How to Take Product Photos That Sell

If you’re planning to sell your jewelry online via handmade marketplaces like Etsy, making sure you have a high quality product photo is probably the most important aspect to consider when creating your listing. A great photo is even more important than the description of the piece you’re selling.

Let’s take Etsy as our example. An awesome product photo can make a potential buyer stop in their tracks while scrolling through similar items and make them want to click. An amazing photo provides the hook – it catches the potential buyer’s interest and they may well decide to click through to find out more about the item in the seller’s Etsy shop – and then buy it.

Just take a look at some of the trending items on Etsy right now. Most of the photos displayed are great shots which naturally catch the viewer’s eye. The mediocre photographs that are just ok have less chance of getting spotlighted in this way.

So how can you photograph your jewelry to show it off in the best way, every time? Well, a good digital camera is the first thing you’ll need. Once you have one of those, there are some tips and tricks you can use to create amazing photographs, which in turn will really help you to sell your jewelry online. Here are a few below.

1. Lighting

Handmade jewelry may feature all kinds of beads, rhinestones and shiny findings. That’s what makes jewelry so gloriously pretty and eye-catching! However, elements like these reflect the light and if you don’t take your photos in the best light to begin with, this can cause a problem.

Shooting photographs indoors can be an issue due to the lack of natural light. To eliminate bad lighting, it’s tempting to use a flash or artificial light, but more often than not, this can result in lots of shadows and color loss when it comes to individual jewelry elements. The same applies when photos are taken outside on a very sunny day with lots of overhead light.

Photo A is an example of bad lighting. This was most likely taken indoors using a flash and it’s quite shadowy. It’s not easy to see the colors of the necklace because the stark flash lighting bleaches a lot of this out.

Photo B however, is a much better product shot overall. Although there are a few shadows, the lighting looks a lot more natural. You can clearly see the colors of the beads and the intricate detail of how it’s been made.

Natural outdoor lighting is best, when it’s not too sunny. Try taking photos mid-afternoon and not in direct sunlight.

2. Angles, focus and composition

If you’re familiar with photography composition, you may have heard of the “Rule of Thirds”. The square grid below has been broken down into thirds. The grid has nine sections, three sections across and three down. The intersections in the middle of the grid (highlighted with red dots) are the sections that are the most visually appealing in a photograph.

What this means in terms of jewelry photography is that if you can place the focus of your shot around the intersection areas, the photo will become more visually appealing than if you take the photograph head-on. Take a look at these images below.

Photo C has been taken head-on with the jewelry right in the centre which makes this piece look a little flat. Photo D has been taken using the Rule of Thirds concept and it’s much more visually appealing. The main focus in this image is towards the bottom right and the eye is drawn there. It’s much more interesting than Photo C!

Blurry shots are obviously not good when you’re taking images that are supposed to be showing off your jewelry. Clear focus does matter, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that part of your image can’t be out of focus. For example, the background in Photo D is out of focus, which sharply draws your eye to the jewelry being featured here. As long as the most appealing part of your jewelry is in focus – sharp and crisp, that should work.

Lastly for this point, let’s consider angles. The head-on shots of Photos A and C don’t help these particular pieces to stand out. Whereas the slight angles of Photos B and D do, because they show off the jewelry more effectively.

Close up shots are great when it comes to jewelry photography. If you’ve made a long necklace, it can sometimes be impossible to photograph the whole item if you want to show the detail. So taking a close up photo of part of your jewelry is perfectly acceptable. It’s worth adding a photo of the entire piece in your listing when selling it of course, but always use your best shot as the main photo, even if it only contains part of the finished item.

3. Props and backgrounds

Taking the Etsy example again, you’ll see that many great looking photos on this site contain props to help display the item more effectively. The main purpose of using props is to show how the product can be used or simply to help grab the viewer’s attention.

For example, rather than taking a photo of earrings on a flat plain background, you could hang them off a teacup or drape them across a natural object like a rock or pebble to show them at a better angle – see Photo B. You could also display objects in the background that demonstrate how the jewelry was made e.g. flowers, if a botanical theme has been used.

Another good way to show off jewelry in photographs is to take an action shot of it being worn by someone. This can help the viewer to connect with the item as they subconsciously visualize how it could look on them should they buy it!

There are a couple of points to note about using props. The first is that the props you use shouldn’t distract from the main feature – your jewelry! So be careful not to clutter your shot with props. Let them be discreet so that you can showcase the item you want potential buyers to see.

Secondly, when showing your jewelry being worn, it’s best not to include full on facial shots in your images. This is because photos that contain faces are less likely to be clicked on. Part of a face is fine though and out of focus facial elements also work well. Also, if you’re showing off a bracelet or ring being worn, consider outfits, nails and other visual elements like this. You want your handmade jewelry to look amazing so don’t do it the injustice of being featured in the same shot as untidy nails!

Lastly, backgrounds are important. Plain white or black backgrounds can work well providing the composition of the photo is considered. You can be really creative with your background and feature your jewelry on a natural stone slab, like in Photo B or even outside in the garden next to some beautiful flowers.

Taking photos on your kitchen floor however, won’t help you sell your jewelry! Your photos need to look beautiful and professional too. Consider the textures and colors that complement your own style of jewelry-making.

Practice makes perfect!

Photographing your jewelry ready for selling online is no easy task and it definitely shouldn’t be overlooked, because great images are basically your shop window. However, as with most things, practice really does make perfect. Take some time to read up on more photography tips and take as many photos as you can until you find a style that you’re comfortable with and that makes your jewelry really stand out.

I hope you enjoyed this article! Please take a look around our blog for more jewelry-making inspiration. You may also want to subscribe to our newsletter to be alerted about future articles like this.


Photo sources: photo A, photo B, photo C, photo D.

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