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:
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:
Have fun experimenting with your photos to see what types of backgrounds best works for photographing your jewelry!
I have struggled with this for ages! I just bought a new set of 5 discounted slate tiles from the home DIY store. I love that I can use both sides, they are textured without being distracting, and their matte natural colors make my jewelry stand out, but it also suits the jewelry I make.
I also have a stack of 8 vintage leather bound ‘how to’ books. I love to use their cobbled surface, or use them staggered for a step like arrangement perfect for showcasing a pendant. I also love the titles… the one I like best is Opportunities and How to Make the Most of Them! ;-)
I struggle with how to take pictures on models, especially earrings. So I invested in a custom piece of art from an illustrator I found that is a pen and ink drawing on white canvas of a lovely woman with long flowing hair. One of her ears is shown and I poked a hole in it to dangle the earrings. Gives a great non-competing background and a bit of a size reference.
Great article, Miss Michelle! Thanks for all your tips!
Over the years I’ve tried a lot of different backgrounds as well. My LEAST favorite is a piece of off-white travertine tile. While it always looked good to my eye, the jewelry always seems to be washed out in the photo. My favorite background currently is a dark brown suede jacket. It seems to make most jewelry really pop, and is a bit warmer than pure black, plus the suede texture adds more interest than a plain background, but isn’t a competitive pattern.