The Best Backgrounds for Jewelry Photos
I’ve taken more than 9,000 photos of my jewelry since I bought my camera back in 2006. That sounds impressive, but honestly, it represents a lot of trial and error. Photographing jewelry can be tricky. Jewelry’s often shiny or reflective and can have many small details that are hard to capture. There are dozens of decisions to make when taking photos of jewelry: Should the jewelry be modeled on a person or on a flat surface? What kind of lighting works best? Should the photo show the full piece or close up? What about the side or back? How do you show scale? Should you use props? Today I’m going to talk about just one of those issues: background.
Why Photo Backgrounds Matter
Backgrounds should showcase the true colors of your jewelry and set a certain mood or tone. By looking at the photo, the viewer will know whether the jewelry will help her feel stylish, sophisticated, carefree, moody, trendy, or romantic.
The background should provide good contrast with your jewelry. That is, you should be able to see your jewelry easily. Avoid backgrounds that are the same or similar color as the jewelry or that are so bright that they’re distracting. Patterned or textured backgrounds such as woven cloth can be tricky. You’ll likely be zooming in on the background to capture your jewelry, so little details like the weave of a fabric may suddenly become large and distracting.
Three Favorite Photo Backgrounds
If you look at jewelry online, you’ll often see one of three different plain backgrounds:
- Gray works especially well with silver and gives your photos a sophisticated look. Bead colors typically remain true to real life when photographed on gray, making this a favorite background for many jewelry and bead sellers.
- White gives the jewelry a crisp, clean feeling. It’s easy to see the jewelry, especially if it sports a lot of color. While this is a timeless, classic look, some pieces (silver especially) can be extremely hard to capture on a white background. It’s also easy to overbrighten a white background and make your jewelry look washed out.
- Black finds favor with some high-end jewelry sellers. It provides a good contrast to shiny metals and clear, sparkling stones (think diamonds!), but can feel distant and cold.
Other Options for Backgrounds
While gray, black, and white are time-tested colors that work well for most jewelry photos, that doesn’t mean they’re your only option.
More Photo Backgrounds to Try
Here are a few of my other favorite backgrounds to use when photographing jewelry:
- Scrapbook paper
This affordable option typically runs less than a dollar a sheet, sometimes much less at your local craft supply shop You can mimic almost any look such as marble, fabric, or faded chalkboards. Scrapbook paper supplies change with the seasons and trends, so it’s easy to find something new to try.
- Poster board
Not just for school science fair projects any more! Poster board propped against a wall or window can create a seamless background for your item. You can usually find poster board in white, gray, black, and neon brights.
This can be a tricky option, but it can work well to add a little subtle texture and interest to an otherwise dull photo. It’s important that your fabric isn’t wrinkled and that any woven pattern won’t be distracting close up.
- Stone or tile
The hardware or home improvement store often sells single tiles that can make great backgrounds for earthy, natural, and organic jewelry designs. Look for ones that are matte, not shiny, for an easy-to-photograph finish. Be careful of any distracting features such as a large, jagged crack that will be more noticeable close up.
An old tabletop or a piece of raw lumber can give your piece a natural or homespun feel depending upon the color and finish of the wood. Make sure your wood does not have a glossy finish that will cause a glare or reflection when you take the photo.
Chalkboard backgrounds are especially trendy right now. You can buy chalkboard paint and transform any surface into a possible background.
Have fun experimenting with your photos to see what types of backgrounds best works for photographing your jewelry!