Photographing jewelry isn’t as easy as it sounds until the photographer understands and masters the keys to taking great pictures of the jewelry pieces taking into consideration: sharpness, lighting, and exposure, and how to adjust them in each situation to achieve the best photos possible
Unfortunately, it’s not much said about the people behind the beautiful jewelry pictures that we see in jewelry books, magazines, etc.
One of the biggest names that you are going to find related to this topic is the jewelry photographer Thomas Lagrange: “Born and raised in France, studied photography at California’s well-renowned Art Center. Soon after, he began his career in advertising and worked as an art director in Paris. Continually shooting his photographs, he inevitably landed his first editorial commission for Vogue Hommes. Since then, Thomas has worked for French, Japanese, Russian, and Chinese Vogue. He has shot advertising campaigns for, among others: Louis Vuitton, Chloe Fragrance, Miu Miu and Bally”. www.totalworld.us/photographers.
Sadly this is an area that gemologist and curators take for granted in jewelry. Let’s try not to do it again!! Who are these people that have visions about jewelry, that can project jewelry in different ways? independently of the factors that already affect jewelry when is displayed: surfaces, balance, lights, reflections, background, and how clean the jewelry pieces are.
Who are the ones trying to project the best angle from the art? Today is Thomas Lagrange, but I will talk about other names whose work we take for granted, and not for anything bad… is just that we don’t stop to think about them. Thomas Lagrange, evidently is a great photographer but furthermore, I like his energetic, forceful, vigorous and pushy and SMART, style that he has for jewel photography; putting the jewelry in daily routines like eating or walking the dog, meaning that he takes pictures of the jewelry forming part of our body language. That is genius!! Love the details of the manicure in the picture of the bottle. Is far from the tenderness, sweet and delicate position where jewelry is usually placed, nothing wrong with that, I enjoy it too. But this is more fun, let’s accept it!! and nothing wrong with that either!! Next time I will eat my hamburger with my jewelry and that attitude!!
But again it doesn’t matter the genius if we can not appreciate his work. Jewelry photography is something that we don’t consider when seeing jewelry. Paul Hartley is a professional photographer from London with over twenty-five years of experience shooting jewelry. “Sharpness and depth of field, Using Photoshop to correct flaws in the jewelry but not so much that the picture becomes a lie, and color are the most challenging aspect of his work”. Art. The mastery of jewelry photography: Paul Hartley. Photography Office. December 15, 2011. Bogdan Florin.
When you see his pictures, is clear that his style is very simple and elegant where the only character is the jewel. I enjoy the backgrounds that he uses, normally are plain colors or a topic related to the jewel. Like the photography of the pearl with the bubbles, or the watch on the newspaper. It shows a lot of thought, an extensive vocabulary, flexibility, and great capacity for connecting concepts and put it in one shot around one topic, that it’s: a luxury item, something desirable, that doesn’t necessarily connect with everybody. A very difficult concept to develop, maintain, hold it and sell it. What does this mean? well, how you can expose emotions from diamond earrings or any jewel, build storytelling for one look? in his compositions we don’t see people, just light; his work is amazing. We could say: well at least engagement rings are easy!! What about this? How we can expose a very well-known topic again and again in different ways, with one objective: keep the interest and more in this days.
It’s said that “God it’s in the Details”. It takes a person of massive analysis and genuine obsession for details. Obsession, the most important ingredient for creativity! You can ask any artist involved in the many aspects of jewelry.
Do you want to try a Jewelry Photograph yourself?
This is what we do when we are Displaying Jewelry that are the same step as well when you are taking a Jewelry Picture:
• First: Choose the Right Surfaces for your Jewel:
Try placing the jewelry piece on top of a wooden table, a plain white or reflective surface, or simply zoom in on key features to exclude the rest of the object while you use a wide aperture to blur out the background.
• Second: Adjust White Balance Settings for your Jewel.
One of the biggest mistakes that you can make when photographing jewelry is not being aware of your white balance settings. When shooting jewelry for documentation and sales, you must capture accurate colors in your images. You wouldn’t want to photograph silver rings and submit them looking like gold rings and vice versa!
You can prevent this by manually adjusting the camera’s white balance until the jewelry in your photos starts looking like you are seeing them when you feel them and see them. A good tip to correct the white balance is using a gray card for your current lighting condition or shoot in RAW so you can easily adjust the white balance in post-processing maintaining the quality of your images.
• Third: Use Off-Camera Flashes
Even for jewelry, many photographers would advise that you use natural light. But for a more professional result, you’ll want to use off-camera flashes to create a more controlled lighting setup. Whatever you decide to use, what’s important is that you can create soft and even lighting to eliminate as much shadow as possible.
You can further improve your lighting setup by making the most out of your available light sources, such as reflectors or lightboxes. Finally turn off all other unnecessary light sources in the room and don’t mix different types of lighting that may produce different color temperatures.
• Fourth: Manage Reflections (a very sensitive part) from your Jewel to considerate.
Gemstones and metals are highly reflective, so you’re likely to find yourself (and your camera) reflected in the jewelry (something you don’t want).
Eliminating reflections is a trial-and-error process when it comes to jewelry. By placing paper around and at the bottom of your camera lens will help block off reflections and bounce more light back towards your subject. No need for expensive setups.
• Clean Your Jewelry (the most forgotten part)
Taking beautiful jewelry photos also means making sure that your items are clean and polished. What may not seem obvious to the naked eye will be revealed once it gets blown up in the highly detailed images taken by your digital camera.
Unless your items need some deep cleaning, you can simply remove dust and add shine to your jewels by wiping them down with soft, damp cotton or microfiber cloth before the shoot. Something that we used to do was wear cotton gloves so you don’t end up leaving fingerprint marks every time you handle them.
And finally, if you are taking a Jewelry Picture:
• Choose a Good Jewelry Photography Background (based on bibliography recommendations and not personal experience).
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being a little more creative with your styling. Just be warned that placing too many elements in your frame can distract your viewers from focusing on the beauty of the jewelry. As a general rule in photography, keep it simple and mind how the background, colors, and other elements interact with your subject.
….and keep practicing!!