If you are trying to learn how to photograph shiny objects, small pins, coins or jewelry, here are some excellent tips.
2017 Photography update:
We now just use an iPhone with the image sitting near the window when we shoot our lapel pins and custom charms. Don’t have an iPhone? Well, it looks like the iPhone X will be out in November and it may be worth waiting for! We also recommend photographing jewelry. The quality of the images are extremely good and the phone has nice editing tools as well as advanced camera settings you can play with.
Keeping things simple and using nice backgrounds go a long way! Using a white object like a piece of white paper 12 inches above an image will also make a huge difference in the way a metal finish reflects back to the camera ( not so easy if you do not have help ). The only lighting we use when photographing jewelry, lapel pins, and coins are the ambient room lighting with a big window next to our photography desk. Make sure the sun does not directly hit your product! Lastly, try different angles, backgrounds and product positions! Shooting the same image using different locations and the same background and lighting will allow you to have a choice of product images to choose from. Have fun on your next product shoot!
Here is our original photography post:
Learning how to photograph shiny objects, like lapel pins, coins or other jewelry-like products offers a variety of unique challenges. At the Monterey Company, we have some of the tiniest, shiniest, sometimes awkward shaped products that we need to show every detail and clear angles so that you can see just how good our finished work can be! So, we thought we would share some of the key tips we use when photographing our specially shaped and textured lapel pins and custom coins in a studio environment:
1. The Importance of Lighting: Most of the lapel pins we shoot have a highly reflective surface. In order to keep clean highlights and shadows, it is important to use a relatively large, soft light source positioned as close to the product as possible. We choose to use a single Hensel-brand strobe light placed above and behind the products with a 3×3-foot diffusion panel to soften the quality of the light and create a soft shadow at the base of the products. When photographing jewelry, this lighting setup adds depth to the image and shows off the coin or lapel pin shape and texture.
2. The Challenge in Photographing Lapel Pins: Photographing jewelry and other shiny
products and arranging each item on a flat tabletop as close to the diffusion panel as possible is a challenge in itself. Photographing lapel pins can be an added challenge because their posts don’t allow them to lay flat. To solve this problem, we construct a pincushion by stacking several cardboard panels and covering them with a super-bright-white paper material. This allows us to insert the post into the cardboard cushion and keep the lapel pin laying flat on the white background.
3. Retouching! What’s That?: In many cases, retouching photographs often take longer than the shoot itself. There are a few things we do to minimize the time spent in the Photoshop software we use for perfecting the final images. We always photograph shiny objects with bright white background materials specifically designed for studio use. This way, we can create a pure white background to the photo in mere seconds during retouching. It is also important to minimize as much dust as possible in the studio. Using canned air, dusters, or other cleaning products while shooting saves hours of cleanup later.
4. One Final Tip: Since many of our custom products have reflective surfaces, particularly our coins and medals, it is easy to pick up reflections from other objects in the studio that can be seen on the reflective areas of the products. You can solve this problem when photographing your own jewelry or other shiny objects by doing one simple thing: wear black! Your reflection will disappear into the shadows.