1) Tips on taking closeup photographs of your polymer clay beads and jewelry for posting on the web.
2) How to make an inexpensive light box so you can take photos of your jewellery items with seamless backgrounds.
Today’s Polymer Clay Q+A topics were submitted by Krista Bernier and Lisa. Their questions should remind us all about how important it is to take good photos of your jewelry… whether you are selling your work on Etsy, posting pictures to your blog or just uploading photos to a Flickr account.
I once read an article by a jewelry artist who was having trouble selling her stuff on Etsy. So she decided to replace her old photos with new more professional looking ones. Many of her pieces started selling right away, and she was convinced that the quality of her pics had everything to do with the increased level of activity. I’m not surprised.
I’ve seen some horrible pictures at many Etsy Stores. Blurry out of focus photos that are taken way too far back from the jewelry item being shot. Pictures with a million things going on to distract the eye from where it should be focused. And poor lighting… really poor lighting!
I am very lucky to have my husband Doug who takes way better pictures of my stuff that I ever could. He’s the chief videographer as well. Anyway… on to Krista’s question:
Q-1: Hi Cindy! Can you tell me how to get really close up pictures of beads and canes. No matter how much light or where I stand, I can not get them that close. I have a really great camera, top of the line Kodak so I do not feel that is the problem. Any help would be greatly appreciated. ~Krista Bernier
A-1:After a bit of bit of back and forth dialog, we found out that Krista’s camera was the Kodak z650. This camera will definitely work for doing closeups, even if the lighting isn’t optimal. On many cameras there is a little button with a flower icon that will automatically make the necessary adjustments for taking close up shots.
Another tip for doing closeups is to NOT use any zoom. Just put the camera on a tripod and move the camera towards your bead or piece of jewelry instead.
Krista responded via email with this… “Well I was not aware of the flower icon, but that helped a ton! I tried a couple pictures and they are much closer without zooming. I just get a bad glare from the flash or shadows from the camera. But I think now that I know where to start, I can figure out the rest through trial and error. Thank you so much. I would have never guessed that button was there.”
Q-2: What is the best way to light your jewelry for taking pictures to post online? ~Lisa
A-2: Once you have your camera figured out, the next thing to learn about is proper lighting and backgrounds. I recently came across this cool tutorial from The Strobist Blog, on how to build a cheap lightbox for taking studio photos of small items like jewelery and beads.
All you need to build this miniature photo studio is a cardboard box, some tracing paper, tape and an x-acto knife. A wide and long strip of paper is attached inside of the box to form a seamless backdrop. It’s best if you go to the Strobist’s blog to see his tutorial. He does a great job of explaining everything step by step.
He also suggests that it’s a good idea to have both a white and a black backdrop so you have two different colored backgrounds to use depending on the look you are going for. I think this is where your artistic side can kick in. Why not try a piece of fabric, or a chunk of leather? Or maybe try some sheets of scrapbooking paper or handmade paper?
Whatever gets the effect you want and the originality you need. Be careful not to let your background compete with your jewelry though. It should support your piece, not take away from it.
One more idea popped into my head while writing this. I could see a cardboard box with all its sides cut out, getting a little flimsy. Especially if you had to move it around a lot. What if you used a plastic bin instead? That would be stronger!
If the plastic bin is made with white semi-transparent sides, that may even be enough to let enough light filter through to your subject without even having to make cutouts in the sides of the bin. Will have to give that a try.
Thank you to Krista and Lisa for the great questions. If this article was helpful, please let me know in the comments section below. The topics covered in today’s Polymer Clay Q+A were:
- Jewelry Photography Tips for Taking Closeups <AND>
- Making a Homemade Lightbox Tutorial… Cheap!