INTERVIEW: Andrew Neilson on photographing jewellery

Breakout Andrew Neilson

Neilson Photography founder, Andrew Neilson, will be hosting a seminar at Jewellery & Watch on how to commission product photography.

Professional Jeweller caught up with Neilson to talk about the seminar and share his experience capturing jewellery.

Could you share your photography background?

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My product photography started over 15 years ago when a friend asked me to photograph some of her ceramics for a trade show. I visited the show to see her images on display and returned with a bag full of other clients products all of whom were impressed and wanted imaging to match. The business grew organically for many years as at that time I was still working part time as a chemical engineer. I studied with the New York Institute of Photography, and then became a member of the British Institute of Professional Photography where I was voted Commercial Photographer of the Year for four years running for my work in jewellery and watch photography. Ten years on, our studio is a major supplier of jewellery and watch photography to the jewellery and luxury product markets throughout the world.

What are the challenges of photographing jewellery?

Product photography is all about control of lighting and reflections, in that respect jewellery is no different, although its scale makes this control all the more important. It’s critical that you convey to the customer the correct finish of the material, whether its polished gold or matt silver and the true colour and facet details of gemstones and diamonds has to be conveyed. To achieve the type of image you see in magazines involves very complex lighting setups, skill and post production to remove blemishes, dust and scratches.  If selling jewellery is your business, then you must ensure you have the best possible imagery of your pieces to maximise your sales.

How do you make your own jewellery products stand out?

We shoot Goldneilson pieces in our most elaborate lighting setup as my pieces have 100s of reflective surfaces and diamonds that all need to be lit differently. As I’ve made the piece, I know which angles I want to see the pieces in, this makes it much easier for me. When we are shooting other designers pieces, I need to understand their own design process in order to be able to capture their work at its best.

What can people expect from your seminar?

I’m hoping to provide an insight into imaging needs in the mobile and tablet driven retail world we now inhabit. With so much purchasing being performed directly from handheld devices, your image has only a few seconds to make a sale for you.

Neilson’s seminar ‘How to commission product photography’ will take place February 8, 11.40-12.10 and February 10, 11.35-12.05 in the Catwalk Cafe.

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