Photographing Artwork

Properly photographing your art is an essential and important part of your artistic career. This has only become more true thanks to the pandemic changing the standards of how we approach art galleries. Good photography helps to give a good first impression of your work and can show professionalism. In this tab, we’ve put together some tips on photography for you to check out!

For Using a DSLR Camera or Phone

In this section, we will be providing tips for the process of photographing your art. These will apply either for a phone camera, a DSLR camera, or both.

When choosing where to photograph your art, it’s best to pick a neutral background. We also recommend using studio lights or shooting outside on an overcast day for the best results! If you’re using a DSLR camera, you could also use a tripod for a steadier shot.

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Here there is one good example of photographing your work, and one that could use some improvements. Try to avoid unnecessary shadows and crop down to just your 2D piece!

 

(Art credit to Alyssa Helms)

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  • Square up the camera, making the planes of the camera and artwork parallel to one another.
     

  • If you just can't get it even, you can always straighten your piece in a photo editing app on your phone or computer. You should crop out the edges and background.
     

  • If you’re on your phone, turn on your camera’s grid function. This can be found in the settings in your camera app.

You should try to create even lighting, here's how:
 

  • Position two lights at 45 degrees to the plane of the artwork. Both lights should be at an equal distance from the artwork.

     

  • Shoot in good neutral lighting, avoiding harsh shadows.


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 reach the desired number

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. You can find many camera manuals online if you do not have one.

Three-Dimensional Work

When photographing 3D work, you should consider the multiple planes it may possess. The light should be positioned to take advantage of the best side of the work, though you might also want to take pictures of other angles as well. 

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Here is an example of multiple planes on a piece that needs to be taken into consideration. 

 

(Art Credit to Alyssa Helms)

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You can use just one light. However, a second, weaker, light can also be used to soften the shadows to show more details. 

Reflections indicate glaze or finish but should be kept to a relative minimum in photos, to retain the intended appearance of your work.

You can use diffusers such as:

 

  • A softbox, a diffusing white box that fits over the main light. When you increase the size of the softbox, you decrease the amount of glare.
     

  • A polarizing filter, a lens filter that reduces glare.

    When photographing glass to minimize glare that obscures detail. 


If these do not work for you, it may be best to photograph your work outside on a cloudy day.

In this image, plants are being photographed with softboxes in use.

Photography Studio

Formatting for Sinclair Submissions

Keep final edits to a minimum, it’s better to keep your pieces looking as much like the original thing as possible. If you do make edits, try not to change too much, and to keep the colors as true to life as possible.

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

  • ScannerPro is only $.99  on the app store and is very user-friendly. It shows great results. The only issue is that it can over-expose the whites for a piece so make sure you’re in good lighting as referred to in step number one.

  • Adobe Lightroom Photo Editor is another rather user-friendly program. It’s great to use to make touch-ups to your photos and for formatting them. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial, but it gets rather pricey from there.

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: