How To Take Amazing Product Images: Photography 101 with Professional Photographer Christopher Gentile

Posted by: Lyra Pappin

Photography might be the last thing on the mind of a jeweler or designer, but the images that creators take of their work directly impact how appealing the pieces are to viewers. It can also be trickier than you might expect to properly shoot earrings or a necklace, especially to capture it looking its best. 
Christopher Gentile, Toronto commercial photographer.

Since we can’t all be professional photographers, we’ve corralled the help of one of Toronto’s top commercial photographers, Christopher Gentile.

Having worked in the commercial photography industry for the past 30 years, Christopher’s clients have ranged from rock band Blue
Rodeo, to shooting the hot selling wedding planner book, "Rich Bride Poor Bride". After acquiring a breadth of experience, iCraft is fortunate to have Christopher share some inside tips and tricks for basic table top photography. So how do you instill some life into inanimate objects?

how to make stunning product photos - cookiesUse Proper Lights

Although Christopher could do a stunning job taking photos of your jewelry, he admits that you don’t need to be a professional photographer to get a great shot of your work. You just need to set up a basic
table top studio and focus on achieving the right lighting.

“To take the best photos,” he says, “use the light that’s already there”. This means looking for places that have a great source of natural light. It could be a desk or table near a large window or something outdoors if that works for you.

North light is soft and ideal for photography, especially between the hours of 11 am and 3 pm. This is how we see
colour and it will remain the truest in photo form as well. He notes that you should try to avoid using direct light, as it can be very harsh and your piece will look washed out. If you find the light too stark, you can filter the light through sheers or drapes on the window. 

Keep the Household Lights Out!

“Avoid household lamps... try always to use natural light when
available”. Christopher warns. He explains that lamps all have different colour temperatures and can alter and distort your image. Also, if you are continually creating pieces of jewelry, for instance, it would be nice for the photos to look uniform. It’s best to work with natural light as some lamp lighting can be unreliable in its consistency for good color.

how to make stunning product photos - coffeeThe Simpler Background The Better

Christopher also warns newbie photographers to take it easy when you get started. “Don’t overcomplicate things, start simple,” he advises. You don’t have to get really fancy with backgrounds or spend a lot of money to get your ideal shot. Keep things looking clean, clear, and neat and you will have a photo that doesn’t distract the eye from your work, but rather, focuses on it exclusively.

He suggests using a big piece of
coloured cardboard and laying the object on it. You could also use a piece of slate or a ceramic tile. Something of a neutral colour or contrasting to your piece is best; patterns or similar shades to your work are not recommended as your image won’t stand out.


Experiment with Angles, Lights, and Backgrounds

If you want to have a really great shot, Christopher explains that the best approach is to use backlight or to bounce light back at an object. You can use something as basic as a large piece of white bristol board, or you can buy a simple reflector from a photography shop. They cost around CAD25 and pop the light out. They are easy to use and you can just hold it and move it around the object until you find the best angle.

He also recommends taking as many pictures as you can. In this digital age, there’s no sense in setting everything up for just one shot. Play around with angles and lighting and take many shots throughout the process and you are bound to end up with a solid image of your work. 

how to make stunning product photosHire a Professional 

Just like anything, photography can seem intimidating when you don’t know where to start, but with the helpful hints from a pro like Christopher, the process should go smoothly. In addition to his tips for setting up your mini-table top studio, he also noted that if you aren’t having luck finding a good shot of your pieces, or you have a large volume of photos that need to be taken, you can search around for a professional to do the work for you. He says that most photographers will work within your budget and get the job done quickly, but you should always check their resumes and see samples of the photographer’s work to make sure you will end up satisfied with the result.

Happy Shooting

One last piece of advice: try not to get stressed out about photographing your work!

Hopefully Christopher’s insight will help you to make the process go quickly and maybe you’ll have some fun doing it too.

Photo Courtesy: Christopher Gentile



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If you are looking the advice on setting up your store before the Holiday Rush, check out our Sellers' checklist to make sure you don't miss any steps in your holiday e-store preparation.



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Mar 11, 2014 | iCraft Admin

It's hard for me to understand what's wrong with your images. Could you please email us your photos? Thanks!

Mar 11, 2014 | Nitsys Nook

Help! I sized my photos more than 550 pixels wide and used 860 in width and less than 694 in height. I tried 3 times to load my product and it didn't take. VERY frustrating! What's wrong?

Nov 11, 2010 | Posted by: artist website

These photos are so nice. These kinds of photos can make people feel good when they see this.

Jan 9, 2010 | Craft Boutique

Great article for those who care about taking good quality photos.

Aug 24, 2008 | psychicx

this is great info i am in a few doll contests and i need good clear pics for the judges to see and i just cant get the right focus..thanks.psychicx

Apr 20, 2008 | Xenarae

Thanks this was great.

Apr 15, 2008 | Posted by:

I'd love to get a reflector.

Apr 14, 2008 | enidjewelry

Thanks a lot for the tips, I was looking for the best time of the day to take pictures outside, in the natural light. (I have a light tent, this is great !) I must agree with the 11 AM -3 PM range...

Apr 3, 2008 | Posted by:

Photography is turning out to be one of the things about selling online that is very challenging! I am a lot better than I was at the beginning, but still have a long way to go and appreciate any professional advice I can get--so ....thanks!
Smiles, Karen

Apr 3, 2008 | RimmaG

Thanks for putting your article into simple words. Now, I'll know how to get the lighting I've been struggling to find :)

Mar 31, 2008 | Destinys Creations

Thank you for your wonderful advice! I am always looking for ways to improve my pictures. :)

Mar 28, 2008 | Posted by:

thank you for this article. I'm now considering changing the spot where I take my photos to get some of that Northern light - it makes great sense, I just never thought of it ;o)

Mar 21, 2008 | iCraft Updates

We're happy to hear you all enjoyed the article! Please let us know if there are other topics you'd like to read about - send a note to with your suggestions! :)

Mar 18, 2008 | Mardi Studio

Excellent article and wonderful photography tips! Thanks so much!

Mar 9, 2008 | DzDesigns

Thanks for the tips!!!!! Very helpful and greatly appreciated.

Mar 5, 2008 | BetaBoutique

thank you for advices! they are very helpful :)

Submitted by:

Lyra Pappin
Toronto, ON, Canada

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