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Great Tips on How to Photograph Jewelry by Photographer Ann Cady

A professional photographer takes us through a photo shoot start to finish


Today I am going to take you through an actual jewelry shoot. I hope this will give you an idea of how to work through issues with your own jewelry photography. My jewelry artisan is Lisa Rouse of Swallowtail Studios. Lisa works with silver as well as natural stone and gemstones so I thought it would give me the opportunity to show you how to work through some of those challenges.

As with most things set up is key. In the first image below you’ll see an overall view of my set up and some of the tools that I use to help me.  There are two small continuous light softboxes on either side of a light tent.  On the bottom of the light tent is a graduated background from grey to black, and running up the back is black construction paper.  (This keeps excess light off the background.) The jewelry will rest on a piece of non-reflective glass available at your local frame shop. It’s held above the background by four clear jelly jars.



Just a quick close up shot of some of my tools, canned air, special non-ammonia glass cleaner, a brush (good for dusting), quake hold (holds things in place that don’t want to stay in place) and a color checker card – the other side has an area to use for a custom white balance.  You’ll also need some white cotton gloves for handling the glass and jewelry, lintless cleaning pads and a jewelry cleaning cloth. Dust and finger smudges on the jewelry and glass are my enemy!



OK – set up is ready now onto the jewelry

Placing the piece on the glass in the light tent I move it around until I find a pleasing shape. Since silver needs to “see” silver or white in order to appear silver, I’ve placed a large piece of white poster board with a hole cut out for the camera lens in front of my set up. In this image below I’ve peeled it back to give you a peek inside the light tent. This piece also had small gemstones set in the silver, so I used a mirror to reflect light into them to create sparkle. You will find that small pieces of mirror, silver paper and white poster board are easily positionable and essential in jewelry photography.


Below is the final shot of this piece.  As I work through each piece I send Lisa proofs so that she can see them too, and make any correction or suggestions. She also catches me when I – hypothetically speaking of course - accidently shoot a pin upside down.



I want to illustrate the concept of silver needing to “see” silver a little better for you. Below are two images showing you how I shot this piece.  With a white card facing the bottom just out of view of the camera lens, and at the same time a mirror facing the top of it.  


This is the final image of this piece



This is what the image looks like without the white card or the mirror.  Can you see how the bottom of the pendant does not look silver.  It is some kind of dark shadow while the edge along the top of the pendant is not well defined.  Without the piece of paper and mirror I could not have made the correct image that you see above.  



Now even though we have successfully photographed our pieces we need to do a little post production and retouching – primarily of the background because there is always some dust somewhere. I shoot tethered to my computer in Adobe Lightroom. This allows me to see my image full screen immediately. Basically I add sharpening, clarity  and vibrance. I also check my white balance, my exposure and my cropping. Lastly I retouch any dust that is still on the glass or the piece. When I am finally sure the image is right I upload it to my client folders online where they can download them immediately, and then also send the hi-res images on CD in the mail.   

I know that there are many more photography subjects I could cover– post processing, camera settings etc. but I think we’ve done all we can in just one post. My name is Ann Cady and I own ARC Photographic Images a photography studio that specializes in photographing the work of artist.  If you have any questions or suggestions for things you would like to see in future posts please comment or send them to me at [email protected]. For more examples of my work  and links to my blog and facebook page please see my website

Thank you ~ Ann



















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