Week 9 :: Photo Formula

This week’s blogging prompt is to talk about the second stage of a project. Since I posted how I start a project here, my next step is photos; so, I thought I’d share a little about my photos and what goes into them.

My photo formula is pretty simple: natural daylight + macro setting + white background + editing. It took a lot of reading and experimenting before I really narrowed what I like, and what I feel shows my pieces the best. Take a look:

I try to keep everything as simple as possible to keep the focus on my jewelry, and I don’t use too many props. The props I do use all serve a purpose – to prop up a necklace, or to show how earrings or a necklace hangs. And I know some people think a white background is too plain, but I really like the reflections and shadows I get on the one I use. Plus, like I said above, it doesn’t interfere with the colors of the piece.

So, there you have it. Now, I’d love to know, what’s your photo formula?




I don’t use my lightbox for finished jewelry anymore, and I’m slowly redoing the last remaining pieces that are shot in my lightbox so all the backgrounds will eventually match.

If you need to use a lightbox, check out Strobist’s $10 Macro Photo Studio tutorial to build your own. Do a search on Flickr for lightboxes to get an idea of set ups. You’ll want powerful enough daylight light bulbs (I used three 100 watt light bulbs from Home Depot), and I’d also suggest playing around with backgrounds, too. I ended up with a brown background on those photos because, strangely enough, that’s the only background that didn’t interact with the colors of my jewelry – those colors are as true to life as a monitor will allow.



16 Responses to Week 9 :: Photo Formula

  1. awesome awesome awesome post!!!
    I shall mention your post on my blog, your pictures are so awesome. Everyone always asks me how I take my photos, and although I use a lot of slate tiles for my background, I do a lot of things like this myself.

    I love how you put little notes on each photo! what photo program did you use to do that?

  2. I've always admired the simplicity and "clean look" of your photos. I never had any luck with white backgrounds — probably because I didn't discover the white balance setting until recently (duh).

    A while back, I started using a black background and natural daylight. I think it's working for me.

    I'm not a fan of props either, but sometimes a little "lift" for a necklace or earrings can help.

  3. Your photos are really stunning. They truly show off the beauty of your jewelry. Thanks for sharing your personal tips. Although taking pics of artwork is a tad different, I will definitely keep these things in mind.

  4. Thanks everybody for your sweet comments! Vicki's known me since I practically started my Etsy shop, so she's heard me agonizing over my photos. It took a really long time to figure out what worked for me, so I'm happy to share and maybe save someone else some time.

    Lorelei – thanks! I use Photoshop Elements. I love collecting fonts, and showing off photos here on my blog lets me play with them.

    Gardanne – thanks so much for stopping by! Isn't daylight wonderful? Plus, I like free and easy.

    Vicki – would you believe my camera doesn't have a white balance setting? It's just auto, so sometimes there's a cast over the photos that I have to remove. Luckily, I think I've dialed into when the light is the best, so lately I haven't had to edit that out, but still. How do you sell a camera with no white balance setting?

    Wendy – I was a painting major in college and would take my own slides. If you need some tips specifically for that, let me know! Maybe I can help (or maybe you've already figured it out and could give some tips yourself?).

  5. Hi Shannon! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I appreciate your sweet words!

  6. Brandi, the colors in your photos definitely "pop" and were the first thing I noticed about your work. I also love the depth you get and the reflection off the beads.

    I find that it is difficult to take pictures of yarn items because the texture of the yarn is never quite captured correctly by the camera. They don't seem to "come to life" like your pictures do.

    I will keep working on it, with your helpful hints in mind.


  7. Hey Susan! Nice to see you!

    Yeah, I can definitely see how yarn would be tricky. You can't really use the macro setting unless you want a super close shot, but daylight is always good! Plus, I like the little Buddha you use.

  8. Found you blog through Lorelei's blog. Helpful tips. Lovely pics and jewelry!
    Bead Happy!

  9. Hey Brandi,
    This was so informative! What do you use as your white base? It seems a little reflective which looks really nice.

  10. Hey Libby, thanks for stopping by! Would you believe it's just a plain white plate? All the plates and cups and little dishes are from my cupboards.

  11. I was looking back through some of your posts and found this one and realized that what I loved about your jewelry pics on Etsy (when you had your shop open, and aside from the fact that your jewelry is stunningly beautiful!) was that your photographs were amazing!!

    I used to do only white backgrounds many years ago and had everyone tell me my pictures didn’t do my jewelry justice, so I started using gradiated paper (plus, for getting into juried shows they required that and frowned upon white for some odd reason) and as I have tried to go back to a white background again, I cannot get it right to save my soul (despite a few photo classes I have taken both online and from someone local a few years back) and my editing abilities w/my photoshop program suck!! (I seriously think I need a photoshop class!) Anyway – I’m going to keep trying and I just wanted to say thanks again for having such awesome tips and information!
    Michelle Buettner recently posted A Little of This,…A Little of That!My Profile

  12. Nice tips. I was searching the web for “pop-flash bounce” and accidentally found your site. Good pro tips on everything especially the macro stuff. 🙂