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A Beginner’s Guide to Watch Photography

Dive Watches

So, you’re reading this because you brought a new watch and want to show it off with some top-quality photography. Well, I don’t blame you and, fortunately for you, you’re in the right place. I’m going to take you through the basics of what you need to know to get those awesome shots to boost your Instagram game to the next level. #watchesofinstagram here you come!

The first thing you’re going to need, other than the watch itself, is a good camera. This doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy the top of the range, professional photography number. I’m sure you have a smartphone and if it’s a newer model then its quality is probably near or on par with some DLSR cameras out on the market.

For example, the new iPhone 11 has Dual 12MP Ultra-Wide, Wide cameras and can record 4k video up to 60fps. That’s insane for a smartphone.

Tip: Make sure the watch is crystal clear, you don’t want dust specs to ruin your photos.

Oris Pilot X

The next thing you’re going to need is lighting equipment and props to create the right mood and feeling for your set. Decent lighting equipment, although extremely useful, isn’t a necessity when you’re just starting out. Personally, the best lighting equipment for me is the good ole’ sun. Natural light can be perfect for showing off a watch – if the weather’s right of course.

Tip: lighting can be the most difficult element of watch photography so make sure you take your time with it!

Lighting Setup

Studio lighting setup | Natural lighting setup

Props and background textures are very important. They are the make or break of the style you’re going for. For example, look at the adventure watch shoot we did. All the props were adventure themed to match the style of the watches and the rustic brown wood was the perfect background for the shoot. Possibilities are endless when it comes to props and you don’t have to splash loads of money on them; just use what’s around. In fact, the quirkier the better – you want it to stand out.

Tip: Avoid using backgrounds the same colour as the watch, otherwise, the watch will get lost in the background.

Bremont H4 Hercules

Props can be as simple as a watch roll and a strap, as seen in this picture.

Focus on the right part of the watch! When shooting your watch, you want to make sure both the dial and brand logo are clear. To achieve this, I would use a higher F stop and preview the photo first with the live view (when using a DLSR), before taking the photo. If you want all your image in focus, then I would focus stack your image. Focus stacking is where you focus on different parts of your frame and then stack them together to form one full focus image. You can then automatically put them together in photoshop for an image that’s sharp across the board.

Tip: Adding depth will create a better image.
Nomos Sport Collection

And finally, once you’ve taken your photos, it’s time to edit! Just like the equipment, editing software can be expensive, but there are several free alternatives. Your phone comes with inbuilt editing software and you can even edit your photos on Instagram, in a limited fashion. I would recommend an app called VSCO. If you’re looking to step up your editing game, then I personally would invest in lightroom and photoshop or the equivalent as the editing possibilities are endless.

Tip: Don’t just bump up the contrast and call it a day, experiment with all editing options and find the style you like.

I hope this quick beginners guide has helped you in one way or another. I would love to see your watch photography so be sure to tag @otmagazine in your Instagram images so I can see them.

If you upload wrist shots, be sure to tag us (@OracleTime) in them too or use our hashtag, #OTWristshot for a chance to be featured on our story every week for wrist shot Wednesday.

About the author

Staff Writer

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