As much fun as jewelry photography is, it can be a surprisingly complicated shoot! Despite not moving, jewelry is reflective and very detail-oriented. This opens the door for a number of crucial jewelry photography mistakes.
Here is our guide to the top twelve most common jewelry photography mistakes, and how to avoid them!
12. Using Distortion Lenses
The top mistake made by jewelry photographer is using the wrong lens. When you photograph a product of any kind, your key objective should be keeping a representation of the product as true to the life version as possible.
As such, you don’t want any form of perspective warping in your images.
It may seem more logical to use a wide angle lens so that you can expand upon the tiny details, but unfortunately this doesn’t work for product photography. Stick with standard lenses!
Standard lenses produce an image that roughly matches what the human eye sees. The image looks natural to the viewer. They have an angle of view of around 50 to 55 degrees diagonally.
11. Mind Your Reflections
Jewelry (and any reflective or shiny product for that matter), is hard to photograph. Reflective surfaces will bounce light around in annoying ways, mess with your lighting set up, and cause reflections.
You don’t want a reflection of your gear or lights as a distraction! Nothing looks worse than a gorgeous emerald ring with a camera lens reflection right in the centre.
Pay attention to reflections and prepare to move lights around a hundred ways until you find the perfect configuration. Otherwise, you’ll be sitting in the editing room removing all those pesky reflections.
My tip would be to use a ring light. These are brilliant for jewelry photography because they light the rim of the object and can make it easier to hide reflections.
10. Inaccurate Lighting or White Balance
Accurate colours are extremely important in any type of product photography. For the same reason you don’t want to use any distortion lenses, you don’t want to muck around with the colours.
Many customers purchase products based on the colours showcased by your product photography. You don’t want disappointed clients if the product(s) they receive don’t match up.
It is true that everyone’s screen (whether it be phone, computer, television, etc.) are all colour calibrated differently, but there is still a base line to follow.
Make sure that you use bulbs and flashes / strobes that have a true white light exuding from them. Usually this is labeled as “photography toned bulb”.
Basically, true white light will not cause any sort of colour cast, such as the blue or green of a fluorescent or the orange of a warm light. The result will be more correct colour.
As for white balance, check your settings and make sure you adjust according to the lighting you are using. Keep your light consistent and you won’t have to keep changing your white balance!
9. Don’t Overcomplicate Your Frame
As artists, it is always tempting to make images a bit more complicated than they have to be. The key is to know when to dial back and not make the photography too busy.
Don’t make the story-telling elements of your image too overwhelming, keep the frame fairly simple. Remember, you’re selling jewelry!
8. Too Shallow a Depth of Field
For e-commerce photography, you’ll generally want a deeper depth of field so that you can capture the jewelry piece entirely in focus. The deeper depth of field also brings out the intricate details sharply as well. I suggest an f/8.
However, if you’re doing more detail shots, you can use a shallow depth of field to highlight the detail you want to focus on and let the rest melt away into a creamy bokeh.
That being said, the most common problem is using a shallow depth of field exclusively or at inappropriate times. Remember, shallow depth of field is for detail shots, not the whole product!
7. Forgetting About the Detail Shots
Sometimes we get so focused on the bigger picture that we forget that the details are equally important. Don’t skip out on those detail shots- the intricacies of jewelry is what is so heavily admired.
Don’t rely on your client to remind you of this either! For each piece, I suggest taking details of all sides (including top and bottom).
6. Smudges or Dust on Products
Likely one of the most common mistakes, not cleaning the jewelry before photographing it is quite the rookie mistake.
Editing smudges in post processing can be very difficult and increasingly frustrating. Jewelry is small and has many fine details to work around.
Just be mindful of how the pieces look under your lighting units. Always have a cleaning cloth with you, and wear gloves when handling jewelry to prevent finger marks.
5. Soft Not Sharp Images
How sharp a subject appears is a matter of two things: the focus the camera captures and the amount of contrast on your subject. Our vision naturally detects edges to register sharpness, and shadows and highlights in order to record the depth in a subject.
Proper lighting aids significantly in making your images look sharp. The other factor in an image being sharp is, of course, the focus.
Ensuring that your subject is in focus using the aforementioned techniques, combined with great lighting, will make certain that your images come out sharp.
Images that are soft or fuzzy won’t sell very well.
4. Not Spending Enough Time on Post Processing
Because jewelry photography is so detail oriented, sloppy post processing work just won’t fly. Make sure that your Photoshop work is on-point, no colour mistakes, lack of cloning, or stickering!
It’s also a good idea to view the photograph on a variety of different screens to see if any mistakes pop up anywhere.
3. Wrong Colour Mode (SRGB vs CMYK)
Sometimes colour accuracy isn’t due to your camera – it’s due to the colour mode. There are two types of colour modes – CMYK and SRGB. CMYK is used for printing and SRGB is for online use.
Both of these change the colours slightly depending on the purpose of the mode. For online use, make sure your images are converted to SRGB!
2. Forgetting About Composition
Even though most jewelry photography features just a ring or necklace on a white background, composition is still important. Simple shots don’t mean slacking on your compositional rules.
Keep the Rule of Thirds and Golden Ratio in mind when photographing jewelry. Make sure your images are centred, or at the least, heavily skewed.
1. Allowing Hard Shadows in the Photo
With e-commerce photography (such as eBay, Amazon, etc.) the requirement is a product shot on a seamless white background. If there are hard shadows, the images will not be accepted.
Editing the shadows out in post processing can be a massive pain! A very easy way to fix this is to have a light above the jewelry product that eliminates the shadows.
Bonus: Product Is too Small in the Image
Sometimes the problem is that the shot was taken from too far out. Most clients won’t notice this initially, only when they upload it to their online store.
Remember that the jewelry has to be fairly large in a shot in order to showcase the details. If this happens to you, just quickly crop in! Problem solved.
The product photography industry is heavily saturated with a slew of photographers vying for the same niche. Avoiding these mistakes can put you ahead of the masses.