Friday, March 29, 2013

Jewelry Photography with Mannequins

By on Friday, March 29, 2013 11 Comments

When you buy clothes online or browse through a catalog, the goods are invariably modeled.  So it is with jewelry - pieces look far better on a person then just by themselves.   But if you, like me, don't have readily available model volunteers and don't have a budget to pay for professionals, then consider mannequins. They work for nothing - at least after you pay for them!

Long time blog readers might remember Lola, my headless mannequin with the perpetual sun tan.  She is named after the infamous Lola Montez whom I once wrote about.  Lola needs to be dressed as her suntan is decidedly fake and her complexion is terrible.  But she does do a good job displaying most of my necklaces.

I used to stuff her in my old pop-up fabric light tent but she was a very tight fit.  So now I use the smart case of the largest Modahaus photostudio to diffuse the light.  I have to set Lola down on a chair as my full size tripod is not tall enough if she was on the table.   As you can see, my cat was unimpressed! Not a bead chasing day.

If you don't have a Modahaus unit, rig something up - white rice paper or tissue paper will probably be good substitutes. As you can see, the natural light I get just comes from the window and patio door. So I had to adjust my camera's ev settings to lighten the shot. The resulting plain background is thus not distracting.

Lola was no help with earrings though.  So I decided to get a mannequin with not only a head but ear holes as well and added a suitable mannequin wig.  Meet Bertha, the beautiful tavern wench who relies on her loveliness to entice but she is not much good at serving customers!

I chuckled when Susan commented on my Facebook page after I uploaded the finished tagua necklace photo there. She said, "Great job, Pearl! But put some clothes back on your model!"  Bertha admittedly has absolutely no shame being a tavern wench but no body either for any clothes! She also has a much better skin tone than Lola as she doesn't get out much in the sun!

I found it best not to put too much of a final kink in ear wire ends. Otherwise I couldn't get the earrings on Bertha. Her ears are not flexible like human ones. Studs though are not a problem. 

The value of modeling jewelry is apparent as just with one glance a viewer can see the relative size of the earrings and how it would look on a person.

I cropped the photographs for 2 reasons. First to better showcase the earrings and second to make Bertha look less fake. But there was nothing I could do about synthetic and flyaway hair!

Most draped necklaces look fine on Lola. The tagua necklace though was a bib style piece and looked better on Bertha when compared with Lola's picture above. That's because Bertha has much more lifelike proportions. No clothes to distract from the jewelry either!

Bertha's eyelashes are fragile so I use the packing mask she came in plus the hair net for the wig. She is stored in a large plastic bag and placed within a box for storage.

So now I have a headless torso and a bust with no torso or limbs.  Got to think up something really creative and creepy for Halloween!  Any suggestions?

Before You Go:
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips 



  1. With that packing mask Bertha looks scary enough for Halloween. *lol*

  2. I think you are right! I hastily put her away once her mask is on!

  3. OMGosh Pearl, Love Bertha! She can model for me anytime :)

  4. Bertha looks pretty modelling for can do a slight touch up in photoshop (liquify)if you want to smooth down her hair

  5. LOL! Margaret - I'm sure Bertha won't mind.

    Divya - great Photoshop tip. I will look into that.

  6. I have a lovely lady to use, just like Bertha, but she doesn't have pierced ears. Would anyone have a suggestion on how to pierce her ears - Dremel probably, right?

    Loved this post, Pearl :)

  7. Depends what she is made from, I guess. Proceed with care because you could break off the ear lobe. May be test at the bottom and back of the mannequin?

  8. Your cat has much better manners than mine!
    I love it that you've decided Bertha is a serving wench! :)

  9. With the facial mask on to protect her eyelashes it looks as if she has a sleep apnea issue. As gorgeous as she is I don't think a man would care... HA!

  10. Excellent article Pearl! Love your camera ;) (Kodak?) Hmmm for Halloween you could always use fake blood on the neck of Lola for a dramatic headless look! lol

    1. LOL! Good idea about using Lola for Halloween. That is my Panasonic Lumix camera with some dSLR functions. I have switched over to iPhone photography.