We have some amazing designers, jewellers and manufacturers here in Australia and the jewellery industry is a very vibrant one. Not the same can be said for the watch industry. Most timepieces are only imported to be sold in Australia so the opportunity to photograph watches is quite limited.
So when an Australian company asked me to shoot their new timepiece range last month I was quite excited. I predicted the work to be very similar to shooting jewellery. Having done it now, I must say it is actually harder and the digital work can take almost double the time. This of course does depend on exactly what images you need to produce for clients.
In general the reason watch photography is time consuming comes down to three things. First is that all watches have a glass frame which reflects. Positioning the watch in a way that will produce a nice clean reflection takes time and a lot of patience! Secondly, watches have often pliable rubbery bands or are made out of movable metal links. Getting them to stand up and face the camera all the same way for that classic front-on product shot is not easy. Finally, to ‘freeze’ the watch so the watch hands do not obstruct the brand name on the watch face requires shooting watches with the side pin pulled out. That would look strange shown in the final images so it has to be ‘pushed back in’ later on during Photoshop digital work. There are of course many other reasons shooting watches is tricky, including dust clean up, reflections on the metal parts of the product, undesirable variations in colour, background issues, focus range and the depth of field etc, but these all occur with any small products made out of mainly reflective metals.