Jewelry photography Tips: How to improve your website photography | Professional Jewelry Photographer Kate Benson

You have just taken the first step in elevating your jewelry photography. Hopefully you will find some of these jewelry photography tips helpful.

They were written to speak to a wide audience so feel free to skip around if you like!

With your jewelry photography, you may be doing it yourself, or working with a photographer and not getting what you want. To get started, here is is a video of what a lot of jewelry photography looks like (although not how all professionals do it) and some of you may watch this video and say, “I would be happy with jewelry photography like that!” while others have had photography like that and are looking to elevate it.

 

Regardless of your situation, there are ways to help improve your images. You’ve put a lot of time and energy into designing your pieces, and you want your jewelry photographs to reflect that! Here are 8 tips from a professional jewelry photographer to help elevate your photos.

 

Tip 1: Have Your Pieces Professionally Polished and Cleaned

Before you bring your jewelry pieces to a photoshoot, make sure to get them professionally polished and cleaned. This will elevate your images because they will look almost new and flawless. When looking at a jewelry image, the camera is much closer to the piece than the naked eye would be. This means the image will show any scratches or flaws in the jewelry that otherwise would not be noticeable. Many of these blemishes a professional photographer can edit out in post production. However, keep in mind that your photograph cost is equal to how much time is spent on your products. If a photographer needs to spend a few hours retouching your images, then your per image rate will be more expensive than if you had your pieces cleaned and the photographer had few corrections to make.

Professional jewelers will be able to polish your jewelry and remove most scratches, too.

 

For example, when jewelry photographer Kate Benson worked with estate fine jewelry for Fine Art Auctions Miami, they would have their pieces professionally polished and cleaned before each shoot. These were mostly worn pieces from private collections. This helped to elevate their images as the product looked as good as it was going to before she photographed it. The images were requested to not be deeply retouched as the buyers needed to see the real state of the jewelry. So getting it well cleaned and polished was critical!

Tip 2: Don’t Wear Jewelry You Want Photographed Before a Photoshoot

Staying along the lines of getting your jewelry professionally polished and clean, is not to wear any jewelry you want photographed. It is tempting when you create a beautiful piece and have the chance to enjoy it yourself to put it on. However, wearing jewelry before the photoshoot exposes the pieces to risk that isn’t needed such as, scratching the pieces, fingerprints, dusts, etc. All of that will increase the likelihood of the pieces needing to be cleaned professionally or be subjected to more retouching. 

If you are looking to clean your jewelry yourself, here is a video taking you step by step. Note: This process will not help to remove scratches.

Tip 3: Review and Carefully Select the Pieces You are Going to Shoot.

Manufacturing defects can happen. When picking out which pieces to photograph, check for everything. Some of the common issues that come through photography studios are: 

  • Crooked jump rings
  • Loose stones that can fall out
  • Scratches or dents
  • Broken clasps
  • Inconsistent assembly of pieces (for example, logo tags changing the sides of the pieces they are on).

By taking a close look at your jewelry and confirming the pieces are in the best shape possible you will save on retouching time. If you are working with a photographer, send more than one piece of the same jewelry to the shoot, so the photographer can pick out the best looking one.

Tip 4: Plan Art Direction for Each Image You Need Before Your Shoot

Whether you are building a website from scratch or creating an ad campaign, plan out every shot you need before shooting and make sure your pieces work for that shot. This is more important if you are working with a photographer but having things mapped out keeps each angle of each style piece consistent to how you want it to be. When putting images on a website you don’t want the angles of jewelry to shift. You want the website to look consistent and seamless. Having these guides will keep you from shifting what the images look like. 

If you are working with a photographer, letting the jewelry photographer know what you want is crucial to getting the photographs you need. Map out with images (either through testing with your photographer or collection inspiration on you own) what images you like. The photographer will want a guide of how you want each shot she/he is taking to look (roughly). From there, jewelry photographers can have a place to start and offer suggestions of alternative options for lighting, angles, etc. where they see something might work better. Most photographers expect to have a conversation about this before the shoot. During that conversation, consider that a jewelry photographer has seen a lot of product like yours before and has an idea already of why some pictures work better than others. Take long chain necklaces for example. How far do you zoom out for your image to show such a large piece? Too far will not show the details of the necklace. A jewelry photographer might suggest either including a zoom feature on your website so customers can see those details clearly, or to add detail shots as secondary images of your piece.

Keep an eye out for future blog posts on how to create moodboards and shot lists for art direction.

Tip 5: Keep it Consistent

Regardless of if you are shooting yourself or a professional jewelry photographer is, use a tripod and make sure the jewelry isn’t shifting/moving around when it is photographed. For example, hanging necklaces might sway for a while, so either place something behind them or wait until they stop moving before shooting. Regardless of if you are using natural light or not, make notes about what the light values were. If you have studio lights, write down their values, positions, and modifiers. If you are shooting in natural light, record the time of day, the weather, etc. Light will change color when it is cloudy or sunny. You want to be able if you are shooting yourself to go back and recreate the setup you have next time you have new pieces to shoot.

If you have a professional jewelry photographer, confirm that he/she is taking steps to recreate your setup when you have more product ready to send. Product photographer Kate Benson had this to say on this topic, “Consistency is one of the reasons I don’t often select to shoot product in natural light. It can be a beautiful atheistic but after spending a decade working in South Florida where the weather changes constantly chasing the light values, temperatures, and adjusting modifiers to correct for clouds/sun slowed down work and created too many variables and hence, inconsistencies. I prefer to create natural light in studio now when clients want that look.”  She explained that each client has their setups and lighting recorded through pictures and charts so whenever they send product again it will look like it was shot at the exact same time once it is on the website.

Tip 6: Matte vs. Shine

Jewelry is a finicky product to shoot. It acts like a mirror, reflecting everything. So what is reflecting in the metal is as important as what isn’t reflecting. Obviously you don’t want to see the yourself/the photographer and camera or objects from around a room in your jewelry but you may need to see something reflecting in the metal to make sure it looks right. If you have a matte finish on your jewelry you can get away with a lot more but when the jewelry has a shiny reflective finish then not seeing the right thing will look matte. Knowing how to put the right reflections into metal could make or break your sales + returns. If customers think they are buying a matte finish piece and get something shiny they could be very unhappy. So being accurate is very important. Pay close attention to what the jewelry looks like in your setup. You may need to add some reflections to make it look right!

Let’s revisit the first video about taking photographs using a light tent. A light tent is a great way to minimize any reflections. Your jewelry will be surrounded by plain white fabric on all sides, with the exception of a camera hole. The only reflection you’ll have is from your camera. It sounds counterintuitive, but the problem with a light tent is that you have no reflections. This gives jewelry a matte look, instead of the shine that looks great and gives pieces shape. Jewelry photographer Kate Benson has been shooting jewelry for over a decade, and she uses a variety of papers, scrims, modifiers, and lights (and almost never a light tent) to make the setup completely adjustable for each piece as necessary. “I have better control over the reflections in each jewelry piece this way. If I’m shooting rings that are different sizes, I can make small tweaks in the lighting setup to make each piece look its best. If I just put one on after the other, and didn’t make any adjustments, the reflections could look wrong.” Here’s an example of a piece of jewelry shot in a light box versus a controlled studio setup.

Bracelet shot using a light box by anonymous photographer

Bracelet shot in studio with a custom lighting setup by Kate Benson

Tip 7: Test it Out

There is a rumor that Vogue Magazine makes 5 different covers for every issue and then sends those covers out to a group of design talented beta viewers who will vote for the cover they like best. Regardless if that is true or not, that concept is a great way to elevate your jewelry photography. Whether you plan on using the photographs on your website, in mailers, or for banners and billboards, creating a few different mockup versions and seeing which ones look the best is sure to improve your photography usage. If you have a single piece, try seeing if your jewelry photographer offers a test shoot option where you can hire her/him to explore a few different photographic options to see what works the best. 

Tip 8: When in Doubt, Hire a Professional Jewelry Photographer

This is probably the fastest way to improve your jewelry photography. Keep in mind, hiring a professional photographer is not the same thing as a professional jewelry photographer. True jewelry photographers will pay close attention to what your jewelry is, what it needs to look like, and will make sure it all translates beautifully in the photography. You can estimate the per shot rate from a professional jewelry photographer in the range of $30 – $80+, which is extremely dependent on what type of jewelry you have, and how many pieces. If you have a ring that you sell with different colored stones on it, it might be possible to recolor the stones, and you might be looking toward the $30 range. If you have fine jewelry that needs a specific lighting setup per piece, you are looking at the higher end of the spectrum. Jewelry photographer Kate Benson recently did a shoot for a client with a high volume of images needed for the brands website and Amazon and was able to get the photography for under $20 a shot with testing because the volume was so high.

Many professional jewelry photographers will not give you this per image rate, but instead quote you based on an hourly or day rate. This way, they have the time they need to get your pieces to look stunning. A lot of work goes into a jewelry photo, including initial prep (like extra polishing), styling (especially difficult with chains), test shooting (if you needed it ), shooting (and lighting adjustments as needed), then retouching. If you receive a per shot rate, confirm that you know the final photography you are getting includes all the elements you need. Make sure every part of the shoot is spelled out before they do the work for you. The last think you want is to hire someone to do a shoot for you and then realize you needed background cleanup, more retouching, clipping paths, custom file sizes, etc. If you hire an hourly rate photographer you can always go back and ask for these things and they can invoice for them after but if you have a per shot rate this might not be included. Over communicating to the photographer is better than under communicating! It takes time but is worth it to avoid any issues later!

In conclusion

There are many factors that can increase your chances of getting the best jewelry photography for your brand. Be confident in what you decide to do and remember that if you try one way and it doesn’t work, you can try something else. Leave any questions you have in the comments and Kate Benson will get back to you ASAP!

Best E-commerce + website photography strategies by e-commerce website photographer Kate Benson

When building an e-commerce website you are creating an online store. Everything that goes into the site needs to be intentional and knowledgeable. From the template you use, to the tone of your text, through the e-commerce and website photography, everything should be on brand and working for you. This article will focus on how to get the most out of your website photography, what to consider, and whether you do it yourself or use an e-commerce website photographer.

 

How does website e-commerce photography affect your SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) should be on your mind in everything while building your website. Often times people overlook that your e-commerce and website photography is an opportunity to increase the SEO on your site. From website photographer Kate Benson: “I offer to give the pictures I take custom image names and keywords so they show up in Google (and other search engine) image searches which not only increases the SEO on the customers website, but also let’s buyers who use image searches to shop find the product faster”.

To utilize this opportunity for SEO, selecting the right website building platform is critical. “Make sure you select to build your website on a platform that doesn’t rename your image files, that way those custom image names are used”. Squarespace for example has been known to rename images when they are resized to fit into the templates. So although the websites are beautiful, it might not be the best choice if you want to utilize this aspect of SEO. Kate is a big advocate for using WordPress themes with plugins that are really flexible so you can design them to look like anything you want. “My favorite WordPress theme is Divi by Elegant Themes. I’ve been recommending clients to it because it lets you have control over all the design elements, it is responsive, and has lots of opportunities for SEO in images. Google (my search engine of choice) reads these websites really well.” 

Creating customer trust through consistency in your website photography.

Forbes.com recommends looking at your website as a user. They shared this quote:

Users see what owners don’t. A way to shed light to owners is to cut through the noise and give the users three firm things clearly and efficiently: What your service or product does, examples of what you do, and why they should trust your brand. Presenting content that follows the form after function rule will yield the best impact. Don’t underestimate the power of visual design as a differentiator.   – Lee SalisburyUnitOneNine

If your photography is all over the place and inconsistent, it can create distrust for a buyer. Photography that feels like it goes together and flows from image to image but still clearly tells the buyer about the product is the goal for good website photography. This doesn’t mean every picture must match, although many websites do prefer that formula, but they need to make sense together and all be on brand.

E-commerce website photographer Kate Benson describes this more. “I’ve had clients want everything from white background shots that are almost CGI (computer generate imagery) to every photo different in a new location on a model in environments. I’ve seen that both can work as long as you know your target market. Choosing the wrong type of e-commerce photography directly results in loss of sales. That is the last thing clients who work very hard getting customers to their websites need. The photography is the make or break when it comes to selling products online. Doing it with consistency (knowing what your lighting, compositions, crops and angles will be) over and over regardless of when the product was manufactured and the photoshoot is builds buyer trust and creates repeat customers. Once I get art direction locked in from a client, I record everything, how high was the tripod, how many lights, what modifiers, how far were they from the product, etc. That way the next time we work together the images can look like they were taken at the same time as the last shoot.”

Should you hire an e-commerce website photographer?

Hiring a professional e-commerce + website photographer can be a huge advantage if you hire the right one. It’s important that there is a good relationship between you and the photographer. You need to be able to trust them to take images you need, but a really good website photographer has other advantages they bring to the table.

“Finding an e-commerce + website photographer who you like is a great accomplishment and can be well worth the investment. A lot of my clients love that I shoot still life, e-commerce and fashion + lifestyle images because whatever they need, I can shoot it for them. Using one photographer can create consistency across websites, social media and all image branding channels and you have the benefit of working with someone you know and trust. Clients who work with me are looking for anything from total image branding to just some extra help when their in house photography teams are overwhelmed. My goal is always to give a client the best images possible and by that, I mean images that sell!” – e-commerce and website photographer Kate Benson.

Getting a great picture is just a small part of what a professional e-commerce and website photographer will do. Find the right person and ideally you’ll get a consultant in there who will work with you to make sure you get images that are consistent, on brand, are clear to the buyer, are accurate to the product (color/shape/etc), are sized in a way to keep your website running fast, and can even increase your SEO. Website photographer Kate Benson explains her process, “It’s not unusual for me to sit down with a client or a client’s website designer before or after I shoot and make sure we are getting all the images on the site correctly and optimized.”

It is very possible to take your own website photography. For people who are interested in learning photography and have the time to dedicate to it, it will save you money. Also people who already know photography can benefit from it. There are articles all over the web that will teach you how to do website photography, and in the right hand, these can be great. Just keep in mind your goals: if you have no real interest, time, or talent for photography, this might not be the place to conserve budget. A great photo of your product will sell more than an okay image. This is also something to consider when looking to hire a student or influencer to create your images. When hiring a professional website photographer, you are paying for someone to meticulously style your product in a set to make it look its best.

 

How do I find an e-commerce website photographer?

Finding a website photographer doesn’t have to be hard, but doing a bit of work in the beginning can be worth it. Especially if you plan on developing an ongoing relationship with a product photographer as your business and needs grow. A few questions that can get you started with your search for a website photographer are:

  1. Can I mail my product to a photographer?
  2. What is my budget for my photos?
  3. When will my products be ready to be shot?

If your product can be mailed, you are able to search a much larger radius to find your photographer and that opens doors for you. Essentially, anywhere in the world is a possibility, but if you can’t ship your product to a photographer or the shipping costs are prohibitively expensive, you need to search for a local photographer to your area. Since the range of what a photographer charges is infinite, your budget is going to narrow down who you can afford to hire. Lastly, when do you need the photos? A lot of photographers book up in advance so you need to make sure the photographer you choose is available when you need them.

How do you get a quote from an e-commerce website photographer?

After you’ve found an e-commerce website photographer you like, you will need to share with them your vision (or tell them that you need assistance building art direction) for the photographs of your product. Most e-commerce website photographers charge based off time + costs (usage is usually known) and so to build a quote the photographer will need you to share a shot list. WooCommerce explains a shot list as follows:

  • Which products are in the shot.
  • How many pictures of each product (front, front and back, etc).
  • What type of shot it is (e.g., styled, on white, on coffee table, folded or laid out, etc.).
  • Camera angle.
  • Important style or setting actions (e.g., overhead light on / off).
  • Important objects and props to include.

For example, one shot entry on your list could say something like: Sequined Cotton T-Shirt | Front and Back | Closeup | Half Body Mannequin | Style with red jeans and long gold chain with cat charm.

When adding to existing website photography, creating a shot list is easier because the type of shot, camera angle, style + setting actions are all already known. Then a shot list just needs to be which products, how many angles, what important props/objects need to be included.

For clients that already have a website and want to just get help shooting, their current photography can act as a guide. When a client is doing a rebranding or starting up their business, I offer test shoots or to freelance art direct for them if they need some help.” -Kate Benson

Special requirements are a large determining factor in costs. Website and product photographer Kate Benson said “I often leave those off the initial quote. I find that making sure we can cover the base costs (time + team) is the first step. Then depending on the art direction I’ll either send an updated estimate with those costs or refer a set + prop stylist to come on board to help with that. If we do some test shooting or the shot list is really clear and a product I’m familiar with I’ll give a per shot rate to the clients.” Other special requirements could be studio and location rentals or special equipment rentals or rush fees.

How do you know if you’ve found the right website e-commerce photographer?

After you’ve done the work above you may have a list of photographers whose work you love, are in your budget, and available when you need them. That is a great situation! Website e-commerce photography is a big commitment though as changing the way things look down the road may require reshooting everything that you are still selling but have an older photograph for. Talking to the photographer either on the phone or in person is a great first step to feeling out if they connect with you and understand what you need.

E-commerce website photographer Kate Benson has insight on how she builds confidence with her clients about working together. “I offer test shoots. A test shoot is when the client sends me one of each type of product they have and we do a virtual live shoot. After each shot reaches a place I am happy with it, I’ll send them the shot via text or email for their thoughts. This lets the client see exactly what the images will look like when they get them from me. If the client has been struggling to put together art direction, we use a test shoot to explore different angles, lighting and options to find what works best for their product.”

Closing thoughts

Building and maintaining a website is a lot of work. But doing it right has large payoffs and can get you into the statistics of the successful online stores. Hopefully this has taken some of the mystery out of the world of e-commerce website photography.

If you need an e-commerce website photographer and would like more information, or a free quote on your project, feel free to contact Kate Benson Photography.

Good luck with your website!

 

305-982-7761 | [email protected]

Where?

Location

7 + 4 =

Charleston South Carolina Fashion Photographer | Kate Benson | Studio and Lifestyle Model Test Shoot

If you’ve been following my product and model photographer feed on Instagram, you probably have seen a new face lately. This stunning model is Eliza, and I had the opportunity to help her with a model test shoot at the end of February.

Eliza is looking to attend school in New York, and wants her model book to showcase her versatile looks to the NYC market. In order to add more variety to her portfolio, her modeling agency gave her some art direction to move forward with. During our conversations leading up to the model test shoot, I was able to take that art direction and play with different ideas for the desired two studio and two lifestyle shoots.

We had a lot of fun shooting around my neighborhood just outside of Charleston, SC. It was supposed to rain, so instead of doing the lifestyle looks outside around sunset, we changed it up and did them first thing in the afternoon. We were just too excited to get photos from the marsh and around the budding foliage that we rushed around from location to location to beat the rain. Luckily, we wrapped up the second look just as it started to drizzle! Eliza was a trooper and worked around mud and no-see-ums to get us these images.

 

Once we got in from the rain, we moved into the studio. Eliza has beautifully long red hair, and I wanted to find a way to accent it. After looking for some inspiration, I decided to go with an untraditional two-colored backdrop, using red and blue. I also had a red chair to use as a prop. Eliza brought some great clothing options for the studio looks, and once I saw her amazing yellow jumper, I knew I wanted to play with the primary colors. As Eliza was getting her makeup done by the talented Rosa, I found my stellar large Christian Roth sunglasses and a yellow industrial fan and finished setting up the studio space. Here are some of my favorite, fun, over-the-top images from the first look.

After the playful first look, we moved to the second, more serious shoot. Some of the art direction from Eliza’s modeling agency was to have her modeling in menswear, with slicked-back hair. So we put her in a men’s blazer, sat her down in my red chair, and took a variety of shots. After a few images, Eliza wanted to finish her shoot without any makeup, and the results are stunning!

We all worked a little later than anticipated, but the results were definitely worth it. Eliza was able to add images to her book from 4 very different looks, and I hope she finds success in NYC! A special thanks to Eliza’s mom for being a great assistant and bringing plenty of fun outfits and props to use, Rosa for working hair and makeup magic and Chelsea for overall photographer assisting!

South and North Carolina Product Photographer | Kate Benson | Jewelry E-commerce Photographer

It’s been a busy start to 2018 here in Charleston, South Carolina! I’ve been working on various product photography projects, including a large one for Moonglow Jewelry. They are a jewelry company based in Miami, Florida who reached out to me while looking for an e-commerce product photographer. They wanted a new direction for their website product photography.

Moonglow’s website is filled with unique pendant jewelry. They truly take their saying “every moment has a moon” to heart. Their beautiful pieces contain a moon pendant that is customizable. You pick a date, and they tell you what the moon phase was and use that as your pendant. It’s such a great idea to remember those special dates by!

At first, Moonglow contacted me for a test shoot. Their art direction was to make the jewelry products look like Tiffany & Co’s. I was ready for this request because I always treat jewelry with the same care and attention to detail, whether it’s costume jewelry or a 2 million dollar ring. I strive to present products in the most flattering way possible. Moonglow sent me a few pieces, and I played with the lighting until I was satisfied with the image, and they agreed. Afterwards, they sent me the rest of their products.

This shoot was unique because of the number of products and the amount of recoloring needed. Moonglow sent over 150 jewelry pieces to shoot after the test products. Included products were necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings, and a few other accessories. I often had to do a new setup for each style of jewelry.

Here are some examples of my jewelry product photography for Moonglow.

 

It look a lot of careful movements working with the different setups and getting the lighting right, but I am pleased with the results. After the shoot, they came back and asked if I could create the missing birthstones in some of the pieces they didn’t have all 12 colors in. So we used CGI to create the remaining 11 months of stones.

I look forward to working with Moonglow Jewelry again and wish them the best success with their revamped website!

If you want to see more studio and lifestyle shots, see this Charleston product photographer’s instagram!

Carolina Product Food Photographer | Kate Benson | Where you can spot me

Just a little fun note that today my image is the featured image on the landing page of Wonderfulmachine.com. This was a food shoot I did for fun after I moved to Charleston, SC. The food scene in Charleston is unbelievable. Before moving here, Sam and I asked anyone we met what were they the most proud of being from Charleston to which repeatedly the answer was “our food”.  For the most part, I’ve left food off my website. I always knew other great photographers who shot it and once we became buddies, I never wanted to compete with them. I’m the photographer who really values my friendships (but that might be a Boston thing too). There might be more of it starting to creep into my website since I’ve been shooting more and more food lately. I’ll keep you posted! In the meantime, as I’ll only be on the landing page for a day, here’s the screen shot of my work:

 

Carolina food and beverage photographer

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