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watch photography tips

Watch Photography: How to Take Better Photos of Your Watch

Master the art of watch photography and capture the essence of time in stunning detail. From lighting techniques to editing, explore here!
May 07, 2024

The art of photography also enters the watchmaking industry. You got a new watch and are just mesmerized by how cool it looks. That said, you just can’t hold yourself for not taking a picture of your watch. That’s just a small case of how watch photography has long been a popular thing in this industry. 

Photographing watches is a fascinating and challenging endeavor that requires a keen eye for detail, technical proficiency, and a creative vision. The art of watch photography goes beyond simply documenting timepieces. It aims to evoke emotions, showcase intricate craftsmanship, and convey the essence of luxury.

If you’ve been buying watches online, you certainly understand how photos can tell you something about the watch you are looking at. Therefore, if you want to take a snap of your favorite timepieces, it’s better if you know about the watch photography setup.

In this article, we will explore watch photography 101 and tips necessary to capture stunning images of watches. Whether you are a professional photographer or an enthusiastic hobbyist, this guide will help you unlock the secrets of watch photography and elevate your skills to new heights.

Essential Tips for Watch Photography 101

If you want to get a better shot of some objects, you must know how to do it properly. This is especially important in watch photography as you want to ensure that every intricate detail is beautifully captured.

Therefore, it takes you to understand some setups and, probably, creative watch photography to get a splendid shot of your watch. The tips below will guide you on how to do it properly.

Choosing the Right Equipment

Investing in quality photography equipment is essential for capturing exceptional watch images. Consider using a DSLR or mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses for greater control and versatility. 

A macro lens is particularly useful for capturing intricate details, while a tripod ensures stability and eliminates camera shake. Other accessories, such as a remote shutter release, can further enhance the precision and control of your shots.

However, this doesn’t mean you can’t use the camera on your smartphone. Some smartphone cameras offer their customer a high-quality ability. It allows users to take a better shot only with their phone’s camera. 

Mastering Lighting Techniques

Lighting is a crucial aspect of watch photography that can dramatically enhance the visual impact of an image. Controlling light sources and manipulating shadows allows you to highlight the watch’s details, textures, and reflections. 

The use of natural light, diffusers, reflectors, and even artificial lighting setups can create different moods and effects. Experiment with various lighting techniques to find the perfect balance that brings out the beauty of the timepiece.

Read also: Through the Looking Glass: The Different Types of Dials Out There

Composing the Perfect Shot

Composition plays a vital role in showcasing a watch’s design and features. Pay attention to elements such as framing, angles, and perspective.

Experiment with different compositions, including close-ups, macro shots, and dynamic angles that showcase the watch from unique viewpoints. 

Consider the background and props to create a visually appealing and cohesive composition that complements the watch’s aesthetics.

Highlighting Details and Textures

Watches are intricate pieces of craftsmanship, often featuring exquisite details and textures. A macro lens or lens extension tube can help capture these tiny elements in sharp focus, revealing the craftsmanship that goes into creating each watch. 

Focus on capturing the fine engravings, dial textures, hands, and indices to convey the watch’s story and allure. Use a shallow depth of field to create a pleasing bokeh effect while keeping the main focus on the watch’s essential elements.

Showcasing Materials and Finishes

There is a variety of materials used in the watchmaking industry, from stainless steel and precious metals to leather and exotic skins. Each material has its unique characteristics and finishes that can be highlighted in photography. 

Experiment with lighting techniques to showcase the shine of polished surfaces, the texture of leather straps, or the luster of gemstones. Pay attention to reflections, as they can enhance the beauty of metallic surfaces while adding depth and dimension to the photograph.

Editing and Post-Processing

Post-processing is an essential part of watch photography to enhance the final image’s quality and appeal. Use editing software to adjust exposure, contrast, and colors, ensuring they accurately represent the watch. 

Refine details, remove distractions, and sharpen the image to bring out the watch’s fine details. However, it is crucial to maintain a balance and avoid over-editing, which can result in an unnatural appearance.

Watch Photography Setup

As mentioned earlier in the tips for watch photography 101, there are several things to consider to have good results. That also means you need a proper setup to achieve that goal.

There is a simple setup format you can follow for taking photos of your watch. In this case, you need to prepare:

  • The watch you want to capture
  • A table of flat surfaces to put the watch on. It’s better to place it near a light source, such as a window.
  • Reflectors to help manage dark areas or shadows (you can use white foam board) and something to eliminate unwanted reflections (you can use black foam board).

The light placement is adjustable according to your conditions. In fact, you can use artificial light if natural light seems impossible. All that matters is that you have your reflectors to manage the shadows.

Read also: Watch 101: The Basic 9 Parts of a Wrist Watch for Beginner

Start Your Snap!

Remember words saying that professionals never blame their tools? Well, it also applies to watch photography. It means that you don’t always need an advanced tool, like DSLR as you can use your smartphone camera.

These days, lots of smartphones have impressive camera quality. With a good and proper technique, it surely brings you to a great shot of your watch. Below are some easy steps to start snapping your watch on good photos.

Notice the Light and Dark Side

When you put your watch for a shot, take a closer look and you might notice a light side (closest to the light source) and a dark side. 

Manage the lighting so that it would show the watch’s details. If it is too bright, try diffusing the light with something with semi-translucent material, such as a white shirt or curtain.

Light Up the Dark Side

You surely want to show every detail and finish on the watch, right? In order to put some light on the dark side, you can use the white foam board as a reflector. Position the board to lighten the dark shadow. You can use more than one reflector if necessary.

Look at the Camera

Now that you are ready to take some photos, take your camera phone or DSLR and see how it looks on the screen. Assess whether the brightness is balanced appropriately. 

You can tap on certain areas of the watch to create a focus, such as on the dial. Adjust the exposure and find the best angle to get your shot. 

Block Reflections

The thing about taking photos of small objects is that you might get reflections of yourself on them. In this step, pay more attention to your image. Notice whether there are any reflections of the phone, your hands, or your face on the image.

If so, use the black foam board to block the area around the camera edge, camera lens, and your hand. It takes some practice to finally get the hang of how to do watch photography properly. 


In conclusion, watch photography is a captivating blend of technical skill, artistic vision, and a passion for horology. Through careful attention to lighting, composition, and post-processing, you can capture the essence of timepieces in breathtaking detail. 

So, pick up your camera, embrace the art of watch photography, and unlock a world where time stands still in mesmerizing images.

Read also: Why Do People Wear Watches? 5 Reasons You Need to Know

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