This is not a tutorial, do not do what I’ve done.
I have 2 etsy shops, my photography one and a jewelry and antiques one, (soon to be a place with weird old timey photoshop nightmares as well), and my least favorite part about the jewelry shop is taking the photos. Now, as a photographer you would think I would be a natural at product photography but aside from not having a “proper setup” I just despise it…
I’ve watched a few tutorials, read blogs, but none of them help. They make it look SOOO easy, but it’s not for me, my situation or my emotional well being.
- Mangling my body into weird positions to get shots or look through the viewfinder
- Lighting and weird shadows on the backdrop
- Coming up with a good backdrop or props (I finally settled on old dictionary paper)
- I can’t see well enough to use manual focus
- Auto focus is inaccurate at best
- I’m using f2.8 because I don’t know where my remote is
- Cat hair on everything
- My tripod (when I can even use it) does not stay still in one direction or another, or I bump it and the next shot will be different from the first.
- Camera battery starts dying
- My back and neck hurt a lot by now…
Today was 90% disaster, but by the last 2 necklaces or so, I finally got a ‘sort of’ system down…at least I wasn’t laying on the floor anymore with my neck cricked sideways (trying to use natural light). The natural light was really just giving me too harsh of shadows and I don’t have anything to use as a bounce/reflector, aside from the white paper I put in the box I’m using, so I had to go with my ikea lamp and ambient light. The white paper is surprisingly useless as far as bouncing the light I have, I had better luck with the light directly on the jewelry. It did reflect off the walls of the box so the shadow wasn’t as harsh, but that’s what I got… (one reason I don’t own the right supplies and don’t want to buy anything is because we live in an RV most of the year and don’t have room for even more craft supplies). Either this is going to work, or I’m going to explode. Those are the terms.
By the time I decide that sunlight is not helping, it’s been a couple hours of struggle. I finally put the box up on a table and come up with some wacky configurations, most of the time trying not to block the ambient light from the window with my camera – where I get a looming shadow next to the jewelry .. nice… I try using my phone light to counteract the shadows but it barely does a thing. Time to get the tripod, despite having to literally adjust it for every single shot because it’s junk – it’s better than trying to hide from my own shadow.
Luckily my Ikea lamp has a snake neck so I can pull the box to the edge of the table and put the light on top, curving it around into the box. Then, I shove the camera as far into the box as the tripod will allow and yet still, the struggle with the autofocus is REAL. My camera is about 7 years old now and dying a slow painful death. I can’t zoom in on thumbnails 50% of the time to make sure their in focus and autofocus seems to be very ADD.
In the situation where I finally came to my senses, I’m doing a few necklaces, which I decide to hang from the top of the box so they’re suspended in air, because chains always look terrible piled up in a ball or wiggly mess. You can see from this photo, that I now have to contend with the light and camera to get in there and change necklaces, therefore moving the camera and the next shot not looking the same. This may never work very well. I may have to go buy shit, which I hate doing.
The photos came out “ok” but not good enough. I need to find my remote and redo the inside of the box so it looks like a set and not a disaster area. Today was admittedly more of an experiment day than anything, but it would have been nice to also just “get lucky” and have all the time and photos I wasted be usable. I did however learn things..
In this pic, the focus looks muddy, my camera sucks – things only seem to look sharp at f16 anymore, you can’t even tell that shit in the background is antique dictionary paper, the focus is tooooo narrow… and meh. I fell pretty discouraged..especially since besides all the schooling I feel like 80% of my photography is chance anyway… composition and technical knowledge, that’s all I got. Is that enough? I dunno anymore.