Posted by: alenegeed | April 26, 2014

Photographing Jewelry… Harder than it looks!

I am a jewelry designer and yes I do my own photography.

3 Sacred Spiral Amethyst cholla

Amethyst Sacred Spiral Earrings

As in the case of most artists who create limited Edition and one-of-a- kind pieces.. It is not cost effective to hire a professional to photograph each design!
So I decided early on to take my own photos. And I can tell you that this became a whole new learning curve for me. I read lots of comments and tutorials online, purchased proper equipment for photographing small objects (jewelry in my case), purchased editing software  and then experimented a lot!
Each time I played around with the process I got just a tiny bit more competent.

Then earlier this year I took a workshop from a real photographer and had to unlearn  and rethink it all. Doug Baldwin, the instructor and photographer for over 30 years, drummed one rule into our heads.. and it finally sunk in.  “Don’t photograph on artsy backgrounds. Customers want to be able to see the product clearly.. they don’t CARE about the surroundings.”  Of course there were lots more helpful hints and insights in the workshop…I improved the way I photographed the gems and learned how to use diffused lighting.  I even ended up purchasing another photography system that I love. 

I live in Arizona and Love the outdoors. So a dried piece of cholla cactus seemed like a great option for a background. As you can see by the two images above… the background, while so cool looking, does not allow you to see the earring design clearly. The image to the left gives you a focused, clean image… so you can decide if this design is a must-have for your own collection.

Here is another example.. Again using the cholla cactus.

2SSSANT cholla Sacred Spiral Pendant

See how much better the image to the right is?

It shows off the texture and beauty (OK so I am a little prejudiced on that) of this pendant!

The Cuff image below is yet another example. Malachite is highlighted and featured prominently in the photo to the left.

Yes, I am still a novice when it comes to photography.. and yes I will continue to learn and improve my photos.

Copper Cuff Malachite cholla

over the next several months, I should have all the images on my site converted over to the newer, cleaner looking images.

My next step is a class on editing. Cannot wait!Malachite Cuff

Check out my jewelry (and the current photos online) and give me your feedback.

Every bit helps me to improve my craft!

 If you liked this blog you may like The Secret Life of a Metal and Hammer Hoarder.


  1. Yes, it is hard taking photographs of jewelry! But also so rewarding, to be able to show them off properly. 😉 I am also learning a lot and it is nice to read about what you are learning, as well as seeing your words illustrated in the pictures that go with it. I agree that in the pictures without the cactus the jewelry stands out much more. Thank you for sharing this information, I’m looking forward to reading more!

    • thanks Laurien. I agree completely. Once I complete the editing class I am hoping to make more improvements. I have self taught myself the editing process but know there are tips and tricks… and shortcuts that will enhance my process.

  2. Thank you for the wonderful tips. I just started using props because I thought it gave the pictures more personality and I wanted to infuse my brand into my pictures. My business cards show a beach scene and I thought shells and driftwood would be good props. I guess I am really confused on how to project my brand. I definitely see your point about the pictures and the pieces do stand out more clearly. Well, I am happy I read your blog before I continued any further. I think I’ll put the driftwood and shells away. And, a class in photography would be helpful too. Thank you so much for the photography tips. I really appreciate your sharing your knowledge.

    • Hi JoAnn. I am with you on the background confusion. I really did LOVE my CHOLLA CACTUS background. But selling the jewelry is the objective and I do feel that my photos are so much cleaner and easier to look at now.
      Just keep plugging away. This is a huge learning curve, I Lapidary Journal. He has a couple of DVD’s you can buy and here is his UTUBE


  3. I take all my pics of jewelry for FB and ETsy with my phone!!! There’s a wonderful app on FB called Fotor where you can edit any photo that is saved on your comp. If you ever wanna check it out my FB address is

    • thanks so much Carrie. What about photos needed for jury selection though? they have to be in a higher resolution than the phone (point and shoot) allows. Just curious if you have used it for that purpose

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