Here at Studio Packshots, we pride ourselves on our watch photography skills. Our abilities come from years of experience in the industry, and we are delighted to share our knowledge with you.
We have put together a few useful tips to help you master the photography techniques. Once you’ve nailed these, your product photography will never be the same.
Here are our top 7 tips to help you conquer your watch photography.
The first principle of every professional photography is to thoroughly clean your subjects. Fingerprints and smudges can ruin a perfectly good image, so the cleaner the product the better.
You don’t need any fancy gear to achieve this. A simple microfibre cloth will work nicely along with a small paintbrush to target any hard to reach areas. Consider using a bit of alcohol to help with the removal of marks on your watch.
Don’t worry if you can’t get everything out, you can easily do it in post production. Use the healing or clone stamp tool to get rid of unwanted imperfections.
Additionally, washing your hands and wearing protective gloves when photographing your products prevents any grease from being transferred onto the watch.
For crispy sharp product images, a tripod is a must. A good tripod should provide stability for your camera. There are a large variety of tripods available for purchase ranging in price. If you’re on the budget, use sites such as Amazon or eBay that to provide you with the cheaper options. If a light tripod has a hook at the bottom, you can always hang extra weight onto it, to make it even sturdier. What’s important is that you choose one that will work for the photography you’re trying to achieve.
In addition, we recommend investing in a camera remote for the shutter release. This will ensure you don’t touch the camera while taking a picture, which will eliminate any shakes. Alternatively, you might have a button delay available in your settings, which could work just as well.
3. Lighting Is Key
Lighting is the most challenging aspect of product photography and it shouldn’t be overlooked. There are two main light sources to consider: natural and artificial.
If you decide to take your pictures using natural light, do it by the window to evenly spread the light on your products. In addition, you can also use reflectors to help remove unwanted shadows.
Our recommendation however is to use artificial lighting as it will give you a lot more control over your images. This option works particularly well if you’re selling your watches online and want to highlight the most important details.
Every watch is unique and it will reflect the light differently. This means that the lighting setups might have to be changed every time you shoot a new model. We know from experience that soft light will usually offer the best results for achieving high quality watch photography.
Allowing a high amount of light in your images is good, but be careful not to wash the images out. Overexposure is difficult to correct in post-production as the images don’t have enough information to salvage the affected areas.
As always, we recommend you do your research beforehand as that will help you understand what you need to do. There are plenty of YouTube tutorials about photo lighting so make use of those as well.
4. Camera Settings
If possible, always shoot in RAW format. RAW files are much larger than JPEGs and contain uncompressed image data, which helps achieve high quality watch photography. They are also easier to post process later on as they give our software more information to work with.
Besides the format, usually, we also set our camera ISO to about 100 and use the largest file settings available. If your equipment uses the anti-shake feature, consider switching it off as it can make tripod shots blurry.
Focus plays an important role in images. It can be used as a tool to showcase your product’s most desirable features. It’s common knowledge to use a higher F stop in order to get the dial and brand name in focus. However, if you wish to get the whole watch in focus, you could try a technique called ‘focus stacking’. This is where you use different focal points when shooting your products. After that, you stack the images together in Adobe Photoshop, which blends the focus into one image.
If you decide to go into the focus stacking direction, we advise you use a macro lens. This will allow you to focus sharply on small objects from a short distance.
6. Post Production
Once you have your final images and you are happy with them, you might want to edit them just slightly. This can be achieved with a photo editing software – we use Adobe Photoshop, but there are cheaper options available. Play around with white balance, contrast, dodging and burning tools, as well as removing dust and imperfections. What’s important is that you preserve the authenticity of the product, while working towards a spotless look.
7. Hands At 10:10
This one is an important rule for all watch photographers out there. Setting your time for 10:10 creates a nice symmetry on the watch face. It also gives a customer a clear view of the brand logo in the middle. We recommend following this rule for the ultimate professional approach and consistency.
Watches can be tricky to photograph because of their reflective nature. Appropriate research should be carried out before attempting photography. Everything we listed in this article is fundamental for achieving great results. Perfection comes with practice and experience so we suggest you learn, play around and experiment with your equipment. Seeing progress will keep you motivated throughout the journey and feel very rewarding at the end of it.
Use this article to pick up the necessary tips and techniques to help you achieve the desired results. If you need any help, please contact us and we will be happy to assist.
We possess over 30 years of experience in professional studio photography. Our extensive experience has taught us the best techniques for spectacular results. Our photography studio is located in Leicester, but we offer remote watch photography across the UK, including the nearby East Midlands area (Nottingham, Coventry, Derby & more).
Take a look at our watch photography page to discover the work that we do.
Professional photography is cheaper than you think. Send us a message with your requirements and we will get back to you with the price offer.