I had a little Canon Point and shoot (I still do!), with a Digital Macro Setting. I sort-of-kind-of-partially-a-little-bit-almost knew the basics of how to use it. I mean, Point and Shoot - it’s right there in the name, right? But I didn’t know any other details - white balance? Uh, I was shooting on a white background (sometimes), so that should be enough, right? Focus? Got it. Sizing, resolution. Um, OK no I have no idea what I am doing, but I’ve got moxie so let’s wing it! So long as the images were in focus I was “doing it right”.
And here’s where that moxie took me. Images technically in focus, but the wrong size for a lot of website resolutions, plus they were grainy, dull, and lacking a certain je ne sais quoi. After a couple of years of DIY-ing my jewelry photography, I finally asked for help from my jewelry community, sought advice and asked questions like, “hey what does this button on my camera do and do I need it?” I also found resources to crop out my jewelry and put it onto a white background, and retaught myself a few tricks in Photoshop. The point is, I wasn’t stuck where I was at. I could ask for help, seek advice and make it all better.
Here we have a ring that is still a classic in the collection, even if I have better images of it now. The infinity ring was one of the first pieces that kicked off my official jewelry line launch. Couples still buy it as their wedding band, other customers love it for the symbolism of the infinity. I’d like to think that I’ve gotten even better at making this ring in the last 8 years. I am definitely better at photographing it.
2 - I Was Not a Good Designer When I Started
I was a designer! Of course I was a designer. I was designing all the time - always jotting down my ideas in a sketchbook, coming up with new ideas and different shapes and textures. The thing is, transferring ideas from paper and brain into metal and gems doesn’t always go the way you think it will. Ideas can look great in your head, even better in a sketch and still turn out all wrong when you execute it in metal.
For instance, these hoops. I loved the design (still do!), it made for a great idea and pretty sketches, but when I made it in oxidized silver, the front of the earring was too heavy, so the hoop kept falling out of the earlobe. Back to the drawing board with this one, and I think these wound up in a sample sale bin years later. Nowadays I know to account for things like weight and balance, and how to think of how a piece will interact with a real live human - fewer sharp and pointy edges to catch on your sweater, knowing how to counterweight a heavy design to make it wearable. Also how to photograph it better (again with the photography). One of my earlier ideas was to make my photography distinguishable from other photography. And, you know what? Achievement unlocked… just not in a good way. I didn’t iron that fabric, and thought that a dull green background combined with even duller lighting would make for a distinctive image. The point is, with more time and more experience I learned to adapt to the design and styling process, to make changes when the finished product wasn’t exactly right, and I got better with a lot of practice and experience. I also asked for feedback, did a ton of research about product photography and read up on what website photography looked best. I got better with time.