Professional Jeweler Archive: Learn the Language of Photography

May 2000

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Learn the Language of Photography

Develop a style consumers will recognize as yours alone


Long before they enter your store, customers will see pictures of your jewelry through your advertising, direct mail and Web site, so photography has a powerful impact on whether you have a unique or run-of-the-mill image in their minds.

“Whatever you choose should be unique, like your signature,” says photographer John Parrish of Dallas, TX. About 85% of his work is jewelry-related. Parrish says a retailer’s visual style should be a logical expression of its marketing concept: where it is located, the type of merchandise it carries and what customers it’s trying to reach.

Signature photography takes money (you expected a photographer to say otherwise?) and starts with long-range planning that defines your marketing concept. “Unfortunately, most retailers get a good deal on ad space and then look around for something to fill it,” says Parrish.

How does a jeweler get signature photography? Parrish offers these examples of ways to create a consistent look that will become identified with you:

  • Take all your photos on a white background.
  • Take all your photos on a background that opposes the jewelry, such as rusty metal.
  • Take all photographs against a color that opposes or complements the gemstones’ colors.
  • Have a female model in all the photos.
  • Make all the images moody, sexy or humorous or celebrate an occasion.
  • The images are in an environment – on a dressing table, desk, dresser or nightstand, for instance – that says something about your clientele.
  • All photography uses a square, circle, rectangle, triangle or some other shape that will become identified with your store.

Going the Distance

With so many choices, how do you decide? Parrish recommends simply choosing a motif and then having the courage to stay faithful to it.

Recently, Parrish shot a catalog for a jewelry designer whose staple has long been chunky gold jewelry with a masculine feel. “They shot everything on leather with moss and stones to convey the earthy, textural nature of his designs,” he says. However, most of the customers were over 50, and the designer wanted to reach out to the rising generation of 30-somethings. The designer’s newer pieces are more traditionally feminine, less weighty. To support this strategy, Parrish ditched the leather, the rocks and the moss for pastel colors.

“It was a pretty huge jump,” says Parrish. “But (the designer) had been watching the market, seen it change and knew he had to change with it. New photography was part of the package.”

Postscript: Don’t forget to bring the look of your ads into your store, says Parrish. If all your advertising photography shows jewelry lying on rusty metal, for example, create the displays within your windows and showcases using that motif.

– by Mark E. Dixon

Left: This sexy shot of Cynthia Renée Co.’s earring targets consumers who are vulnerable to jewelry’s role in romance.

Below: Two different messages from Henry Dunay. The photo of watches emphasizes glamour and appeals to a wealthy, sophisticated consumer, while the photo of numerous pieces of gold jewelry attracts a consumer looking to spend less.

All photos by John Parrish


Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications