Common sense should tell you one thing for sure that quality is not cheap, and if someone is willing to do your job for cheap, be on the guard. It could mean, cheap photography
Once you understand the value of recourses that you wish to hire it is a good beginning.
An undeniable fact remains that photography rates are on the decline and have become more affordable. This is due to the availability of cheap digital SLRS like Nikons, Canons etc. Any photographer can post an advertisement on the Internet and host a website for photography services.
This has flooded the photography market with hordes of photographers. Some of them claim to be the best, just because they may have won an award for the best sunset photo of the year etc.
The problem is – lack of understanding and little information about the photography business by the client. The client’s primary concern is to get his job done at the cheapest rates possible. He often will pitch two or more photographers against one another for getting the cheapest rates. In such a scenario, non professional DSLR photographers will oblige and will try to convince the client that they can produce excellent results.
We also have DSLRs, but they are used for different types of assignments like shooting wild life or sunsets. The image quality of DSLRS, is extremely poor and lacks definition, especially when it comes to diamonds.
Unfortunately this has made it very difficult for discerning clients to distinguish the real professional from the inexperienced ones. It is precisely for this reason that the jeweler should understand the business of jewellery photography in greater detail.
Quality images result using a combination of PRO equipment and professional lighting techniques:
- High resolution digitar Apo Macro lenses made by Schneider and Rodenstock that have the resolving power of 5 iu. And these have to be ordered. These optics are not available readily off the shelf.
- Arca Swiss Monolith 2 Technical camera with movements.
- Pro Digital back that can record fine detail produced by the lens without any fuzziness and noise.
- All our work is done on high powered Apple computers.
- We use Spyder2PRO and Spyder elite for calibrating all the devices for accurate colour reproduction.
- We have a large, secure air-conditioned studio that is under surveillance 24×7.
- All the activities from photography, systemwork and safe storage of jewellery are in house. We are established at these premises since 1992.
A single professional digitar Rodenstock lens can cost more than an entire DSLR camera with lenses and you need at least 4 different lenses to cover all the desired results.
A pro digital back can cost 5 times more and the technical camera can cost 4 to 5 times as much.
The cost implications for such serious set up are huge. The client has to pay for the photographer’s investment in high value equipment, his creativity, good service, reliability, security and the reputation of good deliverance. If you are looking for quality and understand the need for it, be prepared to pay for it.
Only a handful of photographers have made it beyond the initial stages of photographing relatively cheap jewellery to have the necessary experience, expensive equipment, safe studio and practical skill with high value diamonds and other precious stones.
There are no fixed rates for jewellery photography and the reason for variation can be explained as follows:
- Every job is different and every client has different needs.
- Some times one type of jewellery has more challenges and will require more time in lighting and setup, some may require more system work or some require more photography time and system work both.
- Then some type of photography will involve time spent on buying and paying for props and creating backgrounds.
- Corporate clients require more of the photographers time for meetings with business heads, their agency art directors, the marketing department and countless people to interface with. These clients require very fine retouching and will place huge demands on the outcome of the final photograph.
- This definitely will cost more compared to a small jeweller around the corner with a small collection who requires photographs for the website with a single objective that his jewelery looks great on the web site.
A common belief that does not work:
- Limited usage charges are lower than unlimited full copyright. You can pay additional charges for further usage if and when you need to, in future.
- This way, you pay less, say for one insertion in single or multiple media whatever the case may be for limited period usage.
- Volume of job.
Why this does not apply?
- The usage of the image does not dictate the use recourses, effort, skills and time to do the photography. This argument may be relevant for clients who just need to shoot images for the website on plain backgrounds and no cutouts.
- The volume of job may be more, but it also means equally proportional inputs like photographers time, efforts, skills and resources.
A word of advice:
Having in-house set up by investing in cameras and lights does not ensure the desired results.
Vast majority of clients seek services of photographers, who produce average photos. Principally we do not have any objection to that. We prefer catering to high value clients who understand and can appreciate the value of our expertise.
A professional jewellery photographer has a secure and safe state of the art studio with all the equipment ranging from specialist cameras, macro digitar lenses, different types of lighting, and in-house team of dedicated experts at system work and post production setup.
Consider yourself fortunate if you come across a photographer who is talented and treat him like your asset. Do not try to negotiate illogically, because the photographer might loose interest in your business. If he has lower integrity, he might accept lower rates and start passing you mediocre images gradually.
You cannot sell K-S12 at the same price as E-VS1 even though they are both daimonds of same carat. Can you?
This understanding applies to all types of industries, including jewellery photography.
Choosing the right photographer
So how does one know who will be the right photographer for the job?
The most obvious way to source any information is by way of internet. You can see many listings under jewellery photography and start narrowing down on the photographers by looking at their websites and portfolios. Always insist on seeing their portfolio and make extra effort to visit their work place, their studio, infrastructure and security of the premises. After all, your jewellery should be safe with the photographer.
A simpler and time saving method is to look up the photographer who is already doing great jeweler photography for brands that are visible. This way you are assured that you are in safe hands and the photographer will be well organized in thinking and rate structures.
If you are a fine jeweller, the chances are that you are already established and you will therefore know who the fine jewellery photographers are.