Staging

I have, finally, learned the value of staging jewelry. I always used to laugh at the tutorials that say place candy or flowers or something relevant to your piece in the picture. I thought the jewelry sells itself. So I took simple photographs in the best light I could find, which wasn’t really always the best (sunlight casts shadows, fluorescent light can be tricky and soft light makes things far too dark and yellowy). Recently I thought with me posting my stuff on Facebook now, wouldn’t it help if I at least got my pictures to look a little more professional? I’m sure this is old news to many out here, but here is what I learned over the last couple of weeks…. Hardware stores are your friend. I went to a craft store looking for a foam block, and they wanted $4 – $6 for one piece. At the hardware store, I could buy single bricks/pavers for anywhere from 68 to 89 cents a piece, and if you get them in the Winter, you might find some on clearance for 35 cents like I did. Also, ceramic and natural stone tiles are awesome. They aren’t too shiny like linoleum, and you can find a good variety of neutral colors. I went to Menard’s, but I think almost any hardware store will sell individual tiles anywhere from $1 – $3 a piece depending on the material for the 12" or 16". I was able to get a really nice ivory tumbled travertine 12" tile for $4 (after breaking into a box and digging through the entire thing to find a good specimen). I also got lucky and found a big stack of 6 inch tiles on clearance for 50 cents a piece! And fabric stores clearance, wow. I found bridal satin in nice neutral shades 50% off and you only really need 1/2 a yard if you want a nice backdrop or ruched pile. Also, props! Thrift stores! They are full of inexpensive trinkets. What I thought might cost me a small fortune to have a nice variety of backgrounds and textures wound up only costing me about $20 – $30. And the most valuable lesson I learned in all this was what a HUGE difference it made to have the right background. Now all I need to get is my lightbox kit and I’m good to go!

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Cheryl Lojewski ...

Cindy, it will be interesting to see everyone’s ideas on this. I, too, agree staging is important, but I think when I started photographing my jewelry I over did it. I’m trying to transition to simple staging. lol. I found I had a hard time finding things to photograph the jewelry with and I was spending more time looking for things than actually taking the pics. I found a display mannequin in Tucson a few years ago (we named her Hilda, lol.) and I use her in my main picture. I don’t know..maybe it’s still too much. I might try just using some flagstone pieces I have. I do like your tile idea, though.

I bought a light box (Kaezi Photo Studio Tent from Amazon) and I think that’s a great help, too. I know you can make one from cardboard boxes, etc., but this came with the lights, tripod and some backgrounds (although, I don’t use theirs) and it was about $35 – $40. It folds almost flat and is easily stored away. My biggest challenge is learning how to use my camera. That can be a whole different topic!

Good luck with your new pics! Hopefully I can learn some new things here, too. :O)

Cindy A. ...

I found myself in the same boat! I never do anything half way, I go overboard. I had to keep the goal in mind….plus I had a tight budget! I would still love a piece of weathered wood, a crystal rock, a mannequin hand and some suede though. That’s cute naming your mannequin! Everyone has their own style and knows what works for them I just thought it might be a little helpful to know where cheap materials are for those looking for ideas. I wish I had to thought to ask everyone here for lightbox advice a year ago! My husband is getting me a 16" one with 2 lights and a smartphone tripod, just $30 on Choxi (nomorerack). I can’t wait to try it out! I hated the idea of having to invest more money but it has already made a difference, so I think it’ll pay for itself…eventually!!

Cindy A. ...

I just wanted to say also that I felt like I couldn’t really compete with other designers. Even at craft shows everyone had better displays, so being able to showcase things better actually gave me more confidence. It’s amazing how far a few extra bucks go.

Cheryl Lojewski ...

We have a craft show this weekend. I’ll take a pic of our displays…we use decorative easels and Saltillo tiles. Heavy, but we get lots of compliments on them. Since our name is Tierra Madre (Mother Nature) we try to use natural items for displays, flagstone, driftwood, rocks, etc. This year we added some lights to our tables to hopefully “shine a new light” on our pieces. Unfortunately we have had more questions about the lights lately than our jewelry. lol.

Cindy A. ...

And that’s about how it goes, doesn’t it? I always get asked about the one thing I refuse to sell. That is a great idea for staging. I would like some natural elements since I use mostly natural stone. Sounds like you have a great display!

Marta ...

You both have some great ideas! I am going to look into the lightbox. I do have a suggestion though… The one thing I learned in my photography class years ago is to use a grey, black or white sheet for portraits…I would think it would be the same for photographing jewelry?….I may even try it myself! The shadow from the lights seem to get absorbed. (In some of my family photos, I used the black sheet in the back and it made a hugh difference!)

Cheryl Lojewski ...

Some examples of what we use on our tables for shows.

Marta ...

I like what you did!

Cheryl Lojewski ...

Thanks Marta. Unfortunately the tiles are pretty heavy. lol

Cindy A. ...

Wow! That’s a really nice setup! I like all the natural elements you add to it.