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Jewellery Photography - My Pet Peeve

Updated: Sep 15, 2021

Around this time of year, it’s easy for businesses to get obsessed with the Holiday season, or Christmas, or whatever you want to call it. But that doesn’t mean that we should bore everyone else with our Holiday season trials and tribulations. So today I’m going to chat to you about something that has nothing to do with the time of year. Photography.

You may have heard me complain about photography and how I dislike it in previous blogs. So today’s blog is devoted to my favourite enemy. No, don’t worry – it won’t be a completely negative post, full of ‘I hate this’ and ‘I hate that’, I promise.

First of all, why is photography so, SO important for my business? Oh my goodness! There’s so much to say. But let me start with an important statement.

When you buy something online, you’re receiving the item, but you’re buying the photograph.

Read that carefully. Think about it for a second. It’s absolutely true, even if the purchase is something as mundane as an electric kettle. You’re much more likely to buy the kettle if one of the photos shows a smiling man pouring water from that kettle into a tea mug. You’re thinking “Yes, I want to make tea from that nice kettle.” You’re less likely to buy the kettle if the photo shows the same man splashing boiling water on himself while making his tea. See what I mean?

So imagine how important photographs are when it comes to something like jewellery, which is an emotional purchase. What the photographs tell you makes all the difference.

Businesses like mine, that operate only online have many advantages, but they also have one big disadvantage. Imagine walking into a Tiffany’s showroom. You wouldn’t expect to find anything for ten pounds in there would you? You’d get that vibe from the lighting, the showcases, the way the staff are dressed and their body language. It would be quite different from the feeling you’d get as you walked into a Target or a Wilco’s. When your business is online, you need to convey all this through your website, which is of course hugely dependent on your photographs.

Broadly speaking, photographs are meant to do one of three things; to give you a general vibe, to evoke an emotion or to give information. Luckily in conveying an overall vibe, photographs are helped by other things on the website, such as the font, the language and the logo. The ones I mentioned above about the kettle are clearly about evoking an emotion, or what are known as lifestyle photos. There will be others that show you the shape of the spout, whether it’s cordless or not and so on; these are the information photos.

Lifestyle photos need to evoke the right emotion. When we’re talking about product photos on a website, the emotion we’re usually trying to evoke is desire. “I want to be like that woman.” “I want to feel elegant.” “I want to look like that.” Eventually this needs to lead to “I can see myself wearing that. I want to buy it.”

So there’s little point in me showing a photo of a woman wearing my jewellery while fighting off alligators in the rainforest. That just doesn’t evoke the right emotion, even if she is wearing a lovely necklace.

The above example is an obvious one, just to make a point. But there are subtler, finer and more difficult balances to be struck. Think about a Prada handbag for instance. Depending on how it’s photographed, it can easily go from being exclusive to being unattainable.

For brands like Prada, that want to portray a certain image, that’s alright up to a point. But nobody wants their products to be unattainable to their target audience. So the photographs need to be pitched just right.

And then there’s the other type of photograph – the information photo. Someone once told me to play 20 questions with my photos, and that was such great advice. Particularly with jewellery, which can’t be described all that well by facts and figures, it really is crucial. Does it feel light or heavy? Where does it sit when you wear it? What does the back look like? How shiny is it? What will it do when I move or walk or run?

And why are these information photos so important? Simply because people don’t buy when there are unanswered questions in their minds. Once that person has gone past the “I want to buy that” stage, they will need all their questions answered before they finally press that BUY button.

So, in essence, my photographs need to give you a feel for the price without ever mentioning a number, evoke the right emotion without saying a word, and answer your questions when you haven’t even asked them yet. Are you still wondering why photography might be my enemy number one?

And we haven’t even touched upon the technical aspects; lighting, shadows, colour, focus. I don’t think I need to. I’ve made my feelings abundantly clear already.

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