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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Cropping Your Photos to Show Detail

The last couple of weeks I have been very inspired to improve my product photography by reading a lengthy post in the Artfire Forums.  Here is the link to it, but I think you have to be logged in to Artfire to read it:

Photography Q & A

I'll warn you, it's 76 pages long!

Now I am an amateur photographer, and I have even won awards for my photography.  But when I approached taking photographs for my Artfire shop, my approach was to show the piece -- like the Sears catalog maybe?  I showed what the product looked like on a plain background, usually white and sterile.  Anyway, I have come to the conclusion that selling handmade jewelry online requires some props.  Not anything fancy or distracting, but particularly something to add some texture and some depth.  The other thing I have decided is that it's good to zoom right in and get a close up shot.  You don't need to show the entire piece in your first shot.  Get in close and show the detail to catch their eye, and leave them wanting to see the rest of it.  Make sure by the time they looked at the other pictures that they have seen the other parts though!  There's another thread on this subject in the Artfire forums:

Jewelry Photo Props

Now I'm sure some people will probably disagree with me, but that's my opinion and I'm sticking to it!  So I decided to see what I could do with some existing shots by my fellow members of the JCUIN (Jewelry Creators Unite In Numbers) guild.  I hope they don't mind!

Here is "Love Charm Necklace Antique Brass" by Artistic Pendants:

I like this picture because it's not a straight on shot -- it shows some depth.  And it also shows the whole necklace, which is definitely a shot you want to show.  Because it is not square it wouldn't work well as the first shot.  Artfire always shows little square icons.  So I cropped it to make it square and zoom in on some of that detail.  It's a little fuzzier than I would like, but you get the idea:

Here are some Circle and Loop earrings by Caty Ann's Creations:

Circles and Loops Earrings E110 2.5
I like this shot because it looks black & white and creates a mood.   But if I add another cropped shot, you get a much better look at the earrings:

Once again, a little fuzzier than I'd like it to be.

Here's a pet Adoption Awareness Pendant by Mz Tracyr using a rock and maybe some scrapbook paper as props:

Save a Life Pet Awareness Necklace

In my opinion, the rock and the scrapbook paper are a little distracting.  You want people to notice the pendant, not the rock.  Here it is cropped:

While you can't see the chain, you can always show it in another photo.

Laura of Sil Jewel has listed this Polymer Clay Silver Adjustable Flower Ring.  Here the ring is shown on the ring mandrel.

Polymer Clay Silver Adjustable Flower Ring

I would rather show more of the beautiful detail in the ring, and less of the ring mandrel, like this:

Here is a Leather Wrap Bracelet with red howlite by Tammi of Pink Sunset Jewelry Designs:

Wrap Bracelet Leather with Red Dyed Howlite with Silver Heart Charm

There's nothing wrong with this picture, but if I was looking at this bracelet what would catch my eye would be the red howlite focal bead.  So I might really look at it like this:

Unique Designs by Tammy made these patriotic Red White and Blue Earrings:

red White and Blue Earrings

I think the earrings are pretty small in the picture and there's a lot of extra space.  Those thumbnails are pretty small, so I like to make my piece as large as possible.  Here's what it looks like after cropping it:

Not a huge difference, but you get a better look at the earrings.

Zoomgraphik made this Blue Lapis Bracelet with Pewter Beads:

Blue Lapus gems with Pewters beads

After cropping it to see a little more bracelet and a little less prop, I came up with this one:

I also lightened it up a little bit so we can really get a better look at the beads.

These Silver Heart Charm Earrings with baby pink freshwater pearls are by Crystal Bazaar:

Silver Heart Charm  Baby Pink Freshwater Pearl Handmade Drop Earrings

I have this very same purple flower by the way.  You can see it in my Artfire avatar, and right now I'm thinking I need to go crop it some more!  Here's the view after I zoom in on the earrings a little:

Here's the pictures that started it all when I posted in the "jewelry props" thread mentioned previously.  I had some smile copper  metal clay earrings.  Here is the original picture:

copper earrings, Niobium wires, Smile

I was listing some earrings that are basically the same, but instead of "smile" they say "escape".  Here's my new shot:

After a little advice from Jim Juris (you will find him on the Artfire forums quite frequently), I backed off a little bit to follow his rule of thirds.  You can read all about it on the previously mentioned Jewelry Props thread in the Artfire forums.  Here is the modified picture.

I hope you like the close up looks as much as I do.  I think they look great in collections too.  Well, I'm off to revise some more photos.


  1. Very informative post. Thanks for using my earrings. I also like the close-ups and since Artfire offers multiple photos you can actually get some of both! :)

  2. Photography is something I constantly struggle with. This post is so very informative, Roxanne. What a difference cropping makes! Am spending the summer going back and re-doing a lot of my old photos. makes me tired thinking of it, but, hey, it needs to be done. Thanks for giving me some ideas.

  3. Great post, Roxanne! I love how you've handled your new product shots in your shop. The photos are knockouts and really showcase the earrings. I agree with you that the first image you show of a product really needs to grab your viewer's attention and these certainly do that. I like close-ups for this reason, but I'm glad that you backed off on the earrings because I always feel that the viewer should be able to make visual sense of the item immediately. Is it earrings, a hat, a pen, what are you selling? In the second shot, we can tell more easily that these are earrings. Really great job.

  4. Thanks Cathy, Catherine and Daly! I am glad that you like the shots. Catherine, I am also going to redo a lot of my shots, but I am exited about it now that I have some fresh ideas.

  5. Roxanne I just love seeing the photographs depicting the differences. Thanks for sharing!