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Jewellery Photography


#1

Hi,

I’m finally going to have a bunch of pieces all together (for this
tradeshow I’m doing), and I have always planned on getting a good
photographer to do it. I called one yesterday here in the area
(Vancouver, BC), and he was fabulous with and help.
However, I’m feeling a little poor, and I’m wondering what other
people suggest. My mum suggested that, for the money it would take
to pay him to do my pieces once, I could buy a camera and tripod
myself. I just feel a little overwhelmed with the idea, though.
Lighting, focussing, arg!!! So, my questions are these: if I
was to find a photographer, what should I look for (for decent
pictures at decent prices), and if I was to take the pictures
myself, is there any great wisdom that anyone can share? I know
the answers to these will be quite a mouthful, and I appreciate all
the help I can get.

Thanks again, everyone!

Tobey Robinson
Adoremus Creations in Metal
Burnaby, BC, Canada


#2

Tobey,

I asked for help on this same subject on the Jewelry Design list.
Got a wonderful response. I saved most of the posts and will be
glad to share them with you off line if you send me your email.
I’m sure you will get some good responses here too. Charles
Lewton-Brain has a book and video I just ordered (haven’t had time
yet to use the video or read the book). I do know from my own
experience that photographing jewelry is not easy. Lots of
problems, like: hot spots, lighting, background, focus, etc. etc.
etc. But in the long run, if you can take the slides/photos
yourself you won’t miss having good pictures of your work.

Let me know if you want a copy of the JD list posts.

Nancy


#3

The Ganoksin website has a pretty explanation. you can probably
find it by going to orchid and looking around. there is lots of
other info too.

good luck gregor


#4
  So, my questions are these: if I was to find a photographer,
what should I look for (for decent pictures at decent prices),
and if I was to take the pictures myself, is there any great
wisdom that anyone can share?  

Tobey,

I have tried so many different photographers and several ways of
shooting my own photos that I feel rather qualified to answer you.
You can get decent shots on your own if you can shoot in natural
but filtered light such as outside on a cloudy day. The downside
is that there won’t be much in the way of depth or highlights. If
you do it yourself make sure you use a plain or gradiated
background, keeping in mind that any texture will appear huge in
your slides. If you hire it done know what you want before you
start looking for a photographer. Find pictures of jewelry similar
to yours that is photographed in a way that you like. Show the
pictures to at least 3 or 4 different photographers and ask to see
examples of their work as well. Make sure they show you pictures
of small scale items like jewelry or small machine parts. Get a
price quote from each photographer. You need to decide what you
will be using the pictures/slides for and how you want your work
set up in the shots before you go. The less prepared you are the
more it will cost. I paid $275 dollars (U.S.) for 6 set ups but I
had other quotes for $450. Find a photographer that you can work
well with and it will pay off in the long run. I wasted a lot of
time and money learning this lesson. Feel free to contact me
directly if you have any specific questions I can answer. Good
Luck

May your anvil never rust-
Deb Karash
Midwest USA


#5

My mum suggested that, for the money it would take
to pay him to do my pieces once, I could buy a camera and tripod
myself.

Yes, but it would probably take you a while to get good pics. I
ran into this same problem some time ago. For a quick remedy, you
can put the pieces on a scanner and scan them into your computer.
A good color copy machine will also work. I now have a digital
camera that works well enough to send to juried shows

If you want a quality photo to use in a brochure you should use a
regular camera. The most important part of the camera is the lens.
You will get a good photo with almost any lens, but for
professional pics you should have a good Macro lens. Shoot on a
fine grain slide film and compose carefully. It is a good idea to
bracket your exposures, and watch for reflections,especially any
lights you use.

There are MANY variables, but what the hey, all it can cost you is
a few hundred bucks.

Even barbarians like chocolate chip cookies
Bobert
Carmel,CA


#6

Hello Tobey Robinson:

Do you have a video camera? The reason I ask is that if your
reason is to put pictures on the web you can use a device called
"AIGOTCHA2" or “SNAPPY”. I just got one and it works pretty good. I
have found that I get the clearest pictures when I capture straight
from the video camera hooked up to the device instead of recording
first, but it works great for all your video tape to. Take a look
at a couple of pictures on my web page.

The software that comes with the device also lets you make AVI’s.
On my page are a couple of moving pictures from start to finish of
a custom ring I just did. The quality of these are not as good
because I had to convert to GIF format.

Michael Mathews Victoria,Texas USA


#7

I just feel a little overwhelmed with the idea, though.
Lighting, focussing, arg!!! So, my questions are these: if I
was to find a photographer, what should I look for (for decent
pictures at decent prices), and if I was to take the pictures
myself, is there any great wisdom that anyone can share?

Tobey,

I photograph my students work for them most successfully and I am
in no way trained as a photographer! First of all, I would suggest
looking up a real beginner’s guide in the library and this should
give you some pointers.

To photograph the work, I build a tent out of thin white cotton.
The tent goes round the piece(s) and the flash unit goes outside
this tent. I set the flash unit to a normal exposure, ie: what I
would use if I were just photographing stuff without the tent.

I use an ordinary 35mm SLR with a 50mm lens and stop it down to as
small an aperture as I can.

Poke the lens through the tent and focus and take your picture.
The small aperture means that you will not need to be so accurate
on focus and the flash means that you will not have to worry about
camera shake (no tripod).

I take all my photographs on slide film: the colour saturatuion is
better, as is the lattitude (the margin for error) and they
reproduce better, although prints from slides are a bit more
expensive than prints from negatives.

Usually, I will photograph the pieces three times: once at the
’correct’ exposure and once at one stop over exposed and once at
one stop under exposed.

I hope that this gives you some ideas. This all works for me.

As I said, I am NOT a photographer and if anyone else has ideas,
they could well be better!

Yours aye,
Dauvit Alexander,
Glasgow, Scotland.


#8

To Nancy, Could you please forward the Jewelry Design list posts
about photography to me? I have had pretty good luck photographing
my paintings but had poor results the one time I tried to
photograph a piece of silver jewelry I made. Thanks a lot.

Sue Danehy, Upstate New York, Northeast USA

danehy@scanva.canton.edu


#9

I use Dean Powell who is a highly regarded jewelery photographer.
His work graces many a page of Metalsmith and American Craft
magazines. His rates are reasonable considering the high quality of
work he does. If you are interested, email me and I will send you
the particulars.

-k
Karen Christians
Fly Fish Design
282 Lexington St.
Woburn, MA 01801

@metalart


#10
   pictures at decent prices), and if I was to take the pictures
myself, is there any great wisdom that anyone can share?  I know
the answers to these will be quite a mouthful, and I appreciate 
     all the help I can get.

I have had excellent luck photographing rings myself for internet
use. I put a piece of purple silk ( a blouse) over the handl end of
a letter opener (about the size of a finger) and slipped the ring
over all of that - Took video of the ring with my Sony Handycam -
filling the viewer with the ring - so REAL close. Then I captured
single frames I liked with SNAPPY ($100 computer program). I can
send a sample pic to anyone who is interested.

Hope this helps someone. I thought it rather original at the
time. Kathy


#11

Tobey,0AAs a professional recipient of these kinds of slides 96
I’m a designer jewelry0Amarketing consultant and I produce
designer trade shows and publications and0Ahave sat on several
juries for other events and competitions - I can tell you0Aright
now that if you aren’t a fantastic photographer…you should
stick0Ato making the jewelry and let a professional do his/her
job.0A0AFor juried events the judges are seeing hundreds of slides
at once - while the0Ajurors have been chosen for their ability to
"read": the work shown it’s only0Anatural that they can "read"
better when they can see it better. Amateur0Aslides really show
during a jury and can have grave consequences.0A0AAnd for
publication…well, most magazines that could give you
free0Apublicity will only choose good artwork to feature so if
your images aren’t up0Ato snuff they won’t get used much. And if
you’re going to make a postcard to0Amarket your work the quality
of the shot will directly impact your audiences0Aimpression of the
quality of the work and of the business creating the work.0A=0ASo,
while professional photography may seem expensive it is an
essential0Ainvestment in your professional image and your eventual
success in this0Abusiness. 0A0A0A0ANow having said all that I can
reccomend a photographer in NY state who shoots0Ajury slides
exclusivley and his prices are incredibly reasonable. …
about0A$40 per shot (4 shot mininum) for a standard, gorgeous
slide… is this not0Aa great investment in selling your
work?0A0Agood luck!0ACindy Edelstein0AJeweler’s Resource0A


#12

I have been having a running discussion with my artist friends
about jury slides. I have come to the conclusion that it is really
difficult to be objective when looking at a slide of my own work
because I know what the work looks like and I project what I know
into what I see in the slide. Is there anyone with and extensive
background in jurying who would be willing (for a reasonable fee)
to critique my slides and give and opinion as to which ones are
best for jurying? My friends and I plan to get together for a
group critique at sometime but I would love to hear from a pro.

Thanks,
Deb - in the oddly springlike midwest


#13

I am sorry to be so disjointed,but one more thing, and this is
the critical one.Your slides will be judged side by side with the
slides of many people who have had their photo’s done
professionally, and if your lively hood depends on getting into
shows, you have to look at least as good as they do. Slides are
not projected for extended lengths of time in jurying for shows,
and you slides need to be as effective as the best of them, unless
you just send in your jury fee as some sort of philanthropy,
because you feel that show promoters don’t make enough money and
feel that you should contribute to their incomes without a chance
of getting into the shows. Depending on the level of show you are
applying to , you could be going toe to toe with some pretty
serious competitors…if you shoot them yourself,maybe you
should ask yourself…“do you feel lucky”?.. Ted


#14

I have watched this thread for few days now and figure I’ll throw
in my two cents worth.The reality is that it is an expensive
endeavor to get good enough at shooting jewelry< in particular> to
be able to use the slides for shows.Jewelry is a more difficult
subject than many to photograph due to several factors, you need
to get a small object to appear large in the frame <photo/slide>
so you need sometimes more than a one to one ratio between the
object and the medium, this leads to depth of field problems where
you have some difficulty in getting the whole depth of a piece in
focus clearly… and that is just for starters.The issue of
lighting is a variable that, to a degree, is different for each
piece you shoot. True, experienced photographers have a more or
less standard or even permanent set up and they just need to pop
the piece to be shot into their tent and shoot.This has a tendency
to make it look easier than it is, but it takes a fair amount of
film, and time, and practice to arrive at this place.For a
beginner it is a long and arduous uphill climb to get repeatable
and useful shots. I don’t want to dissuade you from trying , but
keep in mind that you will shoot lots of film at , what? $15-20,
or more per rollto get
results that are oftentimes less than impressive. A decent camera
with the appropriate macro lens could set you back another $1000,
and the lighting a few hundred more,all with no guarantee of
success…it is a risky undertaking cash wise. You may be better
off finding out if anyone locally shoots for other jewelers you
know, or if that fails try looking in the ‘craft report’ or some
other similar publication to find someone who can shoot your
slides for $35-$50 each…in the short run at least, you will end
up with slides you can use, and you will actually invest less
cash…

this is just my opinion, of course,and your mileage may vary…
good luck, Ted Hendrickson


#15

Nancy, I’d love to see dthe info you gethered about photographing
jewelry. And if anyone has any experience with or suggestions for,
using a digital camera, I’d also appreciate such help. I thought I
had the photo thing handled with the 35 mm camera, now I have to
get good with the digital. (Epson 600)

Thanks for the help.

Ruth
Foxymon123@aol.com


#16

Nancy, I’d love to see dthe info you gethered about photographing
jewelry. And if anyone has any experience with or suggestions for,
using a digital camera, I’d also appreciate such help. I thought I
had the photo thing handled with the 35 mm camera, now I have to
get good with the digital. (Epson 600)

Thanks for the help.

Ruth
Foxymon123@aol.com


#17

While I am biased, you can indeed get professional quality shots
fairly easily with a reasonable (not excessive) amounto of
practice. We have a video lecture and book combination on small
scale phtography for jewelry that we sell (10% off for Orchid
types-email me off list if interested). See the September Lapidary
Journal cover and shots in an article on my work for examples shot
on the system described. Chunks from the book are up on the topics
page at Ganokisn.com. The system costs about $60.00 to set up, the
camera and lens recommended if bought used run about $500 for
both. We have had very happy comments back from people who are
truly satisfied with their results-point being-you don’t
necessarily have to spend a ton to set up for quality jury shots of
your work. Having said that, spending the 35-45$ mentioned for good
shots (see craft report magazine) is not a bad choice either. The
advantage of doing it yourself is lower costs, immediate turnaround
(no sending work off and waiting to get it back) etc. Charles

Brain Press
Box 1624, Ste M, Calgary, Alberta, T2P 2L7, Canada
Tel: 403-263-3955 Fax: 403-283-9053 Email: @Charles_Lewton-Brain

Metals info download web site: http://www.ganoksin.com/borisat/tree.cgi
Product descriptions: http://www.ganoksin.com/kosana/brain/brain.htm


#18

Dauvit, How do you make the tent of the thin white fabric? I tried
using embroidery hoops to keep the fabric from drifting “in”, but
my lights came in contact, and burned nice large holes in the
fabric. I then constructed a box from translucent plexi, held
together with white Velcro. This seems to cut down the light too
much, and it has started to warp from the bulb heat. I made the
box rather small, as the lamps on the copy stand, from which my
camera is suspended, only move out a small ways. I shoot from
either 11 inches or 15 inches, straight down, so the field is only
about 12x 17". It does cut down on hot spots! I use blue
photographic bulbs, so I don’t have to use tungsten film. This
seems to help silver actually look more like silver. To add more
warmth, if using gold or bronze, I held a small candelabra bulb
plugged into a sock on a wire, at the top of my box,shining down on
the subject.

I would like a better “tent” than the plexi- and one that doesn’t
burn!

Thanks,

Ruth


#19

Deb, after only a few years in the “juried shows.” I have
concluded that one needs to get to know the "person in charge."
When that happens, your chances of getting in are much better.

After submitting many slides, I found that most were rejected
UNTIL, I did one of the NEW shows and the promoter loved what she
saw . . . she told me that I would be on her future lists . . . I
haven’t had to request applications since.

I think the “friends” critique party sounds like fun!!! BTW, make
sure that your items fill the slide. (The tiny piece on a colorful
display won’t get anywhere . . .)

Good luck!!!


#20
Nancy, I'd love to see dthe info you gethered about photographing
jewelry.  And if anyone has any experience with or suggestions for,
using a digital camera, I'd also appreciate such help.  I thought I
had the photo thing handled with the 35 mm camera, now I have to
get good with the digital. (Epson 600)

Ruth,

What I have is all 35mm stuff, 14 word processor pages from
Jewelry Design postings. I don’t know if they will help, but I
will send them to you off-line. However, there was a thread
earlier, I think Dec and Jan, on Orchid about digital cameras.
Check the archives for those.

14 page email is on its way.

Nancy