One of the areas that I was most challenged by in my jewelry making business was taking good photos. (Well, that and the accounting side of things, I'm a true artist with more of an interest in being creative).
I confess to say that some of my earlier photos are pathetically pitiful. I'm even embarrassed that they were online. See what I mean?
Black? What was I thinking?
Note the sub par composition and very gray looking white that should have been edited.
For some crazy reason I thought I needed to be taking photos of the jewelry that I make with our family digital camera, which is actually quite a good one. The other thing I need to admit is that I'm not particularly tech savvy and have never edited a photo ever on our laptop, so this was probably a bad idea. The above photos were taken with our digital camera, using a tripod, a photographic light box and using a timer on the camera (to avoid camera shake). I also used the dreadful fabric things that the light box came with in the very first photos, probably because I thought that I should since it was a package deal and I was sure they included things with it that would be useful for taking great photos. Now you see why I needed to figure out something different.
This is my photography station. The only natural light here is a skylight. I have some photography props on the right and the light box kit is the black package. It's so compact it fits next to this table on the floor. (The gray lamp is just a lamp for the desk and is not used for photography).
What was truly my saving grace was a cell phone deal that ended up becoming my Christmas gift. The rest is history and I love my iPhone 6s. I'll admit that I had to have some phone lessons with my daughters who taught me some of the finer nuances of the apps on it and they introduced me to some photography apps too.
My photography set up still includes my lightbox, which I can set up in a couple of minutes on a table. I don't use a tripod and all my photos are taken on my iPhone 6s, I don't use a tripod at all for my iPhone when taking photos with it in this set up, The lightbox has two lights, which one places to the side of it and you don't actually place them close. When placing these lights you are aiming for large circles of light against the white sides. Take note too that you allow natural light to filter through the top of the light box.
This is the assembled light box with its lights. The kit also came with a tripod which I never use. I've just included it here to show you what the kit included. Note the cardboard piece attached with a clip to have a seamless white back ground. One should actually place the lights a bit further away to create bigger white reflecting circles on the sides. It takes less than 5 minutes to set up.
The other thing I should mention is that when I initially started taking photos of my work I had no idea about creating product cohesiveness. A good idea of product cohesiveness is if someone sees a photo of your work, it looks similar to others in its staging and that person should be able to say, "Oh, that looks like Andi Clarke Jewelry". You'll have to experiment with your photos and settle on what suits your brand and the type of person you are appealing to and your target market. For my brand, my work is nature inspired, so I sometimes have sprigs of flowers and I often driftwood, some pebbles and shells.
When doing photos of my work, I often line up a whole selection of items that I'll be taking photos of and do the entire batch. This saves time in the long run, both in the taking of the photos and also in the editing phase. I'm all about being productive both in my photography and in the production and creation of my jewelry designs.
Once you have your photos on your iPhone 6s, make sure you have a good editing app that is free on your phone. I like VSCO and after playing around with it I have found which adjustments I usually make. I never use filters and go straight to exposure, increase that until my photo is well lit up, but not too much, I play with contrast, tweak clarity a bit and sharpen it a lot. I hardly ever adjust saturation as this changes the color and I don't want potential customers to be misled about the color of the beads that I've used, or think that a piece of sea glass is aqua colored when in fact it's a sea foam color.
I hope that I have inspired you to try some new techniques and equipment. If you have any further questions about photography email me. I'm not an expert, but feel like I have some experience under my belt now.
In case you want to see some more of my photos, you can see them on my website here. I'm also active on Instagram as @andiclarkejewelry where I apply these principles to my photography in my account.
(This post contains affiliate links which simply means if you click through and buy, I may receive a commission, at absolutely no extra cost to you. Please note that I only endorse products that I’ve used and can vouch for).