How to Photograph Watches: Guide for Beginners

Watches photography genre is quite challenging as the object is small, reflects light, and shooters may experience many difficulties when taking photos. If you are an aspiring product photographer, read this guide to learn some useful tips that will help you take captivating images of watches.

Top 15 Watches Photography Tips

When compiling this little guide, I tried to include the most useful hacks and tips. By following them, you can refine your product photography skills fast and easily.

1. Study the Watches in Details

how to photograph watches example

Watches are quite complex, therefore, it is recommended to learn the peculiarities of every model for taking attractive shots. You need to consider whether the watch has Plexiglas, mineral crystal, or sapphire front elements.

Watches with anti-reflective coating usually create a blue hue, whereas the absence of coating makes the face of the watch reflect the surroundings. The other factors you need to consider are the type of crystal (flat or curved) and case (brushed, polished, or combined).

2. Set the Time to 10:10

how to photograph watches time

Many beginning photographers do not think that the time set on a watch is important. In fact, photos with hands of the watch covering brand or other elements look weird and unattractive. Experienced photographers set the time to around 10:10.

This time makes the face of the watch look more symmetrical dividing the space between hands into equal thirds. Besides, a logo or other inscriptions will remain visible.

3. Clean the Watch

how to photograph watches cleaning

Before the photo session, make sure to clean the watch with a microfiber cloth. For taking close-up or macro photos, get rid of dust, grime, and fingerprints.

To make this process easier and more enjoyable, purchase a dust cleaner and gloves. This way, you can avoid leaving new fingertips during a photo session.


To avoid setting the time every time when you take a shot, pull out the crown to prevent the mechanism from functioning. Afterward, you can return the crown using a photo processing program.

4. Choose the Background

how to photograph watches background

It’s better to use a non-reflective surface for a photo session, but it is up to you what product photography backdrops to choose for implementing your product photography ideas. Head to your local hardware store and select a suitable background for a watch photo, such as Plexiglas, acrylic to glass, mirror, metal, rubber, stone, brick, sand, wood, etc.

Consider the style of a watch and its manufacturer when choosing the background. For instance, for shooting pocket watches, use a background with retro ornaments. Models designed for women would look great against a backdrop with dainty jewelry.


Don’t select the backdrop of the same color as the watch and ensure that the timepiece will be clearly visible.

5. Outsource Editing to Experts

watch photography fixthephoto example watch photography fixthephoto example

No matter how thoroughly you’ve cleaned the watch, it’s impossible to get rid of all the dust. If you have trouble when removing residual dust and dirt, you’ll have to perform digital engancement. Digital processing will help you enhance colors, delete reflections, increase contrast, make images more distinct, etc.

As watch photo enhancement involves many details, a beginner retoucher will face a lot of difficulties when trying to meet the industry standards. Save your time and effort by contacting our service. We can professionally edit your photos at an affordable price and meet tight deadlines. 

6. Find Appropriate Props

6. Find Appropriate Props

When creating a watch story, use more than one timepiece. It would be also a good idea to use the product photography props to emphasize the best features of the object. First of all, determine the theme of your photo shoot. For instance, for dive watch photography, choose the setting with water sports equipment.

7. Create a Balanced Composition

how to photograph watches composition

Photography composition techniques are very important for taking stunning watch photos. Pay attention to how you place the object and other components in the frame. Rule of thirds in photography, for instance, claims that the object should be positioned in the left or right third of a picture.

It is also important to follow the leading lines photography guides that say that the props are essential components of a photo session. Use negative space photography techniques and avoid cluttering the frame. Your task is to create some empty space. You should learn how to photograph watches to create a balanced composition.

8. Eliminate the Amount of Reflection

how to photograph watches reflections

There should not be any reflective surfaces on the ceiling, like windows, mirrors, or light sources. The reflections might conceal the details or decrease contrast. It might be difficult to remove reflections on the watch surface, so it is better to take care of them during a photoshoot.

A polarizing filter can help you get rid of reflections. You can also use a black foam core board for covering the space around the camera lens, the edge of the device, and your hand. Alternatively, use any black object, like a bag to block the light from your watch.

9. Decide on a Photography Type

how to photograph watches wrist shot

There are three main types of watch photography so make sure to learn about the differences between them.

The wrist shot. A picture that shows a watch on a model’s wrist. This type is great for lifestyle product photography and promotional campaigns.

The hero shot. It requires a stage setting as well as various props or alternative backdrops. You can use such shots for the main page of a website or on billboards.

Catalog shot. It is one of the most popular types of photos that allows you to capture minor details that are clearly visible white or black backdrop. This way, you can take photos that will look like pictures from a watchmaker’s catalog. This is the best option for Amazon product photography and e-commerce photos.

10. Choose Between Selective Focus and Focus Stacking

how to photograph watches selective focusing

If you are taking photos at oblique angles, use the focus stacking option that allows focusing on various parts of a frame and then putting them together creating a single full-focus picture.

You can also use focus stacking software to take a sharp and clear image. When taking close-up, macro photos, you can use selective focus and a shallow depth of field to highlight the necessary details.

11. Use Low ISO

how to photograph watches iso

Most modern cameras have high ISO settings. However, to take sharp and clear pictures, you should set a low ISO value to take photos within the limits of that sensitivity. Make sure to select the best source of lighting for your product as well.

12. Get Extension Tubes

how to photograph watches extension tubes

Many photographers mistakenly believe that one needs to buy macro lenses to take photos of the watch. However, many types of lenses can focus close enough to allow you to take an impressive watch shot. Another handy solution is to attach some extension tubes to the lens to increase its focusing capabilities.

This affordable accessory is quite effective when it comes to taking photos from up close. If you are eager to capture the finest details of a watch face, bracelet, crown, or other components, use a macro lens, the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L.

13. Diffuse Lighting

how to photograph watches lighting

When taking photos of watches, use diffused lighting. In the studio, you can use softboxes or umbrellas, etc. A reflector board also reflects and diffuses light. Most watch shooters believe that it is better to use photo light boxes even when taking pictures under even or consistent lighting.

Inexperienced photographers who do not have all the necessary equipment at home should know that a window without direct sunlight can be a diffuse lighting source. It is also recommended to conduct a photoshoot during a cloudy day or early in the morning.

You can also try to close a window with a sheer curtain. Some shooters prefer making a DIY photography reflector or DIY light box to create perfect lighting conditions.

14. Keep Your Gear Stable with a Tripod

how to photograph watches

If you are close to the product you are going to shoot, the camera shake will be quite visible. Although a tripod is not the most important accessory, it can become handy when you need to take photos of a watch.

Also, use this equipment when taking studio photos or close-up photos. The Neewer Carbon Fiber is a durable, high-quality model that I highly recommend.

15. Use Stands for Better Posing

how to photograph watches posing

Go to your local jewelry to find a watch stand. You can also purchase it online. Besides, some shooters prefer using mounting putty to fix the watch.

Bonus Tools

bonus tools for watch photography

Don’t spend hours on enhacing your images, as you can do it much quicker with this set of presets. The package was created for product photography. It will help you enhance your photos so that they look like professional images from the best advertising campaigns.