How to create great watch photos? Photography of watches: tips and pitfalls

6 November, 2020
How to create great watch photos?  Photography of watches: tips and pitfalls
One of the hardest segments in product photography is the photography of watches. It would seem that nothing could be easier - take your watch, set it on a white background, and shoot! However, it is not so easy, not if you want an image that creates the necessary impact.

A watch is a beautiful but at the same time special item. Manufacturers try to stand out from the crowd by creating products with unusual and complex designs that display a clear differentiation from their competitors. One model can easily combine leather and chrome, glass and plastic, gold plating and rhinestones. Each of these textures should be highlighted in the image as fully and as clearly as possible. That is why photography of watches is such a challenge and an indicator of advanced professionalism of a photographer.

In addition, the watch photos are usually taken in macro mode, so the photographer must be sure that there is not a slightest defect on the object. If there are scratches, specks of dust, or any other imperfection on the watch, they must be removed, otherwise they will be extremely visible in the final image . Of course, in many cases, these flaws can be corrected with Photoshop, but it is better not to waste any unnecessary time doing this and take care of the appearance of the product before taking a shot.

Product photography watches stages

Step 1. Before shooting, carefully prepare the product: inspect it for any damage and dirt. To be certain, wipe it with a soft cloth.

Step 2. Set up the correct light. This is the most important aspect of watch photography. Make sure the light suits the watch and is not likely to be bounced back to the camera off any reflective surface.

Step 3. Set the watch in a frame. For best results, use a silver or black base to create the effect of the model reflecting off the lower surface. A matte base is not ideal since the reflection will be less noticeable.

Professional photographers also use another trick: they attach a thin rim to the inside of the strap, which helps to hold the model in the desired shape and is completely invisible in the photo.

Step 4. Before shooting begins, set watch hands and available indicators. The watch hands are usually set at 10:10, in this position they do not obstruct the decorative elements and additional scales on the dial. In addition, the symmetrical arrangement of the arrows looks more attractive, professional, and slightly formal.

Step 5. Choosing focus. To shoot a watch, use only the manual mode, otherwise the camera may let you down by focusing on the wrong part of the image and ruin the effect when using macro photography. We focus on the most important part of the product - in our case, it's the dial. Once you’re ready, shoot.

Product photography watches pitfalls

Let's talk about product photography of watches in more detail, as this is a tricky subject matter. Each watch model has its own characteristics that should be emphasized. To do this, the photographer should be careful to use a light that emphasizes the original design of the product and the texture of the materials used. The main challenge when photographing a watch is the presence of polished metal surfaces that reflect everything around, especially the  light. Many inexperienced photographers, trying to solve this problem, put watches in special boxes to reduce glare. This simply results in the product in the photograph looking completely flat and unpresentable.

To make the watch look interesting in the photo, it is necessary to combine shadows and highlights. This is the only way to really convey volume in the photo. This can be achieved only by having a good understanding of the nature of light and having a lot of practice in dealing with such issues. When photographing watches for catalogs, photographs are often taken on acrylic plastic. This creates a spectacular reflection.

For a high-quality study of detail, a macro lens or setting is used, which allows photographing with high magnification and provides excellent sharpness of the photographed object. However, when using such optics, the problem of a small depth of field can arise. Therefore, in order to show the whole product in sharp detail, you have to take photographs using stacking.

After all the photographs have been taken, successful images are selected and subsequent processing of the selected materials is carried out in a graphic editor. During this stage, all existing defects are eliminated, the photographs are given a complete check and the necessary accents are added. The finished pictures are likely to be posted both on the Internet and in advertising brochures. They present the product in the most attractive way and evoke positive emotions among buyers, prompting them to make a  purchasing decision. This, of course, is the primary goal in the trade.

Product photography watches for catalogues

Typically, the primary use of product photography watches is for various promotional catalogues. This means that in the interests of the customer, the product must be presented as attractively as possible. How can this be achieved?

There is a number of subtleties that a professional photographer knows:

  1. As a rule, for catalogues a photographer has to shoot several models of watches at once. All watches have one common feature - they have a large reflective surface. Therefore, for each model, the photographer must select new lighting that will remove unnecessary glare, reflections, and shadows. This process is quite difficult, so you need to set up in advance for long-term work.
  2. A watch is made up of many small parts, none of which should be overlooked. Wheels and cogs, arrows, letters and numbers - all the details should "play" in the picture so that a potential buyer can see each of them.
  3. When photographing a watch, it is necessary to pay attention to many points; the material of the case and the shape of the glass, the presence of precious stones in the decoration of the dial, what materials were used in the manufacture of the case and strap/bracelet. Models with a convex cover glass are not uncommon, which also does not make life any easier for the photographer.

  4. Polarizing filters can be used to eliminate unwanted glare, but in order for this technique to work, you need two polarizers. One polarizer is installed on the light source, the other on the lens. In addition, it must be remembered that light reflected from metal surfaces is not polarized, which limits the use of this technique.
  5. Sometimes situations arise when, in order to save time, it is easier to photograph the watch in separate frames, exposing the light on the dial and case separately, and bring them together during post-processing. For example, this could be the case when photographing watches decorated with precious stones.

To achieve the desired sharpness, be sure to use a tripod. This rule should be observed in any shooting of small static objects.

Studio of product photography

Photographing watches is a rather difficult and laborious operation, and only a qualified specialist with extensive practical experience in subject photography can handle it well. Basic knowledge is not enough here. A photographer is required to have a deep understanding of the work of light, the ability to work with form, the ability to build a composition, to choose a winning angle. In our studio of product photography( in Toronto, we create professional high-quality watch photos. Moreover, you can order photography of your watches from us or you can come to rent a special machine ( for photographing jewelry and watches.

We want to tell you about one unique machine “Alphashot”  that can be rented in our studio in order to take stunning watch photos. The “Alphashot”  micro is an automated compact photographic studio. This piece  of equipment was created with the latest technological developments especially for the purposes of taking high-quality shots on a macro scale. This machine is incredibly comfortable to use, everything in it has been thought out to the smallest detail. Here, the light is automatically set, the surface will not glare, and the machine itself has a built-in computer on which you can use a photo editor immediately during the shoot.

With this, you can make both 2D photos and animated 360-degree video presentations of your watch in a few seconds.

The machine has a cylindrical design and a rotatable structure which helps to position the light in the best way. If your watch is framed by something as difficult to catch as one hundred small diamonds, then a photo taken on this machine will still fully reflect all that splendor.

Here you can find the video about this unique machine (

Photographing watches is done to solve an important task - satisfying consumer interest in this type of product. Not everyone can competently accomplish it. By contacting us, you can be absolutely sure that you will receive a guaranteed high-quality result that meets your expectations.

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