Interview With Jeff Mason, Jewelry PhotographerLaryssa
In episode #179 of the Joy Joya Jewelry Marketing Podcast, I share my interview with Jeff Mason, a photographer and gemologist specializing in product and jewelry photography. With 20 years of industry experience, he brings his knowledge of gemstones and passion for photography together to best represent your jewelry and brand image. Jewelry photography is one of the top requested topics I’ve gotten from listeners and viewers, so I’m very excited to share this episode with you.
Jeff and I chat about things like:
– The most important qualities of an effective jewelry product photo
– Tips for representing the personality of jewelry or gemstones in photography
– Overcoming the challenges of photographing jewelry
– What a jewelry brand should look for when hiring a product photographer and how to know you’re hiring the right person as well as how much you can expect to pay
Check out the transcript below.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 0:08
Welcome to the Joy Joya podcast, where jewelry is joy and everyone is encouraged to add more polish and sparkle to the world. With topics ranging from marketing tips to business development, best practices and beyond, this is the go-to podcast for ambitious jewelry industry dreamers like you!
Hi, I’m your host, Laryssa Wirstiuk. Through this podcast, I aim to empower and inspire jewelry entrepreneurs and professionals so they can thrive while adding more beauty to the world. I’m passionate about digital marketing for jewelry brands, and I’m excited to share my passion with you. As we all know, jewelry is joy, so I’ll gladly seize any opportunity to talk about it.
This is episode 179, and today I’ll be sharing my interview with Jeff Mason, a photographer and gemologist specializing in product and jewelry photography. With 20 years of industry experience, he brings his knowledge of gemstones and his passion for photography together to best represent his clients’ jewelry and brand image. Jewelry photography is one of the top requested topics that I’ve gotten from listeners and viewers. So I’m very excited to share this episode with you, and hopefully you will gain a lot of value from it.
Jeff and I chat about things like:
The most important qualities of an effective jewelry product photo
Tips for representing the personality of jewelry or gemstones in photography
Overcoming the challenges of taking pictures of jewelry
What a jewelry brand should look for when they’re hiring a product photographer and how to know that they’re hiring the right person
How much you can expect to pay for jewelry photography
But before we get to the solid gold of this episode, I’d like to take a moment to remind you that this podcast has both an audio and video component. So you can either listen on your favorite podcast platform or watch on YouTube by searching Joy Joya. I love creating this content as my act of service to you, my awesome listeners and viewers. And you can always support the podcast for free by taking the time not only to subscribe, but also to leave a rating and review on iTunes, which helps other jewelry dreamers find it too.
In this segment of the podcast, I give out my Sparkle Award for the week. So during this segment, I highlight a jewelry brand that’s impressing me with their marketing. This Sparkle Award is also interactive, so you can visit sparkleaward.com to nominate a jewelry brand that’s inspiring you these days, and I might feature your submission on a future podcast episode. This week’s Sparkle Award goes to—hopefully I’m pronouncing it right—Koehn & Koehn Jewelers. A brand that’s really taken a fun approach to their marketing message as well as to their in-store customer experience. Founded by music and diamond-loving husband and wife duo, Andy Koehn and Jenn Koehn, this Wisconsin-based jeweler wants their customers to feel like rock stars when they walk into their store. With a wide-ranging soundtrack that plays at their store, and even a food truck permit, their ultimate goal is to make their customers feel at ease when they come in and shop. They’ve also invited customers to give input about curating a Spotify playlist, and they sell souvenir T-shirts that say “Rock Your World.”
What’s really cool is that Andy and Jenn really trust their team and encourage them to be their authentic selves and let their individual style shine. They don’t even have any specific guidelines on what their staff should be wearing, and they’re encouraged to wear whatever they feel good in. I love this quote from the article—I believe it was an in-store magazine. Now I can’t remember where I saw this, but this is a quote from Andy and Jenn. They say: “It’s eclectic but somehow everything we do is tied into a theme that says, ‘We’re not the same old, same old.’ People can see there’s something different about us from the moment they see the contrasting angles of the exterior, and then find a cohesive, clean, open, and energetic feel when they walk in. It’s unexpected from the first look, and that carries through with our way of interacting with our clients.” I love it! I want to go! I want to check out the store. It sounds so cool!
As I mentioned, you can visit sparkleaward.com to nominate a jewelry brand that’s inspiring you these days, and I might feature your submission on a future podcast episode.
Let’s discuss some recent news related to jewelry or marketing. Each week I share my thoughts about three relevant articles, and you can get those links by visiting joyjoya.com/signup. Once you’re on the VIP list, you’ll receive our weekly digest filled with new episode announcements.
So the first article comes from later.com. I’ve been loving Later lately for their really in-depth and well-researched articles, mostly about Instagram and Instagram best practices. And this one was really informative for me. The title is “Instagram Introduces 3 Major Updates for Reels.” So these are the updates—really important to know because reels are the things that, if you utilize them effectively, will help you get the best engagement on Instagram. So one, they recently introduced a new 90-second Instagram Reels length. Following TikTok’s recent update to extend their video length to 10 minutes, Instagram has announced that Reels, once limited to 60 seconds, can now be up to 90 seconds long. You can do a lot in three minutes. This new update allows for longer video content such as tutorials, demos, behind the scenes, etc.
The second major update was Instagram Stories stickers for Reels. So the same stickers that you’re able to use on Instagram Stories, such as the poll, quiz, and emoji slider, will now be available to use on Reels. This presents opportunities for more interaction, new storytelling techniques—just making them a little more fun.
And then the third update is the ability to import your own audio. So Instagram is likely trying to encourage more original audio on the platform. And this is a way to really get more creative and shine and tell your brand story through your Reels strategy. So, a lot of new creative features for Reels.
The second article comes from theverge.com and it is: “Facebook Is Changing Its Algorithm to Take on TikTok, Leaked Memo Reveals.” A leaked memo from late April obtained by The Verge revealed Facebook’s plans to change their feed in response to the rise of TikTok. It seems like everything Facebook and Instagram are doing is just a way to keep up with TikTok. So, Instagram, as I mentioned in the previous article, has already made updates to Reels in an effort to compete with TikTok. And now Facebook realizes that the app needs some updating as well. So The Verge spoke with Tom Allison, the Meta executive in charge of Facebook, for more information. And he says, “Meta realizes that to really compete with TikTok it has to replicate the magical experience of TikTok’s main ‘For You’ page.” And the leaked documents show that Facebook’s user base is steadily aging, with employees uncertain how to course-correct the trend. So they’re kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place. They want to keep up with TikTok. They see social media evolving in that direction. But also, they tend to have an older demographic using the app, so I guess they’re wondering, “How can we do this in a way that will still appeal to the older users?”
So here’s a look at what’s in store for Facebook and its changes. They’re thinking that the main tab will become a mix of stories and reels at the top, followed by posts that the discovery engine is recommending from across both Facebook and Instagram. They’re suggesting that Messenger and Facebook will be brought back together. Currently, the Facebook app has a lot going on—if you’ve been on Facebook lately. So they’re trying to streamline it and make it cleaner to use and prioritizing sharing content with friends and family. So, again, the challenge is to adapt to these trends in social media while still making it relevant for Facebook and its user base.
And then finally, the last article comes from The New York Times and it’s called: “It Works for Sneakers. Now It’s for Baby PJs and Skateboards, Too,” and my side note, “and probably jewelry.” So, consumerism has changed as a wide range of retailers have found audiences are now much more receptive to product drops. So instead of releasing seasonal collections, for example, brands release one or two products at a time to keep people interested to always be on their radar. So limited-edition product drops encourage people to shop more since there’s always something new coming. And the idea that there’s a limited amount of product draws in more shoppers so that they can purchase something no one else has. Product drops are influencing people to buy now instead of postponing the purchase, because they won’t be able to buy that item at a later time, and that gives it an element of surprise and scarcity.
The brands featured in this article were not jewelry, but I think there’s a lot to learn from them. So if you want to check out these brands to see how they release products, one was a baby pajama brand called Little Sleepies. Miriam Weiskind—she uses the drop model to sell pies at breweries and street fairs. You can look her up on social media. And then Bear Walker, which is a skateboard company that releases one collection every six weeks. As I mentioned, if you want to get the links to the articles I share in this segment of the podcast, you can become a Joy Joya VIP by visiting joyjoya.com/signup.
Okay, without further ado, let’s get to my interview with Jeff and talk all about jewelry photography.
Jeff Mason 11:09
My path to become a professional photographer was, I feel like, quite unconventional. I was always told that “You could never be a photographer; you never get paid; nobody gets paid.” So it’s like, why would you waste your time ever even trying? I played around with photography in high school, but then it dropped off the radar because I wanted to make money and have a career.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 11:33
Yes, that’s kind of depressing.
Jeff Mason 11:38
I’m telling you, some of my being a photographer is just, “What is my impossible?” It’s like, we think of how many epic people are there in the world that do things that were “impossible.” And then you sit and be like, “Well, what is mine?” And some of it is just overcoming a lie.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 11:58
Totally. The stories that you tell yourself too.
Jeff Mason 12:02
Yes, and how many lies do we tell ourselves that limit us mentally? And because you say, “I can never do that,” then you never try. And if you never try, then you can never succeed. I never tried—it was until I got a job working for the TV show Pawn Stars, and then there was always a film crew. And I was like, “Wait a minute, these guys make a living, and they have fun!” It’s like, “They’re enjoying their job, and they always have cameras, like this is a real thing.” And then there was like a little click. And so I picked up the camera again. I was really bad back in those days. So that was 2011. And then I just kept practicing and asking questions.
Jeff Mason 12:51
I took a couple of classes at the community college. I’d just be like, “I can’t seem to learn how to use the camera the way that I wanted to, shooting manual.” And there are some very simple tricks with just shooting manual—trying to understand focus points—focus stacking. It never occurred to me that that was a thing back in those days. But then I just tried, and it took 10 years. But still, back in the Pawn Star state, I just started playing with it. And then I had a friend, Irene Canada, and she told me about Robert Weldon, and she said that I should shoot jewelry because I was in the jewelry industry already. And that’s when my medium clicked. It was like: “Oh, I’m going to be a jewelry photographer. I’m going to try to be the next Robert Weldon.”
Laryssa Wirstiuk 13:44
I love that!
Jeff Mason 13:46
And not really understanding the ramifications of that thought. Then it’s like, “I can do this.” And then I had a bunch of friends that believed in me. My friend Annie, every time that I wanted to quit, she just happened to call. And then she’s like, “Do this,” and it’s like, “You’re good!” It’s like: “I’m going to send you some stuff. We’re going to have some fun.” And she kept pushing me. And then after, like, 10,000 hours—you’ve got to put in your time.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 14:09
Jeff Mason 14:11
Then I began to like my work. I mean, it’s like asking anybody that I could for advice back in the day. And then the last three-four years, I feel like I’ve come into my own. Actually, maybe even five years ago, I started coming into my own. But I like my work and I get to play with some amazing stuff now.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 14:33
So it sounds almost like the universe was directing you to do this combination of the jewelry and the photography and you have a really amazing story of kind of like growing up in this industry. Can you tell our listeners and viewers more about it?
Jeff Mason 14:48
Yes. I grew up mining turquoise. My grandparents mined Bruneau Jasper in Idaho. My parents owned turquoise mines in Northern Nevada. And as much as I tried to get away from gemstones and jewelry and this industry, I feel like it’s fate that I’m here. Every time I try to leave, something sucks me back in. And now I just embrace it because I feel like I belong now. But, yes, from mining into jewelry photography.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 15:21
When I imagine what it’s like to grow up in the mining space, I picture a kid in a sandbox at a playground, but instead of sand, you’re like, playing with like tumbled turquoise or something. Is that true?
Jeff Mason 15:41
I stole turquoise, and I’d play with it with my Tonka trucks, and I’d get in trouble. I remember when I was a really young kid, I took a coal tong, and I did have a little sandbox, and I just took enough so I could fill the Tonka trucks and then just started building my own open pit mine. And my parents were like, “You can’t do that!” [I would say], “But I’m having fun.”
Laryssa Wirstiuk 16:05
I love that! What a unique way to experience childhood, especially when you end up continuing on in this industry and you have these consistent memories of working with the rough material.
Jeff Mason 16:20
It’s spectacular. Every time I rock climb, I’m looking for veins of crystal, even if it’s 1,000 feet off the ground. I actually made my climbing partner pause—this was two weeks ago. There was a vein of rock—it was what, silica? Or what do you call that? Gypsum. Selenite. There we go. There was a vein of selenite within sandstone. It’s common out here. But I was like, “It’s so beautiful!” and we’re like 500 feet off the ground, it’s like, “It’s just so cool!” [They’re like]: “Just continue on, man. We’re together.”
Laryssa Wirstiuk 16:59
Only someone in the industry can understand that feeling. So since you are so immersed in the jewelry product photography space, I would love for you, in your perspective, to tell people listening and viewing: in your mind, what are the most important qualities of a jewelry product photo?
Jeff Mason 17:22
Several steps: one is, is it good? Is it technically correct, right? That’s important. If it’s out of focus, it’s kind of a worthless picture. But, most important qualities—I want it to look dimensional, where you can take it off the page. There’s something emotional about that. It needs to be alive and give an emotional response. I think that’s important. It needs to be technically accurate. Your white balance needs to be correct. The color of the gemstone needs to be correct—exposed properly. And those are just the technical aspects. If you’ve had camera shake, that just ruins the photo.
Jeff Mason 18:11
Does the metal look like metal?—even though it sounds ridiculous. But if you’re shooting a polished metal, does it look polished? Or does it look satin. It’s easy to over-defuse. What are your reflections like? And then at the end, did you capture the personality of the piece? Or did it just look like a snapshot? The personality thing, that’s that last 10%, because you can take an effective photo and miss the personality of the piece. And it’s very difficult to get that last 10% of, like, “What does this piece represent emotionally?”
Jeff Mason 18:59
There was a large emerald that I photographed not too long ago, and it had a very beautiful clean crystal. And it had a lot of light return out of the top, which is rare. But the color and the personality of that were very difficult to capture. And that part of personality collecting is—it’s extremely difficult.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 19:22
Yes, I would assume that that’s why it’s so important for a jewelry brand to work with someone who has experience working with gems and jewelry. Because I feel like you need to understand gems in order to get that last 10% that you’re talking about, to really appreciate it yourself so that you can communicate that through the photograph.
Jeff Mason 19:47
Yes, otherwise, it’s so easy to overdiffuse your gemstone, even though it may look like an even color throughout the stone, but it looks lifeless and impersonal. I’m going to say look at Greg Christie’s catalog—beautiful pieces. But they focus on an even color and not on the life of the piece. You see some of those gems in person—they have flashes, they have personality that’s just not being captured.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 20:15
That’s so interesting! I never really noticed that or thought about it, but I think I’m going to pay more attention to that from now on. How do you find that e-commerce product photography differs from other types of product photography, like for a catalog, for example, or for a lookbook or something like that?
Jeff Mason 20:32
I don’t think there’s a large difference. For the most part, everything’s going to be photographed on white for e-commerce versus a catalog. And I think, as a photographer and as a businessman, I would try to utilize as much photography in the same space. So if I could have my catalog look uniform with the website, I would do that. And it’s also [that] you’re spending less money on photography. The way that I first interpreted that question was like, “It’s going to be a white background,” which e-commerce because of Amazon has changed from more fun backgrounds, more style backgrounds, and let’s focus on just the piece itself so nobody gets distracted. But when you put it on a white background, you lose something. I always felt like it looks less real because, I mean, if you’re inserting, like a pure white background, you don’t normally see that in nature unless it’s completely blown out. So we’re imposing a pure white background versus slightly off-white. And you lose a little bit of reality with that. But is that bad? No.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 21:45
So what would be your recommendation then, instead of a pure white background?
Jeff Mason 21:51
It’s a drawback of pure white, but I would use it anyway because it’s very clean and consistent. And psychologically, it pushes what you are trying to show. It’s the only thing there. It’s the product on a white background, whether that be dish soap or a million dollar piece. I mean, that’s what’s relevant is: this is what we’re selling. And it’s so obvious that you can’t mistake it.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 22:19
So Jeff, what types of jewelry do you enjoy photographing the most?
Jeff Mason 22:25
Anything that’s fun.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 22:26
Okay, I like that.
Jeff Mason 22:29
I want to have a connection with the piece. And there are certain things that are not relevant to money. If somebody designed a really fun piece and it’s in silver, that’s fun and it’s fun to photograph. If it’s a well-cut gem—I don’t like windows in stones. I’m a little bit of a snob. Like, they exist, and that’s fine. But I completely nerd out over a well-cut gem. I nerd out over fun designs—rare pieces. I’m beginning to really love timepieces.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 23:06
Jeff Mason 23:07
And I had the opportunity to photograph some, just wild pieces. And MB&F is a brand that has just the coolest of nerd-created pieces, and they’re fun.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 23:25
Can you think of any other memorable examples in recent times in terms of jewelry, or fun examples?
Jeff Mason 23:33
Fun examples: there was a Jordan Designs ring that I did recently. He’s a very creative benchman. And it’s fun. There’s a lot of detail that goes into a piece like that that you can appreciate. Like, there’s [inaudible] that you really couldn’t see unless you were really looking. That is interesting and fun for me because he really cared about the piece.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 24:00
I love that!
Jeff Mason 24:01
Anybody that spends that kind of time on something—it’s like, there’s something to appreciate and nerd out over. And it’s the fine details. And if you focus on the back of a piece—I can shout out a couple names, but won’t do that—but [there are] some very talented artisans that spend their time in detail or they’re just creative and it comes across and it’s fun.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 24:29
So you mentioned earlier about the importance of the personality—that intangible 10%. I know it’s probably hard to explain how you go about capturing that, but do you have a process? Or like, how do you think through how you’re going to represent that je ne sais quoi—as they say—of the jewelry?
Jeff Mason 24:54
To capture the personality of a piece, first I pick it up. I look at it. And it’s like, what draws me into this piece, or what does not draw me into this piece? Am I taking a fine sapphire and moving it and there’s one flash of light then you’re just like, “Ooh, it’s that one, I need that.” It’s looking at a fine opal and you get the right color combination. Some of them, you get these beautiful red flashes. And for that opal, you’re like, “This—this is what I need to see!” And then I’m like, “All right, now I know what I want to show in the photo.” Or schiller in an Oregon sunstone. Like, that’s part of the personality. You need to capture that. And at that point then, you’re like: “All right, then, I know what I want to see from this. How do I light it to create it?” I mean, you should see the contraptions that I use for diffusion. I have three different thicknesses of material. I use reflected light, sometimes direct light, sometimes heavily diffused, or really harshly diffused light. But it allows me to capture “is it going to be an Oregon Sunstone?” Well, you need some kind of harsh light to show through, to be able to pull that schiller out. If it’s a dark gem, diffusion is just going to blow out the facets, so it needs to be a reflective light. And then you can truly see what’s in it. Like, a dark sapphire, you’re trying to find—”All right, how do I get the light through the front of it without blowing out the star facets, or any of the crown facets for that matter, so I can see what’s truly inside this gem?” And as you’re moving it under lights—if it’s a video, at any one time, it’s okay to have one or two facets that are pure white, because that’s how the light’s hitting it. But I think in a photo, you want to do your best to not have them blown out because you’re representing the personality of the piece. And under that facet is something that’s gorgeous.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 27:09
So, you just mentioned some things that sound very challenging about jewelry photography. Are there other things about photographing a piece of jewelry that you find particularly difficult that you wouldn’t get from taking a picture of a hat or something like that?
Jeff Mason 27:27
Hats are matte, they don’t reflect things.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 27:31
Well, there might be some shiny hats out there!
Jeff Mason 27:35
For the most part, a hat, a shoe—you don’t have to really worry about how hard your light’s coming into it. And then also, if you put a ring on a countertop and you take a picture, but you have dish soap sitting kind of off to the side and behind it, it’ll reflect into the front of it. It’s like you’re photographing something circular. You need to be really concerned with all of your surroundings because you can have really obscure reflections. And also, if it’s polished, how do you have harsh enough light to make the metal look polished to where you see the contrast between light and dark? That’s how you create the polished effect—then not be so harsh that the gem looks like crap. It’s a dance—or you can call it balance, but…
Laryssa Wirstiuk 28:29
I like it. It sounds very challenging.
Jeff Mason 28:33
But it’s enough to keep my ADHD mind engaged. And I can spend hours photographing one piece because you can always do it different[ly] and better.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 28:44
Do you have any other special tools that you use? You mentioned different setups that you have for light. Are there any other very specialized devices that you use in your job?
Jeff Mason 28:57
I build a lot of things. To hold my laptop, I built a special—it’s essentially a C-stand that I built a tabletop for so I can move it up and down for my comfort level so I can sit; I can stand. The same thing for what I set the jewelry on. I made it movable. That’s important to me because if I’m shooting something that’s laying down, like just for efficiency, to switch between shots. Or if I’m doing earrings, it needs to be at a different height. So I made a different table for the jewelry. All my diffusers are made, and I have several other different thicknesses of—it’s a type of plastic. It’s all photo plastic. But you have very light and very thick and then I have the mediums.
Jeff Mason 29:50
What else do I have that’s special? The tripod head that I have is very finely geared so that I can move it in fine increments. It’s a very specialized tripod head. I also use a focus rail that’s geared so that if it’s a piece where the depth of field of the lens prevents the entire ring from being in focus, which often it does, you do a focus stacking. And I prefer focus stacking because you get to see the entire piece for what it is. Our eye has different depth of field than a lens does. And when you look at a piece, even if when you look at it and you’re out of your perif, the back of the piece is out of focus. But as soon as you look to the back of the piece, your eye automatically focuses. So what you’re focusing on is in focus because that’s how our mind works. But how do you translate that into a photo? So I focus that.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 30:54
Jeff Mason 30:55
Laryssa Wirstiuk 30:58
I think that you need to be a nerd in order to do the kind of work that you do. And I think that what I’m hearing is that people who are looking for a good jewelry photographer—they should be looking for someone who nerds out in this way.
Jeff Mason 31:21
If you’re looking for a jewelry photographer—but, are we jumping into the next question? Should we just segue?
Laryssa Wirstiuk 31:28
That’s my segue.
Jeff Mason 31:30
Yes, when you’re looking to hire a jewelry photographer for your brand, you should be looking for somebody who’s just good to start. But I think you’re trying to find somebody that matches your energy. And I would almost say, “Do you like working with them?” Most of what I do is based out of the relationship. People call me, and if they didn’t like working with me, they wouldn’t call me. And it’s about: am I receptive to their vision? Am I willing to work with them when, like, I have this odd idea? Or, even if it’s not an odd idea but it’s just something [like]: “Could you change the color of this after it’s done? I feel like this gem is 5% more green than it is in the photo.” Is your photographer willing to work with you in the way that you like to do business? Because we all have different personalities and we don’t mesh, and I think that’s more important than, “Can someone take a good photo?” There are a handful of jewelry photographers in the United States that are just spectacular, from New York, LA, Austin, Texas, in Las Vegas, San Diego—How do I forget Sarah? There are a lot of amazing photographers, but you want to find one that you like to work with. I think that’s more important than “can you take a good photo?”
Laryssa Wirstiuk 33:04
It’s so true. The same is true in marketing, I feel like, as well.
Jeff Mason 33:09
It’s like, who is your team? When I was a gem buyer—I’m not going to source gems from a person that I don’t like because life’s too short to deal with people that are mean to you or difficult to get along with.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 33:24
Totally. So what do your clients like best about working with you? If I had someone on the podcast right now, what would they say about Jeff?
Jeff Mason 33:34
Uhh, I don’t have the answer to that.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 33:38
You can flex!
Jeff Mason 33:41
It might be because I’m really passionate about my work. I love to be a nerd. And being passionate and being nerdy makes me feel alive. And if we go out through life and we’re just doing the nine to five and we’re not having fun, and it’s just a drudge, you’re not alive—you didn’t live that day. But when you have something that captivates you, and it could be as simple as a Uruguayan Amethyst with the right red flash, and you’re just like, “Wow, this thing is spectacular!” And then you have an intimate moment with it. You remember that day, and you were able to live for a moment.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 34:30
That’s really inspiring. I like it. Now I want to just go play with gems.
Jeff Mason 34:37
The industry is supposed to be fun for us. Oftentimes we forget that we live in a world with like: this is not needed at all. We need clean drinking water, food, shelter. Like, this is all luxury goods that we don’t need, so let’s make it fun.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 34:59
I preach that all the time. it needs to be fun, because what’s the point?!
Jeff Mason 35:04
If I’m going to work a job that I don’t enjoy, then I might as well just be a computer programmer because it makes more money.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 35:13
Jeff Mason 35:14
Or depending. Yes, that’s a very vague statement, because you’d have to actually put in your first 10,000 hours for that before that goes there. But the point’s the same.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 35:24
Sure. So one question that I get a lot from jewelry business owners, especially when they’re starting up and they are looking to make sure they have the right photography—they don’t know how much they should be expecting to pay for photography. And I know, of course, it depends on the skill level, and you get what you pay for. But is there a certain range, just so people know in terms of pricing expectations, what does something like this cost?
Jeff Mason 35:55
If you pay per piece—there are different ways to do photography. I’m just going to make it simple, by the piece, because there are a lot of us that do that: somewhere between $40 a photo and maybe $300 to $500 a photo on the top end. There are people in New York that charge a lot, but they also deal with the finest stuff on the planet. So somewhere between $40 a photo and I’m just going to call it $300 a photo. And it’s, what are you trying to do? And that’s for on-white backgrounds. If you get into lifestyles, shoots, like, that’s usually a daily rate. Because you have a model, the model has a day rate, and you have your designer that does the fashion side of things, and then you have somebody that does hair and makeup. So those get very intensive very fast.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 36:50
Does the cost for the photography typically include editing as well?
Jeff Mason 36:56
Yes. I think everybody that does a “per piece” is: it’s wrapped up into one. It’s just $40 apiece or $55 apiece and it’s one angle, edited photo. And then some people do bulk discounts; it just depends on your photographer.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 37:16
For e-commerce, do you have a recommendation about how many angles someone should have for any given product?
Jeff Mason 37:26
I would say at least two. Some people center it with the top down, so as if you’re looking at the ring, you’re seeing the top of the gem and the side. I call it “the top view.” That one is some people’s hero shot. And then the two-thirds view, which is standing up and you can see the shank and you can see the diamonds, and then you can see the center. That’s an important shot because it shows more of what the ring looks like. If you have a really intricate gallery, then you’d want to do the laying down or you want it from the side. There is some personal preference, but if I was going to create a website, I would try to get the most consistency. So it would be like: everything has a top view, everything has a two-thirds view. And for this entire line, we’re going to do a three-finger view just so everything’s consistent. And then we have three photos per ring or two photos per ring.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 38:31
Yes, that’s really helpful. This has been so interesting. I feel like I learned a lot. I know nothing about technical photography, so I’m just like, in awe and amazed! Is there anything else you would like to share with the podcast listeners and viewers? How can people find you? What are you excited about right now? What do you have on the horizon? It’s your time to shine, Jeff.
Jeff Mason 38:58
How people can find me—I’m most active on Instagram. Even though the platform is changing, it’s Jeff Mason Photography. My website’s jeffmasonimages, because there are other Jeff Mason photographers out there. But I find Instagram, when I started was, “It’s a platform for photography.” And that was perfect. And that’s where I get most of my clients from, if it’s not word of mouth. Like, hang out with me in Tucson. That’s when things get fun. And it was on the horizon. I just did a massive shoot that took a week. And so a ton of editing is in my future, which means lots of coffee. But it’s going to be a blast. The stuff that I photograph—I’m really excited to see the end product.
Laryssa Wirstiuk 39:53
That’s cool, I love it! Well, thank you for coming on the podcast, Jeff. I so appreciate you sharing your insights and wisdom. It was so nice to have you!
Jeff Mason 40:03
Thank you so much!
Laryssa Wirstiuk 40:07
What did you think? If you’d like to learn more about Jeff and his photography services, visit jeffmasonimages.com. Or follow him on Instagram: @jeff.mason.photography.
You can also always email me, Laryssa, at email@example.com. If you love this podcast, please share it with a friend who’d appreciate it. And don’t forget to subscribe as well as leave a review on iTunes. To purchase a signed copy of my book, Jewelry Marketing Joy, visit joyjoya.com/book for more information.
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