The top 10 essential ingredients for a fantastic jewellery photoshoot

So, last weekend was a bit nerve-wracking. The day of our much-awaited jewellery photoshoot had arrived and Mauritius was experiencing a violent thunderstorm. All morning on 16 February, the members of the team were frantically messaging ‘do you think we can go ahead?’, ‘do you think it’s clearing up’? Finally, mid-morning, the clouds parted and we decided to go ahead – phew!  

As always, we gathered at our photographer’s house in Black River to prepare, before making our way to La Preneuse beach where we’d photograph and video Liri’s new collections. As I calmed down from the morning’s close call with the weather, I started to feel truly grateful – as it turned out, we could not have wished for better weather. At the end of the day it was safe to say I felt truly blessed as it had run like clockwork.

The fact that what could have initially been a disaster, but which, in fact, had turned out to be the best shoot to date, prompted me to write this week’s blog. After reflecting on the day, I wondered ‘what are the essential ingredients for a successful jewellery photoshoot?’ What do we need to make sure the day runs smoothly and our jewels look fantastic? There are so much more, but here are my top 10.

1.      A clear idea of your brand story and image

Before we look at any of the other ingredients needed on the day, the first thing you must be clear on is your brand story and image, because it’s from this that everything else flows. A jewellery shoot is not only the perfect opportunity to showcase your beautiful jewellery, but also to convey the story, image and values of your jewellery brand to your audience and customers. It’s a chance to say what you stand for and what your jewellery means. Without being clear on these, you’re unable to shape the direction and ‘feel’ of the shoot in a coherent manner – it will be devoid of personality, direction and purpose. At Liri we carefully consider our brand story to ensure each aspect of the shoot and the final images convey our values. We choose the beach to convey the sense of freedom felt by wearing exquisite jewellery designs; we choose a sunny day to reflect the Mauritian influence; we choose models of different races to show our jewellery is for all; we look for plenty of smiley faces in our images to convey the happiness felt by wearing our designs….the list goes on. What I’m saying is – look carefully at what you want the details of your shoot to say about your brand, because every detail tells your brand story.

After establishing your brand image and story, certain physical and practical factors form the next layer of a solid foundation for the photoshoot.

2.      Suitable weather makes your jewellery look its best

I’ve deliberately called this section ‘suitable’ rather than ‘good’ weather, because, the weather you need, depends on the brand image you want to convey. In Liri’s case, we needed glorious sunshine. Apart from setting the right tone for the shoot, having the ‘right’ weather was also essential from a practical perspective. At Liri we’re currently on a tight schedule leading up to the launch and promotion of our new collections, so if the weather hadn’t been suitable that day, and the shoot didn’t happen, we would have faced a huge headache to reorganise and coordinate the availability of the eight people involved. To do this in time to edit the photos, revamp the website and print the promotional materials in time for our end of March launch, would have been a huge mountain to climb, which would have had a significant longer-term business impact. With so much in Mauritius organised to take place outside and with outdoor shoots so crucial for our brand image, we really were at the mercy of the elements.

3.      Location, location, location!

An appropriate location is also essential for not only making the jewellery look good, but for again, conveying your brand image effectively and accurately.  Liri jewellery is passionate about natural materials, genuine gemstones and precious metals. It’s also passionate about making women feel strong, independent and happy whilst wearing our jewellery. As a result, we ensure our shoots take place in nature. We choose locations with powerful imagery, strong characteristics and bold colours. Locations in which our models, photographer and videographer can create vibrant, strong images, that reflect what our brand stands for.

4.      Good lighting brings out the best in your jewellery

I have to say, the fact we had had a storm, had, in the long run, improved the lighting, especially towards the end of the shoot and the beautiful sunsets we captured.

But more than that, good quality light is essential for capturing the sparkle of the jewellery. However, did you know that the light can often be too bright and can lead to washed out images? In some cases we had to diffuse the light as it was often too strong.

It really was fascinating to see how our photographer and videographer  manipulated the light around us to ensure we had the perfect setting and that the models looked their best (squinting directly into the sun is not a good look).

5.      Professionalism, a good attitude and teamwork

Since working on our jewellery shoots over the past couple of years, I’m certain that, apart from nature playing ball, a good, professional attitude from all team members, is central to the success of the day. The willingness of everybody to ‘muck in’ and do whatever is needed to get the job done, is crucial. On a shoot, where time is of the essence, where we’re working in nature, which is wet, unpredictable (being pinched by a crab as you cross towards a rock to capture that perfect shot, is quite a shock), and sandy (it really does get everywhere), there’s no time for egos or diva behaviour. Of course, no-one is asked to do anything dangerous or something with which they’re uncomfortable, but being willing to ‘pitch in’ and do whatever needs to be done to help others in the team, is crucial. Without everyone pulling together and moving in the same direction, the shoot wouldn’t have run so smoothly and would have been far less enjoyable.  

6.     A good sense of humour – laugh!

We laugh so much on our shoots and it really makes the day run much better. We laugh at silly things that happen and we laugh at ourselves. From making sure our models’ modesty is protected in some shots, to stepping on them to keep them underwater during certain shots (if you don’t believe me, just look at this image), you have to be able to laugh.

Some elements of the shoot can be a bit stressful, like when you’re trying to get all shots done before the sun disappears, so it’s important to bring an element of fun and light-heartedness where you can. 

7.      A timetable – it needs to run like clockwork

However, it isn’t all fun and games. We don’t just turn up on the day and play it by ear, rather the order of the day and the conduct of the shoot is, and needs to be, carefully mapped out. From the type of hair and makeup, the length of the shoot, the order in which the jewellery is to be photographed, and the types of poses in each shot, it’s all precisely planned to ensure we capture the essence of Liri, get the shots we need, to showcase the brand and jewellery at its best, and finish before we lose the light. It’s a race against the clock so although we try to keep things as light hearted as possible, there needs to be an underlying structure and timetable.

With a tight schedule running in the background, punctuality is key. It also ties in with having a professional attitude, where all members of the team value each others’ time by turning up promptly and cooperating with whatever is asked of them.  

8.      Great models

Hands up who thinks modelling is an easy job? What could be easier than standing and posing, right? Wrong! Over the years I’ve grown to appreciate the true art that lies behind modelling. It’s a performance where one is conveying an image and personality to a lens. We all know how difficult it can be just to pose for a candid picture with friends, but try keeping that up for four hours, all the while being told to be ‘playful and funny’ in one shot, then ‘sexy and elegant’ in the next. Yet a good model can do exactly that – move from one personality to the next in an instant. Try it, it’s a real challenge. A good model mustn’t take herself too seriously and mustn’t be self-conscious or shy. Personality and confidence are essential if they’re to ‘act out’ the brand story behind the jewellery.

9.      Catering and snacks

A shoot can be gruelling. Standing in the blazing heat and squinting against the sun can be really exhausting, so it’s important to ensure the team are properly fed and watered. Between us we ensure lunch is provided and have plenty of snacks and water to sustain us throughout the shoot. A well-fed team, is a happy team

10.  SPF and plenty of it

I can tell you from first-hand experience that SPF and its regular re-application is crucial. Having not done this at one shoot and burning my neck so badly it took weeks to recover, a high spf is essential, to remain safe.

I could write so much more…

So there you have it, my top 10 essential ingredients for a successful jewellery shoot that will accurately convey your brand image, make your jewellery look fantastic, and runs (more or less), like clockwork. It truly is a jigsaw where the physical and human aspects fit together to work in sync. Yes, there will be mishaps, but if you’ve planned well, have a cooperative team and a flexible attitude, they will be overcome.

As always, I want to thank the amazing team that made this year the best yet. Melanie Francouer for her sheer hard work in taking over 1000 photographs with her immensely heavy camera, in the blazing sun. Stephane Mussard for his eye for detail and brilliant sense of humour that really gets the best from our models. Armelle Bathfield for her skilled and swift hand in applying bullet-proof make up, Vincent Coowar for changing the hairstyles to suit each different shot. Our beautiful models Clelie Leveugle and Meili Looi for being consummate professionals, for whom nothing was too much trouble and who rose to anything asked of them. And to Gabby, for being the perfect assistant to Melanie.

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