How to, Sell / By Donna
/ March 22, 2021 April 29, 2021 / 5 minutes of reading
Hello Beautiful Beaders,
This week I’m talking about how to photograph your jewellery using just a phone or tablet. I’m going to give you my top tips for how to make your gorgeous work look fabulous on camera. That way you can make sure you maximise your chances of marketing and selling every last item for top dollar.
The first thing I did when starting to take pictures of my jewellery was to look at how other people did it. I went online and looked in catalogues at all kinds of places from Tiffanys to Argos. Obviously those guys use professional camera equipment but you can achieve similar results with a simple camera phone and some ingenuity.
Once I’d seen what the big boys were doing I checked out sites like Etsy and EBay, to see how the independent vendors were working. Take some time to do this and make notes, or save the photos, when you see something you like, so you can replicate it later.
Now you know how you’d like to set up your pieces you’ll need to find some suitable backdrops and props to use. Plain backdrops are better because they don’t detract from the jewellery. Sometimes it’s nice to use something textured though, like a wallpaper or tile panel. Places like B&Q and Amazon sell all kinds of panels from fretwork to faux white brick. These can be really interesting without detracting from your jewels. However if you want to ‘cut out’ your jewellery from the background when editing then stick to a plain space. It’s much easier that way – trust me I speak from experience!
If you’re not cutting your pieces out then you might wish to use some props within your designs. Props can enhance a style and elevate its value or establish a particular look and feel. For example using a velvet pad or a piece of swathed velvet can really add a luxury feel. Similarly if your jewellery is more ethnic then you might consider using a piece of driftwood or hessian. Just remember that your goal is to heighten the pieces visually and not detract from them. So avoid anything too busy or similar in colour, the key is to ensure the focus (literally) is on your designs. Here’s a couple of examples of mine:-
In this first one I set my bracelet on a wooden tube which contrasted really nicely.
When shooting for our latest subscription box I used a slightly textured background with a simple prop which I made out of focus.
You’ll notice a lot of people simply photograph things on a white background. This is usually done using a light box. You can buy a light box for reasonably low cost or make your own, like this one shown here. A light box isn’t essential but it does ensure a contained and consistent light, and reduced shadow issues. Only if you’re planning on selling professionally would I recommend getting one. Here’s an example of me using mine:-
Lighting is the key with any photos and it’s essential that you have as much natural and/or enhanced lighting as possible. No point trying to take photos in the dark with a flash, it just doesn’t work. The flash whites out important facets of your jewellery, especially with anything crystal based. It can also highlight even the tiniest piece of dust.
You’d think then that being in blazing sunshine might be the answer yes? Our survey says ‘Eh Errr’ (that means no!). Taking photos next to a sunny window, for example, causes real issues with shadows. The answer is to set up a table further back in a brightly lit room, either with natural or good artificial lighting. If the light is coming in from the side then ideally set up another light on the opposite side. This will counter act any pesky shadows.
When you have everything how you want it do some test shots to see how your camera reacts. Try seeing how close you can get before it becomes blurry. I know with iPhones for example it is better to take a shot from a little further back and then crop it closer later when editing. That way you make sure it is in focus. Having clean jewellery and in focus shots are pretty much the basics! If you find you don’t have a steady hand then you might want to get a tripod. They are pretty low cost and easy to set up. Click here for a few to consider.
Top Tip: I highly recommend is taking between 3-6 shots of each image. Back up is a beautiful thing Beaders!
Now you’ve got your shots you need to review and edit them. However careful you were with your framing you can always make them better with editing. You may be able to edit on the phone or tablet itself using either the built in edit functions or an app like Photoshop. Alternatively you can upload your photos onto a desktop computer and use something like Microsoft Paint, which is usually installed as a basic on most PCs.
The main things to consider are framing and brightness. If the platform you are selling on requires only square images (thumbnails) then use the crop tool. Use the brightening tool to lift your image even more, but be careful not to overexpose or saturate your colours. If you’re selling steam punk jewellery then consider using an antique filter on your cover shot to entice the customer to click your listing. Just make sure you have some ‘real life’ versions included as well.
If you’re after that plain, ‘cut out’ look I talked about earlier then there’s is a great free website called Remove Image Background which removes backgrounds for you without much fuss. Here’s one I made earlier with our Fern Angel kit.
So there you go, my top tips for photographing your beautiful beads! I hope it’s been useful. Please do send in your finished photos, I’d love to see if you’ve been inspired.