Luxury Watch Product Photography

In this watch product photography workshop Karl demonstrates how to capture a luxury watch to professional advertising standards.

Watch as Karl builds up to the final shot, showing you each live image and explaining the changes and reasoning behind his creative decisions.

He demonstrates the step-by-step process, from selecting suitable props, to lighting it and the simple post production needed to finish it off. He also shares valuable insight into photographing a product like this, revealing a number of industry secrets that all contribute to the beautiful final image.

Luxury Watch Product Photography

Luxury Watch Product Photography

In this photography workshop replay we cover the following:

  • How to photograph a luxury watch
  • Watch product photography lighting tips
  • Photographing and lighting shiny surfaces
  • Achieving a gradated light with a point light source
  • Using reflectors and flags
  • Useful post production techniques for product retouching

If you have any question about this photography workshop, post them in the comments box below. If you enjoyed this workshop then make sure you keep an eye on upcoming LIVE photography workshop events where you can get your questions answered.


  1. Hey Karl
    Question about hilights and metalwork. I’ve shot a few rings before and an issue that seems to pop up often is control over the the hilight burnout at certain points. It seems quite easy to get points that go beyond 255 white. I can’t imagine that is too acceptable even if it is only at minor points, but depending on the level of reflectance it does seem a little inevitable. Are you still getting a little bit of this happening in your final result or have you pulled it below 255/255/255 everywhere?

    1. Hi Gary, generally speaking with jewellery you will have many specular highlights that read 255 so this isn’t a problem as they are a direct reflected image of the light source from a mirrored surface.

  2. Hey Karl, Shako here!
    Always amazing work.
    Three questions here.
    1. I am being hired to shoot watches in a a 7 x 8ft office space. I’m not sure if I can fit a scrim, but possibly fit a silk sheet of diffusion that maybe acts like a scrim, would that work the same?

    2. I need to deliver high end e-commerce photos of different angles. Would this setup be the most versatile, systematic for that type of job, I love the fact that the retouching is so minimal. I need something that makes it easy to shoot as much and spend less time in post.

    3. Would it also be practical in post to just replicate the same image and just mask in a flipped version of the straps, instead of using curved card? Or using the card and NDA filter the best and most consistent approach.

    Huge thank you for your time and lessons!

  3. That was fabulous! By far the best tutorial I’ve seen from a start to finish effort. Thanks! Quick question — It looks like the watch crystal is still on the face of the watch. Do you ever request jewelers remove the crystal? It looks like the scrim/light set up alleviates any possible glare, but just thought I’d ask. Thanks again! Going to give this set up ago!

    1. Hi Caeccles, No I’ve never done that but it could be useful although often you need a little bit of face glare in the shots.

      1. Thanks! I did zoom in on the Omega and I think with the straight-on shot not having a crystal would have been noticeable because you would lose that gentle slope (upper right). I might remove it on my very much less expensive Timex for the macro shot, tho, see if that makes a different. Thanks again!

  4. Another great live session.

    As I live on the West Coast of USA, the timezone can be tricky, but I am looking forward to attending a live session in person.

    Is there a module on the use of fresnels. I use snoops right now but it seems like the fresnel is a better choice.

  5. Hi Karl, just curious as to the size of your scrim relative to the watch as it pertains to the extent of gradation. In other words how small a scrim could you have used to get the same end result?

    1. Hi Charles, because watches are often curved and beveled I find it much easier with a bigger scrim. If you can’t go big then you have to go as close to the product as possible but I find that I often need big and close I’m afraid.

  6. Hi Karl,

    very informative as usual. One thing causes me quite a headache and that is trying to get that result in my small studio. The ceiling height is only 2,75m and I do get a lot of spill light when shooting with a bare bulb flash. The light bounces in all directions and is reflecting from ceiling and walls. My solution would be a big cone that does not restrict the circle of light onto the diffusion material but hinders light to spill upwards. Do you think that helps?

    1. Hi Peter, you simply need to rig up black velvet or fabric curtains around your studio walls and have some black foamboard panels that you velcro to your ceiling. Once you are working in a black box you have total light control. You can paint your studio black but this makes for quite a depressing space and sometimes you want to use the white walls so it’s best to have the ability to switch between them.

  7. Hi Karl, your tutorials are amazing!
    I have a little question about product/jewelry/watch photography, i saw that one of the biggest problem in this kind of photos are the unwanted reflection that we have on the metallic/gold surface. How do you manage this problem usually? It’s all a post production clean up work? (like the reflection of the edge of scrim in this live, in the left side of the watch)
    Many times i had the problem of the black reflection caused by my own camera on the product and obviously i can’t hide with a white paper flag

  8. Thanks for your response Karl, much appreciated. I found an old Sigma 70-300 macro lens in the cupboard… it’s helped hugely in getting that detail in the watch shot. I’m working in a tiny room 2.5m x 3.5m so I’m never going to achieve perfection with lighting – and light pollution does cause a lot of problems in such tight spaces, but I’m really happy with the results I’m getting in trying to re-create the product shots from your tutorials… it just requires more shots and photo stacking in photoshopping later.

  9. Hi Karl,

    I’m just getting started with product photography and working with what I have… your tutorials are amazing and are helping so much! I’m finding my images on small items such as watches are not very crisp. I’m just wondering what kind of (affordable) lens I would need for shooting a watch. I have a Pentax k1 and I’m using a Pentax 50mm f1.2 lens. Are tilt shifts and macro lenses vital for this type of work?

    Thanks, Rich (site won’t let me change my username 😉

    1. Hi Rich, macro lenses are designed for crisper shots when using small apertures such as f11 or f16 which is often the case with product photography. Anna who you will see in our food tutorials uses a Canon with a 100mm macro and that would also be a good type of lens for product photography. How ‘crisp’ an image is though has lots to do with your lighting angles/contrast levels, focus accuracy, and camera and subject stability too, as well as ensuring no light pollution from ambient light.

    1. Hi, thank you.
      1. It was a Kupo clamps
      2. 2 x C-stands with grips/rods or make your own purpose built frame and fix to a frame that you can clamp between c-stands. Don’t also forget you can use diffusion material that is lighter as in many of our other tutorials.

  10. This video demonstrates that you need an assistant. It was pretty critical here with the positioning of the curved reflector.

  11. Karl, this is undoubtedly the most valuable monthly subscription I have! As with all other videos on KTE that I have watched so far, you demonstrate and convey technical concepts and information with such clarity and a refreshing ‘matter-of-factness’! I’m Relatively new to KTE, but cannot wait to sink my teeth in, some more! Thanks

  12. Unbelievable image! As I mainly do Jewelry Photography these days you make it look so easy when I dare say it’s one of the hardest types of photography there is. This video shows how much you have mastered bending light to your will, thank you for the insight and wisdom.

  13. Wow you make things look easy! I know you have done this again but it is now on my to do list when I get home!

  14. Hi Karl,

    As much as I would like to replicate your gray backdrop when my space allows, do you have a recommendation for another option such as fabric or some other option?

    Thanks, Kevin

    1. Hi Kevin, for this type of photography I would insist on a very flat surface, even a smaller piece of MDF or firm card that can be painted the correct colour would be best. Fabrics or paper backdrops just form too many ripples for this type of work.

  15. Hi Karl, thanks for the critique and the instructions on aligning the layers, I will give it another go. And I will check out that shadow top left. Thanks again.

    1. Hi Gary, it’s a good result but there needs to be more light under the lower part of the strap and I think there is a faint shadow on the background in the top left. As for the layers moving around that is strange. Usually as long as the image is exactly the same size and not cropped when you drag one layer from one image into another then they would snap to the corners or centres (in PS cc at least anyway) otherwise lower the opacity and move the layer carefully whilst you can see through it. Alternatively use the ‘load images into a stack’ command and then say ‘allign layers automatically’ and that usually works well.

  16. Hi Karl, Great workshop once again, please help though?? I have 4 images I want to layer on top of each other, I can’t seem to drag them onto each other like you do at 1hr 15min. I try to place them but it just moves them what am I doing wrong please? I am using Abobe Photoshop CC, opened them as RAW files first, then into PS. Thanks in advance. Rgds Gary

    1. Hi Gary, do you get the layers one above the other or is it that they just don’t line up with each other?

  17. I’m glad I’m not Thomas!! I totally get why you wanted degradation of light on this shot. This is why I am learning from you. Your a master at lighting. I dont believe in making these mistakes when I can avoid them through education from you Karl. I love the eloquence of your shots.

  18. Thanks Tim!
    Second question (I’m watching this in stages…)
    Why not use a white paper reflector instead of silver for fill of the bottom of the watch? Isn’t a Matt white reflector more diffuse and less intense than silver? That way you don’t need an ND gel on top of a silver reflector. Is there another reason for this construction?

    1. Author

      Hi Kryn, the white card may work but would not reflect the light in the same way and would lose some of the sparkle and the ND filter over the silver allowed and Karl to carefully control the amount of light reflected back onto the watch. A slightly matter silver card may have also worked it is a case of trying a few things out and seeing what looks best.

  19. That looks amazing! One question on the large scrim: what is the minimum size you need for a shot like this? Do you have any advice on determining scrim size based on the shape of the object? Also, how would you manage scrim size for smaller studios?
    Ok, that was three questions, not one…

    1. Author

      Hi Kryn the bigger scrim is always easier to work with as with a smaller scrim you would need to be careful of the position of the scrim as you can get issues with the edge of the scrim showing in the product and/or the gradient light cutting of early. I would make the scrim as big as you can fit into your studio. We have an example of how we make the scrims here this example is using tracing paper and so we have made it double sided. If using the Lee Filters 216 diffusion roll you will only need to add to one side of the frame as if is much thicker and stronger than tracing paper.

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