Why an iPhone Snapshot Won’t Do

Many independent jewelers (and established brands are following suit) have come to rely on social media, predominately Instagram, to promote their brand and drive sales on their e-commerce websites. For this reason, photography has become an integral part of most jewelers' sales models. 

Photography helps communicate a brand's voice and identity in the form of creative still life or on model campaigns. It helps a brand reach its target consumer by appealing to her or his style and sensibilities. Finally, it serves the very important function of showing off a brand's designs in the clearest and best possible light, in the form of product photography.

Product photography is the foundation of any e-commerce website, but it is often overlooked and done poorly, sometimes as an afterthought. Many startups or fledgling brands will skip the important step of professional product photography altogether. It is viewed as an added expense in both time and money. However, this is penny wise and pound foolish. Many stores and e-commerce websites that sell jewelry from other designers will require designers to provide high-quality product photography. Some even impose a 2-3 image minimum for each piece, and iPhone snapshots will not do. Magazines will request images of your pieces for features. Should you want to submit an image to a design contest, chances are the contest will have the same requirement. You must have high-quality product images on a pure white background always ready, which is something you won't be able to achieve without professional technique, equipment, and photoshop work, not to mention expert knowledge of additional file types and dimensions typically required by magazines and other organizations.

Most importantly, great product photography helps you and third-party retailers you work with sell your designs. It's important that a customer can clearly see pieces you’ve worked so hard to design and create in crisp detail and ideal lighting. Not only does it help customers see the pieces clearly, but it also instills confidence in your brand and business. After all, you are in the business of selling luxury goods and are likely asking for thousands of dollars in exchange for your designs. Establishing trust and a sense of professionalism in the way you conduct your business is, therefore, of utmost importance.

How does one distinguish good jewelry photography from bad jewelry photography?

There are many factors--some quite nuanced--that set a bad product photo apart from a good one.

Take the images below as an example.

Here we have one of my pieces shot by me. On the Left, we have an example of poor product photography, (this is a style of photography many of my clients have come to me with from their previous photographers) and on the Right, I shot the same piece the way I would usually for my clientele.

Big Blue Lady Jane 46.jpg

You can see that the image on the left appears harsh. The gold lacks sufficient depth, and the highlights and reflections are much too intense and distracting. It contains harsh reflections from the lighting equipment, which you can see on the shank of the piece, and reveals all the scuffs and scratches gold accumulates over time due to the uneven nature of the lighting. You’ll note that in my image on the right, there is a greater sense of depth. The pieces’ contours are defined by rich reflections and highlights which don’t distract but bring the metal to life, and the gold appears smooth, buttery and rich.

Here is another minor detail that I think helps elevate the pieces in the images below. Many photographers don’t take the time to perfect the chain of a pendant. Messy links distract the viewer from the actual piece and make the photography feel haphazard. In the image below, however, I took the time to make sure the chains are perfectly symmetrical, and the links fall in line beautifully. This is impossible to achieve without professional equipment and experience with post-production.

Finally, a good product photographer will always make sure that the pieces are perfectly styled, symmetrical and color-corrected, so as to give the viewer an accurate representation of each piece. This attention to detail elevates the photography far beyond what can be achieved with casual iPhone snapshots.

In short, product photography matters. Good product photography elevates a brand in the eyes of a consumer, while poor or haphazard product photography diminishes it. Product photography serves many functions in the jewelry industry, from completing a magazine submission to getting designs into a store. Most importantly, great product images are integral to successfully selling your designs.

If you have any questions about product photography or the work I do for clients in need of great photography, please do not hesitate to reach out here.