How To Photograph A Luxury Watch

lifestyle-watch-photography-on-black-sand-with-custom-lights

Watches are something that we associate with a touch of luxury. A watch photograph is often meant to help sell a watch or launch a new brand of watches.

Top watch brands spend a small fortune every year on marketing their watches. If you want to be a small part of that, you must learn how to make the perfect luxury watch photograph.

The Importance of High-Quality Watch Photographs

The global luxury watch industry is worth around 8 billion dollars. Its current growth rate has been consistent at 4.3 % per year since 2018.

More of us than ever before are buying luxury watches. Or should that be investing in luxury watches? Just like classic cars, many watches are bought as investment pieces.

Manufacturers are aware that an increasing number of their customers are buying their watches as investments. As a result, they are, in turn investing in luxury watch photography and advanced product imagery.

How to Make A Luxury Watch Photograph Look A Million Dollars!

watch photography high end

When a client asks you to photograph a watch that retails for over $30,000, you need to understand how important it is to make the watch look like a luxury item.

Photographing highly detailed products such as a Rolex, lighting, and retouching during the post-production process are two of the most important factors to consider.

You should never try to rush any job; however, taking your time becomes particularly important when photographing luxury watches. Take it slow and go through every single aspect of the watch with the manufacturer. Explain that you may have to take the back off to make sure the end-user appreciates all of the expertise and work that has gone into manufacturing the watch.

Should I Use One Or More Lights?

spot, lamp, light

Many luxury watch photographers only use one light. If you are comfortable working with one light source, you should, by all means, do so.

As it is easy to catch reflections in watches, the angle of the light matters more than anything else. You are really looking to create a narrow-angle of light. The illumination needs to be as precise as possible.

Using one light is often the best option. By all means, you should play around with different ideas, but one light can help to bring out excellent gradations on the shiny parts of the watch.  When you use one light, it is also easier to show the watch in more precise detail. Look at the watch and you will soon realize that there is more to a luxury watch than meets the eye.

Luxury watch manufacturers focus a great deal on the smallest details. That is what you need to do as well when you take your photographs. All of the elements of the watch should be clearly visible.

The light should create gradations on the polished part of the housing. The position and the quality of the diffuser both play a role.

Should I Photograph The Strap?

Although the strap is not the most important part of the watch, it should still make up part of the photograph.

Luxury watch manufacturers often spend as much time and effort on the strap of the watch as they do on the watch itself.  By creating a slight shadow, the strap will become the lead supporting actor in the photograph.

The photographs need to be clear, and as you may have realized, photographing shiny metal objects on light backgrounds creates a problem. You are at risk of ending up with reflections all over the place.

Using the right diffuser is crucial when you want to create the perfect luxury watch photograph. Savage are a us based company that makes some of the best diffusers in the photography business. you can find them here: Diffusers

Quality diffusers matter a great deal when you are shooting luxury items.

What Lens Should I Use?

lens, camera, focal length

The best choice is to go for a macro lens. More than anything, what matters is that you get as close to your subject as possible. It is between you and the watch.   

Luxury watch photographs are never as simple as you expect them to be. You can run into some problems that you are not anticipating.

I personally recommend the Sigma 105mm macro as the to-go lens for watches, it is very sharp, affordable fits almost every camera.

What if you don’t have a macro lens? Although a macro lens is more or less an essential tool in product photography, don’t worry too much if you don’t have one.

Other lenses will focus close enough to get a great photograph. One alternative is to add an extension tube to your camera.

Extension tubes are non-optical tubes that are easy to mount between the camera and the lens. They allow for closer focusing. A great way to increase the magnification of your close-up photography.

Creating A Clean Room

One thing that many product photographers learn when shooting watches, is how easy it is for watches to attract dust.  For some reason, they have the ability to attract dust and dirt more than other luxury objects such as jewelry.

When you are photographing watches, you should think of your photograph studio as a clean room. Even the tiniest speck of dust will stand out and can ruin your photograph. Most importantly, it is important to remove dust from the dial of the watch.

Shooting Tips For Luxury Watches

Most luxury watches are larger and may have a certain “thickness” to them. There is often a dramatic difference between the outermost edge and the center of the dial.  Before you start snapping away, use your artistic eye and find what other parts of the watch that you should focus on apart from the dial.

The mistake that many newbie product photographers make, is to focus only on the watch dial. There is more to luxury watch photography than the brand name and dial.

The minor details matter hugely when you want the luxury feel and look of the watch to shine through. In other words, you should spend just as much time photographing the smaller details as you do the dial.

Top Editing Tips For That Ultimate Luxury Watch Photograph

watch retouching editing

When it comes to editing, there is one thing that matters above the rest. That is color accuracy.  In post-production, one of the first steps to creating the perfect watch photograph is to create the right white balance of the photograph.

What does this do? It helps to ensure that the true color of the watch is reflected in the photograph. For instance, a blue dial should really pop out in the true color of the watch.

At the same time, you need to make sure you pay attention to the smaller colored details of the watch including lettering and hour markings.

Use your editing software carefully and take your time. You need to find the right balance. The best thing to do, is to slowly adjust saturation, clarity, and sharpness. When it comes to watches and other smaller items, a little goes a long way.

Different Types of Watch Photos

watch types

When it comes to watch photos, you can really say that there are not any “general” types. It is important that you talk to your client and find out what he expects to get from the photos.

Yes, most watch manufacturers want to show off their watch, but that may not be all.

As always, when you work with luxury brands, they may want to highlight the brand itself.  Explain the different types of photographs that you can take by showing previous assignments to your client.

Watch photographs can mainly be broken down into three different subheadings.

  • The wrist shot – this is where the watch is worn on a wrist.
  • The hero shot – in the hero shot, the watch is photographed in a stage setting.
  • Catalog shot – a popular shot that shows every detail of the watch.

When a client wants to sell his watches online, the catalog shot is often the most popular one. Although it has to be said that luxury brand watches are not only sold online.

Luxury watches are often sold by specialist retailers or top department stores. More than likely, your client would like to have a range of photographs. Not only will he want to sell his watches online. The retail experience remains a big part of the industry even when the end-user is buying the watch as an investment.

No matter what shot you are aiming for, the set-up is just as important as the photograph. Watch photographs are not created over the night. Knowing how to photograph a watch in the best way can take several hours.

You need to have patience and concentrate on what you are trying to achieve. Take example photographs and go back to your workstation to evaluate them.

Do I Need To Use A Tripod?

tripod for product photography

Once again, it would be fair to say that a tripod is not strictly necessary. However, if you are going to snap technical images of a watch, it is important to hold the camera steady.

Although you can photograph a watch without a tripod, it is better to have a tripod available. When you work in a studio, a tripod is something that you are likely to have. A tripod will help you to improve your image quality. you can find some good tripods here 

What About Staging A Shot?

Yes, there will be clients who will expect you to stage a shot.  What you need to bear in mind, is that an elegant luxury watch should always be photographed using a different setting when compared to a sports watch or a pilot’s watch.

Your client will probably have some ideas, but you should come up with your own as well. When you want a photo shoot to run smoothly, it is important to get as much information at an early stage as possible.

Most ideas come with experience. However, if you are just starting out in product photography and especially when photographing luxury items, you should check out what others have done.

Good sources of inspiration include Pinterest and websites. Checking out high-end magazines is another idea you should follow up on.

It is often said that writers spend a lot of time reading to become good at what they do. The same principle applies to photography. Spend as much time as possible looking at others photographs.

If you see a photograph that you like, try to figure out all of the background work that went into making that photograph special. Not all photographers like to share their secre

The Wrist Shoot

watch-photography-on-wrist-woman.jpg

One watch photograph that many photographers find challenging is the wrist shot.

It is almost a topic in its own right. Still, there are some fail-safe tips that you should follow.

  • What your model wears matters. A white or brightly colored shirt that matches the color of the watch face is important. The right color acts as a reflector and helps to enhance the color of your photograph.
  • When shooting outdoors, it is important to pay close attention to reflections from the surrounding environment. While you can often deal with reflections when retouching, it is better to avoid them if you can.
  • Hand-in-the-pocket shots are a popular way to showcase a luxury watch. Photographing your own wrist is not such a good idea. Instead, try to find an “arm model” that you can work with on the shoot. Long-sleeved shirts look better than short-sleeved shirts or blouses.

Final words

A luxury watch photograph should speak volumes about the watch itself and the brand. In many ways, it should create a feel that will prompt someone to buy that particular watch. As many aspects and details of the watch should be covered.

It is often said that you can’t over photograph a watch. What does this mean? It means you should photograph the watch in as many ways as possible. That is how to photograph a watch to make sure your client comes back to you when he has other watches he would like to promote.

Feel free contacting our team for your next watch photography here

if you’re looking to increase your online conversion but still feel you are not sure where to start – check out these resources below:

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