Photography Tips for Jewelry or other Small Items

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Great pictures are a critical part of listing and selling your items. If your pictures are bad, you may sell your items, but great pictures can make or break a sale. If your pictueres are blurry, dark or not at a good angle, a buyer may pass your item up!

First things first. The Camera. You don't have to spend a lot of money on a camera. The main things to look for in a camera are:
1. Megapixels- Most cameras out there will have a good number of megapixels. A megapixel is one million pixels, and refers to the resolution of your camera.. The more pixels, the clearer your or image will be. My camera (a canon Powershot A1000IS) is a 10.0 megapixel camera.
2. Macro Setting- To get good, close up, detailed images, you need to set your camera on the Macro setting. If you have tried to get close up pics and they come out blurry, it may be because you are not using the macro setting of your camera. Some cameras even come with a super macro setting. (mine does not)

Secondly, you need to have good lighting. You do not want to be taking pictures with a flash. When I am taking the pictures on my mannequin, I use natural sunlight. Alexis (yes I named my manequin) stands in front of a window. I know I must look insane to my neighbors, but hey, you have to do what you have to do. lol

You can also use artifical lighting, if you do it right! My pictures of jewelry laying down is taken with two OTT lights shining over the item. Of course you can also use a light box. I do have a homemade lightbox, but honestly, the thing is just too big and irritating to work with. OTT lights are about as close to natural light as you can get and they produce great light and colors for me.

Third, Props! I just lay my items on either a sheet of white cardstock which I have from my manic scrapbooking days or another prop. I have three flooring tiles that I bought at lowe's which I used in the pictures below. I have the OTT lights shining over them. I also have a few other props such as rocks (found outside) and just cute things I found at a secondhand store.

Once you have these things down, there are a few things you should consider when taking your pictures.

Details! People like seeing the wonderful colors, textures and details of your items. Yes, you know there are tiny flecks of gold in that bead, but your customers don't know how wonderful they are if you don't show them! Take close ups! (again, macro setting)

Size matters! Yes, you know how large and in charge those beads are, but your customer doesn't unless you show them. Yes, you should take pics of the item just laying down, but take a pic that shows the size also. This can be accomplished by taking pictures of the piece on yourself or a mannequin. You can also add props to some of the pics such as a ruler or object.

Watch those backgrounds! In the picture below, I made two mistakes. In the first one, I overshot the tile and got part of my work area in the picture. No, its not a kill the deal mistake, but it is not professional looking. The second mistake is just odd. I did not get any of my hand in the picture so it just looks strange. Yes, I know it's my wrist and your customer may as well, but it just looks weird.

Remember, people don't want to see your wastebasket, dirty laundry or dishes in your pictures. So watch those backgrounds.

Always take more pictures than you need. Those 5 shots might look great on the camera screen, but you may get them on your computer then find out that 2 are out of focus or taken from a bad angle. I usually take around 10 pictures at least of every item. I can always delete some, but taking more means having to unhook your camera and got back to your photography area.

Take a lot of angles of your pictures. I always try to get the following 5:
1. Full shot overhead
2. Cool angle shot
3. Shot either on my mannequin or myself
4. & 5. Close up shots

Ok, so you have lots of pictures at different angles. Now what?

Your pictures might be perfect at this point, but there may be times when the colors or brightness are not quite right. This is where your editing software comes into play. Good software should give you options of hue, saturation, brightness, RGB controls, and resizing at the least. I have a Canon SLR camera, so I got a program called Digital Photo Professional with it. That's what I use and it is available here. I have used it with pictures from different camerals, so I think it will work for you even if you do not have a Canon camera.

I'm not going to go into editing your pictures. You can play around with the settings and find what you need.

There are plenty of other programs out there such as Photoshop also. I really like DPP because after I am finished working on my pictures, I can do a "batch process" and save the new changes and resize them all in one step. My pictures are 3848X2736 right out of the camera. I set the width to 1000 and process them from there. To get the clearest pictures, you should take them at a high resolution and then size them down to 1000 pixels wide. This is the width limit for Etsy pictures.

I'm sure I left some things out, but my wrists hurt from typing. lol I hope this helps someone out there! Feel free to ask me questions. I will answer them if I can.

Thanks and Good luck!