07/25/2016
 3 minutes

Watch Photography

By Bert Buijsrogge
Rolex Explorer II
Rolex Explorer II, Image: Bert Buijsrogge

We can write anything we want about watches, but without pictures, we’re left to our imaginations. This is similar to reading a novel where you can only imagine the setting in your mind’s eye. When it comes to reviewing watches, or selling them, you just can’t do it without proper photos. When I think about selling watches, the saying “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder,” comes to mind.

I have a long history with watches and I can recall running into someone offering a watch that was just a few years old. He described it as “like new condition.” I got the chance to see the watch up close before making a decision. This “like new” watch had a bracelet and bezel that turned out to be heavily polished; almost to replacement condition.

Official Images vs. Instagram Watch Photography

Watch photos can definitely help give you a good impression if they are done properly. Now, we’re not talking about the heavily Photoshopped, computer rendered stock images from the watch brands seen in magazines; some of which are perfected beyond recognition. Yes, they look great, but they don’t always compare to the actual watch.

There is an in-between type of photography that has gained in popularity over the last couple of years: Images that are well composed, with proper care being taken to gather the right props to create a suitable fashion or lifestyle mood. These images aren’t for everybody, but if you look at the Instagram account of ‘Watch Anish,’ for instance, you cannot deny that many people love these kinds of mood shots.

Rolex Day-Date
Rolex Day-Date, Image: © Bert Buijsrogge

“There is strong shadow where there is much light”

Many Instagram accounts featuring watches have been launched in the last couple of years, but not all are equally successful. As a professional photographer with a large portfolio of watch photography, I regularly see my photos being (ab)used.

I once had a discussion with a person who used some of my photos without permission or giving proper credit. This person argued that it was already enough work to search for a handful of images to post each day; sourcing the original artist and giving them credit was too much extra work apparently. So, I asked a question: How much time did he think it would take to source all the watches; arrange them for an actual photoshoot, including the props; do the actual photoshoot; edit the images to their final state; and then post them on social media? Apparently, copyright is not part of his dictionary.

Beautiful Pictures & Hard Work

Arnold and Son DBG
Arnold and Son DBG, Image: © Bert Buijsrogge

Many people have little idea how much time it actually takes to create stunning photographs. When looking at social media, weblogs (or online magazines as I like to call them), and especially Instagram, you will notice a big difference in photo quality. Where one person will just share wrist shots taken with an mobile phone, the better shots will most likely be created with a digital camera and the help of external light sources. If you speak to the photographers that create the images for some of the better-known accounts, many of them use this method to create their shots. They either set the stage with some props, or they use a model with fine attire. When taking their shots, they review them on the spot, making tiny adjustments to the angle, composition, and/or the way the light source hits the items in order to find the best composition and lighting for the images that are posted online.

Most of my images are created under studio conditions where I have full creative control, using studio flashes and light shapers. Each of the images is created with a pro-level DSLR and professional macro lens. Before the actual photos are created, they have already been visualized in my head. Once I have collected everything needed for the shoot, I work my way from the first shot to the final image making small adjustments along the way. A sturdy tripod is necessary to do this. After the shoot, a selection of images are edited to their final state, slight adjustments are made, and dust is removed. Creating just a few images can easily take up to 4 hours, if not more, when you consider all the necessary preparations. In the end, it’s the best way to create top-quality, yet realistic images.

Discover more more beautiful pictures and fascinating articles about fine timepieces here:

Chrono24 Magazine

Patek Philippe Worldtimer Chronograph
Patek Philippe Worldtimer Chronograph, Image: © Bert Buijsrogge

About the Author

Bert Buijsrogge

I worked in real estate for 15 years. Over the last few years, I've turned my passion for watches and photography into a career. My interest in watches dates back …

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