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Photographs backgrounds for jurying

Hi - question on backgrounds. I know they need to be neutral, no
texture. Does the color matter as long as it doesn’t clash with the
jewelry? Do you need it to be all one color, or fade from dark to
light? If it fades, does it matter whether it fades from side to
side, top to bottom, or outer edges to center?

Beth in SC

Hi Beth,

Actually you CAN do what ever you want, but some ways work much
better to make your pieces stand out than others.

I would reccoment you try to attend a slide Jury of a good show if
at all possible. I don’t know about South Carolina but here in the
midwest there are a couple of decent shows run by art guilds or
centers that allow the member artists to see the slide presentation.
Sometimes they need volunteers to run the projectors or something so
you can see them that way too if you are a member. It can be a real
eye opener.


Beth, I heartily recommend that you arrange somehow to take Charles
Lewton-Brain’s photography workshop. I just finished it in Tucson,
and it will answer ALL of your questions. A great class !

If you cannot do it in person, IMMEDIATELY buy his book on the
subject. rite to:


In an article jewelry photographer Robert Diamante wrote for Studio
PMC, he noted that background color should provide contrast, but not
distraction. Bright colors distract from the jewelry, while
noncontrasting ones (such as white for silver jewelry) don’t allow
the jewelry to “pop”.

To read the article (and view Robert’s pictures, which demonstrate
his point admirably) visit:

Click on “back issues” : the article is the first one listed under
Fall 2003.


Suzanne Wade
Phone: (508) 339-7366
Fax: (928) 563-8255

You can buy the gradient gray background, it’s actually a printed
photograph, at (they have it in the store,
I’m guessing you can buy online). You put the dark part at the top,
I think.

You can also buy photo backdrop paper in lots of colors, and it
really does work better than regular paper. It comes on large
rolls, much bigger than you can ever use up for jewelry.

The problem with using the gradient gray background is that if you
put jewelry directly on it, you’ll scratch the paper.

An LJ article in the last year had instructions. They took the
gradient gray background, put it flat on a table, weighed down the
corners, then put drinking glasses on each corner and put a piece of
glass on top. I don’t remember, but I imagine the glass was

Then the jewelry went on top of that.

I like this idea, but the part I can’t figure out is –

when we shoot we have the jewelry at an angle – it’s on a ramp
inside a foam core box with a diffuser on top. So with the glass
bit, how do you get the jewelry at an angle so you get a pleasing
angle with your picture? Move the camera?

Elaine Luther
Chicago area, Illinois, USA
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Studio 925; established 1992

  The problem with using the gradient gray background is that if
you put jewelry directly on it, you'll scratch the paper. 

You can take it to a print shop and have it laminated (matte finish)
to avoid this.

Dana Carlson

  The problem with using the gradient gray background is that if
you put jewelry directly on it, you'll scratch the paper. 

I had read that the graduated background was easily scratched. But
the Varitone 09 (white to black) background that I tried from
Phototechnic (at has held
up through quite a few sessions. I’m putting iron on it, which I’d
think would tend to scratch it as much as softer jewelry materials. I
almost didn’t try it because I’d read that graduated backgrounds were
delicate, and that often the black looked blue in the slides. But
using Fuji 64T film with 3200K photo lights, the black has looked
fine, with or without a warming filter on the camera lens. So this
background has become my favorite unless I need an all black one.
Then a piece of black plush material (like polartech) has proved

Catherine Jo Morgan
Iron & Mixed Media Bowl Sculptures
Artist Journal Online - Hand Forged Vessels: