Fashion photography: use close-up photos to capture details of things like jewellery

Close-up Photos – Make an Impression with the Details

Close-up photos play a central role in the world of fashion photography. Whether you’re photographing seams and buttons or taking close-ups of accessories like a brooch, fringe, or jewellery, paying attention to the details is important. We’ll give you five useful tips how you can best accentuate all the details in your next photo shoot.

5 Tips for Brilliant Close-up Photos

Motif and Perspective

Before adjusting your camera and the lighting, you have to choose what kind of motif you want to photograph. The perspective also plays a central role in order to ensure details like necklaces or earrings don’t appear flat and boring in your photo. To photograph accessories in an appealing and exciting way, you should play around with different perspectives; there’s no such thing as the “right” camera angle in this case. You could, for example, use a bird’s eye view or perhaps photograph the subject from below eye level or from the side: try them all out yourself. Just a few degrees difference in the perspective can make your photo much more dynamic and interesting.

Besides the perspective, the image section also plays an important role. Here you should keep the “rule of thirds” in mind. Here, the main motif of the photo isn’t located in the centre of the photo, but instead is slightly offset. Most cameras have the capability of showing guidelines on the camera’s display in order to help you place the motif in the correct section of the photo. When choosing your motif, you should also pay attention to both the fore- and background. They should appear calm and balanced to make sure the main motif is accentuated and takes centre stage. It could be advisable, for instance, to choose a solid-coloured blouse or a quiet background if you’re photographing something like a loud and colourful piece of jewellery.

Close-ups of a zipper: it appears flat and boring in the photo on the left, while it appears more dynamic and interesting in the photo on the right thanks to a change of perspectiveClose-ups of a zipper: it appears flat and boring in the photo on the left, while it appears more dynamic and interesting in the photo on the right thanks to a change of perspective

Lighting

In addition to the motif selection and perspective, the lighting conditions are also a deciding factor. If you’re shooting in a studio, then you don’t really have to worry about this since the lighting is usually perfect. The set is well-lit with lighting kits in order to ensure every detail is visible. The lamps used by photographers usually allow for the adjustment of light and shadow in the photo. If you’re shooting outdoors, however, there are a few things you should pay attention to.

When positioning your motif or model, you should make sure that they’re not in direct sunlight. Direct sunlight, especially at midday, appears too hard in photos and also produces unsightly shadows. That’s why it’s a better idea to photograph in either the morning or afternoon when the sunlight is softer. If this is unavoidable and you have to photograph at high noon, then it’s recommended to at least search for a shady spot. In the shadows (or at least somewhat shadowy spot), the motif / model won’t be directly illuminated by the sunlight. This will make the details easier to see in the photo. You can also make use of a reflector while photographing. If you don’t have a reflector at hand, you can alternatively make your own makeshift reflector out of a piece of cardboard and aluminium foil. The reflector should be held near the motif or model in order to balance out hard shadows. If the sun is shining directly on the right side of the motif or model, for instance, the reflector should be held on the left side. This will enable you to balance out hard shadows and make sure the resulting photo appears more harmonious. You can also use a reflector to produce a bit of shadow in your photo; the reflector can be used to capture the sunlight and redirect it to a desired location in your image.

A close-up of high heels with playful ruffles – the image appears softer thanks to creative lighting effects

Tripod and Remote-control Release

Since taking close-up photos requires a very steady hand, using a tripod can be a good idea. This will heavily reduce the chance of your photos appearing blurry. It’s also a good idea to use a remote-control release. This gives you the advantage of being able to leave the camera on the tripod and shoot photos without disturbing it and perhaps causing camera shake. There’s an especially good chance that a photo can turn out blurry if there is a large distance between the subject and the photographer since the photographer will have to zoom in on the subject; blurry photos can also be the end result if the subject is moving. A remote-control release can usually be directly connected to the camera or wirelessly.

A close-up photo accentuating jewellery and feathers: with the help of a tripod and a remote-control release, the feathers don’t appear blurry even when blowing in the wind

RAW

In order to have full control over the editing process of your photos after you’re done shooting without having any detail go to waste, you should shoot them in RAW format. Unlike pictures taken in JPEG format, RAW format pictures contain data like exposure time, aperture, and ISO-value. Also, other things like contrast or white balance can be adjusted at a later point in time without lowering the picture quality. In RAW format, the image data is saved exactly as it was delivered to the camera’s image sensor. The brightness levels in this format are also significantly better and the transitions between shades of white and black are much more subtle.

Depth of Field and Focus

The depth of field plays a very deciding role when trying to take good close-up photographs. You can make the background appear blurry and accentuate the main motif in the foreground. In order to produce this effect, you should deactivate the automatic focus and select manual mode. With the help of the manual focus, you can choose the level of focus yourself; this also allows you to have more leeway with the sharpness. While going through the different levels of focus in manual mode, the difference is very easy to notice. To enhance the effect and depict the subject accurately, taking the f-number into consideration is also important. For taking close-up photos that should showcase the details of the subject being photographed, an f-number of f/2.8 – f/4 is recommended. This will make the background appear much more blurry and the main motif will appear especially sharp.