One of my first photos (2003)

All better now
Tales of struggles with photography is a daily occurrence at Etsy Forums. It’s no wonder: product photography is a whole another art form. Photographing jewelry is especially challenging: jewelry is not only small objects but it is also (usually) shiny, which calls for particular attention to lighting conditions. This often leads to the curious phenomenon of artifacts whose sole function is inspiring beauty looking bland and unattractive in photos.

I am by no means a photography expert, but over the years I have diligently worked on developing my own style of photographing my work. Come to think of it, my jewelry photography may even be as important as my jewelry itself. For each jewelry piece of mine, at most a handful of people get to see the physical item in person, but hundreds more will know them as my photos only!

I put in great amounts of time and effort into photographing my pieces. I don’t always enjoy the process: successful photos can make or break an item (or rather, online representation of an item), so there’s a lot of uncertainty involved. This usually results in much procrastination on my part. :-) At any rate, I have a few routine procedures now, but back when I started I was very much clueless. The picture on the top testifies to this.  

Here is a list of my whole photo gear.

  • Camera:
    Canon SD700 IS Digital ELPH (also sold as IXUS 800 in some countries)

    It is not a fancy DSLR but a point-and-shooter. I love the Canon Digital Elph series. In fact, this is the third Elph that I have owned. I do not want to own multiple cameras for various photography tasks, so this one doubles as my travel companion and a work camera.

  • Lighting:
    EZcube + short EZ light set from Tabletop Studio

    Yeah, I know, it’s expensive. The kit was slightly less when I bought it, and I promptly sold away the smaller tent (on ebay, where else?), so it cost me somewhat less than the eye-popping $194.95 price tag. But I can say with confidence that it has been the single best investment I made so far on my jewelry venture.

    I knew that there were insturctions for do-it-yourself light boxes available (such as here, here, and here), but what drove me to splurge on the big purchase was (1) folks at Table Top Studio seemed to know what they are doing, (2) at that point, I was worn out and I really wanted to just be able to concentrate on improving the aesthetics of my photos rather than spending my time and energy on wondering whether there was something wrong with my basic setup, and finally, (3) their light tent is COLLAPSIBLE, so it stores away neatly when not in use, a winning point for a gal living in a tiny apt! All in all, I highly recommend this kit to those who are serious about opening up an online business.

  • Props:
    A couple background items that I have collected over the years, such as slabs of stones, wood panels and paper pieces. Small support objects such as tree branches and twigs. I am holding onto them with my dear life. :-)
  • Photo-editing software:
    I use very old versions of Photoshop and ThumbsPlus.
If you are starting out, I highly recommend reading up these excellent tips offered by Table Top Studio: