I'm a metal smith. I make jewelry and small sculptural pieces. I'm not a photographer. But I need to take pictures of my work and it's expensive to have to keep paying someone else to do it and I'm not usually happy with the results. So out of necessity, I've had to learn to photograph my work. It's been a long process (and I'm not done yet!) I did take a couple of photography classes in college, but that was a long time ago in the days of actually putting film in your camera.
Early Crappy Photos
Something that helped a lot was taking a lighting class from a local photographer. A lot of simple, inexpensive tricks, using a plastic milk carton to filter the light, frosted plexiglas, elevating the piece on a piece of glass with some texture below that will be out of focus. Also to think about unusual props. (Although I did just order some lights and a light tent.)
I looked at a lot of other people's photos, asked how they did it. Lighting is really important and shooting in daylight can be really good. Indirect lighting.
Read books, read blogs, experimented - a lot. Doing Ring-A-Day was really helpful. I know that if you keep doing something every day, you start to figure things out and get better at it. I had to take at least 1 picture a day, and that really helped step up the game.
It's really about paying attention to the details before you take the picture. Where's the reflection, is there too much glare, is there dirt on background, what's in focus - what's not.
I shoot in RAW format. I like that because I can adjust the white balance in the RAW program instead of my camera. That way I don't have to remember where the AWB button is or spend an hour looking for it in the manual. And I can save the photo as a big file and refer back to it if I need the picture in different formats.
For when I need a quick photo... like for Brooch A Day... I shoot my brooches mostly on a piece of frosted white plexiglas to get a good contrast of the image so I can add a gradient background in PhotoShop. I also use frosted white plexiglas as a filter on the 2 side lights and top light.
To see more photography tips, check out other
Etsy Metal members here:
Laura Jane Bouton
Mary Anne Karren
Deborah Lee Taylor