Skip to main content

Photographing Jewelry

Lesson 25 from: Craft Photography Fundamentals

Candice Stringham

Photographing Jewelry

Lesson 25 from: Craft Photography Fundamentals

Candice Stringham

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

25. Photographing Jewelry


Class Trailer

Session 1


Introduction to Craft Photography Fundamentals


What Your Visuals Say About Your Brand


How to Become a Photographic Author


How to Use Natural Light for Your Product Photography


Setting Up Your Photo: The Basic Rules


Becoming the Viewer to Take Better Photos


Shooting 3 Setups: Creating the Backstory with Images


Lesson Info

Photographing Jewelry

We are gonna go straight into shooting for this part of our lesson and we're gonna photograph all different types of products that we see online and at Etsy shops and that makers are making so we're gonna start out with jewelry. Earlier, in a previous lesson we photographed them from top-down but obviously we don't want everything to be that same orientation so in this case, we're gonna be photographing them now from the side that we have our DSLR and the ability to do that and so we're going to build a little set here so you can see how I would photograph this jewelry. We're gonna be photographing jewelry from the Lucky Lotus Jewelry Co. C-O which is actually my aunt, who left a job in engineering to pursue a small business in jewelry and now she owns her own shop in LA so you can also find her on Etsy but... I gotta help her with some new images. (laughs) If you go there. All right, we're gonna start out. We're gonna use this marble top again and if you missed the previous lesson, th...

is is a baker's piece of marble that you can find all over the place, you can even order it from Amazon. I'm pretty sure that's where he got this one. They're not very expensive. They come in a variety of price range though, from free. You'll have to watch a previous lesson and get that story, all the way up until, you know, $100 or $ just depends on what kind of investment you wanna make or how big a fool you wanna make yourself, asking people for marble but I use this so much. I use it for kitchen sets, I use it for bathroom sets and I also just use for the beautiful simplicity of the marble and the texture so in this set, we're gonna use the marble as our top and we're going to use a piece osnaburg as our back and this is a really inexpensive piece of fabric you can find next to the muslin, next to the muslin in any fabric store. So what we're gonna do is create a false wall and we're gonna do that by wrapping and pinning the fabric around our board and I, because I use this fabric so much, I did a pin board out of it and hung it on my wall in my office so it's always there and I can use it anytime I need to. I feel like it's just a really good neutral texture so you can use it for top-downs as your tabletop when you're photographing jewelry especially because... I really love this with jewelry because jewelry generally has like a little bit of a sheen. It's metallic or it's glass and then this is like a separate texture to add into our image that doesn't take away from the jewelry itself. So all I do... and we're gonna flip this around the other way. Sorry, I'm hiding it. Is wrap it around my board just like I would upholster something and I start pinning it in the center and I just use straight pins but you can also use clips, if you wanted to. So we could just clip it right on and actually I recommend starting in the middle, then pulling it tight then we'll grab a couple more clips. Just to be faster than pinning it but at home, I would probably pin it because then you don't have the clips showing on the edge. Wrap it like you would a present. So I'm just pulling this up here, pulling the corner tight. Just like that and yes, it's a little bit big and awkward but they store really well. I just store them behind a bookshelf. So no one ever knows they're there when they're not in use. Okay, just continue and then when I get to the other side, I'm really careful about pulling it tight. I don't want wrinkles, you know, I just want the smooth the fabric. So I'm gonna pull it as tight as I can and clip it. Okay, and I would continue doing that all the way around. And I might use some pins just to really get it tight. So with pins, all you do is just push against the board so that it's not stabbing through on the others side and I'm gonna continue just pulling that as tight as I can to get a nice even background. The other thing you can do is duct tape it, if you know you're gonna leave it on there more permanently and it's something you wanna use a lot. You can just duct tape it in the back but for me the pins work because I don't wanna have a million whiteboards as I'm changing them out and so I can just use these and pull it tight. I might, Kate, pass this off to you to finish while I set up the rest of the stuff because, it's taking a little bit longer and... Thank you. Just pull it nice and tight. Okay, so I would just continue to do that until it's all the way wrapped around and it's tight. Being tight is the most important thing because we don't want wrinkles because they're distracting and even when you blur out, wrinkles if it's like a little bit wrinkly, it'll go away but if there's like a big crease, it's gonna still show up, blurred out so we try to keep things as ironed or steamed as you can. It's not the fun part of life but it is important in your overall imagery. Okay, so I have these two pieces that we're gonna choose from today and I feel like they're both really beautiful. This one is obviously meant for jewelry and I got it at Target. Thyre at Target right now. Target, they really upped their the last few weeks in their home-decor section. This is also from the home-decor section. Obviously not meant to be a piece of jewelry. It's meant to be like just an item of home decor but I actually feel like this is really... would really beautifully feature jewelry. So we'll photograph both of these and we're gonna photograph a couple of different pieces of jewelry. So, I really love... This is actually, I know, I said Lucky Lotus. This one is actually my grandmother who collects beads from all over the world and creates art pieces and sells them in museums and art shows. But I feel like the wood texture with the glass beads really offset each other really beautifully so I would use that with this piece. What I also like about this is that it, really, shows the length of the necklace. So this is very similar to a person's neck. I can see exactly how that necklace is going to fall. So with this item... I like this because you can layer. It's hard to do it backwards but because I can layer so I would need some tape or a pin and just pin or tape this right on and then what I love is that I can layer, multiple pieces so I can also... Perfect. Thank you. Just layer the pieces right in to where I want them to be. Perfect and then I would just pin this right on it. The way I want it to be. And it's gonna hold it right in place. Is it straight? Can you guys see it? That's the most important thing is making sure that the jewelry is straight. Okay. (sighs) So let's do one more. I think a triangle. And again, you're seeing me do three because I love odds. I just feel like it always looks a little bit better. Okay and then I would pull up any strands that I have showing in the back and either pin or tape those in place as well. Let's see if I can just do that with the same pin and I'll be able pull tape in a minute. Okay so that's kind of how I would set up both of those and the honest truth is, I spend way more time in set up than I do in shooting generally because once it set up beautifully and I already know where my good light is then I can take the pictures really quickly so it's all about like choosing props and then working on the set up and making sure my lines or my perspective is good and that sort of thing as opposed to really just taking a long time to shoot because once I know that, then we're good and that is another key reason why I want you to have a prop kit and limit yourself because it saves you so much time when you have those, visual beacon words and props that fit that because you know they all work together and you don't have a million choices. I don't know how it is for you but for me, if I have a million choices, I can't choose. Give me three things and I will pick one and I feel like that way with Etsy shops do. If you have the same product and it's like there a million times in a million different options, it's a lot harder to choose what you want than if I give you three to five options. So keep that in mind as you're building a prop collection. All right. We'll pull that over a little. Yeah. All right, we'll try this and if those show a little bit then we'll adjust from there. And we might have to actually remove this clip because it'll show. Candice tell us again what you're seeing in this that can be troublesome because I'm sure this is troublesome for people at home as well. In the creation of this set or-- In the back, trying to get it smooth. Okay, so yeah. See these lines right in here, especially when they're going across this way. Actually, if we turned the board the other direction, it'd be less worrisome and here's why, do you see how the shadows go away but if I turn it that way now the shadows are there? Okay, it's the shadows that are the issue because I can blur out the wrinkles they cannot take away that highlight to shadow, it's still gonna be there in the blur so I would actually use this board vertically and you can see even with the fabric and then the frogs actually kind of help. I can pull the fabric tight and then stick it right in so even with fabric, the frogs still work super well and you can see I'm putting them wider than the background so that this now becomes a wall it looks like a wall behind a counter or tabletop as opposed to putting it on top and then it looks like a fake set you built at home so you might have to hold that because it's so vertical. Okay, so let's start out and actually... Well, you'll hold that. Could we pull that up and just pin it in place? Okay so another thing to point out is if you buy frogs like at a flea market or an antique store they're made of iron and they're gonna be a lot heavier so I actually really can keep this board vertically up on my table because I've really heavy frogs. These more modern ones are just not quite as heavy and they're basically the same price point but you just have to go out and find them in an antique store. Okay, let's start out with this piece. We're just gonna place it right in the middle. We're making Kate do multiple things at once. Okay and now you can see from where I was with the soap so my camera is much lower in perspective and I do wanna point up at it. I wanna to look equal to it or slightly above. So we're gonna start out equal and see what that perspective looks like as we photograph and I'm always considering perspective because I don't want something to look squabby or too elongated so I'm always kind of trying to shoot things direct on to give the correct perspective when I'm showing the sizing on a product. This is gonna be good. I can tell. All right, so first thing I do is just make sure that I'm focusing right on the jewelry. And... Here we go. (camera clicks) Will you look at that? Candice can you talk about focusing on the jewelry. Are you focusing on the front of a bead? Is there like a particular spot in this jewelry for example that you're focusing on. So this one is a little bit easier than the other one because this one is completely flat so it's on the same plane of focus so even if I'm using a really open aperture, the whole necklace is going to be sharp and in focus. So, I can focus anywhere on this and it's gonna be okay. Cameras have different focal points and you can move those focal points around. What I don't want you to do is leave it on auto, not auto-focusing mode, you still wanna have auto-focus but leave it when your camera's in that rectangle box, it's choosing your focal points for you. You know how sometimes you look through your camera and there's like four little boxes that are lighting up? I don't know why they do that because a camera can only focus on one plane at a time so if you're allowing it to pick where it's focusing and its lighting up like four different areas, you don't really know what it's choosing to be in focus because they can't all be in focus. Only one plane can. So you do want to take control of where your focal points are in your viewfinder, okay? It's just a simple setting in your menu, focal points. (laughs) You're gonna set it so that you can then move your focal points around within your viewfinder and different cameras have different amounts so really basic ones have three. Most have nine. I think mine has like 50 something. (laughs) You can like go all thorough. I just wanna point out because we're not gonna be learning how to use every single camera that's out there in this particular class and there are a lot of nuances. CreativeLive does have a huge series of classes on individual cameras that are taught by John Greengo. They're a little short fast-start classes so if you are confused by your own camera and you're not a manual person, I highly recommend searching John Greengo on our website and checking out those fast-track classes. All right. I actually really like that. I don't even know that I would change much. I might make it just like a little bit darker. Let in a little bit less light so I don't lose that bead in the middle that's pink. So I'm gonna do just do that, right now. So I'm just letting in less light by making my shutter speed faster, not changing my aperture because I like the depth and let's see what that looks like. So I can see that bead but I don't really love how dark it's getting other places and so that would be the trick here. I might have to change backgrounds if I really want that bead to stand out but I think if people are looking at it on the screen, they're gonna be able to see it and so I'm not too concerned about it. The other option is now adding in a reflector and Kate can't move so I will grab it. Look at how tricky she is. She's been doing her yoga. All right, so I might add in a reflector just to kind of brighten some of the other areas in the photo when I went darker. So let's look at that. (camera clicks) There we go. So we'll scroll back through those two and I'll show you what the difference was from the reflector so look at the wood and I actually like the reflector and here's why. I love the shadows but in this bead, right here do you see how we're losing the detail of it and it's a really cool piece. Maybe could even sell that necklace and so when I hide that, I'm taking away from the overall aesthetic of the piece of jewelry. When I add in that reflector, I miss that contrast that I like but you can see because that bead is highlighted exactly what the pattern and texture is on it so I would use the reflector on this because of that and that's something I'm always always aware of. (camera clicks) Not just the overall look but exactly how the product looks in it. What are people really seeing when they look at it? And then I would also get a little bit closer because I think it's important in your shop to have a beautiful overall image but then also have detail. I want the people to see the texture or a detail that's important to me within that piece or item so I would get really close. Really close and I would focus on an item or a piece or a bead that I think is key in this jewelry. (camera clicks) Okay. So I have my first image that's here's how long it is. Here's what it looks like overall and then I have like, here's the beautiful texture you're gonna get when you buy this necklace. Beautiful detail and that would be my second like thumbnail underneath my larger thumbnail so that they can see that and I feel like the more images you offer people, the more invested they get. I mean you don't want like 20 but it's better to have three than one, especially if you're photographing something like a bracelet where it maybe looks very different from the front and you can't tell it's a bracelet because you're just seeing a few beads and then from the top here's what size that bracelet is. Here's how thick that bracelet is. So I wanna show all those different aspects of it and so that is what I would do with this piece of jewelry. I'm gonna do one more. And I might even, if I don't feel like I feel like there's a few cool beads, then I might even go ahead... (camera clicks) you know, and move around and photograph like a few different parts of the necklace that I think are really important and I'm gonna have to slide this a little bit. It's funny because a lot of times, I'm like backing myself into corners as I'm shooting. (camera clicks) Look at that. And I like that one but I don't like it quite as much of the other so I would use the other images in may detail and that is how to photograph that. So we're just actually gonna switch out the other piece. We're gonna keep the same set. So I'm gonna angle this slightly towards the light as opposed to just having it straight so that it catches the light a little bit more and also so that we get the highlights and shadows. I want that like edge of highlight. Anytime I have something foiled or gold or silver, I want that to show. Thank you. Causing lots of problems today. Lots of chaos. Okay, so just a tiny piece like right in the back to hold it in place right where that pin... Perfect. Candice, while you're doing that, a question that had come In from Esther, would you ever spray mount fabric on a foamcore for a like a permanent foawall so that you don't have the issues with the wrinkles. Yes. The answer is yes. If it's one that I know I'm gonna be using a lot then definitely and really, like at home when I'm not in front of the camera and I'm taking a little bit more time, I can pull it nice and tight and pin it and it it'll look really good but it just takes space and I like the ability to switch out the fabrics but yes, you totally spray them out and we're gonna actually come into later lesson and show you how to create like full wallpaper. (mumbling) Is that? Yes, that's totally fine. We'll just pull this side a little bit. I mean this is like the little details that you have to get right from the beginning. I have like so many people just say, "I'll fix that later "in editing or post," and why? Why not just get it right in the first place? So yeah, it takes a little bit of time to get everything exactly where you want it to be but then as you're editing, it's so much simpler so I think that's really important and every little detail on jewelry matters. So I would adjust these so they're perfectly over each other and I really yeah. I'm really liking how that looks. Okay so we'll try it first without the reflector and then with the reflector and I'm gonna lower... The cool thing about this stand is that it has the ability to get higher or lower so I can lower it slightly and what I like about this or the wooden piece is you could literally photograph every necklace in your store on this so when you go to your thumbnails, they all look exactly the same. They're different pieces but overall, visually, we have that simplicity of seeing a pattern and it'll definitely help make each piece stand out because it's not about the styling, it's about the piece of jewelry that's on it. The styling's still beautiful. I still want beautiful styling. Okay, let's try (mumbles) So again, I'm just moving my focal point so it's over the most important part and in this case it is important because some are closer and some are farther away, right? Because we're on an angle. So my aperture then becomes key in creating a beautiful image and making sure that all the product is sharp that I want to be sharp. (camera clicks) So let's look at that. Pretty, right? So it took a minute to set up but we have really really beautiful results. Now again, I'm having a little bit of an issue that the light's a little bit harder right now than it was when we were photographing in previous lessons and I'm not sure that I love the highlight to shadow ratio here and the reason why is, up close now that I'm looking at it, it's fine. I can see those but I don't want to lose the chain. That's important, it's a key piece so I don't want to get the highlights to get so blown out on that side that I start to lose the detail. I do like that little bit of shade so what I would probably do, I'm grabbing a smaller piece of chrome card so it's easier to hold and we're gonna hold it a little bit farther away. Okay, so now I'm filling in but not as strong as if it was right next to it and I can I can create and control the ratio of my highlight to shadow. I'm not changing any settings. I'm just adding in this reflector. Okay, and you see, I still have the shadows that I want but they're not as deep and when I do that then I can darken everything up a little bit overall so I can bring those highlights back in. Let's do that. (camera clicks) so let's look at that one more time. Okay, that's a little too dark, I think. Now we're getting a little too dark. So, this is where I like to just play around and we're gonna show you in the next segment how to do that but basically I'm making my exposure lighter or darker by using something called exposure compensation. It's a setting on your camera. You all will have it, exposure compensation. We will show you later exactly what it looks like but it looks like your light meter and we'll tell you what a light meter looks like in a minute too and they basically has a plus one and a plus two and a minus one and a minus two and I just dial to the plus one or the plus two if I want there to be more light and I want it to be brighter or the minus one and the minus two if I want it to be darker and when I'm in aperture priority, I just pick my aperture and then I tell my camera frame I want it brighter or darker and it will deal with the other settings for me so that is really lovely because I can focus on one thing and adjust from there and I think it's looking really really nice so I really don't know that I would change a whole lot now. I may be again would come in and get like a closer up image just to be safe and I might go like slightly lower again just to be a little bit more on level with pendant, with the crystal and I'm sure it's not a crystal and I'm like using the wrong terminology so forgive me for that. (camera clicks) let's see what just changing the perspective slightly did. We didn't do a whole lot but slightly and then I would get in nice and close. For this, we really do wanna get lower. (camera clicks) Okay so and then that would be my second image. My closer, see the detail of this piece sort of image and we could even continue in and this is why, when you're photographing jewelry, I do find that a macro lens is really really helpful because I wanna be able to show those details. Yeah, this is gonna look good. (camera clicks) Right? Super pretty. So I'm styling it overall and then I'm coming in and I'm showing them what's important in that piece. And we're just gonna take one more to be safe. (camera clicks) and I think we're good. Okay, so that was photographing jewelry from the side and if I had earrings, I think another really cool thing would be to take this wood piece, add in a dial and now I can hang my earrings so I could photograph a necklace, I could photograph earrings. I could maybe add a little hook and photographs bracelets. So they all can go on that similar piece. It can all flow and look the same. So I think, you know, you invest in one or two quality pieces and maybe you change it each season, right? Like this is your Fall set with the wood and it's a little bit warmer and then at winter, you change it for like a big piece of wood, you know and you rotate through the season so it's not always the same in your store but it has the same feel but, you have to remember that there are new people coming to your store every day who've never seen it before, you know and they'll think it's new and exciting too so... Alright, I think next we're going to photograph the pillows. And while we get that set up Candice, quick question about from Thomas and I saw a few people ask this. What do you do if the jewelry, the piece is translucent is clearer, clear pendants, for example? I don't know that I would do that much different because I want to show that it's translucent so I'm okay with people seeing what's behind it and these were really simple clean things. If it was a pattern like we photographed in a previous lesson, it would be too busy. All those dots sort of showing through, but with that the simple osnaburg or the stand that we had with just a very simple piece of fabric behind it would be totally fine. Can you repeat the osenburg? Osnaburg. I wasn't familiar with that or-- I wasn't either. I've guessed like it's quilting fabric. My mom told me to use it. Hey mom. She picked it out actually one time when we were working on like curtains and we needed inexpensive fabric but it's right by the muslin. So if you go to any fabric store and you ask them where the muslin is, you will find the osnaburg right by it as well. And it's really inexpensive. Just another reason why I love it. I'm curious what size you're shooting, what the image size is, setting in the camera? Like the quality? The quality. I always shoot in raw, that's a really great question that we didn't talk about and we should have. So I always shoot in raw, but what that means is you have to edit every image. You can't just print from a raw file so I have to either open it up in Photoshop or in Lightroom or somewhere and edit it and then save it as a JPEG so then a lot of people are like, "Why are you doing that and not just shooting as a JPEG?" Well, what happens is... Do we have a piece of paper? Yes, right here in my notes from yesterday. I'm gonna take it. This the best way I can explain it. It's not a super technical way but it's the best I can explain it. When you save a raw file, the way that it compresses it is by like folding it up in a neat little package so that it can be saved onto your card and then when I open that file backup, all the information is still there. None of it went away. It was only made smaller by being like folded up, right? All of the information I had originally is still there. When I save a JPEG to my card, the way it makes it smaller (paper rips) is by getting rid of some it and now I have this much information left. So when I open that up to edit it, I only have this much information to work with as opposed to this much information and if I made a mistake, if it was too dark or it was too light or if it was the wrong color balance and I need to adjust it, I want all this information. I want all the information in my highlights and my shadows. I don't want to lose information. Especially when you're starting out, it would seem the opposite; I'll stick with JPEG, it's easier but I actually think that it's easier starting out to work with raw because you can make a lot more adjustments in editing than you can when you're shooting in JPEG. The original images will not look as good on the back of your camera or when you first open them up because when you shoot in JPEG, your camera automatically adds contrast and sharpens it so you're seeing a better image to your eye because it's already working on it for you and that's another reason why I like to shoot raw because I don't my camera to decide anything for me. I want to decide and so I like to have that control. I'm a little bit of a control freak, clearly but that's okay. Anyway, I know technically that's not exactly right but I feel like it's a good example. That's a brilliant way to explain it so thank you. Brilliant way. And I'm so glad you asked that, so yes, I shoot in raw just for the editing purposes.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Creating Visuals For Your Brand Assignment
Slide Presentation for Lessons Part 1
Slide Presentation for Lessons Part 2
Prop List

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

This class taught by Candice was amazing. She teaches in such a step-by-step, easy to understand pace. She shares so much of her own tips and tricks she uses to create beautiful images without spending a fortune or having all kinds of expensive equipment. Having the DSLR lessons included was really great for anyone who wants to do more than the camera phones are capable of. Learning the basics of how to use a DSLR is confusing for most people, but Candice broke it down in the simplest way possible. Social media is all about imagery, so if you want to put out the most beautiful eye-catching photos, then you want to learn how to use more than the camera phone. I don't have a business where I need to take photos of things I sell and I still enjoyed her class so much. As a photographer, I am going to use her ideas and insight when I photograph things for fun. There is so much to gain from this class. I would highly recommend taking her class. She is a wealth of great ideas and information and has that friendly personality of someone you'd want to sit and have coffee with.


A wonderful class to get you going with craft/product photography. Candice provides (and shows) fantastic examples and it's really fun to watch her work through a shoot, moving items, etc. to create the final image. She also covers some basic photography tips which is very helpful. Great class! I definitely recommend to others!

Melinda Malamoco

I loved this class! Candice is so personable, clear and relatable. I would want to hang out with her and be creative! I have been taking pictures for YEARS, and for my Etsy store for over two years, and I still learned a lot in her class. The lessons are set up in a way that you can follow, take what you want and don't worry about what you don't need. I will say that I got a TON of ideas for how to better display my brand, what my personal style is and how to be consistent with it. I so recommend this class for anyone who has small business or just wants to be able to take better pictures of their products. Okay, off to build a prop kit!

Student Work