My photography and jewelry making journey. Please visit the Vintage Cravens blog for new product releases, outfit posts, shop updates, etc.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Jewelry Photography: Choosing Backgrounds

Photographing jewelry can be as much of an artistic journey as making the pieces themselves. There are many things to take into consideration when styling backgrounds for photographs.
  • Is there a brand identity on my website I need to convey in my photographs?
  • Will the people viewing my photographs be using a large screen or on their phone?
  • Is there a mood I want to convey with my photos?
  • Are there things I can include with my jewelry to enhance it or help a customer understand things about the piece like what looks would it go with or how big is it?
  • And the list goes on...

On a Clean Background

Here, I've photographed a single necklace on three backgrounds as an example of how different backgrounds with the exact same piece and similar camera angle can completely change things. Using 'clean' backgrounds (i.e. without distinct patterns or props) is an opportunity to showcase the fine detail in a piece of jewelry without distraction.

  • Mood: What do you think of when you look at the white background versus the dark shimmery grey? How about the neutral parchment-like version in the middle? For me, the white background is clean and fresh, like a summery day while the deep grey is mysterious and sexy. The parchment makes me think vintage or Bohemian - that this necklace would look terrific with a lacy blouse and faded jeans. 

  • Color: When selling jewelry online, helping a customer 'see' the colors in your pieces is so important to a successful transaction. When looking closely at the detailed beads and pendant in my examples, the colors are consistent across the backgrounds. However, at a quick glance (much like a customer would do as they skim through photographs), the colors can look very different when viewed as a whole with the background. For example, the white background in conjunction with the brightly colored beads make them look more pastel-like while the deep grey makes them appear richer. When I list products online, I like to include at least one photograph on a contrasting background to help catch a customer's eye and encourage them take a closer look. 

  • Brand Identity: When making decisions about your business as a whole, consistent use of backgrounds in your 'first glance' photography can bring a cohesive look to your online shop, to your marketing materials, blog, etc. If you decide to sell on a platform such as Etsy or eBay where you have limited control over your shop's landing page, your photographs are critical to making your shop feel, well, like your shop! For example, on my VintageCravens Etsy shop, I like to use a plain white background for all of my cover shots to bring many styles of vintage and antique jewelry together. However, on my VintageCravensToo Etsy shop, I am currently in the process of testing a variety of backgrounds to decide what showcases my personal style of jewelry I make. I went through the same process with VintageCravens over the span of about a year until I landed on what I liked best. Hopefully this gives you hope PLUS a dose of reality that brand identity can take time to establish (unless you decide to work with a marketing service to help you with these things). 

With Props

Including props in photographs can increase the confidence level of customers shopping online for a piece of jewelry. Showing them how a piece looks when worn or with common items can give a sense of scale in addition to providing education on how the jewelry can complement fashion styles. In this collage, I've taken my necklace and put it in three different settings.

  • On a Model or Mannequin: Using a beautiful model can serve multiple purposes for your jewelry. Firstly, it will provide a solid example of the scale of your piece. Beyond this, a model or mannequin can be dressed to complement your jewelry. For example, I like this particular necklace for a casual look, so I dressed my mannequin in a jean jacket and lacy tank top. It suggests a more relaxed style. 

  • With a Common Object: Using an object like a cell phone, spoon or purse can also provide a sense of scale. In my example, I used a vintage suede purse with zippers for a close up shot. Not only does this showcase the piece's scale, it also gives it a Bohemian vibe. I'm seeing this necklace going to a festival with my sweet vintage suede bag here! 

  • Lifted on Something: Using items to lift portions of jewelry is a terrific way to add movement to your pieces and draw the eye. In my example, I've used an antique butter paddle resting under my necklace. This helps give a sense of depth to the piece and shows the lightness of the wires the beads are mounted on. 

One of my favorite parts of running VintageCravens is the time I get to spend behind my camera. I hope some of the things I've learned through the years can help you build your skills as well and I would love to hear YOUR ideas on how to use backgrounds and props. What say you? 

Have a wonderful day!

Photo credits: Cover sketch by Annalise Nicole (learn more about her)

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