How to Take Great Photos of Your Handmade Jewelry
Business Saturday – Photography Tips
With Heidi Adnum, author of The Crafter’s Guide to Taking Great Photos
Q: How did you cultivate a knack for the art of craft photography?
A: Gaining an instinct for camera settings and light has developed over time with a lot of practice and perseverance. For me, it’s also been essential to find a down-to-earth translation of the essential technical elements [of photography]. I think the breakthrough comes when we gain a good understanding of two important things: 1) How a photograph is made (using a camera and light) and 2) Our own style. Also, I think it’s helpful to accept and remind ourselves often that there will be good days and bad. Even when the creative juices are flowing, it’s normal to feel tired and frustrated; the good days don’t have to be perfect.
Q: What are your first steps when setting up a jewelry shoot?
A: 1) Planning: What end result would I like to achieve? What time of day is best for soft natural light? What is my backup plan if the lighting is poor? 2) Composition: I gather the tools that I need to create the shot, making sure that they are relevant to and in the same tone as the piece I’m shooting. Is it vintage and romantic? Minimalist and sleek? Fun and playful? This affects the background I choose and possibly the lighting, too. 3) Preparation of the product/setting: Finally, I make sure that my set is clean and take a few test shots to see that I’m on the right track.
Helping the Beginning Photographer
Q: What are the most common mistakes that you see people make in jewelry photography?
A: I think the two things that cause the most grief are lighting and background selection. Fortunately, the ways in which we deal with lighting and background selection are easily improved with greater learning, practice, and persistence.
Q: Do you need professional equipment to take good photos?
A: No. When you know how to use (and make the most of) your camera and light, you are well on the way to creating the photographs that you really want. Professional equipment can certainly help, but it doesn’t automatically make a person a better photographer.
Q: Size and scale can be difficult to communicate through jewelry photography. Do you have any recommendations for tastefully demonstrating the scale of small items in photographs?
A: I think the best way to convey the size of a piece to your customer is by using a model or dress form. Including packaging in the photo, such as a simple and beautiful jewelry box, is another way to show scale that also aligns nicely with your brand story.
For more photography tips and tricks from Heidi Adnum, pick up a copy of her book, The Crafter’s Guide to Taking Great Photos, available through your local bookstore.
All photos by Heidi Adnum