noticing any difference in quality. White seamless paper, a homemade lightbox, or simply shooting the product in front of a white background are all viable options. During post-processing, you can use free photo editing software to fix any imperfections in your stand-in background.
You need people to be able to focus on your jewelry without wondering if that blemish they see there is a reflection from the camera or a fundamental flaw in the stone. Jewelry product photography presents a technical challenge due to the presence of gemstones and metal. Highly reflective objects are challenging to photograph without capturing unwanted reflections. Use this as a guide to learn how to photograph reflective products and experiment with two overhead lights when photographing shiny objects like jewelry.
Arrange one ample studio light on either side of your jewelry and set it on a stable surface like a table or a block. Use umbrellas to spread the light of both lamps. Attach a roll of white, seamless paper to the camera’s base, then hang it behind and under the product for a better shot. Light will be reflected onto the subject, and reflections from the background will be eliminated.
Put the camera on a tripod, so the lens points slightly downward toward the product. Lights (with diffusing umbrellas) should be positioned above and to either side of the product, angled down at the product, and have the same power. This setup should illuminate the entire frame uniformly, without hotspots.
Use a Sturdy Tripod for Jewelry Photography
One of the things you will master when you learn how to photograph jewelry for Etsy
is using a tripod, and, ideally, a remote shutter release to steady your camera is the surest way to obtain sharp photographs. It will prevent blur from camera movement and help you frame your subjects consistently, making focusing and lighting adjustments much simpler.
Trying to handhold a camera renders any lighting setup useless. Likewise, holding a camera or smartphone in your hands will cause blurry photos or force you to settle for less-than-perfect focus. Neither of these options is good.
Always use a tripod. There is no better and more cost-effective way to improve quality and consistency than using a tripod. A tripod lets you get the most out of your camera’s aperture and ISO. Set up your tripod in the same spot every time, even if you’re shooting on different days.
For the most part, you don’t need any extra clutter in the form of props when practicing what you’ve learned on how to photograph jewelry for Etsy. You could use a mannequin to display your jewelry if you want to give the impression that a natural person is wearing it
Most props, unfortunately, serve only to distract customers from your offering. Instead, pictures of your product can benefit from the inclusion of fashionable accessories, attractive models, and unique settings. In other words, those are branded editorial shoots.
Editorials are best displayed as email banners, hero images, and magazine covers. Product pages are not the appropriate place for them.
Photography kits tailored to jewelry are inexpensive. Remember that you want your jewelry photographs always to look professional and highlight the piece being showcased. Most props only serve to confuse and divert the audience.
Rework Your Camera’s White Balance Settings
Not paying attention to your white balance is a major faux pas while practicing what you’ve learned on how to photograph jewelry for Etsy. It is essential to capture accurate colors when shooting jewelry for marketing and documentation purposes. For example, don’t upload photos of silver rings that make them look like gold or vice versa!
Make sure the jewelry in your photographs accurately reflects its actual color by adjusting the white balance manually. A gray card can help you adjust the white balance in your camera to the lighting conditions you’re shooting in. In addition, shooting in RAW allows for white balance to be adjusted in post-processing with minimal impact on image quality.
Give Customers Enough Photos
When you click on them from the category page, it is frustrating for customers to find that there are no additional product images. Possibly the client preferred the overhead shot of the necklace but wanted a close-up of the engraving. Again, it’s best to provide what customers need.
You’ve gone through the trouble of setting up everything, and going the extra mile for your customers will produce the best results. Convert potential customers into loyal customers by displaying your jewelry in all its glory. Taking as many photographs of your product as possible will increase sales.
Use Flash Wisely
Expert photographers have always recommended using natural light, even when photographing jewelry. For a more polished product, however, a more controlled lighting setup achieved with off-camera flashes is recommended. Note this as you continue learning how to photograph jewelry for Etsy.
Whatever you choose, make sure it can produce diffuse, even light to eliminate as much shadow as possible.
Making the most of your existing light sources, like reflectors, cones, or light boxes, will enhance your lighting setup. Additionally, please turn off any other lights that aren’t necessary. It’s also not a good idea to combine sources with different color temperatures.
Study and Work with Reflection and Light
Because of the high reflective properties of gemstones and metals, the jewelry will likely reflect the wearer and the camera’s surroundings, which is undesirable.
Getting rid of reflections in jewelry requires some trial and error. To avoid distracting reflections and direct more light toward your subject, try placing a piece of paper around and at the bottom of your camera lens.
There is no need for a pricy installation. Instead, use a diffused overhead light on each side to illuminate the product evenly without creating hotspots, and raise the camera (on a tripod) to shoot downward at the item.
Pick a Great Setting for Your Jewelry Photos
There is, of course, no harm in trying something new with your look. You have complete freedom to spice up your shot however you like. Just remember that if there are too many things going on in the picture, it will detract from the jewelry’s beauty.
When taking photographs, it’s best to keep things basic and pay attention to how the foreground, middle ground, and background interact.
Study Complementary Colors
Displaying your jewelry on visually interesting and colored backgrounds can help you create striking and alluring images by emphasizing the contrast between the two. Try out different color combinations and see what you can create with your jewelry.
If you want your products to stand out, try using a solid color or multiple shades of the same color. However, remember that too many different tones can confuse the eye and draw focus away from your intended subject.
Poor Photo Editing
A poorly edited photo is one of the quickest ways to lose a customer. Customer confidence in a product is undermined when they see a photo that looks and feels fake. Either put in the time to master programs like Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop or pay someone who already has.
You should edit your product photos and make templates to ensure uniform cropping, margins, and alignment. Maintaining uniformity is essential. Hiring a post-production processing service or company is a good option if you don’t have the expertise or time to edit your images.
Clean All Your Jewelry Before Photographing
Making sure your jewelry is spotless before photographing it is essential. The magnified, high-detail images from your digital camera will reveal details that were not visible to the naked eye.
If your props don’t need deep cleaning, you only need a damp cotton or microfiber cloth to remove dust and restore shine before the shoot. Cotton gloves can also prevent fingerprints from showing every time they are handled.
Always Shoot with Focus and Accuracy
Most of the time, you’ll want to use Auto Focus on the jewelry that is the focal point, like a diamond or a charm on a bracelet. Close-ups are great for catching details, but you should still double-check the focus by reviewing the image and enlarging it later. When in doubt, refocus, double-check, and secure.
Make sure you have some winning shots where the entire piece of jewelry is in focus before you call it a day. This is also useful if you’re photographing the jewelry for a catalog and have only a few shots to capture its intricate details. While this may seem impossible, even with a considerable depth of field, it is possible with focus stacking. Using this method, you can take multiple pictures of your jewelry, each with a specific piece in clear focus, and then combine them into one clear picture.