Jewelry Photography: The Truth about Retouching

Posted by Laura Fleischauer on

One major concern with purchasing anything online is the possibility that the photo will look much better than the real item you receive. Think about the difference between an ad for a Big Mac and what you get at the Drive-Thru. So, some people have asked us if we doctor our photos and I wanted to set the record straight. Yes, we do retouch our photographs, but only to make sure the photo represents the product.

Here is a rundown of what we do to the average photo. Some photos do not receive this much attention, but anything you see in our main galleries (non-sale, non-clearance) has likely been given the following touch-ups:

1. Whiten the background. Usually, it's pretty close, but we make sure it's the same for all our photos.

2. Isolate the stones and make sure they are the same color as the actual item. We do not want to mislead anyone, but oftentimes the image we end up with doesn't accurately show the colors of the stones and we have to adjust the color settings. For example, rose quartz has a tendancy to look very pale in photos, so we adjust the saturation in order to show the pink hue instead of letting the photo misrepresent the item. When we do this, we are also looking at the real item in order to match the colors.

3. Remove reflections and shadows from the metal. We can't always get them all, but we do try to remove reflections that are distracting such as the camera lens. Silver is a very reflective metal, so the photographer has to be careful when setting up the shot. But, no matter how careful, that big black camera lens just loves to pop in the shot so we will erase it when we can.

4. Sharpen the image. Anytime you take a photo, there is a certain amount of blurring that will occur, especially when you're taking macro (close up) photos like we are. Even with our remote shutter release, we still get the slightest bit of shake so we do our best to repair that.

5. Add a shadow. For whatever reason, an item that has a subtle shadow looks better to most people than an item just floating out there in a white background. I suppose it makes the item look more real. Or perhaps we subconsciously are working to figure out the item's relation to its surroundings and that stops us from fully appreciating the piece.

Here is a sample item before and after retouching. You can see the tiny difference the shade of the background, the color that has been adjusted in the rose quartz, the reflections that were removed from the silver as well as the difference sharpening made to bringing out the rutilation in the quartz drop.

before-and-after

And that's it! In all, the process takes about 5 minutes. Of course, our process is not the same as other sites. I've read that a single item from certain fine jewelers undergoes a Photoshop makeover that can take days.

About half the time we are shooting a one-of-a-kind piece so the photo you see is of the actual item you would receive, but the rest of the time we are shooting one item to represent several of the same style. It is impossible to have exactly the same item when you're dealing with natural stones, especially with stones like turquoise and bloodstone, although we always strive to find the most representative piece. Another variable is that there's no way to predict how every monitor in the world will display the colors, but we will always do our best to honestly represent our products. If you ever receive something that doesn't meet your expectations we do offer a full refund for up to 30 days and store credit for 60 days, so it's never in our best interest to deceive our customers with our photos.

Hopefully that answered some questions and eased your mind about the photos you see on Semiprecious. Thanks for reading!


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