Simple tips for better photos that even I can follow

I just got back from visiting my cousins in Virginia Beach and am trying to clean the house a bit before one of my lovely coworkers joins the hubby and me for dinner, but I couldn’t wait to do a blog post until later tonight. My weekend was too much fun and I wanted to share some of my adventures with you guys.

My cousin Eryn and I spent most of the weekend experimenting with photographing jewelry that I’ve made over the years. (She did the photographing and I did the passing of the jewelry.) Little did she know that I have a bazillion pieces of jewelry. Yes, a bazillion.

Like I said in an earlier post, Eryn is an awesome photographer. She takes photos of flowers and landscapes, has dabbled with still life photos and even photographed our engagement photos. She’s the bomb diggity.

Prior to this weekend, she’d been researching good methods to take well-lit photos of jewelry. She ended up buying a light box for our weekend of photography fun, so we got to experiment with that. It was a lot of fun and a really good learning experience. We tried out a ton of things. Who knew there are so many different way to take photos!

I only have a few photos to share that I took with my camera. I think she took about 300 – 400 this weekend overall. I’ll share some of them once she sends them my way!

Check out her sweet setup!

Her light box came with four different background colors: white, black, blue and red. It also came with white lights for three sides of the box to help diffuse the light.

I learned all weekend how important light is to photography. Eryn would snap a picture, then move the light an inch to the right or two inches away from the light box — it was amazing the difference it made.

This setup below was the coolest thing we did. Eryn found online a site that recommended using fishing line to suspend jewelry  so it looks like it was floating. It worked particularly well for earrings and necklaces.

With this setup, the light really hit the perfect spots on the jewelry. It worked especially nice with jewelry with large, round beads. the photos of the jewelry hung like this had a really great depth and dimension to them.

And, because Eryn is awesome, she’s able to clone out the fishing wire in the photos.

It was a ton of fun to play around all weekend. I can’t wait to get a few of her photos so I can share them with you. Until then, my photos will have to suffice. Here’s a few photos I took of jewelry in the light box.

In this photo, the necklace was flat on the light box surface. I think it turned out nicely and has a lot of detail to it.

This next photo was taken with the necklace suspended, resting on the fishing line to keep it steady. Notice the dimensional feel of the red beads. They pop off the photo!

If you look closely at the silver pendant, you can see where we used the fishing line on each side to steady the necklace, but it’s barely noticeable. If I had photoshop on my computer, I could remove it rather easily.

This one I shot using a jewelry holder from Michael’s. I learned that velvet is a great material to use in photography because it absorbs the light, so there aren’t harsh pockets of light on your background. I think that’s a tip that will serve me really when in future photos I take.

While we took photos, my little cousin Garrett also took photos on my old camera. Look how cute this kid is! I just can’t get enough of Eryn’s kids. They are the sweetest. Garrett and his sister, Casia, walked around the house all weekend using the fun features on the camera to take pictures of one another. They discovered the color swap mode, so they took pictures of themselves as purple, blue and green alien children. It was too cute.

Like mother, like children. Seems like Eryn’s kids can’t escape her love for photography!

So, let’s recap some of these tips I’ve hidden along the post:

  1. Lighting is key. If you take a lot of  photos of crafts, products, jewelry, etc., you might want to invest in a light box. They make a world of difference. I’m toying around with the idea of getting one.
  2. Try new things. Eryn and I tried a lot of different positions with the jewelry in her photographs, and a lot of them sucked. Bracelets were especially tough to photograph. Don’t believe me? Check out bracelet photos on Etsy — most just lay flat and don’t have any excitement to them.
  3. Velvet is good. Eryn has a box of velvet backdrops she uses for her photography because it does such a good job of absorbing the light. Similarly, a lot of jewelry displays are made of a velvet-like material to better show off the jewelry.
  4. Suspension is super helpful. This allows light to come in at all angles of a piece of jewelry. The photos we took where a necklace was suspended almost always looked nicer than ones we took using a display stand — especially if the beads are at all translucent. Fishing line is less than $3 at WalMart, so if you try it out and it doesn’t work, you’re not out too much money.
  5. Do you research. It can only help you to get online and see what other people are doing. Find photos you like and try to figure out how they got the result you’d like for your own jewelry. We did that several times throughout the weekend and each time we found cool new ideas to try.

I’m trying to convince Eryn she needs to blog about her photography (I think I’m going to be successful!), so if and when she does, I’ll make sure to share her tips. After all, she is the professional.