Jewelry Business: Making Your Jewelry Instagram-Ready at Shows

In this age of Instagram, most people who sell jewelry at shows are used to people like me whipping out their phones to take a shot. They understand we’re trying to create our own image of your amazing piece to share with our followers, tagging your jewelry business Instagram profile in the process.

ABOVE: Photo: Eva-Katalin/Getty Images

This is different from requesting an image for publication but, depending on our following, this can be great promotion for you. Your best hope for controlling the quality of those images is to encourage us – “Of course, you can take a photograph!” – and then take part in the photo shoot yourself.

If you’re wearing your own jewelry at a show – and you should be – I may ask to take a picture of you. I often think no one wears their jewelry like the person who made it. Some of you are a little shy about this, but most say yes when asked. (I only ask if they’re looking fetching.) Here’s one I took of Emily Shaffer wearing about eight pieces of her jewelry. (She was already wearing a few; I had her put on a few more.) Emily liked it so much, she reposted it herself.

I won’t post an unflattering photo – that doesn’t help me any more than it does you – but if you’re not comfortable, just say no.

Sometimes I’ll ask you to take a picture of me wearing your jewelry. That’s a little trickier, I realize. Some people are better at this than others. Selfies are not all they’re cracked up to be, especially at my age, but they can be surprisingly effective. People who follow my jewelry business blog or social media recognize me and respond to images of me wearing interesting jewelry. So if a blogger or “influencer” is trying on your jewelry? Offer to take a shot.

If I end up with a good shot or two, usually on my own hand, I’ll edit it a bit and post the best on Instagram and Facebook, sometimes Twitter, sometimes my blog. If you have time, helping me and people like me get good shots of your jewelry is one of the smartest forms of jewelry business marketing you can do.

I’m so used to these impromptu photo shoots, they’ve become part of trade show life. I can tell by the patient way those behind the booth handle my efforts it’s the same for them.

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Tips for Getting Better Jewelry Business Photos

Trade show lights are hell when it comes to photography. Those lights that spotlight your jewelry so well for passersby can destroy a photo, blowing out the detail in highlights or casting weird shadows. If someone is trying to photograph your jewelry at your booth, suggest they carry it into the aisle, away from direct light. I may hold it up to the curtain separating one booth from the next.

Be prepared to serve as photographer’s assistant. I may need you to hold a folder over the jewelry I’m shooting to cast some shade so my phone’s light sensor can adjust. I may need a better background; the tray you hand to customers may do the trick, but it’s a good idea to have a backup if the media person neglected to bring their own.

The Instagram generation hardly blinks when I ask for their help with a shot. Millennials especially are so used to selfies, they usually know just what to do. In fact, things usually go easier when I get them involved.

However, not everyone knows how to style a shot. I realize as soon as I head home after a show and scrolling through my photos who does and who does not. Basic rule of thumb: if a person or part of a person is in a shot, shoot from a flattering angle. Get enough distance to avoid distortion; tap the screen so the camera focuses on, and adjusts light for, the subject, not the background.

Shooting from extreme angles distorts, causing the part of the body closest to the lens to look bigger, like a funhouse mirror. Overhead lights and booth lights are designed to spotlight the product but they’re usually too intense for product shots and definitely for profile shots.

With people, they can cast unflattering shadows. If you see that happening, tell your subject to step back a bit. If their bangs got pushed into an odd angle or their hair is caught in the jewelry, offer to adjust it. This is not a time to be shy. Help a girl out! She will look better, you will look better, and best of all, the jewelry will look better.

CATHLEEN MCCARTHY has written about jewelry and business for Town & Country, Art & Antiques, Washington Post, and her own site, The Jewelry Loupe. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

NET PROFITS is a regular feature about using the Internet for jewelry selling of special interest to those with a home-based jewelry business that appears in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist. Learn more in “How to Handle the Jewelry Press” in the May/June 2019 issue.


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