Diamond & Jewellery photographer Ilan Taché speaks to us about photographing some of the world’s most famous diamonds and why taking the perfect picture is so important for jewellery brands today
Diamond and jewellery photographer, Ilan Taché has been photographing some of the world’s most exclusive and expensive diamonds in Antwerp for the past six years. Not only does he work with diamond traders and jewellers across the city (including International Gemmological Institute and Antwerp World Diamond Centre), he also has access to some of the most exclusive rough and polished diamonds in the world due to being established in Antwerp, the diamond centre of the world.
Having photographed some of Noble Fine Jewellery’s own bespoke pieces, we sat down with the photographer to discuss what it is like to be working in such a unique and specialist industry and his advice to us and others in the diamond and jewellery business when it comes to ensuring our pieces are photographed and displayed in the best way possible…
When did you know you wanted to be a photographer?
I have actually been fascinated by photography from a young age. I’ve always liked how a camera can capture light and freeze a moment in time. After finishing my BA in Photojournalism in London, I was trying to find my way in the photography world. I wanted to photograph something special, something that not every photographer can or would be allowed to shoot. Something completely out of the ordinary.
Is this when you started to specialise in diamond and jewellery photography?
Funnily enough, I didn’t have to look far as my family has been in the diamond business for three generations. I started to really learn about the sector and the product and train myself into photographing these precious stones. Eventually, I also expanded into jewellery photography as well as it is such a big part of the diamond industry.
What was your first photography shoot like?
My first diamond shoots were very simple and not technical whatsoever. Throughout the years, I have gained a lot more experience and also understanding of how to photograph different textures as the lighting setup changes so much. My shoots today are far more technical now and approached in a better and more correct way.
There must be a lot of pressure that comes with photographing such expensive and incredible pieces – how do you prepare and stay calm?
Photographing high end jewellery pieces and loose diamonds is indeed a meticulous job. It requires a lot of patience, attention to detail and carefulness. Naturally I am a calm person, so this helps when I need to focus during stressful and delicate moments. I usually also have some soft background music playing to lighten the mood. That being said, of course I also have frustrating days where I shout when I can’t seem to be able to get the perfect shot!
What are the biggest challenges when photographing diamonds and jewellery?
Light, colours, angles, reflections and refractions. These are the some of the most challenging aspects when photographing diamonds and jewellery. Reflective surfaces and different types of gems stones require different lighting techniques that can get quite challenging – especially gold which reflects EVERYTHING. Also making sure the jewellery and diamonds are properly clean – removing dust and fingerprints can take a long time however, the result is most definitely always nothing less than spectacular.
What is the best advice you have ever received as a photographer?
Happy and loyal clients are essential to running a successful business, which is why I like to ensure they understand the elements of the photography process.
What advice would you give to jewellers like Noble Fine Jewellery wanting to photograph their pieces?
The best advice is to get them photographed by a professional jewellery photographer. Photographing jewellery is very challenging, therefore if you want to have nice images that market your product and really represent the quality and aesthetic of your jewellery and your brand, use a professional. I would also advise to get their pieces photographed as soon as they are manufactured - this way your jewellery pieces will be photographed in an as clean possible state with no dirt or damage. The shoot and retouching part will therefore be much less time consuming and therefore cheaper!
What tips do you have for amateur photographers looking to create images for their business or brand?
There are many brands doing great work on their social media channels - like Noble Fine Jewellery - where amateur-style, candid and instant photography really works for the content and story-telling side of the brand communications, especially when it is used alongside the professional shoots that really display the products. In terms of advice, I would recommend with diamonds using another element or prop in the photograph to establish a size reference and draw the focus towards the product. Lighting is always key and backgrounds are also useful to highlight the colour – black is really great for white diamonds, while white backgrounds help bring out the gold and coloured gemstones.
What has been the most incredible experience for you as a photographer?
I had the incredible honour of following the complete manufacturing process of the Legend of Lesotho, a 910 carat rough diamond and at the time the fifth largest ever found. I had exclusive access to the stone and the polishing process and was able to photograph all manufacturing phases to capture this beautiful rough stone being polished into some of the most fabulous polished diamonds. It really was like being a witness to a moment in history. One phase I remember very well was the first laser stage, which is an incredibly stressful and risky moment. Looking into the laser directly can cause people to go blind and one millimetre off can also cause the diamond to explode due to high pressure. Luckily, everything went according to plan and I was able to get the perfect shots.
How do you enjoy working with Noble Fine Jewellery?
I think NFJ is refined and elegant and I believe that the brand’s strength lies in being very close to the diamond business. You’re able to offer not just advice on jewellery but also specifically on diamonds. When buying a piece of diamond jewellery, I think it’s very important for the customer to understand exactly what they are buying in terms of quality. Noble Fine is able to give their clients a custom experience with close connections to design and diamond sourcing.
So what is next on your career journey – you are already one of Antwerp’s leading jewellery photographers – what next?
Oh thank you, that’s very nice of you to say! I’m flattered you consider me as one of the most recognised fine jewellery photographers in Antwerp, although I don’t think I am there yet. I think I can be proud of what I have reached so far, but I definitely still have a lot to learn and to achieve.
For more information on Ilan Taché and his incredible photography, visit www.ilantachephotography.com. You can also see his amazing photography on Noble Fine Jewellery’s website www.noblefinejewellery.com