Thursday, April 12, 2012


I have had many comments made about my photographs and questions asked so I decided to share some of my ideas with you. I hope that if any of you are experiencing difficulties with your Etsy pictures than perhaps you will learn something from my experience. I have a jewelry shop on Etsy, and there aren’t too many ways that you can photograph jewelry. It fits on the body somewhere or it might lie somewhere while you shoot it with your camera. With clothing you can put it on the person or a mannequin and then you can take that person or mannequin and place them anywhere you want, outside, inside , whatever suits your needs. With jewelry it is fairly small and while you might shoot it on the person you do need to zoom- in on the object itself and magnify all it’s parts.

I use a light box, which will be the subject of another article to come. I also have a box full of props. I take or shoot many photos. If I am shooting earrings I start with the earrings hanging from a wine glass. With earrings, the hanging shot is probably the most important because the earrings hang from the ear. The would be customer needs to see the earrings hang and know what they will look like in that position. If you have a mannequin or another display piece of sorts, a head , or even a person you can get a great shot too. As long as you can get a shot of the earring, unhindered in anyway (no hair, or clothing obstructing the view) and the lighting is good, then this will be your most important shot. So don’t hurry through this first shot. Take at least three, one from each angle, front center, left front side, right front side. It wouldn’t hurt to take more. When you go to edit, you will probably have at least one that will be blurred.

 I always shoot from about six inches, or eight inches away from my subject. That may seem close but that is what the macro setting is all about. You should turn your macro setting on and leave it there. I do, which means when I am taking non-jewelry pics, it is also on and my photos still come out great. When I edit most of my photos taken at parties, picnics , etc., If the background is not important I edit out almost all of the background and get great close-ups, and people love those too. So use your macro setting you will get the great close-ups of your shop items without the blur.

When I have taken my first set-up of pictures. I change to one of the other props that I use. I have quite a few. It depends on the item in question which I choose. I like to lay the earrings down and spread them out. You can often see elements of the earrings this way that you cannot see other wise. The light box has a round hole in the top where I shine a lamp through. If the earrings or other jewelry items I am shooting have crystals the light will dance off the crystals in a different manner than they did when hanging, and they will look even more beautiful. A second lamp can be placed in the front of the light box helping to flood out any shadows cast by the props or focal item.
You will want to use different props as you continue to shoot. With my jewelry I use sea shells quite often, they are pretty and the jewelry looks nice displayed with it. I stay away from brightly colored props. Brightly colored items can take over the picture. Your focal needs to stand out as the obvious focal spot. The sea shells are fairly neutral in color and tend to lend more in the area of shape and texture. Be careful to never use a prop that will over power the item you are photographing. As I go on taking pictures, I change props after about 5 to 6 shots or more. I use about 5 props or at least 5 different set-ups. I often find myself with 35 to 50 shots. Obviously, I am using a digital camera, let’s all thank God for them right now. With our digital cameras there is no limit to how many shots we can take since we don’t have to have them developed. We also have no excuse for bad pictures. I have had whole sets come out bad and I had to choose the best of the awful until I had time to re-shoot, but that usually won’t happen if you keep all these hints in mind.

I also use a tripod, I have three different sizes. I have a floor model that I use when I take pictures of my necklaces where I place the necklace on a dress form. I can get far enough away with this floor tripod to capture the whole necklace. I have an 18” table top model I rarely use, it is too far away from items in the light box and it works about the same as the floor model when shooting full views of necklaces. I use my 6” tripod in almost every case. It is the perfect distance for height, and when I stand it 6’’ to 8” away from the bracelet or earrings I get the perfect view. One important point I would like to make here is this; you do not have to show the whole item in each picture or even one picture. I like to have one picture that shows the full item but most of the pictures I choose show only parts of the item. It is important to show the beads, the color, the texture, the shape, every detail. Close- ups can rule out a customer being surprised and disappointed with their newly purchased product. With close-ups they will see in detail what they are getting.                                        
Blue Cluster Bracelet
Aqua Crackle Glass & Olive Pearl
Necklace With Crystals
Glass Pearls & Silver Bracelet

Editing what fun this is, Especially when you are dealing with 50 photos. Well , I don’t always edit each and every picture. But most of the time I do. Let’s talk mechanic’s for a minute. I have an HP computer that naturally comes equipped with Windows. I have several photo editing programs, a couple I’ve paid some cold hard bucks for. But the one I use for my Etsy pictures comes free with the computer and you probably have it if you have Windows 7. When I still had my old computer , an HP with Windows Vista it also had this same program, Microsoft Office Picture Manager. I love this program and one particular favorite part of it is how it crops. This is the only editing program I have found where I can crop using a gauge to go by and get the size exact. I can crop my pictures to the exact 1000 pixels x 1000 pixels that Etsy so likes. That way I am certain that they will not crop anymore off of my picture that I worked so hard taking and editing. After I have cropped it I can brighten the picture. The program comes with all the bells and whistles to do the color editing yourself but it has some auto features that I prefer to use; I click first on COLOR, then ENHANCE , I pick a place to put the arrow, and it, the arrow, turns to a circle, then I click again, and the picture BRIGHTENS. If it is too much and there is glare you can re-do,  move the arrow around again and find another place to put it and click again, the amount of brightening may be just right or you may have to try again. But nothing is permanent you can hit the re-do and try as many times as you like until you get it brightened just as you right. I love this program and I have tried quite a few but this one worked the best for me.

With regards to the pictures here, the picture on the top has been brightened, you can see that the stone is brighter and has greater detail, with more color. The lower picture has not been brightened. Whether you use this program or another do brighten your photo. Dark photos don’t show -off your focal item like they should. And don’t have your focal fighting for recognition. You may be thinking you would like to see your picture on the front page of Etsy so you want to take Artsy like photos. That is great but don’t let your focal take a hit because you want to take a really good prize winning artsy type of photo. I’ve seen some photos in Etsy shops where I wasn’t sure what the sale item was, because it was competing with the items around it. Your props and background should fade away they are not important. You may have noticed that I have stayed away from conversation about cameras. I am no expert on the subject of photography or cameras. My camera is middle-of-the-road with regards to cost. It has a zoom lens that works well for my needs and it has a macro setting, which I believe is our best friend with this type of photography. When you need to get in for those tight shots it is a must. I have seen very inexpensive cameras take very good pictures. What I believe about buying anything is, buy the best that you can afford. If you do you will have the right camera. Take pictures that will sell your items, save your other photography skills for somewhere besides Etsy. I believe if you put these few hints to work for you, you too will be taking pictures that will grab attention from potential buyers, and people will be asking you How do you take those great pictures?


  1. Great information, Marilyn! Taking wonderful pictures is something we can always use help perfecting.

  2. Excellent informative information! Great photos!