Nothing beats holding a piece of antique jewellery when it comes to making a decision about buying it. My photographs and videos do their utmost to put my rings, necklaces and earrings into my online customers’ hands … and I’m so grateful to them for putting their trust in mine.
The photos are taken by Nikki of @life.is.short.diamonds on Instagram, who changed my life when she came into my Sydney store nearly two and a half years ago. For years I’d dreamed of putting Karen Deakin Antiques online … but I’m a techno-idiot. (Really I am. Just last week l learnt how to copy and paste!) With Nikki’s help and encouragement I joined Instagram, then Etsy, and now I have this website – which is very much a work in progress. It’s a sharp learning curve.
Most weeks Nikki – now a dear friend – visits my shop in the city after she finishes work. After catching up we pick out a mix of pieces and begin. (What you see here in my online store is just a fraction of what I have for sale … as I said, it’s a work in progress.)
While Nikki wields her iPhone and wrestles with the tricky artificial lighting in my shop, I measure, weigh and do my best to describe each piece – and why I love it. (And if a jewel has a flaw of any kind I will include it in my listing and make sure the photos show it.)
Nikki uses a clip-on macro lens ($20 from Bondi market) to get in close, but that’s only part of the story. She takes A LOT of photos. She isn’t a professional photographer – and we use her phone rather than a camera because it’s easier and quicker to process the images – but both of us are extremely picky about the end results.
It always comes back to the light – how it hits a ring, how it illuminates a diamond. Images have to “pop”. She’ll work a jewel’s angles and run through a checklist to make sure we have:
● The “hero”: the photo I’ll use for the main image and, often, for Instagram
● “On skin”: pictures that show it worn and in a hand
● The rear view: beside a metal ruler for scale
● The video: these are emphatically low-tech – we have to mute the sound if we’re chatting too much – but their job is to show customers just how each jewel would look if they could handle it themselves
For props we use raid my treasured collection of antique jewellery boxes. While I’ve long known which colours best set off the gemstones in my display cabinets, it’s almost startling to see how drab a vibrant vintage engagement ring can appear to the iPhone lens if it’s in a box whose colour doesn’t suit it.
I have old hands and Nikki has large ones so occasionally – for a treat – we’ll get someone in to model. We love those days!
Later Nikki will process the images, using Instagram tools to get the light and colour right, and other apps to lessen the amount of fluff on the velvet boxes – and to smooth out wrinkles on ageing hands …
The aim isn’t to enhance reality but to communicate it better – as great as camera lenses are, they just don’t capture what the eye sees. And fluff and blemishes are distracting.
What I absolutely do not want are surprises. I want all my online customers to know exactly what they’re buying and to be delighted with their purchases.
And then I want them to come back for more!
Check out our own antique jewellery collection in Sydney!