Photography; it can be so aggravating.
You will probably have the worst nightmares about photography during your entire career with a jewelry website. Hiring a professional will cost more than the website design and programming, and taking them yourself often results in blurry jewelry with gray backgrounds.
Let's face it; good-quality photos appeal to users more than blurry, unclear images. In addition, bloggers, Facebook users, and Google+ users are more likely to link to (or share) a good-quality image rather than an ugly smudge on a gray background.
Other than linking and sharing, a crisp, sharp image will also appear better in a thumbnail version that Google will display in the search results, and therefore may be more likely to get clicks and visits.
But what can you do to make your life easier other than paying an overpriced photographer, pounding your head against the wall with trial and error of photography, or hours of color and brightness correction work in PhotoShop?
Here are some ideas:
1. Realize that all cameras are different. Spend the money and get a good one. Go to a local photography store and talk to a salesperson trained to sell cameras, make sure you tell them what you're using it for and follow their recommendations. If you don't get a warm and fuzzy feeling from your local salesperson then you can do a lot of camera research on B&H's website, their prices are great too. Make sure you read online reviews and find out what the camera's strong suites are. For example, if the camera's main wow factor is "captures fast movement at night," then it's probably not the one to go for.
2. Don't use the camera for anything other than jewelry photography; you simply don't want to have to change the settings every time you take it from the shop to your kid's baseball game or ballet recital.
3. You need to use a manual white balance every time you change your light source. In other words, adjust your manual white balance every time you change from LED bulbs, to incandescent, to florescent, to sunlight, etc. If you don't have a manual white balance setting on your camera then you need to get a more expensive camera; go back to step 1 above.
4. Do some research online to find out which of those light sources are best to use with different metal colors and different color gemstones. Sometimes you will need to use a combination of light sources for the best looking photos.
5. Set the aperture on your camera to the largest number. This will increase the depth-of-field of the image and reduce the chance for a blurry photo. If you don't have an aperture setting you need to get a more expensive camera; go back to step 1 above.
6. If you want a white background, you will need a light box. However, images are more interesting if you use textured backgrounds like leather, velvet, sand, ribbon, lace, rocks, stone, mirror, or dichroic glass. Remember, in order to white balance your camera you need to use a white source (bright white printer paper works well) first, then put your fancy background and jewelry into the camera frame.
Your camera and light settings will be different between jewelry with rubies, sapphires, and diamonds. The camera and light settings will also be different for white metal vs. yellow metals. Do like items together.
Your goal is to take a perfect photo that will not need editing in PhotoShop. Take more than 1 photo; you do not want to take single shots of everything, upload them to your computer and realize you only have 1 option per item and all of them are terrible.
When you get all this correct you will see the bounce rate of your website go down as the visitor count goes up. Hopefully you will have some new sales too.