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however, taking the images and getting them ready for web seems to be more expensive then the site itself.
I mean unless you're talking a ba-zillion images...
There are probably lots of batch routines for taking a set of pictures and making thumbnails of them with Photoshop or some other software.
You'll still have to do the grunt work of physically placing the items, pushing the button on the camera, and transferring the image files to disk for processing. Oh, and the small issue of matching image names to specific items (so that the right image shows with the right piece of jewelry). :)
Happens to be there is
just it will cost you about $7,000
its called "Photosimile" made by a company called Ortery
in was featured in the Internet retailer in Jan. 2009 (think so)
basically what it does its a lightbox ,software you attach to your camera and it takes care of lighting all the camera settings including cropping
Jewelery, among all retail items, is possibly THE most difficult item to photograph well, and to add to it, the merchants are by far more discriminating than most. For a web site, is is also the most critical selling point, it's not like most items. The photography has to be as close to "perfect" as you can get it.
I have had several printing and web experiences with jewelry, as both an old-school drum scanner and a photographer. It takes quite a while, sometimes years, to get the hang of getting the RIGHT lighting and color balance for consistent jewelry photography. Even many professional photographers fail at this miserably (I've tried some.)
It is **not** something you want to hand to an amateur and not something you throw a commercial point and shoot at.
It is also not something you can or want to "tweak in Photoshop" for every image. If you don't get the right tones in the original, it will never be right and will always look tweaked.
For good jewelry photography the bare minimum you need is a balanced light source, tripod and a tent, shot with an SLR fitted with a close up lens. Do not use a flash, use the soft lighting of the tent. The light source should be between 24 and 30 inches from the hot spot, fitted with diffusers (umbrellas or hoods, in the case of halogens.) You'll need to do at the least a hundred or so test shots (if you're good) before you find the right settings to get a good balance of highlights to midtones without losing detail.
So more expensive than the site? In the case of jewelry, if that is what it takes to get what you need for the site, that's what it takes.
Don't take the easy (albeit expensive) way out. Read what rocknbil said again and tell it to your client. If you recommend the software to your client and it does not live up to their expectations, what do you think will happen to your relationship with them?
Some things have no easy answers. Do it right, or do not do it at all.
There is a lesser solution the same company offers for about 1500$, but as mentioned, i did recommend 2setup a mini-studio 2see what kind of results they can get.
I'm beginning to think of setting it up myself! I would have the solution for ALL jewelers ready to go! ahh the Internet ... how it can get you going in soo many directions!
Contact a local college that has a photography course, find yourself a broke photography student and pay him nominal amount of money to get you the shots.
You can automate the creation of thumbnails and sized images as long as he gives you consistent photo dimensions.
Talk to the client and help him understand that these pictures can be reused for catalogs, print ad campaigns, in-store posters or product shots.
Don't think of the images as an expense for the website, have them think of it as an overall marketing expense. It will be easier to swallow.
Last, you don't have to launch with a photo of every item, you can launch with a few "top level" images.
Like 1 picture for engagement rings..... 1 for tennis bracelets, 1 for single pendant chains... and so on.
Then as you get more images you can add images for sub categorie so for rings you could do like "princess cut rings", for bracelets you could make "diamond bracelets", "gold bracelets", but just use 1 picture.... as you get more photos expand the site more.
Don't be overwhelmed, chop it into manageable tasks, and decide what the minimum amount of shots you can launch with is and work towards that.