Friday, September 13, 2013

Photographing “MY” beaded Jewelry ~ Aurelio

I have been making Jewelry for about 14 years. Originally I trained as a silversmith, I designed metal jewelry for the first eight years. Due to the lack of vibrant color on my metal work I began experimenting with different jewelry techniques such as oxidizing, patinas and enamels to name a few. Beads had a certain appeal, but I did not have training on the area and was reluctant to try it on my own. Then for health related reasons and enchanted by the bright colors, I started stringing beads, and little by little I switched to bead weaving. 

Presently I am totally dedicated to the design of bead work, and have been successful with my designs being published in magazines and blogs worldwide.

With the continuous exposure to the media, taking good quality photographs became a necessity, I found the truth behind that popular saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

At first, (and I'm giving out my age here) all my pictures were slides, which friends did for me. Then I got my first digital point and shoot camera and started experimenting. The first photos were awful which truly frustrated me on my picture journey. So I had no option but to pay professionals to do my images. I definitely advise you to do so if you are entering your work for exhibitions and galleries, believe me I got places with professional pictures.

It is also true that you don’t need perfect expensive images to post your work on social sites where you might want to share your creations. Personally, I think pictures need to transmit a clear and realistic idea of your work.

I am now taking all of the pictures of my artwork that you see on my regular postings on my website Facebook,Pinterest, Twitter (@Clau_Art) and Instagram (@aurelio1221). Many followers of my artwork ask me how I photograph my bead work. A simple internet search on how to photograph jewelry will give you many sites which provide great ways on taking that “professional” 
looking picture of your work. I have tried to follow much of their professional tips, such tips however, can be quite complicated and the equipment required can be quite expensive. 

I am not a professional photographer and I don't intend to be -It's just not my thing- and therefore can't offer you any professional tips, I can however share with you how I photograph my work. Using a simple and inexpensive setup that I have developed through much trial and error. Lets call it the "Aurelio Window Studio", keep reading and you'll find out why.  

The most expensive and incredibly difficult to find is a window. I find the best light to be between noon and around 4 pm, this of course changes during each season. Depending on where you live it might be different, experiment and you will find the time of day when the light is just perfect for your set up. 

Next you will need a sheet of thick white or off white poster board. You can find these in any craft store. You will also need something dark behind it to block some of the light coming through the poster board. Construction paper works fine.  

You will also need a piece of white or gray craft paper. This will be used as a backdrop for your picture so you might want to purchase one with nice texture and store it somewhere where it wont crack of crease. You can clearly see how I place my artwork on the backdrop. Notice how I use my quartz crystals as paperweights this will keep the paper in place and provide good vibes in your fancy studio. 

Many of my pictures are also taken on an unframed mirror as an alternative to the backdrop. You can also find these in craft stores, but hey look in your local .99 Cent store you might find a nice one there. 

Now you close the curtains, really, you use your curtains. These will bounce the light coming from the window back to the front of your piece giving it a softer look as oppose to direct light. In order for this revolutionary technique to work your curtains need to be a white or off white, darker colors will absorb the light instead of reflecting it making your photograph too dark.   

Even though most sites suggest using a tripod and I must say that it helps to steady the camera, I find that resting the camera on the same clip I use to close the curtains works just as well to keep the camera steady. It also allows me to get closer to the object instead of zooming in.   

Oh yeah, you might also need a camera. I use a simple point and shoot with a macro option. 

To edit my pictures I use Microsoft Office Picture Manager. Why? Because it came with my computer and it's easy to use. This is the end result from this particular photo session. 

My intent is to show that with a little bit of creativity and using  inexpensive household items as props you can achieve results close to professional... without the professional invoice.


  1. I love this info! I am in the process now of photographing steps for an article to be published next year, so I am doing a lot of photography! And, I'm hoping my pictures are clear and show the steps well. For now, I'm doing the work on a piece of pale pink bead backing, using my worktable light. I've seen an easy-to-make light box online, but have not taken the plunge to make my own. Aurelio, your photos are just perfectly done, so I might try going to the window in the afternoon light! Thanks! Jeanne Evans

    1. Dear Jeane, thanks for your kind words, after expending a lot of money I learned that if I don't try I don't learn. This is a very simple and inexpensive way to take good quality pictures. I works for me and I hope you can learn to do your own pictures on a similar way, just experiment and create your own style. That is what matters.

  2. What a wonderful idea! Reflected light is so much nicer than direct light. Thank you for sharing, Aurelio! I will have to experiment! :)

  3. Brilliant! GENIUS! Thank you for sharing this method. I intend to try it right away!

  4. Love this and am definitely going to give it a try!

  5. Great guide!!! thank you very very much Aurelio... :-D

  6. Wonderful tips, Aurelio! Thank you! I also do 'window photography'. I might adapt a few things thanks to you!

  7. Great tips Aurelio! A light box using curtains - ingenious :-) I am the laziest photographer in the world I think! Did some classes at uni but did best in the bits which didn't actually use a traditional camera, ironically (pinhole photography & photograms etc). Studio work, with diffused lighting etc, takes a dab hand, which you most certainly have. Sunlight is for sure the photographer's friend. I love the stuff. Thanks for being kind enough to share your knowledge!