Jewelry photography lighting techniques covers the subject of using artificial lights as your primary light source for photographing your handcrafted earrings, necklaces, and bracelets.
There are a number of ways to do this, such as light tent photography, but we’ll discuss what I think to be the simplest and most effective way of setting up a tabletop photo studio:
We’ll be building a simple photo light box!
As with other types of jewelry photography, I highly advise using a tripod when working with photography lighting techniques. It keeps your camera stable and can reduce the amount of blurry images you take.
DIY Photo Lightboxes!
Things You Will Need For Your Tabletop Photo Studio
- A table at a comfortable height.
- 3 light sources. I use the clamp lights available at hardware stores with the bell shaped reflectors and 60-100 watt bulbs.
- Scrap pieces of 2 X 4 lumber or similar to clamp your lights to.
- Diffusion Panels, either homemade or a store bought light tent or light box.
- Digital Photography Backdrops such as graduated backgrounds, fabric, or paper.
- Tripod & digital camera.
Making the Diffusion Panels
The key to great photography is diffused lighting, which produces soft shadows. To get this lighting effect, you can make a set of diffusion panels for your photography studio.
The easiest way to do this is to locate at a local craft supply store some sheets of translucent corrugated polypropylene, which comes in sheets of 20 X 30 inches.
It’s like cardboard, but made entirely of translucent plastic, which makes it an instant diffusion panel!
Get two and cut down to 20 X 20 inches or however high you think you might need it.
For the back part, get a sheet of foamcore and cut it down to 20 X 20 inches as well.
Tape them together to form hinges so you can fold them flat for storage and you are ready to go!
If you are having trouble locating these translucent corrugated sheets (sometimes goes by the name of Stratocore) you can also make them from foamcore sheets. Cut two 20 X 20 inch sheets, then measure 3 inches and draw a frame, 3 inches all around. Cut the inside part out.
Buy some translucent drafting film called mylar, it’s used for specialty drafting, and tape it over the 20 X 20 sheet. Instant diffusion screen!
Using Your DIY Tabletop Photo Studio
Congratulations! Now you have your very own photo light box, which creates a soft, diffused photography lighting technique for jewelry.
This type of lighting is perfect for taking nice, clean, full product shots of your necklaces, bracelets, and earrings, and useful for jewelry styling more dramatic shots with careful propping.
Tips for achieving your desired jewelry photo lighting techniques:
- You can attach a graduated background to the back foamcore panel using binder clips at the top of the box. If the background you are using is too big, you can of course cut it to size.
- Some handy things to have around are reflective papers you can buy at an art store, silver and gold are the most useful. You can use these papers at the top, sides, or around your camera to bounce light back into the jewelry you are trying to photograph. Make sure to have enough so you can have big and small pieces. A piece of white board also does well if the metallics are too much.
- Sometimes the top light will be too much and you won't need it, or you can try moving it to where your camera is position for front lighting. Experiment!
“Your photography will continue to improve as long as you keep practicing and are willing to experiment and try different techniques."