Arte Es Vida

Your Jewelry Ought To Be In Pictures! by arteesvida
November 11, 2006, 3:49 am
Filed under: The Business Of Art

It is getting easier and easier to take good digital photos of small art pieces, with higher megapixel cameras on the market in reasonable price ranges…but it is still a challenge that I frequently get letters from other jewelry designers about. When I still had time for a full retail website, the question I get asked most surprised me at first.  How do I get such good, clear quality images of my jewelry?


Comments from my customers confirmed this as a problem for many cottage industry designers…. I often receive feedback about how nice it is to see such clear, detailed, color-true photos of my work, and the difficulties they have had with other sites.


Jewelry is notoriously hard to photograph, even for the best of camera whizzes.  It is small, highly detailed, and most of the time the surfaces are so shiny they attract and reflect more light than the Hubble telescope.

Although it is not impossible to get a decent camera for a price that won’t force you to sell your first-born, there are a host of problems that go with photographing such up-close, detailed images.  Even with a basic point and shoot camera, you have to know something about lighting and angles, and all that scary technical stuff to get the shot you want (I don’t).  Then you have to wait for the pictures to come in to make sure you did get the shot you wanted (I never do).  Then, chances are, you want these images on your hard drive to upload to your commercial site, your online gallery, or just to share with your family and friends so you need the images transferred to a computer file format.

You can cut out the last two steps by using a digital camera, but therein lies a whole other host of problems.  Digital cameras that can produce high quality images, although getting cheaper all the time, still can be prohibitively expensive for many people.  And you are still required to have some basic knowledge of taking photographs to get the kind of clean, detailed images you need for a website.  My complete lack of skill at photography has my professional-photographer grandfather rolling in his grave as I write this.  And with all the email I have gotten about this very subject, I relieved to finally know I am not the only one with the same frustrations.

So I am going to let you in on one of my best secrets.  The very things about jewelry that make it so hard to photograph?  Make it a snap to scan directly.

In order to get fantastic, clear images; all you need is a flat bed color scanner.  It doesn’t even have to be an exceptionally high quality one.  For about 40 dollars, I purchase a basic Visoneer scanner complete with editing software, and that is all I ever use.

Most flatbed scanners have removable tops.  If you can pop the top off your scanner without breaking any hinges, do so.  It will be much easier to position and scan your jewelry without having anything jostled.  Lay your peace face down directly on the scanning bead and arrange it to your satisfaction.  Because you have the lid off, or at least sitting open, you will need to diffuse the light coming from outside sources.  White tissue paper works brilliantly, and even plain white typing paper isn’t bad in a pinch.  Another designer I know bought small remnants of dark blue and black velvet and uses them as a very luxe backdrop.  No matter what you choose to use, drape it over your jewelry taking care to make sure you cover the whole piece.

When you run your scanning program (my scanner runs and edits with MGI PhotoSuite III), make sure you take a preview scan so you can test your placement and cropping angles.  Whichever software you use, you will have different scanning options.  You want something to choose the one that is photo, not document quality.  With my program, I choose a custom scan, in true color mode, with the highest DPI I can get away with without making an unmanageably huge file.

After scanning, I perform any little picture tune-ups I need in my editing software.  Sometimes I need to adjust the coloring a bit, or use the “Sharpen” feature to bring out intricate detail.  I do all this before I save the final picture to my hard drive.

And with minimal effort, I have the instant gratification of my jewelry design ready to be uploaded to my website and/or my long-suffering friends.  Should you want hard-copy pictures but don’t have a photo-quality printer, you can upload the images to an online photo-processing center.  (I use and get excellent quality and service, but there are many other web photo processing that are also very good.)  The pictures will be printed, and sent to you, in the same amount of time it would take your average photo lab to process them, and usually for a lot less money.

Whether your jewelry images are designed for professional purposes, or if you just want to share your creations with others, direct scanning should get you the result you want.  In fact, I have become so addicted to direct scanning that if there is any way at all for me to squish something onto my scanner I avoid my camera all together!  But whether you are camera-savvy or a convert to the direct-scan method, you have no excuses no to share your work…and I would love to see it!  Please email me links of your work and I will share them in a future blog entry!

1 Comment so far
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Comment by GoGolfer

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