Jewelry photography

Ring test-118-EditJewelry photography is one of the most difficult technical photographic skills out there. Even after you get a handle on the lighting and setup, that is only 30% of the process. More than likely you’ll have to do focus stacking to get the maximum sharpness for an image, and that can be after using a tilt-shift lens. After getting all the photographs taken, there’s still  50% of the job to be done in post-processing to get the image even close to what a client wants.

Take for example the ring in the upper right hand image. It is 60 years old and has seen a lot of use. The piece is very dear to the client and they wanted the best image possible within a budget.

This was a tall order, as the rhodium plating has worn off in many spots and the casting of the ring shows a lot of pores. Getting the look just right for their use takes quite a bit of work. The bottom Ring test-051diamond has a big chip in it, the ruby has several inclusions and surface defects. Of course, all of these are invisible when the ring is worn. But when the client needs a photograph for it, all the defects become painfully apparent.

You can see how the image started with in the bottom right picture. The color is off. The depth of field is shallow, the background is not white, on and on. Click on the photo to see a larger version.

Some of the imperfections have been left, as the client did not want to make the ring “too perfect”. Just good enough for their use.

Added jewelry portfolio page

112-1100-PBS-14-1161-Edit-531I’m excited to have added a jewelry photography sample page to my portfolio of images. This is just a sampling of the images I’ve created for clients. Their products are special and delicate, so I take the utmost care when handling, processing, and preparing them. As some of the pieces in the portfolio are in excess of $10,000, they required special handling.

Many of the shots were done at the client’s site in order to minimize the risk and stress of photographing high-end valuable products. There are several reasons for this:

  • Eliminate cost and risk of shipping
  • Essentially eliminate the “down time” of pieces not on the sales floor
  • Providing instant feedback for the client to ensure their needs are met without costly reshoots
  • Reduces or eliminate the need for additional insurance because all pieces never leave the client’s business

112-1100-PBS-15-1278-Edit-mod-531Photographing jewelry is one of the most complex types of photography there is. Not only is the work technically demanding, there is a high level of artistry needed to take a photo of a ring and turn it into art. So often I receive jewelry samples which have dings, buff marks, scratches, and other undesirable defects. Even with brand new polished jewelry, there are always small defects present in the product.

But with photographs, each client wants their jewelry to look perfect, inducing the buyer to want, if not need, to purchase the piece. I go to great lengths to produce the most appealing and attractive images possible. Clients are always astounded at the level of technical effort and hours of post-processing necessary to make an image look as good as they do.

I am happy to travel to the client’s site to photograph high-value items. Although I prefer to shoot products in my studio, I understand and appreciate the client’s need for reduced risk, feedback, and turnaround time. If the client is able to ship their samples to me, this is always better than having me travel to their site to reduce cost. I look forward to delivering  high quality jewelry images to my clients in the future.

Diamond Necklaces

I’m enjoying studio photography and had the chance to photograph Kelly’s

Kelly's diamond necklace by Christian Tse on black.
Kelly’s diamond necklace by Christian Tse on black.

diamond necklace by Christian Tse today.  I made the first image on black to make the piece stand out.  It was actually pretty easy to get the background to go within 3 points of complete black.  This will be part of my intermediate photography and strobe photography class in spring 2014 put on by the Jackson Hole Art Association.

The second image was done on white, similar to what most jewelry companies do.  Although almost all products are done on what, PSOW, I prefer the black for this sort of piece with white gold and diamonds.  Even though the image on the metal is the same in both

Kelly's necklace by Christian Tse on white
Kelly’s necklace by Christian Tse on white

images, the effect of a black versus a white background is pretty dramatic.  It’s really a personal preference.  Most clients prefer things on white because they can cut the background out in Photoshop and then do whatever they need with it.  I prefer to get everything right in the camera and not have to do hardly anything in PS.  The less time I spend in post, the happier I am.

The photographs I’ve done for By Nature Gallery have required a pure, 0,0,0 background, meaning I have a LOT of work to do in photoshop.  Even though I can control the light really well, getting a true zero black background is essentially impossible.  So, their work always requires a lot of post.

You’ll have to decide for yourself which one you like better.

Necklace setup shot
Necklace setup shot

I’ve also included a setup shot so you can see what goes into making one of these images.  I really wish I had one more Nikon Speedlight to give me an extra edge and ability to sculpt the image.  It’d only be another $500.  Haha!