Photographing Artwork

Photographing art is one of the most important parts of the process with your art. Especially given the circumstances of everything being digital right now. Good photography offers the first impression of your work and your professionalism. We put together a few tips for photographing your artwork from home. 

For Using a DSLR Camera or Phone

These four paragraphs give tips for the process of photographing your art. Most of this information applies both to using a phone or a camera. 

Use a neutral background so that your piece pops. Either studio lights or shooting outside on an overcast day is best. If you’re using a DSLR camera- try to use a tripod to avoid camera shakes and excess noise.

Square up the camera and artwork by making the plane of the camera parallel to the plane of the artwork. Align the top of the camera with the middle of the piece. It’s best to set the piece up against something and photograph it directly in front of the piece.

If this isn’t working, you can always straighten your piece in the editing process. If you have editing software on your phone or on a computer for your camera, crop the photos to the edge of the piece. If you’re on your phone, turn on the grid function to your camera.

Try to create even lighting. Position two lights at 45 degrees to the plane of the art

work; both lights should be of equal distance from the art work. Shoot in good neutral lighting (no harsh shadows). 

3. The color of light should match the color of film or white balance setting on the camera. Look at your camera's manual to find the way to adjust the white balance setting. (many camera manuals can be found online)

ISO. The higher the ISO the more "noise" in the final image. An ISO of 100 or 200 is best with the use of a tripod. Once you press ISO, only that part of the LCD screen is displayed. Rotate the Control wheel on the grip until you get the desired ISO number.

Three-Dimensional Work

3D work has multiple planes. The light must be positioned to take advantage of the best side of the work, multiple sides and details may need to be photographed.The light needs to show that there are multiple planes on the piece.

One light may be used but a weak second light or a reflector can soften shadows to show detail in the darkest areas of the image.

Reflections should not be eliminated but may need to be reduced. Usually reflections indicate glaze or finish and are desirable in the final image. When photographing glass, glare can hide detail. The use of diffusers over the glass, a softbox, or even a polarizing filter can minimize glare. A soft box is a diffuse white box that fits over the main light. In the lighting studio the rule of thumb is that by increasing the size of the soft box, the size of glare is reduced. Photographing extremely shiny objects outside on an overcast day is a solution.

Formatting for Sinclair Submissions

Keep final edits to a minimum and try to keep the photo as "raw" as possible. If you do make edits don’t do anything extreme and try to keep colors as true to life as possible. 

Recommendations for editing software that you can get on your phone.

1. ScannerPro- At only $.99 in the app store this app is very user friendly and has great results. The only issue is that it really exposes the whites for a piece so make sure you’re in good lighting as referred to in step number one.

2. Adobe Lightroom Photo Editor- This adobe product is pretty user friendly for phones so it’s great to use to make touch ups to your photos and for formatting it. 

JPG and TIFF can be read by most computers and programs. JPG is a compression format that can be emailed as can PNG, GIF and TIFF. JPG and GIF are preferred because of their smaller file sizes especially for websites and email.

Other Resources to Look At