Jewelry photography tips

(32 votes)

What you Need to Know about Jewelry Photography

Whether you are just looking to sell some family heirlooms on E-Bay or you are starting your own artisan crafted necklace business, you will want to know something about jewelry photography if you really want to make a buck.  You could, of course, look to hire a professional photographer to take care of your jewellery photography, but unless you really have money to burn like few of us do, this is really not a viable.

(A quick note before I move on.  You may notice that I sometimes spell jewelry in the British way, as in “jewellery photography”.  This is not carelessness on my part.  I just want to make our British friends over the Pond feel equally welcome perusing our photography video lessons here at


What Makes Jewelry Photography So Difficult

The photography of jewelry is a difficult challenge, of course and you may be apprehensive about photographing jewellery by yourself.  Even if you are pretty good at other types of photography, you may find jewellery photography to be a little bit more of a challenge.  The first difficulty, of course, is that in order to make a professional looking jewelry photo you must first deal with the tiny sizes of most jewelry.

Unlike the photography of live subjects or landscapes, jewelry photography requires you to get amazingly close to your subject.  So close, in fact, that most cameras will not be able to normally adjust to the object in their foreground.  In fact, when you photograph jewelry, the auto settings on a digital camera will ensure that you fail to get a proper picture.


Macro Photography: Jewellery photography is mostly categorized under the general category of “macro photography.”  Macro photography is photography of tiny objects.  Macro, of course, comes from the Greek word for “large” or “long,” which may seem counter intuitive--Why would taking photos of tiny objects be called “large photography”?—but actually is not, if you consider what taking photos of tiny things does to tiny things: it makes them large.

Regardless of what it is called, Macro Photography—including photographing jewelry—is more difficult than regular photography and requires you to know a bit about how cameras and photography work.

Camera Requirements for Jewelry Photography

To create a professional looking jewelry photo, you will have to have a camera that is capable of Macro Photography and you will have to know how to use it.  Not all cameras are capable of Macro Photography, but it is possible to get a mid-level camera that shoots professional looking pictures of jewelry.  Before you do however, you should check your camera.  It may have the functions you need.

Also, before I move on, I should mention that I am assuming that you will use a digital camera for photographing jewellery, which is the standard now.  If you are very old school in terms of how you create and edit your photo jewellery, that will add extra steps if you hope to get your photos translated to a web friendly medium.

Macro Settings: In order to photograph jewelry in the high quality professional looking style that will drive visitors to buy your jewelry creations, you need to set your digital camera to its macro settings.  Not all digital cameras have these settings that make the creation of pictures of jewelry possible.  Many of the less expensive brands exclude these since their users are just looking to take regular sorts of vacation and special occasion photos, not to photograph jewellery or close-up of flowers.  If you purchase a mid-range camera however, you should have everything you need to photograph jewellery as you would like.  Just look on your camera for a tiny emblem of a flower—usually by the “Mode” button. Be sure to check before you make the investment since most entry level DSLR cameras come equipped for macro settings and thus would be more than adequate for professional quality pictures of jewelry.

Macro Lens: In addition to your camera that allows for macro settings, you will also have to switch the normal lens for a macro lens that allows you to take jewelry photos and photos of other tiny things.  Just as a wide angle lens lets the camera take in a larger panorama of light, macro lenses are especially designed to take in the miniature details necessary for capturing highly detailed jewelry photos. Both Nikon and Canon make macro lens that will allow you to photography jewellery in an attractive manner and which are reasonably priced and easy to find. But you really can’t go wrong with a macro lens—most any one you buy that gives you 200 mm capability should be more than adequate for the photography of jewelry.  Just avoid “macro zoom” lenses or “micro” lenses, as they do not actually give you the kind of macro capabilities required for photographing jewelry.


Other Camera Accessories: Beyond having a camera with macro settings and a macro lens, you should have a tripod for photographing jewelry.  Often you will not actually use a tripod in jewelry photography, but you do not want to be holding the camera in your hand.  When you photography jewelry, the shutter needs a longer exposure in order to capture the full detail of the jewelry and the tiniest of tremors will blur the photo, so you should always set your camera on a stable surface such as a table.  (Table tops are actually one of the preferred shooting surfaces for professional jewelry photography.  You can find a full inventory of the kinds of accessories necessary to photograph jewelry in ImagingPrep’s photography video lessons.)

Other Equipment for Photographing Jewellery

Lights: Jewelry photography, like all photography, is about capturing light.  As the old jewellery photography maxim goes: “Good light in, good light out.”  The key to great jewelry photography is to get balanced light on your piece. Typically, two kinds of lights are used for capturing jewelry photos:

Continuous LED lighting: This will create a steady form of light that allows you to light your piece in a balanced manner that increases the chances of getting awe-inspiring photo jewellery.

Sparklers: Photographers use sparkler lights to photograph jewelry with faceted gemstones.  Sparklers are the lights that create those stunning twinkles you see in diamonds and other faceted stones. (ImagingPrep also offers you a powerful set of photography video lessons focused on lighting.)


Light Box: Many self-described jewelry photography experts will claim that you do not need a light box to photograph jewellery.  They claim that you can just use regular daylight or the natural lighting you have in your home and then just use any table top in your home for your jewelry photography.  You can get some good shots this way, but if you want to get the high quality shots that have a chance at competing with professional jewelry photography, you need to take extra steps to do so.

For this reason a light box is a must in the photography of jewelry. A light box—sometimes called a light tent when the walls are cloth—is exactly what it sounds like.  It is a box that shuts out other lights and lets you even out the light within the space so that you can create the perfect conditions for creating stunning photo jewellery.  The light box—your best friend when it comes to creating pictures of jewerly--is typically made with white walls that will diffuse lights mounted on the exterior or “bounce” lights mounted from the interior.  The idea is to create a photo jewelry space that will create as few shadows and as little glare as possible.  For professional jewelry photography, it is a must.

Most jewelry photography professionals make their own light boxes, though you can also buy them.  ImagingPrep offers a kit especially designed for creating professional quality pictures of jewelry that includes not only the light box but some other goodies as well.

Bouncers, Blockers and Diffusers: Jewelry photography also requires light to be manipulated in a series of ways.  To photograph jewellery like the pros you will also need a number of surfaces that can be placed to block light, reflect light so that it doesn’t cause glare, or act like a sieve.

Propping Tools: Photographing jewellery also requires you to use everything from wire and string to v-shaped boards or wax to prop items for the perfect photo.  To photograph jewellery in a professional way, you need to look for new and creative ways to prop items during shoots, keeping in mind that you will be able to PhotoShop out the prop out in many cases.

Misc. Jewellery Photography Equipment: In addition to what I have mentioned so far there are a number of other bits of equipment for photographing jewellery, from light clamps and mounts to swatches of cloth to use either as backgrounds or mounting surfaces.

Of course, jewelry photography usually involves the highly controlled environment of the photographic studio.  It is in the studio that all of the uncontrollable elements are pushed aside and the photographer is left alone with the colorful gems of his subject.

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Using the Equipment: ImagingPrep’s Jewelry Photography Tutorial Series

Even after you have all of this equipment, using it effectively is not all that easy.  It takes work to figure out exactly how to prop and light jewelry so that you get those stunning photos that make people “Uhhh” and “Ahhh” and pull out their credit cards.

That is where Imagining Prep comes in.  Our jewelry photography tutorial packages will teach you everything from how to improvise equipment to how to fix problems that may keep your photos from having that “pop” the pros get.  Here is an overview of jewelry photography videos you will find inside:

Set-Up for Creating Classic White Background Jewellery Photography: This fundamental tutorial goes from the basics of setting up the light box to the final steps of the editing process, and shows you how to set up one of the most classic shots in the photography of jewelry, including how you use diffusion screens, bounces and deflectors so that you can get the kind of sleek look that high end professional jewelry photography houses get.  If you only watched this tutorial and ordered the Still Life Photo Kit that it demonstrates, this, in and of itself, would give you enough knowledge to produce all of your other jewelry photos.


Tips for Buying Photography Equipment: This is one of the many comprehensive tutorials that gives you the kind of practical information you need for the professional photography of jewelry.  The tutorial explains the uses of the full complement of photography equipment from cameras, to surfaces to bounces—along with some tips for finding inexpensive alternatives that do the job equally well.  Basically, it is a buyer’s guide to all the stuff you’ll need to create professional looking jewelry photography.

Shutter Speed and Aperture Setting Series: If you want to get nitty gritty about one aspect of jewelry photography, this is definitely the video for you.  Our instructor covers the differences in settings between ISO, aperture and shutter speed, explaining how these differences affect the final jewelry photo that you get.  This tutorial will help you get a better sense about how to make photo jewelry seem crisp and beautiful or soft and warm.

Propping Techniques: Another aspect of the jewelry photography tutorials is that that they lend you support at every stage of your jewellery photography.  On this tutorial, our experienced instructor reveals all the tricks of propping your jewelry so that you can create the kind of dramatically choreographed jewelry photography that the pros use to draw viewers right into the photo.

Jewelry Photography Lighting: ImagingPrep knows that nothing is more important to photographing jewelry than getting the lighting right.  For that reason not only do we discuss lighting in virtually every jewelry photography tutorial, we also present you with a special grouping of jewelry photography videos dedicated specifically to lighting and dealing with lighting problems both during shoots and in PhotoShop.


Fashion Photography for Print: One of our favorite videos helps you to think about how to create print ads by minutely dissecting one ad and explaining how each aspect of the ad, from the black and white photography to the choice of text, was chosen in order to show how photo jewelry for print ads is conceived and executed in the real world.  The video is structured as 10 questions so that it is easy and interesting to follow, and is explained by the ad’s creator so that you get a real insider’s view of how the pros think about jewelry photography.

Gemstones and Diamond Jewelry Photography Tutorials: ImagingPrep also offers you a series of jewelry photography tutorials that are stone specific since we know that different kinds of stones offer different challenges for capturing professional quality jewelry photos.  For diamonds, for example, the challenge is to lure out the sparkling transparency of the faceted stones, while emeralds and other more colorful stones require a different kind approach.  Un-faceted gemstones—cabochon cut gems—on the other hand, with their deceivingly simple looking faces are equally challenging because they require a completely different kind of lighting.  Creating eye-popping jewelry photos of pearls presents a unique set of challenges, as well, because the whiteness of pearls makes them particularly difficult to render.  Our jewelry photography tutorials help you master the techniques the pros use to make appealing photos of every type of gemstone from hematite to diamond.


Individual Jewelry Photography Tutorial for Watches and Bracelets: ImagingPrep also knows that photographing jewelry pieces like luxury watches or gemstone highlighted bracelets create their own unique challenges because of the complexity of the these pieces.  To create professional jewelry photography for these items, the photographer must take into account faces, settings and the symmetry of bands—all of which make it difficult to capture the one perfect jewelry photo.  In order to overcome these problems, we show you the PhotoShopping techniques that allow you to pick and choose from your best sections and the tricks the pros use to create symmetry where it may not exist in the real world.

Photographing Jewelry against a Black Background: Perhaps one of the best ways to create a professional looking jewelry photo is to photograph jewelry against a black background, by coating your light box in black.  The tutorial gives you all the jewelry photography tricks of the trade to show you how to carry off this relatively simple though astonishingly successful staging strategy.

PhotoShopping Photo Jewellery for Background and Shadow: One of the very most fundamental operations you will use is PhotoShop for matching shadows and light direction of all the cropped items of your jewelry photo so that the entire composition has a logical unity of concept.  Like the other lighting lessons this tutorial teaches you one of the most useful and commonly used skills in jewelry photography.

Creating the “Tiffany” Effect: No jewelry presentation has been more effective than that of the jeweler Tiffany’s.  We devote a jewelry photography and editing series of tutorials to showing you how you can create this effect for your own jewelry photography.

PhotoShopping Jewelry onto Models: Can’t afford to hire an expensive fashion model for a shoot displaying your jewelry?  Don’t let that stop you from creating professional jewelry photography: just purchase much less expensive stock photos of stunning models and then PhotoShop your jewelry right onto them.  Perhaps one of most powerful jewelry photography tutorials, this video shows you how to use the various tools PhotoShop gives you in order to create an image so life like that people would not believe you if you told them the model never wore the jewelry for the shoot.

Before and After:


3-D Jewelry Photography: One of the stunning photo jewelry effects ImagingPrep will help you to begin mastering is the creation of photos from a combination of loose stones and stock settings so that you can—in effect—visualize what a stone will look like in a particular setting without actually physically creating this stone.  This jewelry photography trick of the trade gives you amazing flexibility in terms of inventory and display.

Photography Video Lessons: But our lessons don’t just end at static pictures of jewelry.  We also offer a tutorial on how to take slick professional moving images of jewelry and edit them for length and for fluidity.  This amazing series of lessons takes you right to the cutting edge of jewelry promotion, showing you a technology that is now affordable even for smaller dealers.  Definitely the kind of jewelry photography lesson that could give you an edge in the increasingly competitive jewelry market.

ImagingPrep Articles: In addition to the jewelry photography tutorial videos, Imagining Prep also offers you how-to articles that cover a number of topics that work best in article format or that summarize tutorials in written form. For example, the Illustrated Set-Up Guide offers you a step-by-step tutorial explaining how to set-up the equipment at your photo shoot in order to get the best results from your jewelry photography session.

Helpful Stock Photos and Accessories: You will also find several helpful extras, like stock photos of jewelry chains and textured backgrounds which, once you become a member, you are welcome to download and PhotoShop into your jewelry photography as you see fit.

Jewelry Photography for Advertisements and E-Catalogs: Finally, we bring light to the process by which you photograph jewellery for ads and catalogs and then use PhotoShop to create the actual ads yourself.  No need to hire an expensive advertising firm that will break you bank, you can now use your own professional jewelry photography to create slick, attractive advertisements on your own.

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Why Do I Need Such a Professional Look?

You may think that because you are just a small operation, that you do not need to have photo jewellery that looks so professional.  I want to argue however, that in fact, you need it just as much—especially if you have your own website.  Here are the reasons why:

Attractive Jewelry Photos Increase the Chances of Impulse Buys: When a customer sees photo jewellery that is shot beautifully, like Tiffany’s jewellery is, it increases the chances they will feel like they must have the piece.  The beauty of the soft-toned Tiffany shot; the elegance of a bracelet on a sexy, sophisticated model; or the sophisticated simplicity of a necklace seeming to float in an ebony field—any of these techniques can push customers to feel like they must have the piece and to pull out their credit card and to get it.

Customers Don’t Differentiate Between a Dull Jewelry Photos and Dull Jewelry: Even though they know that the jewelry photo does not always represent the jewelry accurately, they will still use the photo to judge the jewelry.  If your photo does make the diamonds sparkle, the silver shine, and the gemstones gleam, many customers will simply assume there was no sparkle, shine or gleam to the photographed jewelry.  As the saying goes, "seeing is believing".

Customers Like to See What they Are Buying: Having good jewelry photos and plenty of them is just an expectation now.  Customers like to get a good view of what they are buying and it is no longer just enough to give them a vague idea by showing them a similar piece.  Customers want your jewelry photography to show them multiple angles and colors.

For this reason you should look into offering them as much detail as possible from creating multiple shots to having video on your site.

Professionalism: Because customers on the web cannot handle the pieces themselves, they are forced to rely on the jewelry photo you give them.  If they feel you have not given much thought to the jewelry photo, they will worry that you have not given much thought to your business and that you care just as little about your customers.

Trust: Along the same lines, one of the main problems you will need to address as a smaller, lesser known dealer is the problem of trust.  Many internet users worry about giving out their credit card information online because they really do not have a sense of where it is going.  If you photography jewelry in a way they find slopping or shoddy, it helps reinforce the notion that you are somehow illegitimate, because they say to themselves, “If they can’t even bother to photograph jewellery properly, how do I know they aren’t just a shady website that is just stealing people’s credit card information until they get caught.”

It is the same as if you walk into someone’s place of business and notice that the paint is peeling or the trash is overflowing.  Their business may have nothing to do with cleanliness or order, but a lack of order creates a feeling of unease. When you do not strive to present your jewelry photography in the most professional way possible, you just add to customer’s nervousness, thus driving away business.

Artistic Sensibility: The jewelry business is not like the insurance business.  The pictures of jewelry you present are not just about moving product.  Especially if you are the original creator of the jewelry pieces, clients expect that you will have an artistic temperament.  If they see no sign of this artistic temperament in the jewelry photography on your website, they will start to wonder whether it is missing in the pieces themselves.

For this reason, if you are a jewelry creator you should be as meticulous about the way you photograph jewellery as you are about how the gemstones are set or the cabochons are polished.  If you notice some glare on the photo jewelry for your website or store brochure, you should be just as insistent about removing it as you would be if you saw a smudge on the actual piece.  These tiny imperfections that happen in the photography of jewelry are like little tests of you aesthetic sensibility; the more of them you allow to remain, the less clearly customers will be able to see through the failures of in your jewelry photography to the beauty of your jewelry itself.


If You Don’t Your Competitors Will: The technology for photographing jewellery at the professional level is no longer priced out of the range of mid-level or even ground level jewelry sellers.  Regardless of whether you go ahead with creating top-notch jewellery photography, your competitors will.  And if you do not have professional looking jewelry photography on your site and your competitor does, who do you think customers will choose? Creating professional jewelry photography is no longer just an option; it is now at the heart of jewelry game.

ImagingPrep: Watch, Learn, Do

The answer then, is easy.  ImagingPrep offers you the tools you need to compete in the increasingly competitive jewelry business.  Our photography video lessons teach you the hands-on, practical skills that help you capture the beauty of your jewelry pieces on film and then to take these pieces of photo jewelry and use them to make web images, print/cyber ads, catalogues and even print brochures should you choose to.

Learning these skills is like buying your own personal ad agency that you can call up at any moment to create new ads or revamp old ones.  Each and every jewelry photography tutorial gives you the fundamental tools and techniques that you could only get as a visual arts major at a college, but ImagingPrep does it better because our tutorials are focused on jewelry photography, are much less expensive than any college, and are ready for you whenever you need them by just logging onto a computer.

Put simply, if you are in the jewelry business and don’t know how to photograph jewelry in way that drives your customers to buy your jewelry, then ImagingPrep can help you.

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The Ethics of Photoshop & How I Use It

(5 votes)

Why have shadows?

Shadows translate weight of on object into something we can visually understand and process. Shadows provide a visual que for parts of an object out of our visual range AS WELL. Is someone following me? My shadow reaches 30 ft infront of me and I dont see any other shadows, so no one can be behind me...SAME concept.

A shadow is also a canvas that is needed to show reflections. What is a reflection? Simply light bouncing from the piece onto the surface. If your piece is yellow gold, it will reflect the yellow spectrum of light best and you'll get a translation in color, as well as light.

Fake shadow? is that wrong?

We are only creating images. Fake feels like a "bad" word and that doesn't jive with me. I make images, I don't provide a visual rendering to the same exacting measure of a CAD designer. Nor, do I make images for the same purpose. I make visual eye candy from my vision of how I want to make that image...the photography, retouching, lighting, and all other aspects are ONLY and ONLY (again) exist as part of MY process that brings my image to fruition.

There will never be a "right" way to do things. We progress with everything we produce. I like the quote by Lil Wayne in an interview with Katie Couric (I get inspiration wherever I find it :), "I try to be good everyday and one day I hope I'll be great". Progress is inevitable....that's the idea that I like. Here's an ad from Sears, the pioneer of the catalog retail market. ALL HAND DRAWN...and it worked, and evolved. So I say we celebrate the tools available to us and not get caught up in the process, but with the big make or break: bringing your wants and visions to fruition.

What does Photoshop enable you to do SLOWER?

With the nature of jewelry, often there is not enough time to have multiple sets built throughout a days shoot from which distribution of the image varies from web, e-commerce, or print advertisements. So having Photoshop available with no location or time limitations, you can work on the image until you get it right.

How to match the falling of light

Rules of light falling directly relate to your light source. Moreover, the degree at which your light source directs light. The smaller the angle covered (narrow beam), the more the shadow will have direction. You are not limited to one direction either. Just like in sports arenas with hard lighting, players have shadows coming off them at all angles.

Ideally, for the benefit of being able to mix and match images from a collection, or do be able to display images all together with the same feel, even lighting that has no direction is best.

...having that means that you also will have even tones in the jewelry...a plus for continuity.

Success comes from consistent delivery, consistency comes from a good process, process develops with practice, practice comes with failure, failure comes with knowing what you want, and knowing is half the battle...and that's why G.I. Joe was the only show I watched as a kid! I read into it...I got it... and nothing can start without that. So know what you want and execute.

How to match the exposure of the shadow (levels) to the piece

You simply need the SAME distribution of tones. If your piece is not tonally correct (on purpose) and a little on the light side, your shadow might have little or NO true BLACK BLACK (what I call an area that is #000000 on your color sampler. Likewise, you might have more mid-tones slowly going higher to a pure white (#ffffff is you sample it) on your histogram.

If your piece is exposed with a levels distribution that is more correct (unlit outside reflections reflect as BLACK BLACK and not anything lighter), You will also look for highlights to be measurably distributed across a chosen area. This approach (a good one to keep everything consistent...more rules, less testing tweaking, thinking) lends for the need of a shadow that has an obvious black cast in the darkest area (MATCHING the RULES of the PIECE....that's IT!!!). The same go for highlights. I don't want the shadow to fall BEYOND areas that it should, so those areas should show up ALL white when I use my histogram to balance them.


(10 votes)


I just put up a NEW VIDEO...

This video will give you ways to offer MUCH MORE to a client if you are a photographer, and MUCH MORE to your customer, if you are a retailer.

I heard a company boast that the only way you could get photorealistic renderings and that "you can't do this in Photoshop" without spending $2000 to buy their software, I was all riled up to prove them wrong...b/c I knew IT WAS NOT TRUE...AND to be able to give you something that will transform you business and kick it up the next level.

After many long hours of experimentation and testing, I developed a  process that's easy, fast, and works great.

I also include a PSD file of the image we created in this lesson with the layers intact and labeled to open on your own computer. This truly fantastic process will transform how you work. It's APPLICATION IS HUGE!!!, especially when you are making a rendering  to present to a BUYER!!

This is an especially useful technique you can't beat if you sell jewelry online. Don't wait for a vendor to supply an image of something generic. Now you can create images using these photorealistic rendering techniques whenever you want...AND create an entire new line and process just the fulfillment of that item.

For example, maybe you sell white tag jewelry and inventory is available on demand from your vendors (ie. How Blue Nile operates). Now you can sell on spec too, and put together the piece for the customer. It’s really pretty wild if you do it right.

NOTE: If you are a diamond seller, you can create literally THOUSANDS of new styles to offer your online customers.


Let's do the math... If you photograph 12 birthstones, in 6 different shapes each, 5 different carat weights, and render 5 different birthstone stud setting types, you can add 1800 pieces to your catalog! That's 1800 product pages for Google too!

And that's ONLY ONE METAL COLOR AND TYPE. Create one version in white and one in yellow and you have 3,600 pieces... Add solitaire jewelry and you have 7200 new products you can add with one seamless process using only 72 birthstone images and this technique. Too good to be true? Not if you do it right!


2 Year Site Anniversary and New Site Launch!

(11 votes)

Time flies. A lot has been put into the the last 2 years. New ideas, and new tools are now available/have been healthily incubated and are ready for delivery to you: the NEW ImagingPrep user base. For starters, we are happy to have such a niche (the Jewelry industry), which I, Aryeh, am very happy to have been and continue to be a part of. Their is no greater community of driven, honest, hard working, and caring peers, amongst whom which I feel lucky to be working. So...thank you for that.

Second, as I moved on in directing the brand of ImagingPrep and to what scale and depth we want to deliver in 2010, a lot came to mind...I say, "it is better to sift through opportunity, than seek chance.", but, sometimes the wealth of tools and fun ones too boot, can be a bit much. We hacked the ideas to pieces, put them back together, and then rinsed and repeated maybe 10X. Here's what we came out with and what we are launching going into 2010:

1A whole new crispy site design!

2On-site ticket more emailing needed!

3New lessons!

4New Blog!

Those are a few things...more is coming too!

That being said, any comments are appreciated. The more we know about you, the better we can serve!

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