The use of live models

Hello All,

I was thinking of using models in my slides for some of my pieces.
What is the consensus on this idea in regards to using them for a
jury image? I haven’t used models before, but some of my work is
more fully understood on the body. I am also on a site that doesn’t
allow the use of draped body forms to display the work. I know some
fiber artists use models. The faces aren’t necessarily shown in many
of the images so the work is the main focus. I was wondering what the
Orchid community had to say about this. I couldn’t find anything in
the archives. If anyone has a thought I would appreciate it.

Thanks so much,


Use a professional photographer with experience with models and a
real model, or don’t do it at all.

For some really horrible use of models, just look at etsy, I don’t
mean to pick on people, but if you look, you will see some
horrifying, “oh my god, what body part IS that?” pictures.

Pasty white skin, excessive hair…


Hi Susan,

Using a model can be a tough decision. I think that the first
question is always whether or not the piece would benefit from being
"activated" by being shot on the body. Does the body is some way
generate form or somehow complete the piece.

I visited your site --which is lovely as is your work-- and it seems
to me that your neckpieces and body pieces would certainly work well
photographed on the body. The shots on the mannequins surely
communicate the idea already so it’s hard to say how much more would
be gained… But who knows until you snap a few shots.

I’ve been hearing a lot of jewelers and metalsmiths talking lately
about the body: getting the work on the body in images. But, again
not all work benefits from this. That being said I’ve seen larger,
more theatric rings photographed on the finger and does make a

If you do use a model I think that you have to choose carefully.
Skin tone, blemishes and body type all come into play. You might find
some useful at the SNAG website under Professional
Guidelines in the Top Ten Hints For Getting Into A Juried Show.
There’s some about using live models towards the end of
the document.

I hope this helps
Take care, Andy Cooperman

I remember seeing a web site where the jewelry was shown on people,
but they had edited the photos to make the people appear black and
white, while the jewelry was in color. It was striking and I liked
the look.

Cairenn, the Howling Artist

This website uses models well, I think.


Thanks Cairenn Elaine and Andy,

I appreciate your advice. Very good points indeed. I think I will
keep the jewelry on forms (like on website) for jury slides, and I
will try using my photographers models for commercial ad type shots.
My photographer does fashion photography too so I thought I might
just see what the pieces look like on a live person.

I just live y’all on Orchid =)


My photographer does fashion photography too so I thought I might
just see what the pieces look like on a live person. 

Oh, please do post when the pictures are up, I would love to see

I wonder if having these professional pictures will help you get
placed in fashion magazines? (if that’s appropriate.)


As I have read & heard in the past, the use of live models for
photos of your pieces, ESPECIALLY for jury shots, is not recommended.
If your pieces are “more fully understood on the body”, then try to
come up with clean and neat props that represent the human body. If
you do show something on an actual person, you don’t want to show the
face, and that can be tricky if you’re getting close enought to show
necklaces and earrings. I think the main reason that it’s considered
undesirable is that once you get that close to most people’s skin,
right at the neck for instance to show a necklace, it’s not as lovely
as you’d like it to be. It becomes a distraction. Sure, some women
(OK, I’m assuming we’re talking women here for the models) have
amazing, smooth, blemish-free skin. They get paid lots of money to
be models, and even then they are usually heavily made up and then
airbrushed later to remove what few “imperfections” they may have. If
you are friends with someone like that, and have the makeup and the
PS skills, great. I still wouldn’t recommend it, though. Jurors
aren’t used to that in the images they see, and it would probably
therefore still be distracting. I understand how some pieces just
show better on an actual human form, and that can make them tricky to
photograph. I have some necklaces that don’t look good when laying
flat or hanging up. They need to be draped around a shape like a
person’s neck in order to show nicely. For that, usually you can find
a bust do the trick, although then the trick is having the photo turn
out nicely. I must say that I don’t have too many photos of those
pieces that I really like, and fortunately I’ve never “needed” to
have one of them be a jury image. I did get one, though, that was on
a short black velveteen bust and the lighting was such that the bust
blended totally with the black background and the piece just seemed
to be floating in blackness.

Really showed it off nicely. Usually I find the bust shows up TOO
well, as does all the lint that I didn’t even think was on there but
shows up in spades in the photos! I guess I need to find a better
type of covering for my props for those cases. Not too shiny, not too

Designs by Lisa Gallagher

I remember seeing a web site where the jewelry was shown on
people, but they had edited the photos to make the people appear
black and white, while the jewelry was in color. 

And I can understand why they did it. I tried taking earring and ear
cuff photos on a live model (a relative) a while back. After changing
earrings and ear cuffs many times in half an hour, her ears turned
red and blotchy from all the unaccustomed handling. I took a few more
photos, but the reddened skin ruined them.

And even when I cropped the photos down to remove as much of the
visible ear as possible, tiny, fine hairs on the model’s earlobes
still distracted from the earrings. I can’t imagine asking someone to
wax their earlobes for close-up photos… I went back to putting the
jewelry on a gray rubber ear form for photography. It’s kind of ugly,
but at least it has no hair.

Kathy Johnson
Feathered Gems Jewelry

I agree with most of Lisa’s points Re: NOT using live models. Most
marketing strategies dictate that unless you are advertising
campaign style (read: huge amount of money to spend on advertising
and ongoing in time frame for at least a year of magazine,
television, radio and non-standard media formats in addition to
e-commerce ad placement) and have a great deal of money for a
professional photographer and processing into both digital PAL/NTSC
and traditional camera work formats for reproduction, the detail that
is noticeable with the resolutions one needs for close-up jewelry
photographs does not enhance, rather detracts from the whole image.
Using a “green screen” or photographing a piece on a black background
that is enlarged to fill the entire space/frame is about the single
most effective way to get an image that is nicely displayed yet
doesn’t require additional processing or image manipulation.

Lisa referenced taking a shot on a black bust- excellent method to
achieve that floating effect that is perhaps the single most
effective and marketable method for delivering images of necklaces,
chains, and other large or long pieces. Leave the people out unless
you have ensured that hands are manicured and neat. Moisturizing
around the cuticles is the single most important measure you can take
to produce an image of hands either in displaying a piece or for
producing an educational video,or TV that is effective.

In many books and photographs, and videos I am drawn to noticing the
hand shots and that the majority of them have not taken into
consideration the hands appearance…hence ragged cuticles, bitten
nails, dead skin around the fingertips, etc. are where the eyes tend
to focus instead of on the technique being demonstrated. It may sound
trivial on paper ( or screen as it is) but if you look through your
library it will quickly become apparent that that little detail was
not even considered! In teaching too, one should remember that people
are focusing on one’s hands and therefore a bit of anything that
moisturizes is necessary before going into the studio.

This also requires that you allow time for it to do its job, or keep
a container of acetone nearby to remove the same moisturizer traces
from metals being handled soon after application - joints will not
flow, fusing will be inhibited, billets will de-laminate, etc from
having your metals contaminated…so as important as grooming is to
the appearance of your hands, successful demonstrations are perhaps
more important so using clean metals is equally basic and a
fundamental concept when publicizing your work or educating others
whether at the school or in the studio.

In summation, I never recommend to any client (in a marketing
consulting context) the use of models for reasons from budget
concerns, to selecting one’s target market and then clothing the
models appropriately for cross-market advertising,or e-commerce and
risking excluding another group (for example the clothing I would
choose for marketing alternative metals and designs to the 18-25 age
set is not the same as I would use to clothe models for placement in
a magazine like “Trader Monthly”, or “Saveur” when marketing
identical products). Photography,unless you have an in-house staff
photographer can be pricey and adding on conversion of formats adds
considerable expense to any multi-media campaign, if that
photographer can even perform that function- more often the camera
work is sent out of the photographer’s studio for processing into
formats appropriate for print, film,or digitized media.

So to cut all that expense invest in some backgrounds (Rose Supply
is the industry leader in photographic background fabrics and other
tools when you are ready to create advertising and marketing
solutions for your studio. I don’t work for them but use their
products extensively in marketing and trade show preparations : If you make necklaces and want to display them
effectively buy a bust for display (Contenti has durable metal ones
on sale Contenti Jewelry Making Supplies). They can be covered with
fabric or clinging vinyl material to give that floating on black
illusion, etc. or used as is (though the reflection from the silver
metal needs filtration) or simply buy a texturing wheel and give the
piece a brushed or matte finish for example. There are actually many
creative ways to display long chains, necklaces, neck rings, etc.but
using live models is never a good idea unless you are, as I said
investing in a long-term campaign and have many locations with
models of varying ethnicities to compliment the jewelry’s tones and
designs in exotic or familiar locations that reflect the line’s