DIY Jewelry Photography with Your Smartphone
Updated: Aug 11, 2021
It is possible to get a professional looking image without studio fees or a fancy camera. Smartphones have become everyone’s go-to camera and are even being used to shoot news footage and movies. So, yes, you can use your phone to photograph your jewelry.
As professional jewelry photographers we break down the best approach for DIY jewelry photography and how to get the best photo in the most economical way.
1. Location! Location! Location!
Scope out a nice open space by a window with great natural light. Set up a table or any flat service within a few feet of the window.
2. Background check
Use plain white paper for your background. Cover the table and your backdrop. Most ecommerce sites require a pure white background. This can be accomplished in editing, however to bring out the best in your jewelry, we recommend shooting on a white background first.
You will need a few accessories for your phone to successfully photograph jewelry. A tripod will stabilize your phone and reduce camera shake which will decrease the potential for blurry images. Be sure to select a tripod that will work well with your table and can adjust to the height needed. Place your phone and tripod approximately three feet away from where the piece of jewelry will be placed on the flat surface.
Since most jewelry is small and has lots of intricate detail, invest in a macro lens. A macro lens is simple enough to use since it clips directly onto your phone. It allows more light into the photo and will capture much clearer imagery than using the built-in zoom feature on your phone. You want to find a macro lens with a 1:1 representation of the jewelry. It will shoot the jewelry at its actual size and find those intricate details you can’t see with a regular lens.
There are many options when looking for a macro lens. If you are into other types of photography as well, you can find a lens kit that will include a macro lens, fisheye lens, and wide view. Find the lens that works best for you and your phone. Expertphotography.com gives a condensed review of iPhone macro lenses.
Prep is more than just placing the jewelry on the table. You want to show off its best features so make sure it is its most presentable. This means:
- Removing tags
- Cutting stray wires or strings
- Facing all beads/points the correct way
- Using a jewelry cleaner to remove dust, fingerprints, and spots
- Placing the jewelry flat against the table
Even if you can’t see a speck of dust, the camera can. Remember, you’re using these images to sell your products. Think of it as getting them dressed for success!
Determine an angle that is going to work with your different types of jewelry. You want to shoot everything at a consistent angle and depth of field. Your images should all be cropped at the same size. By having a consistent photo gallery, your product line looks clean and professional.
As years of photographing jewelry has taught us, no two pieces of jewelry are ever the same. What works for one piece may show harsh shadows on another. That’s where props are helpful.
Although a window provides great natural light, you can’t control the weather. When it may be too sunny in your space, we recommend creating a frame with translucent paper. This will filter the light, which cuts down on the bright highlights and lessens dark shadows that will show up on your jewelry. It will also reduce the reflections that love to appear in the shiniest pieces.
Cardboard is very handy when photographing necklaces or earrings. Necklace photography is a great example of when to keep things consistent. If most of your chains are the same, try to photograph the necklaces with the same amount of chain showing. A helpful photography prop for this is a necklace board. It’s easy to make one. Take a piece of cardboard and cover it with the same white paper you’re using for your background. Either cut two slits in the top to hold the chain in place or use pins to hang the necklace. The necklace should fall flat against the board. You can then stand the board up so you are shooting at the front of the necklace. Stand the board against a flat side or use a table-top easel.
Use a separate piece of thin cardboard for earrings. Cover the cardboard with the white paper and establish your placement for the holes. Use the earring posts to poke holes through the cardboard. Once you find placement that works, you have a template for future earring photos!
If you don’t have cardboard, invisible hanging wire works great for necklaces, also.
Other very useful props are glue dots and jewelry wax. Jewelry wax adheres to the jewelry but doesn’t leave a residue. Put a small piece where you want to place your jewelry and it will hold your piece in place.
There’s an app for that, of course. There are many apps to download to your phone that will assist in every type of photography project you do. Some of the best free apps for product photography is Adobe Photoshop Express, Snapseed, VSCO, and Lightroom. Each of these apps can take better photos by controlling white balance, color balance, and exposure, and they also have the capabilities to edit the photos.
8. Take lots of photos!
Don’t be shy. Take as many shots from the same angle as possible. It may look like the same shot as you're shooting, but once you review your shots there will be a diamond in the rough that shines through the rest.
Once you do your first set the process gets easier. If there are jewelry pieces that you think are just too tough for you to get a great photo, we can help. Check out our jewelry portfolio!