Top Jewelry Photography Tips to Kick Off Your Online Business
Kevin Saw, PicUp Media
If you scour the internet for jewelry photography tips, it will astound you with over 8 million results. How do you sift through internet noise and extract the true golden tips to make your jewelry photos stand out?
Whether you plan to build a storefront on one of the known online marketplaces (Amazon, eBay, Etsy) or all of these, half of the challenge remains: how do you make your jewelry marketable? With the lack of touch, how will you compensate for a product that begs for a sense of touch?
JEWELRY PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHY IS KEY TO ONLINE RETAIL
“According to the Modern Consumer Shopping Habit Trends for 2018, 78% of (1,164 US) online shoppers want products to be presented with clear images followed by product reviews with 69%.
46% of shoppers, as reported in the Total Retail 2017, cited that the lack of touch and the inability to feel the jewelry product is one of the top reasons that keep them from buying online
41% of shoppers included in the 2017 Global Online Consumer Report believed that in-store purchases are far better than online purchases as concerned products often look different when received.
Non-Standardized – unlike other products with detailed product specifications, jewelry shoppers don’t know exactly what they’ll receive. It is dependent on the retailer’s jewelry descriptions and other special parameters that’ll aid shoppers’ understanding of the product. Further, each jewelry piece is unique, and designs change often; thereby, rendering your jewelry product images irrelevant and unusable.
30% of all products bought online are returned to the retailers, this includes jewelry – one of the products that record high rate of returns as it is reliant upon the personality of the shoppers. That is, if the jewelry doesn’t fit their dress, there’s a big chance it might get returned.
22% of shoppers have returned products bought online citing reasons that the item received looked different in the photo. This is one of the top reasons behind the high rate of returns.
There are 11 million jewelry listings on Etsy and over 4 million “jewelry for women” listing results on Amazon. While your competition varies according to your niche and the type of jewelry you plan to sell, these figures reveal an over-saturated online jewelry industry.
The Opportunity: The Online Jewelry Market Sparkles
The online retail sales are expected to increase continuously for the next 2-3 years.
The online jewelry market will continue to sparkle with a CAGR of 16.5% from 2017-2021.
“More and more consumers are embracing online shopping, which sets the online jewelry industry to shine for the years to come. Jewelry retailers can capitalize on this enormous opportunity by being strategic in overcoming challenges and persuading consumers to shop online.”
Winning the Jewelry Shoppers: Expert Jewelry Photography Tips to Overcome the Challenges
There are many ways you can strategize to overcome the challenges mentioned above. You can come up with detailed jewelry descriptions, incorporate a zoom capability, easy returns and refund policies, and free shipping. However, in matters of online shopping where target shoppers have almost limitless options, you are competing for attention. Apparently, you only have 8 seconds to intrigue your shoppers. It doesn’t sound that much but these 8 seconds is enough if you can pique their interest through the quality of jewelry photos you put out there.
Choosing the source of lighting is very critical in jewelry photography. Simply putting it on a table and snapping away without consideration to the lighting source is a big no, especially with the on-camera flash. This lack of effort will surely give you dull and uninspiring jewelry images. The on-camera flash is notorious for creating harsh shadows, excessively bright for close-up shots, and doesn’t illuminate the jewelry properly.
Soft lighting is the perfect lighting source when taking jewelry photos. Jewelry appears more beautiful when captured in soft light. It lets you capture the true colour of the stones including its tiny and sometimes, intricate details without any distracting effects.
Achieving a proper lighting doesn’t require expensive lighting equipment. If you’re on a budget, you can achieve a soft lighting by looking around your house for a possible alternative. For example, hand towels, paper towels, or white tracing paper can be a good light diffuser. This will help distribute the light evenly while eliminating glare. Depending on the light you use, some alternative materials may not withstand immense heat so consider placing them at a safe distance away.
If you think that you’ll take jewelry regularly, it will pay to invest in decent jewelry equipment. For instance, other jewelers like yourself use commercialized light tents or lightbox as it automatically provides them with the right light source they need. As you start your business, you’d realize that photographing jewelry could take too much of your time. It is a difficult subject to photograph because it is relatively small and reflective. Investing in equipment could prevent unnecessary work and eliminates time wastage. Take the time to weigh your options, analyze what works best for you, and always choose the most productive option.
2. Photography Equipment
Apparently, there is no right or wrong camera equipment for jewelry photography. It all relies on your skills, knowledge, and effort. You can use any camera that allows you to zoom in, a smartphone, and other accessories and equipment like a tripod, light tent, or lightbox.
You can produce professional-looking jewelry images using any camera equipment. Since jewelry is often small, as we mentioned earlier, it would be best to buy a camera that allows you to control and configure the shutter speed and aperture setting. For example, Nikon’s D3400 entry-level DSLR has all the features you need to capture for jewelry photography. You don’t need to purchase other expensive and more advanced DSLR models since jewelry photography gives you the freedom to control the lighting and setting.
We know that starting your jewelry business is plagued with too many expenses; if buying an entry-level DSLR seems to be out of the equation for now, there’s no reason why you cannot use your smartphone. A smartphone is the most convenient, accessible, and user-friendly equipment to capture jewelry images. Use smartphones with the maximum number of megapixels and auto-focus.
When you succeeded in choosing the right smartphone device, you need additional accessories to carry out your plan. Some notable accessories are the following:
- Tripod – helps you reduce camera shake when taking jewelry images. Make sure to get the one with remote shutter release, but you can also use the ones with manual timers.
- Backdrop – gives your jewelry images a consistent, professional, and sophisticated look. Opt for a pure white backdrop for a less-cluttered overall appeal. You can DIY your white backdrop using materials commonly found at home.
- External Lenses – Yes, you can use external lenses with your smartphone device. This is ideal for capturing macro jewelry images. Without an external lens, your phone might only allow you to capture your product at a very limiting distance.
With advanced technology, you need not spend ludicrous amount of time gathering all the equipment you need or repetitively photographing a piece jewelry. This is such a time-waster, especially if you’re planning to sell antique pieces or unique designs that only come in very limited stocks. Spending ample amount of time photographing the only pair of earrings you have for sale will make the images unusable in the future. This is not a productive use of your business time.
To avoid such difficulty, you can opt to invest in a decent lightbox. You can also make a collapsible one for repeated use. As jewelers ourselves, we use the GemLightbox to photograph our jewelry. It normally takes us seconds to a few minutes to capture a pair of earrings or a ring and on to our social media pages. Its 5000K+ color temperature captures the true beauty of colored stones while the built-in soft lighting ensures an even diffusion of light without harsh shadows.
Use appropriate props to hold your jewelry when you photograph it. Those props will help present your jewelry in the best possible way.
- Pendant and Necklace Stand – You can choose different necklace stand depending on the length of the piece. Other stands have slots that you can use when you want to create a narrow or wide V-shape necklace image. Amazon has an enormous list of necklace stands you can choose from. Make sure to go for the one which aesthetic matches the overall look you’re going for in the photograph.
- Earring Stand – helps your shoppers understand the details of the earrings. There are different stands available in the market. You must know whether the stand you’ll choose is appropriate for earrings with stud, post, or hook backs.
- A white acrylic sheet, prop wax, or white putty is ideal for holding rings and bracelet. The acrylic sheets also create a natural reflection of jewelry when photographed.
4. Sparkler Lights
Sparkler lights add sparkle to faceted gemstones, other colored stones, and diamonds. You cannot achieve this effect using an ordinary light as it commonly results in glares. Further, these types of stones need to be illuminated directly for it to shine. Position your lights properly, so it focuses on the face of the gemstone. Make sure that it matches the color temperature of your other light source and never mix different lighting at once. Should you find yourself in a situation where you need to do color correction, use Photoshop to do so. It is easy and comes in handy all the time or follow our step-by-step Photoshop tutorial for simple execution.
Always leave your white balance setting on Auto. Some jewelers adjust it, thinking it would give them the kind of white background they desire, but it will cause more unwanted issues than solutions.
If you don’t have available sparkler lights yet, don’t worry. The jewelry sparkler effect can be accomplished using Photoshop. You don’t need to be a Photoshop expert to do this. You just have to know how to follow instructions as there are many Photoshop tutorials online that would meet your needs.
The truth remains that no matter how much you endeavour to capture the best jewelry image, it’s something you cannot perfect in one snap. This is it why it’s important to pay attention to your jewelry photography post-production process.
Post-production process typically involves the removal of cluttered background, adjusting lighting, and color corrections among many others. As we mentioned here, you can DIY your post-production process provided you’re adept at using different editing software. Bear in mind though, that time is your enemy. Sometimes it’s counterproductive as the process is all time-consuming and there are super affordable jewelry images retouching services available for you. Don’t hesitate to explore your options and always take note of the pros and cons. DIY has its limitations, especially when you’re competing with millions of jewelry images online. Know when to consult an expert and always be open to innovative ways in improving your jewelry photography as it is the key to attracting your target shoppers. As they always say, ” a picture is worth a thousand sales.”
Your Jewelry Photos Should Be One of Your Priorities When Strategizing!
We stressed that more and more shoppers are open to the convenience of online shopping, but some of the challenges we laid out at the outset revealed that there are still more consumers who are not convinced. A successful jewelry retailer knows how to respond to those challenges and see an opportunity in it. Strategize well and begin by improving the quality of your jewelry photography to persuade the shoppers that you’re as professional as your in-store counterpart and other online competitors. Speak to them with your images. Show the details as clearly as possible, so they know and understand what they’re expecting in the box when it gets delivered.
The clearer and professional-looking the jewelry images are, the more possibility of trust being built as you’re not hiding any flaw from them. Don’t sow a seed of doubt when they look at your jewelry product photos. Make it easy for them to say yes.