At Paper Boat Creative, we can improve the appearance of your products and produce stunning results that capture your potential customers’ attention. But while our digital photo enhancement services enhance product photos for items like jewelry, the best results come from those made with optimal settings during production. This is why, when capturing the beauty of high-end jewelry, jewelry photography lighting is an essential part to consider. While our professional jewelry retouching services can take your images to new heights, you can expect the best results when you invest in optimal lighting during your shoots.
Because of the natural sparkle of gemstones and the luster of luxury metals, getting the ideal jewelry photography lighting setup can be a bit trickier than the usual product photography process. Many types of jewelry can be highly reflective, which can make finding the balance to get the right lighting difficult. Too much or too little light and the smallest details can be hard to capture – which can limit how image manipulation services can improve your photos.
With that in mind, here are the best practices for lighting for jewelry photography. By setting the stage for your jewelry, you can set a strong foundation for breathtaking photos that capture your target audience’s attention.
Finding the Right Exposure
It’s important to know what goes into jewelry photography lighting. The first term you should know about photography lighting is “exposure”. This is the amount of light that your camera captures and can determine how bright or dark your photos appear. While many cameras today can automatically adjust settings like shutter speed and aperture to get the ideal lighting, the light your jewelry’s elements can reflect can affect lighting, so it’s important to know how to adjust these settings accordingly.
There’s no one-size-fits-all setting for all types of jewelry photography. Even the metals, gems, and other features on one piece of jewelry can have different ideal lighting settings, which is why post-production retouching is crucial to get the best results. This means adjusting the settings until you get the right results.
Use a Backlight
Most lighting setups may only need two or three lighting fixtures at the front or sides. But when it comes to jewelry photography – especially for diamonds and translucent jewelry products – a backlight can make a world of difference for your jewelry photography lighting setup. You don’t have to invest a lot for a backlight, but having a versatile fixture can make adjustments easier.
After setting up the positioning and angle of your jewelry, adjust the lighting fixtures as necessary. Your backlight should hit the glass-like areas of your jewelry directly, but not too much that it loses its shape. Once you’ve played around with the settings, you should find the right lighting angle that better outlines your jewelry. You can even use a foam core board to minimize the reflections.
On your camera, you’ll notice that the backlight creates well-defined outer lines rather than shadows that can warp the appearance of your jewelry. This can give it more depth, rather than a flat result following post-production retouches.
Invest in a Lightbox (Or Go DIY!)
In jewelry photography and many other forms of product photography, the best type of product image is one with a crisp, endless white background. This puts the focus completely on the product and allows customers to inspect the smallest details, highlighting your jewelry’s craftsmanship and quality. If this is your ideal type of product photography, you might benefit from investing in a quality lightbox.
If you don’t have a large studio or can’t invest in professional-level equipment for lighting, you can search for different kinds of lightboxes. These come in different sizes and offer different types of lighting. They’re a great way to achieve soft lighting that you can control. The price of a quality lightbox can start at Php 1,000. If you don’t have the budget, you can find instructional videos online on how to make a DIY lightbox.
Have Three Light Sources
You don’t necessarily have to buy the most expensive lighting features to get good photos, but having three versatile and durable fixtures can serve as a good lighting setup for your studio. When shooting your jewelry, make sure that only these three sources are the only ones on. Additional lights in the room can affect color (especially if you’ve got fluorescent or incandescent light bulbs) and can reflect light on the jewelry.
Aside from the backlight, you should ideally have side lighting at an angle depending on the depth you want to achieve on your jewelry. This is a great way of creating shadows that add depth and a 3D effect rather than having your light directly in front and above and creating a flat appearance. These side lights can overexpose your object, which can also add contrast and sharpness to the most delicate details of your jewelry and show the more intricate details that aren’t front and center.
If All Else Fails, Find Natural Lighting
If you’re an independent jeweler who doesn’t have the means or skill to handle professional camera features and equipment, don’t worry. The best thing you can do is to find good natural lighting indoors or outdoors and use that sunny day to your advantage.
Natural lighting is an acceptable alternative to a controlled jewelry photography lighting setup because of its even distribution throughout that can illuminate your jewelry without the need for manipulating any lighting. Just remember to turn off any other nearby light sources as it can affect the quality of your photos. And instead of a white backdrop, it’s best to work with a gray background especially if you’re dealing with metals like silver or white gold (we’ll explain why in a second).
Keep in mind that, because you have very limited control over natural lighting, you won’t get perfect lighting that hits all the marks of jewelry photography the same way a controlled studio can. In this case, you’ll need to retouch the photos to adjust features like exposure for every element of your jewelry. This is why a gray background is highly recommended if you plan to use natural lighting, as it can create contrast and allow you to adjust your exposure accordingly.
With post-production retouching, we can adjust the lighting for each element from the metals to the gemstones. You can still get the same results of jewelry photographs that highlight the intricate details and luxurious style of your product, but the lack of lighting control will have to be fixed during production.
Put Your Products in the Spotlight
Whether you’re an independent jeweler, a jewelry designer, or a startup product photographer expanding to clients within this industry, it’s important to know the basics of how photography lighting works for jewelry. Jewelry can be a tricky product to photograph with its reflective features, but as long as you understand the basics and have a good lighting setup, you can leave the rest to our skilled team of photo editors to work their magic and put your products in the best light.
For jewelry photographs, the best results come from a combination of high-quality photos and exceptional digital photo enhancement services. Let Paper Boat Creative be your partner in producing stunning jewelry photos that let your business’ products shine. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our services.