Earrings: Lovely to Make, Lovely to Give, But What a Pain to Photograph!

Earrings are one of my favorite pieces of jewelry to make for friends and family. They can be a little more difficult than other types of jewelry, since in general, you want them to look alike so you have to make a cute design and then make another one just like it (unless you're making fun asymmetrical earrings). But earrings always fit–no sizing required–and they're a friendly, fun gift to give. Rings require just the right size but also they seem a little too personal to make for a friend sometimes, and pendants usually need a chain, and bracelets also need a bit of sizing . . . etc. Earrings are just a fun, easy piece of jewelry to make and give.

bad: flat earrings

But not, unfortunately, to photograph. I've had this issue for years, and I think I've narrowed down the crux of it: earrings are always moving (dangly earrings on ear wires, of course–not studs on posts). They don't look right when they're flat in a photo, because you can't see how they pretty they look when they're hanging. But when you hang them on a prop–a cord, the edge of a cup, etc.–they usually move. It seems like they have some sort of kinetic energy about them that keeps them moving long after they should be still, even just a tiny bit–and that tiny bit is enough to make it hard to get a good photo.

We also run into background and focus issues when we hang earrings, because you want the earrings to show up pretty and crisp but the background to sort of fade away. Getting that focus just right can be difficult, especially using a camera's manual focus settings, and you'll probably have to use a pretty fast shutter speed to get everything you want in focus to be in focus considering how earrings are prone to sway when hung. So we're back to the movement issue.

bad: lint, reflections, and blur

Hanging earrings on the rim of glasses is a popular prop I see in online stores like Etsy and such–I've done it myself–but even that brings up its own issues for good jewelry photography, because you have a reflection to deal with. Plus it's hard to get a glass sooo clean that no smudges or bits of lint show up in the photo, creating photo editing work. As the kids say, ain't nobody got time for that! Even using an opaque cup like a teacup will avoid the smudge and lint issue, but the earrings' natural sway is still an issue.

better: fitting background, earring support

My workaround became a more solid prop that would allow them to hang but also support their entire length, preventing even the tiny movements that can thwart your good photo and focus: a peach.

Peaches fit my brand (Southern Baubelles–and what's more southern than peaches?), have the shape I needed to support earrings, and have beautiful color and very fine texture that are not too much, that enhance the earrings but not overpower them. I sometimes also used apples, but I've decided to stick with peaches because they fit my brand so well. My photos aren't professional perfection now by any means, but I'm much happier with these latter ones than I was with the flat, linty ones!

better: colorful, supportive prop, no blur

And no, they aren't real peaches and apples; I bought a few very good faux ones in the floral department of a craft store. I just have to remember to use the same holes again and again, whenever possible; otherwise my peaches will get hole-filled and I'll have to buy more. Easy to remember. Otherwise, I haven't found a down side! But it took me quite a bit of trial and error to discover what worked for me. I tried glasses and cups, sand, pebbles, moss and Spanish moss (again, sticking with the Southern theme), rocks, branches, and I don't even remember what all else. If only I'd had an expert to give me some tips and advice and save me all that experimenting . . .

Whether for your online stores, jury applications, shop or booth art, promotional materials, or whatever, good photography is essential to presenting your jewelry in its best possible light and succeeding at your jewelry business. To learn the best ways to photograph all of your jewelry, take advantage of our favorite expert photographer's years of tips and techniques by getting Jim Lawson's How to Photograph Your Jewelry and How to Photograph Your Jewelry: Beyond the Basics. Jim is the man behind all of the amazing jewelry and gem photography you see in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist as well as some photography in Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry and many of our other books, magazines, and other products. He specializes in gem and jewelry photography, and he's sharing his years of expertise with you in his photography video workshops. You spend so much time making beautiful jewelry–don't you owe it a beautiful photograph?

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