Photographing jewelry is hard. You have to bring out every detail and make the images pop. Additional care is needed when handling the items. Reflections are going all over the place, which entails special care for lighting the shot. Basically, you need to take care of a lot of tiny details in order to succeed in taking the best shot.
This article will prepare you for the problems you might encounter when photographing jewelry so that you can easily overcome them and get superb pictures.
Most of the time, jewelry acts like a mirror. It will reflect whatever lies around. This mirror like quality means that you are not taking a photograph of just the jewelry alone. You are also taking the picture of its surrounding and environment (including yourself). That means that you have to find a way to hide before pressing the shutter.
You can cover the camera with a cloth or piece of paper. Make sure it matches the color of the environment. For example, if you are shooting in a yellow room. Use a yellow cloth to wrap the camera. Of course, leave a hole for the lens to pop out.
Also, you won’t be seen reflected in the jewelry, if you keep the light off the camera. Since light is needed for anything to be captured by your camera sensor, less light falloff on the camera means it won’t be seen reflected on the jewelry. Using long lenses can also help, since the farther the camera, the less likely the studio light would fall on it.
However, smaller studios would have a hard time doing it and it might be easier to use a light tent.
Photo by Solitaire Jewellery
The Light Tent
A light tent is an enclosure where you can put your subject. It serves as both the environment and the light source for the subject.
This solves the problem of reflection since the background would be pure white. However, the tip of your lens would be visible, since it must go inside the tent to take the picture. It will be barely noticeable but if you want to remove it, you can easily do it in post processing.
The light tent will provide you with good lighting. You can simply use a bare flash head as a light source. The light tent will diffuse the light, to produce an effect similar to a soft box, but in a smaller scale. And, we all know that soft boxes produce those smooth and even tones which are good for photographing jewelry.
As with any other kind of photography, light plays a major role in your final output. You need to make your jewelry beautiful by using the proper light.
The softness or harshness of light will affect the photos you take. Flat lighting won’t do you any good. Various intensities of light are needed to make your images pop.
If using a single light source, make sure to diffuse it and to bring it at an angle that would show the jewelry’s sparkle and shine. Use reflectors to shine specific areas of an image. A small mirror would do you good.
If you have access to more lights, the same concept can be applied. Have one main light, and use the other lights to bring out the details in the image.
Fingerprints and dust are your most common enemies when shooting jewelry. Prepare a dust free environment, as much as possible. Clean the room and wipe off the dust. Removing dust in post processing is not a fun thing to do.
When positioning the jewelry, use a glove to avoid fingerprints. And make sure your subject is spotless before taking the shot. Better do it right during the shoot than fix it in post processing.
Apply your basic photography knowledge. F/2.8 or F/16, it is up to you. Macro or not, It all depends on you. But, if you’re going to shoot at 1x magnification or more, make sure to use a tripod. Camera shake is very evident at that distance. And lastly, let your creativity loose and have fun.
Following are some inspiring examples of jewelry photography: