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Getting The Most from Your Jewelry Photographs

Posted by Matt on May 21 at 02:44 pm

Now that you’re taking beautiful photos of your jewelry, you may be wondering what you should be doing with them. In this post, I’ll explore the different ways that you can edit, share, print and market your jewelry.

Editing Your Photos

The first thing you should think about is editing your photos. While it’s important to use the right camera settings when taking your photos, it rarely turns out exactly the way you expect. That’s where photo editing software comes in handy.

There are dozens of options when it comes to editing your photos. It all depends on what you’d like to do with your photos and how much you’re willing to pay. Prices range from free to $699. I’ve lost almost all of my math skills over the past couple of years, but that sounds like a pretty huge disparity to me.

You’re probably not sure which features that you’ll be needing out of your photo editing software. Here’s a quick list that I came up with:

  • Cropping and resizing
  • Color management
  • File and folder organization
  • Import files easily
  • Cloning tool for removing flaws

Based on that list, I’ve come up with a few possible software solutions.

pse-screenAdobe Photoshop Elements 7

I’m sure many of you have heard of Adobe Photoshop. Well, this is the “lighter” and much less expensive version of that software. It doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles of the originial Photoshop, but it has all of the features that we’ll need and then some. It’s normally $99, but you can get it from Amazon.com for $79.49. Also, you can download a free trial from the Adobe web site.

Here are a few of the great features of Photoshop Elements:

  • One-click color management: No matter what camera settings or lighting you use, if you’re taking photos indoors, you’ll need to make a few adjustments. When you select the “Auto-levels” option from the “Enhance” menu, prepare to be amazed. By far my favorite feature.
  • Clone stampt tool: Fixing blemishes has never been easier. I can’t really give a tutorial here, but there are plenty of resources online.
  • File and project management: I haven’t had a lot of experience with this feature, but it’s nice to have if you’re dealing with tons of photos.
  • Photo sharing: Access your jewelry photos from any computer with an internet connection.

Unfortunately, you can’t use Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 on a Mac.

picasa_logoGoogle Picasa

This is free software from Google. What more can I say? It’s not as full-featured as Photoshop Elements, but it certainly does a great job of cropping and fixing minor flaws in your images. Where Picasa excels is file management. If you have a bunch of photos in random places on your computer, Picasa finds all of them and manages them for you… automatically! Also, it’s really easy to upload your photos to popular photo sharing sites and order prints from online print companies.

If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to manage and share your photos, look no further. While the editing features are lacking, it’s should do the job in most cases. Download Google Picasa for Free!

There are plenty of other photo editing products out there, so you may want to do some of your own research before deciding on one. As a jewelry designer, you shouldn’t need anything more than Adobe Photoshop Elements. If you’re not interested in paying for your photo editing solution, Google Picasa is easily the best value.

Sharing Your Photos

I’ve already touched on this a bit in the last section, but sharing your photos is really important to the success of your jewelry photography. Whether your selling your jewelry, or documenting your labor of love, it’s always a good idea to put your work on display.

There are plenty of sites and applications that can help you organize and share your photos online. Most of them are free, or they come packaged with your photo editing software. As I mentioned earlier, Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 and Google Picasa both give you the ability to share your photos on the web. If you’re just looking to upload your photos to the web, you probably want to use Flickr.

picture-6Flickr

Flickr is the most popular site for sharing your photos on the web. One of the best things about Flickr is the community. If you’re looking to improve your skills of need advice on buying a new camera, Flickr’s community is the place to be. There are groups and forums designed for this purpose alone. You can even comment on other user’s photos!

Flickr also has some pretty cool photo editing features. You can crop, rotate, and resize your photos. Also, there are some basic color management features that could be helpful. Overall, Flickr is a great tool for sharing your photos.

Getting Prints of Your Photos

Like the editing and sharing solutions, there are plenty of web sites that allow you to order prints of your jewelry photograhy. However, there are a couple of factors that you should take into account before choosing one:

  • Price: While most online print ordering companies are really inexpensive, you should make sure that you’re not sacrficing quality.
  • Shipping/Pick-up: Some sites allow you to print and pick it up from a local photo center. For example, if you order from Snapfish.com, you can pick up your prints from Walgreens. Otherwise, check on shipping options and prices before you order.

I’ve used both Snapfish and Shutterfly. Recently, my wife and I ordered our wedding and honeymoon prints from Snapfish. They turned out wonderfully. Also, 4×6″ prints are only 19 cents a piece!

Image Resolution

Another important factor to take into account when ordering your prints is the resolution, or quality, of your photos.

Have you ever noticed that when you print a picture directly from the internet, it looks pretty lousy? Well, that’s because of the difference in resolution. Every image is made up of tiny dots of varying colors. Image resolution is measured in dots per inch or dpi for short. Your computer monitor will most likely fit about 72 of these dots into 1 inch. They’re called pixels. Your printer has the ability to print at 300 dpi! So, while an image may look great on your computer screen, that doesn’t always mean that it will print well.

On a camera, resolution is measured in Megapixels. The higher the number, the larger your maximum printed image size would be at 300 dpi. With our 12.2 Megapixel camera, we could potentially print a 14.26×9.5″ picture at full resolution. Not that we’ll ever need to print anything that large, but it gives us the freedom to crop or resize if we need to.

If you’re never going to make prints of your photos, you shouldn’t have to worry about resolution. If you’re looking to print an 8×10″ or even 5×8″ photo, you most certainly have to worry about resolution. Here’s a quick guide to what print size will work best with your camera:

  • 2 Megapixels or more: 5×8″ prints look good, but 4×6″ looks best
  • 4 Megapixels or more: 8×10″ prints look good, but 5×8″ looks best
  • 8 Megapixels or more: 8×10″, 5×8″ or 4×6″ will all print at the best resolution

You don’t have to live by these guidelines! You can print out an 8×10″ photo from your 2 Megapixel camera, you just won’t receive the optimum results. Also, when you crop or resize your photos, you will lose pixels.

picture-7Marketing Your Jewelry

The best way to market your jewelry is on the internet. With your new professional-looking photographs, your work is already half done. Nothing will ever do justice to looking and holding the real product in your hands, but great photography is as close as you can get. That’s why, from day 1, Lima Beads has taken great care in our product photos.

If you’ve been thinking about selling your jewelry online, you’ve probably heard of Etsy. It’s “an online marketplace for buying and selling all things handmade.” To give you an idea of how gargantuan the Etsy community has become, just do a search for handmade jewelry. You get close to 50,000 results. To list your items on Etsy, it cost 20 cents per item listed and there’s a 3.5% sales fee.

When you’re selling your items on Etsy or any other site, you want to think about what’s going to separate your pieces from other sellers’ jewelry. When I’m thumbing through the search results on Etsy, the products that catch my eye are the ones with an interesting photo. I don’t think I ever look at the title or the seller.

While you can usually add multiple photos for a single product listing, you want to make sure that you have an interesting “main” photo. I call it the main photo because that’s what buyers are going to see in the search results and when they click through to the listing. This is where the focal point section of my last post may come into play. My advice would be to use a shot that is zoomed in on the unique details of your piece. It’s okay if you can’t see the whole piece. If the buyer likes what they see, they’ll most likely check out the other photos on your listing page. I would use the other, full-piece photos as the supporting photos because if they don’t like the most interesting part of your design, chances are they aren’t interested.

The reason I suggest using a zoomed photograph as the main image is not because the other full-piece images are less interesting, you just can’t see the details that make your jewelry unique.

Putting It All Together

Now that you have the ability to edit, share, print and market your jewelry photographs, you need some way to bring it all together. There are two ways that I would suggest doing that.

First, whenever you’re selling something, you should always have a business card handy. You can’t guarantee that every potential buyer you meet will remember your name, phone number and email address. Along with your personal contact information, you could add the address(es) to your Photoshop Elements Web Gallery, Picasa Web Album, Flickr Photostream and/or Etsy Seller page.

Also, have you ever thought about creating your own blog? If you haven’t, I think it’s time that you do. They’re a great way to express yourself professionally and they’re free. I would suggest using WordPress or Blogger. If you’ve ever used Microsoft Word, you should have no problem using these tools to start your own blog.

If you have your own blog, you can link to all of the aforementioned photo services and just have a link to your blog on your business card. It’s really a win-win situation. If you still think it’s too big of an undertaking, a business card should work fine.

Well, that concludes my post on editing, sharing, printing and marketing your jewelry. I hope I was able to help unravel the mysteries successfully selling your jewelry. If you have any first-hand experience with any of the tools listed above, please let us know in the comments.

I know some of this stuff can be confusing, especially when it comes to pixels, so don’t hesitate to ask questions in the comments! I’ll be happy to help where I can. I definitely don’t have ALL of the answers. :)

Read the comments (or add your own)

  1. No Photo
    River City Girl says:

    “Unfortunately, you can’t use Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 on a Mac.”

    True, but Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 is available for Mac, and it has most of the cool features you mention here. :-)

  2. Matt
    Matt says:

    Thanks River City Girl! I couldn’t find very much information about older version on the Adobe web site.

    Good to know.

  3. WireWrangler
    WireWrangler says:

    Thank you Matt. Very helpful and informative.

  4. No Photo
    Luv2bead - Little Chick says:

    I was wondering, for a future blog topic, could you maybe explain how to start a website to sell your jewelry on (if you don’t really want to use Etsy)?

  5. No Photo
    Dezine Ali says:

    If this name has been taken…how much trouble can I get into???
    Your name, Lima Beads, caught my eye because my hubby works in Peru. I was so sure this was a Peru connection. I’m not dissappointed though…this sight is right down my “Ali”!!!

  6. No Photo
    Luv2bead - Little Chick says:

    Lots of the Chickies have been wondering if you could have a “out of stock” page so that we can still use the beads in our fresh picks and add them to our wish lists!!! PLEASE…PLEASE…WITH AN OUT-OF-STOCK BEAD ON TOP!! ;)

  7. Steve
    Steve says:

    Hi Luv2bead, I just wanted to let you know that I’ve addressed your question in the comments on this Fresh Pick: http://www.limabeads.com/PairA.....ment-40229

    Thanks for letting us know what’s important to you!

  8. No Photo
    Luv2bead - Little Chick says:

    Thanks! (you don’t have to answer my email now)

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