Jazzing Up Your Beadwork Photos

No matter what technique you specialize in, what level your skills, or what you do with it once it's finished, it's quite possible you'll end up taking photos of your beadwork. 

The way you shoot beadwork photos is important, even if the results are used only to show Aunt Milly in Poughkeepsie what's been keeping you from her Sunday pot roasts. But if you’re using your beadwork to make money, good photos are especially important. They not only record your work, but also market it.

Case in point. I recently spent some time submitting class proposals for next year's bead shows and realized that I was in dire need of good photos. I'm no photographer, but once I spent some time figuring out my digital camera and experimenting a little with lighting and styling, I now feel comfortable shooting my work at home.

It seems the biggest component in jewelry photography is styling, or how one arranges the piece inside the camera frame. I figure I have about 2 seconds to get the interest of anyone who's looking, so want to make sure that my photos contain only what I'm selling–no props, no people, no pets. That said, there's a fine line that can be drawn between a photo that looks like a wasted celebrity's mug shot and one that looks like it's from a jewelry catalog. One big difference is how you angle the camera while you're shooting.

To illustrate what I'm talking about, here is my recent "roll" of film for my Pacifica Bracelet, the good, the bad, and the ugly: 

You could call this one the mug shot. Yawn.

Here's the bracelet rolled up, making it a bit more interesting than flat, but this bird's-eye view makes it impossible to see the bracelet's qualities.

Okay, I'm moving down the front at an angle now, but I still can't see the bracelet properly.

I can see the front better now, but it still looks like a celebrity with a Cosmo-induced fender bender and an appointment with the D.A.

I've moved down the front even more now. This makes for a little friendlier, more intimate shot since the light is coming nicely through the focal bead now, but I've lost the back of the bracelet and that seamed background is a distraction.

I've moved up a bit and over to the right to catch the back of the bracelet now. Getting there.

I like the focal bead a little off center, so moved back to the left slightly. This one isn't too bad but the droopiness of the wristbands is bugging me now. Think I'll resort to a prop.

Well that takes care of the sagging sides! I don’t think this is her best angle, though.

Ahh. This one would work! But it may be too artsy fartsy for a class catalog.

Back to basics . . . Perfecto!

No Beading Daily This Friday:  There will be no Beading Daily on Friday because of the 4th of July holiday.  You can always come by and check out the forums if you need a beading fix!  Some of the current hot topics are finding your unique jewelry style, taking good photos, and what to charge for restringing necklaces.

Jean Campbell writes about beading and life every Wednesday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Jean, please post them on the website. Thanks!

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Michelle M.

About Michelle M.

I was the founding editor of Beading Daily (2007-2009) and my now a freelance designer/writer/editor.  My designs have been published in Stringing, Step by Step Beads, Jewelry Gifts for the Holidays, Creative Jewelry, Beadwork, and other magazines. I enjoy stringing, bead embroidery, wirework, metal work, mixed media, beadweaving—pretty much anything that involves beads or jewelry.  I also enjoy exploring new crafts like pottery and felting.  I write a personal blog if you want to see more of my work. 16+ Free Beading Projects: A list of the free projects I created for Beading Daily. Contact Info If you have a question regarding Beading Daily, please contact customer service at beadingdaily@interweave.com or the current editor, Kristal Wick. If you'd like to contact me, you'll find my info on my website:  www.michellemach.com.  You can also follow me on Twitter at:  http://twitter.com/beadsandbooks Pictured here is a pair of earrings I made for the Spring 2010 issue of Stringing in an attempt to get over my fear of designing with the color orange!

13 thoughts on “Jazzing Up Your Beadwork Photos

  1. Hi Jean –

    I agree, this is a beautiful piece that deserves to be shown to its best advantage. I am a professional photographer – who also likes to bead!

    It looks like your lighting is coming straight down from the top because the shadow under the piece is very harsh. Try moving your light farther back and angling it so the light shines through the crystals. Then position a piece of white foam core or heavy art board to reflect the light back onto the front of the piece.

    Using a digital camera you’ll be able to fine tune the position of the light and the white reflector to really bring out the sparkle in the beads as well as the detail in the cabochon.


  2. Hallo Jean,
    What a beautiful bracelet you have made. I am a beader from Finland. Is it possible to buy the pattern through Beading Daily, or has it been published in some of your books?
    Love from,
    Gun-Helen Andtfolk

  3. Looks like it’s “photography week” at BeadingDaily! Thanks for keeping the conversations going, Jean. I always enjoy your infusion of humor and wit.
    Cuff Style bracelets have always been a particular challenge for getting the right set-up for me, but one trick I can offer (this is only if you don’t need to show the clasp) is to roll up a stack of white computer paper, place the clasped bracelet over it, and let the roll open up inside the piece to give it support, with the ends of the paper towards the back. If you use the same color paper beneath it as a background, the bracelet really pops out. If you had to show the clasp, you could put two of the same piece on the roll, one showing the front, one showing the back. Here’s an example of a few bracelets photographed as a set this way:
    PegJ gave you some great lighting advice, as the trick is getting the light to flow from all angles to show the true color and facets in the crystal. One dimensional lighting makes swarovski colors look flat…On a related note, as a person who photographs jewelry, my attention to detail often makes my eyes focus on the stringing material that runs through any light colored glass or crystal, as used in your gorgeous bracelet. It may not be a “glamorous” stringing material, but I often use monofilament in lieu of flexwire when using clear crystal or glass, as it can be crimped, it’s strong, and it won’t show through the beads in photos. Ahhhhh, another beading discussion for another day.
    Keep it coming!

  4. This was my favorite article! It is a beautiful bracelet, and yes I also wonder about the pattern. And I enjoy the comments!

    Keep up the good work. It is nice to have something interesting in my email.

  5. You have had as many compliments on the bracelet itself as on the article !!!! And I too would like the pattern on this one…there were some great tips on lighting and you did a really great job showing the steps and practise it takes to get it just right…thanks to all who wrote in also! Here’s an interesting idea for another article…..why not write a piece on people’s PET projects….there are alot of pet owners who bead and they have done some really cool collars, leashes, etc….have the beaders send in their pictures or have a contest….it would be a fun way to get to know your readers! Thanks for making this a fun site to visit! Marjorie Hopkins

  6. Hi, just signed up here so i’ll have to catch up with you all, My name is Frannie(souls) and i Loved your blog today. this is where i’m at now and my photos are really bad 🙁 So you have given me hope. by the way, i don’t think your bracelet is artsy fartsy, its very pretty. Thanks for the show and tell.

  7. Jazzing Up Your Beadwork Photos

    I love your Pacifica Bracelet Jean, will the pattern for it be available in the near future? It is a gorgeous bracelet!!!

  8. what a difference using good photograph makes! do you teach other particulars of photographing jewelry, such as even more full presentation? for instance, i have seen some presentations of photographed jewelry (by sellers on etsy, for example) in which the jewelry lies on sand, or perhaps next to colored glass. I have also seen earrings in interesting presentations, such as hanging off of pretty china or clear wine glasses. do you have anything of that sort to show us?

    krissy knox 🙂