Monday 25 February 2013

How to Photograph Handmade Jewellery - part 4

Here, at last, is part four of the How to Photograph Handmade Jewellery series. This post covers photographic styling, and where to find inspiration.

(If you fancy reading my previous posts on this topic then check out part one, part two, and part three through the links. You can also find them in my new Photography page, along with some other posts about photographing jewellery.)


Jewellery is made to be worn. So do give some thought to the idea of styling and photographing your jewellery on a model. A major advantage of using a model is that it gives the potential buyer a clear idea of how the jewellery will look when worn, and the way it hangs or lays. It’s also the easiest way to convey the actual size of a piece of jewellery. I guess if money is no object, the this is the way to style your jewellery...

I confess, I’ve not done this much and when I have attempted it, it’s never gone that well. The reason for this is probably that it’s better to find a friend to model for you while you take photos, than to try to be both model and photographer...

If you can't or would rather not use a model, then you can choose whether to lay your jewellery flat, to artfully arrange it over a prop, or to display it suspended, either on a visible hanger, or with some clear fishing-line or something like stretch magic - check out this tutorial if you fancy the invisible approach.

I tend to photograph my jewellery arranged over something in order to include some angles - I find laying it flat decreases how three dimensional it looks.

Styled with a prop...
and without

Whilst I’m increasingly experimenting with suspending jewellery for photographs, it can be quite time-consuming and frustrating to stop the dreaded swaying-in-the-slightest-breeze issue! Plus, getting things to dangle well when they’re hanging can be very awkward. Jewellery, when worn, tends to lean against something, either skin or clothing, and it very rarely lies static. Longer earrings often hang, to at least some extent, but the movement of an earring being worn, the sway as the wearer moves, is hard to capture in a photograph whilst also showing the earrings themselves clearly. I’m hoping that, with practice, my images of suspended earrings will improve.

Earrings suspended on wire...                                    and arranged flat on a prop.


Look at the internet and use it as a tool for inspiration. Trawl through Etsy, Folksy, Dawanda, and any other online retailer you can find that ideally sells work similar to yours. Look at online retailers that sell only one jeweller’s work, and then at markets that sell a wide variety. Spend a while on Pinterest (you could start here) and Flickr.

A few inspiring pins from one of my Pinterest boards

Create a folder of photos that attract you, try and figure out why they do so, and then see if you can integrate some of what they’re doing into your own photos. Drop someone a polite email and ask them how they achieved a particular effect. People are normally flattered by such contact. Use the web as a source of inspiration because it is also your marketplace.

Also, look in print catalogues and magazines, and see how professionals chose to show the jewellery. Be aware though that printed media is not the same as digital media but see if you can find ideas that you can translate into your own images.

The Digital Difference

People have a variety of settings on their computers, phones, tablets. Different operating systems, browsers, and screen resolutions all affect how an image looks. The image you yourself see on the screen in front of you will almost certainly not look the same on another machine because of the variety of potential settings available and the end result of any given combination. With the increase in devices to view the internet on, the chances that someone is seeing your photo the way you do, has dramatically decreased.

All you can do is take the best image you can, and display the colours and textures as honestly as possible, but it's important to be aware of the potential problems this issue raises. I had a customer who was surprised at the colour of a bead on a necklace bought from me. To me, the image I was using of the bead looked to replicate it very well. But the customer may have viewed the necklace on a machine with very different settings.

If at all possible, look at your images on more than one computer, tablet, laptop or phone. In fact, use all devices you have access to, and borrow others if you can. Whilst it is impossible to make an image render correctly on every device, with every potential variation of display, the more you understand about the common differences, the more you can allow for them when taking your photographs, and editing those images.

I hope this was helpful - do let me know!


Part One on cameras and close-ups
Part Two on focus and lighting
Part Three on location, themes and backgrounds

Also, keep a look out for my forthcoming ebook covering in far more depth how to photograph handcrafted jewellery.


  1. Some really useful points here. I struggle with photographing my jewellery and it holds me back from listing it online. I think I need to stop being nervous and just try out some of your tips!

  2. Oh, thank you! They are built up from years of experimenting, and learning from other crafters on the net - I'm sure I still have a long way to go to implement them all though! Do experiment and see how you get on - I think it's the only way really.
    Thanks for the comment :)


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