I recently happened upon one jewelry maker’s blog where she was discussing a recent email she received from another crafter. The email helpfully suggested her current backgrounds for her jewelry pictures were detracting from her pieces. It was nice to see that the blog owner took this constructive criticism and was rethinking all of her photos as well as creating a conversation among her blog visitors.
From all of the websites that I’ve seen that sell jewelry, it doesn’t take fancy stands or expensive props to make jewelry pictures attractive. There are many ways to show the drape and beauty of jewelry without having fake body parts (can often be creepy), showing someone wearing the finished item (can often be yucky, particularly when earrings are involved) or taking a picture on wrinkled sheets or some other unattractive background. In case you haven’t seen it before, do check out my earlier post on this topic On Wrinkled Sheets – A Photography No No for Crafters.
I thought I might offer some suggestions of backgrounds that other crafters have made work quite well. Hopefully, someone will take them and run with them and create some of their own cheap jewelry stands for photography.
When it comes to jewelry the most important thing, at least to me as a potential buyer, is to see a picture of the item in a position similar to how it would be worn. Meaning long dangly earrings should appear as if they are truly hanging from something, an opera length necklace doesn’t look like a multi-layered choker (the piece is displayed in a small circle to show it all at once) and a bracelet showcasing chunky beads among flat beads should show off the differences in textures.
All too often jewelry makers think that by simply having a leaf, colored fabric or a stone of some kind in the picture will make the item stand out. Leaves by their nature are flat and will make your piece appear flat; a pine cone, seashell or even a plain rock would provide more interest to your jewelry photos. Using fabric runs the risk of the piece getting lost among the weave.
Now let’s focus on ideas of what to use and what I’ve seen others make to work for them. I don’t have permission to use their photos, so unfortunately you’ll have to use your imagination a bit. If there’s enough interest in this post I may try to get some of my own photos to use with this post, but for now it will only show the one.
Squishy Jewelry Stands
One of the easiest and often most interesting ways to display jewelry is to lay them on something squishy – a kooshi type pillow (the one’s with stretchy fabric and tiny beads as filling), sand, fish tank gravel or small stones. The trick here is to make hills and valleys and display the pieces so they flow down into the valleys. It creates the illusion that the piece is hanging and can provide a subtle or bold (depending on the colors) background for your pieces.
The jewelry picture that accompanies this post is one I took for one of my other sites. The two pins are laying on one of those squishy pillows which gives a bit of depth to the solid black background. It’s not perfectly focussed or lighted (I still don’t understand my digi) but it should give you an idea of the look.
I’ve seen dirt used this way to great effect. One designer of flower pins “planted” their pieces to create an interesting look.
Natural Jewelry Stands
Some of the best ideas I’ve seen came right from people’s back yards. Bare twigs and branches, some flowers and other greenery are a great place to hang jewelry from for photographing. The trick here is to control the background. A twig on a tree with a background of a forest may have your piece getting completely lost in nature. Photographing the twig jewelry stand in front of a plain white background will wash out the twig and also overwhelm your piece.
A whole flower may overwhelm your piece but laying it on loose petals, as a replacement for the center or hanging it from the side of a vase will add a bit of color as well as provide a suggestion to your customer as to the true size of your jewelry. Using flowers works better with larger and bolder pieces; fine work will easily get lost.
Use a bit of trial and error, the premise is to show the drape of the piece and not have the potential customer say “Oh look, she hung that necklace on a tree branch.”
Hard Jewelry Stands
One of the most effective concepts I’ve seen used squishy materials like sand or small stones combined with rocks. The sand is positioned as if it were at the beach – again flat is a no-no. The rock is settled into the sand so the sand laps around the bottom. The jewelry is then draped over the stone to show a more natural position of the piece. Again a bit of trial and error is needed to get the look appropriate to your particular jewelry style.
I hope you didn’t come here looking for a specific step-by-step how to on how to photograph jewelry. A number of these ideas might also help you in designing craft show displays. My intention is to give you some ideas that you can try and to get you thinking about what’s around you that you may not have considered. Walk around the house or the yard with that finished necklace. Drape it over and under things and see if it looks cool or stupid. The great thing about digital cameras is the only cost of trial and error is your time. Get creative, get funky, get adventurous and you just might get that perfect shot to sell your mot expensive piece!