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Photographing Jewelry on Models

One way to take your jewelry business to the next level is to have your jewelry photographed on models. Read on to find out the benefits of modeled jewelry photos and how to make it happen.

One way to take your jewelry business to the next level is to have your jewelry photographed on models. Read on to find out the benefits of modeled jewelry photos and how to make it happen.

Showing jewelry on models is beneficial for many reasons.  

First, it is an excellent way to show the scale of your jewelry. Your buyer (especially online shoppers) can picture size and how the jewelry will look on them better when they can see it modeled on a real person.  

Second, having modeled shots of your jewelry add great content for your website and social media. Model shots are great feature images and add yet another view for each item’s page. While a product shot on a plain background is important to be your main image, your jewelry on a model can offer great insight to customers.  

Third, model shots can help customers understand your brand. The look and feel and target audience can sometimes be portrayed better with model images.  

Another benefit of modeled jewelry is that you can showcase multiple jewelry items at once. Show customers how they can stack rings or bracelets. Offer a beautiful necklace that pairs well with those earrings. Let them see how multiple pieces of the line work together as a set!

What our Halstead Grant Winners Say

We spoke with two of our past grant winners, most recent winner Emma Hoekstra of Emma Elizabeth Jewelry and Kristen Baird-Rabun of Kristen Baird Jewelry (2017 winner) about their decision to use model photography for their jewelry businesses  

1. Why do you have your jewelry shot on models? 

Emma Elizabeth: I think it is important for the customer to be able to see the jewelry being worn especially if they are shopping online. This way they can picture what it might look like on them. It also really helps with interpreting jewelry scale. 
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Photo by Chettara T. Photography

Kristen Baird: I didn’t have "Model Photos" for a very long time and then in 2019, I finally had my first official model shoot for my brand. I used my friends, and fellow small business owners, Paprika Southern Studios to style and photograph the shoot. My goals for the shoot were to give a sense of scale to my jewelry and to have content for social media and my website that really showcase the feel of the Kristen Baird® brand. I've found that on-model shots are a great way to showcase multiple coordinating pieces, a variety of color options, or an assortment across several collections- all in one image. The detail shots we get are also important! I use them to send to customers all the time especially when they are asking questions about a piece, or have thoughts about scale or fit. It gives me a way to say, “Hey, I think you would like this piece or that.” For me, it’s already made a huge difference! 

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Photo by Paprika Southern Studios

2. What do you look for in a model? 

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Photo by Jen Vermeulen Photography

Emma Elizabeth: The first photoshoot I did for my website I had all my cousins over and had them model for me since I didn't really have many connections to local models. The second time I had been introduced to some local models through a collaboration I did. I ended up reaching out to them on Instagram and they all seemed pretty excited about it. It was more of a collaboration shoot, so it gave them an opportunity to build their portfolio, practice their posing and have images they could use on their social media. To thank them, I gave them each a dollar amount towards a piece from my website. 

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Photo by Paprika Southern Studios

Kristen Baird: With my first "unofficial shoots" I started by using friends who were willing to help me out. For my latest shoot I wanted a different look and Paprika Southern Studios had the perfect suggestion of a beautiful Latina model with gorgeous hair and a striking smile. I’ve had other models through collaborations – I've used a model with blonde hair and blue eyes, several African-American models with flawless skin and drop-dead-gorgeous hair, a red hair fireball of a model with piercing features. As time passes, I have a couple of other models that I want to use - an Asian model and at some point, a pregnant woman and a mother with her kids - because I want my brand to relate to all women, not just one particular look. 

For the latest shoot, I did pay for the model's hair, nails, and makeup. It is important to my brand that nails look really nice. It worked out quite nicely because one of the first things you look at when shooting jewelry is nails, ears, hands, neck structure, those types of things.

 

 

3. Who shoots your jewelry (on model or otherwise)?  

Emma Elizabeth: I have a good friend from high school, Emily Moelker Photography, who shoots my website photos. We do need to set up another shoot but it is hard to keep up on modeled images when making one of a kind jewelry. My lifestyle/studio images of myself are have been taken by Ashley Wierenga, she is a local marketing consultant who also wrote a really nice blog about me and my story. Betsy Schipper Photography has been really awesome to work with because we barter our services and she happens to love my work and I hers, so it has been a great business relationship. I have also done a lot of collaboration type styled shoots in the past which have been a great way to get my work out there, Chettara T. Photography has such an imagination and I love her creative vision. My all time favorite creative shoot was working with Jen Vermeulen Photography to bring my vision of EEJ to life, we are hoping to work together again soon! 
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Photo by Jen Vermeulen Photography
Kristen Baird: That would be Paprika Southern Studios.They are great – they are friends of mine, and I’ve known them since we both started our businesses. I like to use people who are local and who are in a similar situation as I'm in. We can help each other by working together and we "get" each other. It also helps that we know each other and have been following each other's business for a while. 

The thing with Paprika Southern Studios is they understand environment, mood, and "feel". They were the ones who suggested neutral backgrounds, non-distracting props, clothing that fit the goals...they would suggest, "Let's bring in this or that for different looks" and it worked! I try to let them do what they are best at and when I let them do their thing, the results are far greater than if I try to dictate.

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Photo by Paprika Southern Studios

4 - Any tips for shooting jewelry on models?  

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Photo by Emily Moelker Photography

Emma Elizabeth: The jewelry should be the focus of the modeled images. The light should be hitting the jewelry directly rather than highlighting the model. It is really important that you photographer fits your vision and that they have product photography in their resume. 

Photo by Paprika Southern Studios
Photo by Paprika Southern Studios

Kristen Baird: First thing, know what you want to get and what your goals are prior to starting. When I went to the ladies at Paprika Southern Studios, I knew I needed to get certain earring styles - things that need to show scale or particular details that are hard to show otherwise. I needed stacked pieces. I needed combinations. I needed to show gemstone variations. I needed show-stopping images for banners, certain images for business cards. Pictures I could use for website content. My list was long but doable. 

Also, it's key to come into the shoot with the jewelry organized - knowing what you need from your model, and knowing what you need from your photographer. 

 

One final tip from Kristen is to think about where you will be utilizing the photos and make sure there are shots done specifically for those needs.

Kristen Baird: My photographers also shot images with a lot of white space specifically for me to add announcements or do graphics with them, which was really helpful. They made sure to shoot images for use in different areas like banner signs, announcements, graphics, etc. 

 

Tips for Getting Started

Research has found that people tend to be drawn to photos of people. This means showing your jewelry on a model is more likely to catch a customer’s eye. But if you’ve never done it before, having your jewelry photographed on models can be intimidating.  

Never fear, here’s some tips to get started! If you will be hiring a photographer for your shoot, you can ignore Steps 3 through 5. You’ll still need to sit down with the photographer and discuss the first two steps before the jewelry photoshoot so you know you’re both on the same page.  

Step 1 – Know What You Want 

As you would with propped shots, you’ll want to come up with a plan - including some sort of theme - for your shoot. Doing a photoshoot without a plan will leave you with a lot of lost time as you try to figure out your next shot and frustration when you think of shots you could have taken after the session is over.  

Things to think of when planning out a session: 

1. How many final shots are you wanting? 

Think about the minimum number of shots you’ll want out of the session. If you’ve taken photos of your jewelry before you know you can’t just take one photo and you’re good. Add in a model and now you have to worry about the model blinking or other issues that may ruin a shot. Take extra photos of each pose so there’s less of a chance of not being able to use a shot from that particular set 

2. Where & When? 

This is especially important when working with a hired model. With friends you can ask them if they are open next weekend for a session, but with someone you hire you’ll need a more exact date. 

3. What jewelry do you want to promote? 

Plan ahead and organize what jewelry pieces and/or jewelry collections you want photographed. You not only can group by set (earring, ring, bracelet, necklace, etc.) but also by jewelry collection, metal type, or stone color!

Not only does this make the photo session go more smoothly, getting photographs of jewelry groups will make it easier for you to create promotions for both social media and your website. Here's a few examples of how you can group and what they can be used for below:

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Photo by Paprika Southern Studios
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Photo by Paprika Southern Studios
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Photo by Emily Moelker Photo
This shot is great to promote multiple pieces from one collection. Jewelry pieces are from the Ripple Collection by Kristen Baird Jewelry. This shot is great for promoting the different types of stones you may offer. Bracelets are from the Ripple Collection by Kristen Baird Jewelry. This shot is a great example of how to show off metal options of the same style. Rings are from Emma Elizabeth Jewelry.

4. What is your theme? 

Creating a theme will help give you (or your photographer) and your model direction during the jewelry photoshoot. This will also give you direction on how your model should dress and wear their hair.  

Knowing the theme will also give you direction on where you should hold the photoshoot. Will it be indoors or outside? Should you head to the park or go to a beach?  

Some things to think about for on location (not in a studio or at your  shoots – if you are wanting wardrobe changes for your model, will there be a place for them to change? Will you need permission to photograph in the area? Do you need to worry about the weather? 

5. If your shoot is not in your studio or shop – How do you plan to transport and store jewelry for the shoot? 

We suggest coordinating the pieces beforehand and sectioning off the bundles. This way you can quickly change looks without fumbling for what will match. It will also make you less likely to forget a piece that you were wanting shot. If you are going to a public area and can’t lock the pieces up in a car, plan on having someone, it can even be you, be in charge of watching or holding on to the jewelry at all times.

6. Who will model? 

Consider your clientele. You want your models to reflect who is currently buying your jewelry and who you want to buy your jewelry.

Some other things to consider are:  

  • Do you want just one model or multiple?  
  • Will you be hiring, or will a friend be helping you out? 
  • If you are working with a photographer, will they be in charge of hiring the models? 
  • Make sure to have whoever is modeling, whether hired or a friend, sign a model release form. You can easily find blank forms by searching for them online. Be sure to keep the forms on hand in case a dispute over image usage rights ever occurs.  

If you are unsure of where to look for a model, check social media. Facebook has groups dedicated to connecting models to photographers and business owners. 

Tip: If a friend is helping you out by modeling, make sure to compensate them in some way! 

Something to keep in mind: photographing people adds an emotional element that is generally not present in prop shots. Do you want the models’ expressions blank? Happy? Fierce? You’ll want to communicate this to your model and/or photographer beforehand. Just remember - having a theme in mind can help with deciding what expression to go for! 

 

Step 2 – Find Inspiration 

Throughout working on all our themed photography we’ve found having a batch of inspiration photos is essential. This is especially important since now you’ll have the added element of having to pose a model. If you are hiring a photographer, you’ll most likely go through this process together and set up both a mood board and a shot list. 

Go through your favorite jewelry tags on social media (Instagram & Pinterest will be your friends here!) and see how both jewelers and wearers show off their jewelry. Fasion tags are another great source of inspiration. See the Pinterest board Kristen Baird created as inspiration for her latest shoot! 

If you are using Pinterest, make a subcategory so you know what poses would work best for rings, necklaces, bracelets, etc. 

When you have found enough inspiration, the next step is to make a shot list. If you're the photographer, you won't want to be going back and forth on all your social media channels during the jewelry photoshoot, so having a simple, printed list will make the session go more smoothly. You can segment your list into jewelry lines or by piece, whatever you think would make things easier on you. 

Rings 

  • Hand on Cheek 
  • Hand on purse 
  • Drawing 
  • Hand in hair 
  • Holding necklace 
  • Holding a mug 

Bracelets 

  • Holding purse over shoulder 
  • Putting hair behind ear 
  • Holding hat 

If you want the list more visual, use thumbnail sized images of your inspiration board in addition to or replacing the text. As long as everything is in a simple list format you’ll be good to go. 

 

If you are hiring a photographer, you can ignore the next few steps. 

 

Step 3 –  Understand You are the Director 

This may seem awkward at first, especially if you are not used to working with people, but you are the director. You will need to give your models direction, and trust us, your models will be happy for the help. Even professional models who have lots of experience will need you to tell them things such as, “Could you look a little more to the left and bring your hand closer to your face?” 

The best way to do this is to first give them the general pose: “Can you sit over here with your chin resting on your hand?”. Take a couple of photos then pause and analyze the shots. Maybe the position of their hand is awkward or doesn’t fully show off the jewelry. Tell them how you would like them to adjust: “Can you rotate your wrist a little more towards the camera? Thanks!” Rinse and Repeat until you are happy with the shot. 

If there is something you may need to help them adjust, such as moving a necklace to lie correctly, make sure to ask permission first. “The necklace has gotten a little tangled, do you mind if I fix it?” 

 

Step 4 – Taking the Photos 

Framing 

While full body shots are great and can help catch customer’s eyes on social media, remember you are selling your jewelry. Customers won’t be able to see all the details you put on that ring from that far away. Be sure to get close-up detail shots, in fact most photos should be these.  

We’re not saying 90% of the shots should be extreme closeups (such as all you see is a ring on a hand), they should be close enough that customers can see the jewelry clearly (a headshot with the model’s chin resting on their hand.) 

Lighting 

You will want to pay extra attention to how your jewelry looks during the session, especially if you are outdoors where you will have less control over lighting.  

Soft lighting will always look best for both your jewelry and your model. If your session is indoors, that means using lighting such as softboxes. If you are outdoors try to stick to shade, aim for either an early morning or late afternoon shoot where the sun is less harsh, or hope for an overcast day. Bright sunlight leaves harsh shadows on both your piece and the model and can wash out details.  

If your shoot is split up over multiple days, try to keep the lighting consistent. A harshly lit photo will look out of place next to photos with soft lighting. 

Assistant 

When using a model, you may want to think about having someone assist you. The assistant would be in charge of things such as lighting, keeping the jewelry organized, and switching out sets (if indoors). This will save you precious time and money, especially if the model is paid by the hour, 

Having an assistant for an outdoor shoot is especially helpful since they can be the one in charge of watching the jewelry that’s not in use, freeing you up to focus on photography. They can also help with lighting by using reflectors to bounce light right where you want it.  

The best part is you don’t need to hire anyone to assist, you can ask a friend or one of your employees to help. Don’t forget to compensate friends in some way since they are taking time out of their day to help you! 

 

Step 5 – Editing 

Using a model in your photos will complicate your editing process. Whereas before you only had to worry about desaturating your silver or making sure your gold-filled didn’t look green, you now have to make sure your model’s skin tone looks natural. One solution is to find a photo online of someone with the same skin tone with similar lighting that you can use as a comparison while you are editing. Another is to bring in a skin color palette and follow this tutorial (if the colors turn out awful, try a different midtone from the color palette.)  

Even skin tone can be another issue (think of someone whose face is somewhat blotchy from a cold wind). In cases like this you can either use a healing brush (if the problem areas aren’t too big) or try to spot color correct (generally you’ll be lessening redness in areas).  

Besides having to worry about flaws on your jewelry, you’ll now need to consider flaws on your model. Things like acne or mascara smudging should be edited out. While we are all for the all-natural and unedited photo movement, things like acne can be distracting for your jewelry photography, especially on the closeup shots. Most editing programs have something called a healing brush that allows you to brush over the problem area and the program will copy a spot from a nearby area to fix the issue. This will allow your edits to keep the model’s skin texture and color, keeping you from having a plasticky looking model.  

Finally, remember to not over-edit the photos. When you think you are done editing, toggle back and forth between the edited and unedited version. Has the saturation been too overdone? Are the whites now overblown? If so, either track back or tone down the layers or effects that are causing the issues.

If you are just getting started in photo editing, here's some beginner retouching tutorials for Photoshop and Snapseed for mobile.


We hope you enjoyed Halstead's article on how to Photograph Jewelry on Models. If you wish to learn more about jewelry photography, we suggest reading some of our other articles such as: Tips for Hiring a Professional Jewelry Photographer, How to Photograph Jewelry on a White Background, Jewelry Photography Tips: How to Use Your Phone, and Photo Studio Tips - Lighting.

This article was co-authored by Bethany Blackshear.

Special thanks to our article contributors:

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Emma Elizabeth from Emma Elizabeth Jewelry

My name is Emma and I am the jewelry artist behind Emma Elizabeth Jewelry. Utilizing traditional metalsmithing skills, I hand fabricate one of a kind pieces of wearable art inspired by a difficult time in my life. My collection has evolved with me, from mourning jewelry to bold, imaginative pieces that evoke resilience and strength. My designs are created with the desire to encourage the wearer to feel confident, edgy and unique, no matter what their narrative is.

After losing my boyfriend in a car accident, my jewelry making classes turned into therapy. He was just gone and I was left picking up the pieces to what I thought my life was going to be. Metalsmithing changed me. My classes were healing me. They allowed me to work through my grief and create as I navigated life without him. I became passionate about my work and fell in love with the techniques and processes of this important craft.

My loss fiercely grounds my work. We all have stories… we all have the hard stuff. You can hide it or choose to share it with others. That is one of the reasons I do this-to connect with people, share my story and hope that my path to jewelry making can be an example of what happens when you open yourself up to being led in spite of your grief.

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Kristen Baird from Kristen Baird Jewelry

Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Kristen decided to plant her roots in Savannah, Georgia after graduating from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) with a bachelor’s degree in Jewelry Design. While going to SCAD, she was honored as a Valedictorian nominee, a Presidential Scholarship Recipient, and received the Outstanding Achievement award in Jewelry Design.

With a desire to continue learning and wanting to hone in on her craft, Kristen received her Rhino CAD Certificate and attended the renowned New Approach School for Jewelers, completing the Graduate Bench Jeweler program under the direction of world-class instructor, Blaine Lewis. In 2015, she decided to start her own business, Kristen Baird® Jewelry.

Celebrating several notable honors and awards, Kristen and her brand have been on the rise in both the local business scene as well as the national jewelry scene.

 

Halstead can help you build your small jewelry business.

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