Digital Jewelry Photography Solutions >> Tips and Advice >> Confessions

for the benefit of all future clients…

In the ‘good-old-days’ when a jewelry photographer would charge two hundred dollars to photograph a gold ring, or any other jewelry, we needed to know three things only: what type of film to use, who would make the color separation and how would we get paid for the service. The client would pay for the photography and other expenses such as Polaroid, film cost, lab processing and color separation bringing the total cost of a photographed jewelry item to about $195.00 - $245.00. The client would wait patiently for about a week to complete the multi-step process at which time we would deliver to a happy client the final product: a beautifully photographed and color separated ring ready for printing.

Nowadays things have changed a ‘little’. We no longer use film but the all digital workflow, and the client no longer is willing to wait a week to receive the final product. Simply said, is the equation “time is money”! Nowadays clients want the jewelry back the same day or the day after! In addition, they expect a far lesser pay, around the average of $65 for the same jewelry photography that used to cost an average of $200.00. And off course expecting a little better quality than before, after all we are in the digital-age!

The client justifies this expectations on the premise that it only takes an instant to achieve what use to take one week. At list this is the perception. Well, let me assure you and say this is hardly the truth.

Today’s jewelry photographer must have full knowledge of the workflow. Image-capture systems, scanners, color management, RGB color spaces and conversions to CMYK and the inherent


problems in converting colors. Must have full understanding of color settings of multiple image-capture software, pixels and image resolution and the importance of pixel dimension. Because he is not only a jewelry photographer, but a color separator as well!

In addition, he must know when to use what and why-- such as digital file types, image compression, capture files, their advantages, disadvantages and how to "process" them correctly including the best settings for various types of work.

Also, must know how to work with high-resolution digital backs, setting up studio lighting (strobe and/or tungsten) for jewelry photography specific and identifying 'out-ofgamut' situations. And just in case the client would ask the photographer to come and take photographs at their place rather than in the professional set-up, a new set of complex problems will great them: how to set white balance and getting the color right both indoors and on location not to mention checking exposure via a histogram displayed on a tiny LCD screen and understanding how to read it. Then of course downloading images into the clients computer via card-readers and/or tethered cameras, using firewire or USB connections, control and use of capture systems from software on to their computer, teaching the client color settings in Adobe Photoshop to get accurate color from all of the jewelry photography images just downloaded to their computer. And when the client wants to save the additional expense, teach the client how to do it all this by themselves!

Today’s jewelry photographer would also have to know how to calibrate the client’s monitor to integratewith the photographers monitor and printer in the studio, so that all involved would be looking at images with similar values. Not to mention

the basic and necessary adjustments to new files when opened in Adobe Photoshop the setting of highlight and shadow points, tonal correction and color correction, including some simple Adobe Photoshop techniques such as using, loading and saving curves, channels, masks, adjustment curves, cut outs, using text and exporting images to other programs, interpolation, use of Genuine Fractals to enlarge images (after all they want to max out on their investment)…help!

Let see what else is today’s jewelry photographer expected to know; oh yes, of course setting up an ink-jet printer correctly (software and hardware), digital printing in black-andwhite for their newspaper ads using small gamut ink sets, the creative use of different paper stocks, correctly sizing an image and the maximum size available, choosing the best print resolution for output and speeding up their printing and last but not least, CD-writing to archive their work and setting up a database of their images!

And if the client would press hard enough, the photographer would also teach them how to prepare their files correctly for their web pages or to send as e-mail attachments.

What are they thinking? Welcome to my world of digital jewelry photography. Next time when you ask me “ how much for a shot?” here is my quote: the photography is free; my experience is priceless. Now go do the right thing—hire a competent professional jewelry photographer!

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