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Jewelry Product Photography: Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Sep 6, 2019 | Tips & Guides

Liz Kasian, Digital Marketer at Squareshot

Jewelry Product Photography is one of the most nuance-rich processes. It takes a seasoned pro to flawlessly execute on the jewelry photoshoot. But is it worth the investment? It does.

As per Statista, the luxury jewelry market worldwide is estimated at 18 bn Euros and the overall global jewelry market sits at 271 bn USD.

Temperature balance for e-commerce photographs

Image source: Statista

No pressure, though, jewelry designers out there. The perfect jewelry product photography is a reality. We have done it, tried, tested, failed and learned to succeed time after time again. We are happy to share the takeaways from years of experience photographing the golden beauties. 

Below is our take on the best practices of Jewelry product photography, dos and don’ts, as well as some personal insider comments from Squareshot’s veteran of a photo editing, Head of Production, Mitya.

Increase conversions with hi-quality jewelry photography

With 92% of surveyed respondents by a marketing guru Neil Patel confirming the visual input has the dominant role in the making of the purchasing decision, it is only natural, that product photography is a household name by now.

When it comes to jewelry, the industry is one of those rare markets, where physically small items demand a huge average check. So it is up to a product photographer to highlight all the beauty of these tiny decorative pieces in a shot or two. As we are dealing here with a high average check, every decimal in Conversion Rate’s (CR) growth means quadruple digits increase in the bottom line. 

Jewelry product photography process

Jewelry product photography, just like any other type of product photography, need some good planning. Before advancing into the shoot itself, decide on the media you are going to use the images in: a website product page, social media, magazine advertisement. This will prompt you into the next level – if you are going to do product photography, lifestyle or an editorial photoshoot.

Once those major decisions are made, the process flow is like this:

  1. find a photographer or a jewelry product photography company
  2. look for and agree upon a location for a jewelry photoshoot /photo studio, gallery, street/
  3. find & book models
  4. hire security services if necessary
  5. make a shoot list – a thorough inventory of all the items to be photographed
  6. insure your pieces of highest value if not insured yet for this occasion
  7. search for and buy or book all the props necessary for the shoot
  8. send reminders to all team and parties involved in the shoot prior to the event to ensure a smooth process
  9. shoot the pieces on the day of a booked jewelry photo session
  10. provide you recommendations for the editing process
  11. distribute the resulting jewelry images in the respective targeted media.

Jewelry product photos requirements

Requirements for jewelry product photography depend a lot on the type and purpose of the shoot. As a default setting, all images must be in high resolution, provide good angles for tiniest details to be visible, provide proper color correction and light.

E-commerce shots of product in use
E-commerce photographs of product in use

Types of jewelry product photography

There are 3 major types of jewelry product photos:

  • product photography
  • lifestyle images
  • editorial photography

Understanding the costs of jewelry product photography

As jewelry product photography is rather similar to the clothing product photography on many levels, the pricing principles are rather similar. For a detailed overview of rates and pricing for product images please refer to our exhaustive guide on the pricing of the product photography services.

In a nutshell, the major pricing factors are:

  1. Single or group object /the more the pricier/
  2. Number of images per order /the more the cheaper/
  3. Type of the photoshoot /product, lifestyle, editorial/
  4. Team /models, makeup artists, assistants/ involved
  5. Complexity /reflective surfaces, color, and material of the objects may require extra retouching/

There are many other factors to be taken into account, that are specific for jewelry photo sessions, like security services, special shipment requirements for pricier items, insurance, etc. For a basic jewelry item expect to pay from 25 dollars up to a few thousand per image in the USA.

Jewelry product photography equipment

A photographer needs the following equipment for a studio jewelry shoot:

  • camera
  • tripod
  • lighting /softbox, ring light/
  • table /for 360-degree images a rotating table is great/.

How to take jewelry product photos: insider tips and tricks

Choosing the right camera

It may sound as a surprise to a novice, but the camera is not that big a deal when we talk about jewelry photography. Specifically, for the ecommerce photos, that will be displayed in small size on a website. One can easily get away mid-level Digital Single Lens Reflex Camera, DSLR.

For lifestyle and editorial jewelry shoots, you might need to up your game with a pro camera though.

Lens

The lens is of utter importance though. It is recommended, that a standard /also referred to as “normal”/ lens is used for the job. In this case, no distortions are expected and the object looks just like it looks in real life.

The macro lens is often the choice when it comes to photographing accessories and jewelry. 

While choosing between a zoom lens and a fixed lens, the latter is the best option for jewelry product photography.

Tripod

Tripod is a must-have accessory for a shoot, that involves macro lens and will definitely save time and resources at a later stage by reducing the amount of time spent editing resulting images. 

Lighting

Lighting is important in product images due to many reasons, major of them being the reflective nature of the precious metals, polished to perfection. So for jewelry product photography, it is important a modern photo studio is commission or rented for the job with all necessary lighting equipment.

We recommend using photography toned bulbs, that provide white light for best color rendering. As for the lighting itself, either a continuous softbox or ring light handles the job well.

Common jewelry photography mistakes to be aware of

  • Poor Preparation

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”, Franklin once said. This is true for any realm, but specifically for a job as intricate and nuanced as jewelry photography.

Make sure to spend enough time and invest all the resources needed, so that on the day of the shoot itself, everything is ready for a smooth operation.

  • Reflections in jewelry images – the evil foe

Reflections come with the job when you take photos of well-polished pieces of gold and silver. Unless you are a fan of long hours of post-production and photo-editing, it is vital you play with lighting long enough to minimize reflections. Try a ring light, this works for us in most cases.

  • Color Mode went wrong

SRGB or CMYK? It is not every time lighting is at fault, when wrong colors come through. Make sure to avoid the mistake of picking the wrong color mode. CMYK is for print and SRGB color mode is for online use.

  • Improper Lighting and White Balance issues

Keeping white balance white will enable the colors to be rendered properly, will ensure consistency throughout the session and less work editing images. Make sure your light is set correctly, ring light or softboxes are best.

  • Too busy images and complicated frame

The temptation is there to use more props or unusual angles in your images to highlight the piece of jewelry. But once too many the effect is that jewelry is outshined in case of complex props and busy frame. Keeping it simple allows a piece of jewelry to play the solo and stay in the focus of the client’s attention.

  • Detail Shots – don’t forget the beauty is in the detail

Once too often we see photographers giving preference to helicopter view over the nuances. Needless to say, that jewelry is all about nuance. 

First jewelry designers go to extreme lengths to spend days perfecting every detail, later on, jewelry master spends days to find the right stones to put them together just in the ensemble designed by the creator. Then comes a photographer and takes a straightforward plainest front shot. Do not forget to take multiple shots of a piece of jewelry. Show every nook and cranny of the accessory. 

  • Dust on Jewelry = more postproduction

While executing on professional jewelry photography, cleaning and polishing may save lots of time during the postproduction. You don’t want to discover that speck of dust or smudges when you open your raw file to edit it.

Make sure to polish every accessory before taking a shot to save time later.

  • Hard Shadows in a jewelry product image

Are a big no-go. However you prefer to deal with them: expensively during the post-production or economically during the lighting angle adjustment, but this mistake has to be addressed.

  • Soft Images don’t sell well

Soft images with blurred edges look out-of-focus and secondary. Make sure you focus in on your photographed jewelry piece and work on proper lighting to give that object sharp well-defined edges.

  • Spending too little time on photo editing

Postproduction in photography is like that cake designer work: the yummy cake is already there in the layers, made by a baker, but now needs some final touches to be pleasant to the eye.

Similarly, it is during the post-production, that a ready-made image gets a touch of final visual appeal.

  • Using Distortion Lenses

The standard lens is the most straight-forward tool for true-to-life images of jewelry. Even though some might think, that wide-angle lenses may be a better choice for this job, this is not the case. Stay away from fisheye or super wide-angle lenses as well as the extreme on the other end of the spectrum, the telephoto lenses. 

Distortion lenses work for bigger objects, realty photos, but in the case, with jewelry photos, such experiments usually get discarded. Normal lens is just the right choice here. 

  • Ignoring basic product photography composition rules

Composition, however basic a notion in product photography, is still to be remembered and considered while doing jewelry product shots. “Golden Ratio” and “Rule of Thirds” both apply here.

Photographing jewelry: tips and best practices

Clean your jewelry

There is nothing worse than discovering you have to spend another ten minutes on cleaning up an image from a speck of dust, that could have been prevented by a 2-second wipe during the shoot itself.

Clean the jewelry for the shoot and polish it where you need an extra sparkle in a resulting image. Smudges and dust take much longer to eliminate during editing than during the session itself.

Use a Macro Lens

Even though a standard lens is recommended to take great jewelry product photos in general, a macro lens is perfect for close up and detail shots. Use it alongside ring lighting and a tripod for best results.

Keep it simple

The moderate use of props is OK, but don’t over-exercise your imagination and creativity. With a nuanced product as jewelry, the product itself is quite a complex story to tell. Focus on multiple angles, decipher all nuances on a plainest white background. Let the piece shine by keeping the focus on it. The simpler the background for jewelry photography, the more attention gets paid to the nuances of the piece itself.

Necklace photography requires no necks in fact. White background or a black velvet cushion provides all the context required for a person to make the purchasing decision.

Stabilize your camera

A great photographer takes great care of the photo editor on the team. Stabilizing your camera on the tripod will allow for a clean precise shot with a clear focus and a straight horizon line. 

An easy shoot-day trick that saves loads of time in post-production.

Focus with precision

When providing jewelry product photography tips, keeping the focus should definitely get a mention. Any smaller object requires a clean sharp look to it for commercial use.

Using One-shot mode is the choice we make shoot after shoot again in jewelry ecommerce shoots.

Choose the correct white balance

The same object may look like having completely different colors, depending on the light used. Light for jewelry photography is a crucial factor, that needs a lot of experimenting and adjusting during the day of the shoot for best results.

Make sure to play with the light, the shadow, reflection until you are happy with the result before going ahead and making the entire series of the shoots. Photography toned bulb oozes just the white light that renders the color of a photographed object most true-to-life.

Control reflections during the jewelry shoot

Adjusting an angle of the softbox or ring light, changing the direction towards or distance to the object may help address the reflection on the shiny bits of the jewelry. 

Reflections, specifically when displayed on multiple facets, are tiresome and time-consuming to remove in post-production.

Optimizing your images for website uploading

There are many tricks for text SEO optimization, but when it comes to image optimization, the fruits are much heavier.

Getting on the first page of Google images result is easier, than getting on the first page of the regular Google search page. The competition is softer for the images. 

To upload images in an SEO-conscious manner, keep in mind:

Perfect product image weight:

Upload images in resolution, that is hi enough for the image to be seen clearly, but not too heavy not to slow down the website speed. Ideally, your product image will be minimum 5 MB (Amazon recommends 10 MB, Shopify & Etsy – 20 MB)

Perfect product image size:

The minimum requirement is 500 PX on one side, with the recommended size on one side sitting at 1000 px.

Perfect product image file type:

JPEG is the king and PNG follows most of the big ecommerce platforms standard charts.

Alt tag for product images:

  • Descriptive
  • Short
  • Keyword variation
  • Not too spammy

The alt text is designed to be read to visually impaired people, so it is important to add it to all images – not just for SEO.

The title tag for product images:

It is more optional, but if you opt to provide on with every image, the best practice is for alt tag and title tag not to coincide.

Jewelry product photography service

Even though we tried to provide the fullest possible list of all the tips, tricks, mistakes for those on a mission to organize a perfect photoshoot for their new jewelry collection, we still advise looking for a professional company to execute on a mission. The article is a great overview for creative directors and fashion designers to get an idea of potential mistakes and mishaps on this mission. But it takes years of practice and dozens of jewelry product photography campaigns to polish the skills so that to ultimately produce stunning results.

We are delighted to share some insider wisdom with our clients and readers, as much as we love proving our expertise in action. Reach out to our team for a quote on your jewelry product photography shoot. Keep an eye on our blog for more informative reads and jewelry product photography ideas. 

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Squareshot is a New York-based product photography studio that offers sharp, high-resolution, color-accurate product photo of Flat Lay and Ghost Mannequin Apparel, Jewelry, Cosmetics, Watches, Bags, Shoes and all types of Accessories for Online Stores to increase their sales and decrease order returns.

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