How to take Professional Photos of your Artwork

Back in the days before social media, it could take months before anyone would see your artwork. You’d have to wait for a big exhibition or get in front of an art dealer if you wanted to share your creativity with the world.

But now, you can turn your works digital, create online galleries, and build a digital portfolio that anyone can explore.

High-quality photos of your artwork can be used for competition entries, portfolio records, self-documentation, worldwide reputation management, and more.

Here’s how you can take professional photographs that accurately represent your artworks.

“It’s like the artwork comes off of life support, it’s taking a life on its own right when the viewer when the viewer sees it, that’s when I believe that that’s when the work actually turns to life.” — Cande Aguilar @barriopop

Choose the right camera

Choose between a DSLR or modern smartphone

You have two main two camera options; Your smartphone camera, or a professional DSLR camera.

In recent years, the gap in quality has reduced dramatically between the two. As long as your smartphone model is under 3 years old and has a camera above 12-megapixels, it should take high-quality pictures suitable for online sharing. This is a great option if you want to record your work quickly with minimal investment.

A DSLR is the best choice if you need to capture every detail in perfect clarity and have hands-on control over exposure and contrast. Use a tripod and adjust the ISO down to 100 to capture crisp details without introducing noise and grain. The ideal range for your f-stop setting (the focal length) is between f-8 and f-11 (depending on your lighting setup).

Whether you’re using a point-and-shoot smartphone or a DSLR in a studio, one of the best ways to make your photos look more professional is a tripod. Your hand naturally shakes slightly when you take a photo, giving your images a slight blur. A tripod will allow you to frame your shot perfectly and capture razor sharp details.

How to light your artwork for photos

Professional studio setup

To get the perfect studio-style shot, point two diffused lights at your artwork from a 45-degree angle. They should be white and far enough away to avoid any hotspots of light spilling onto your work.

Diffusing the lights with white paper, white photography umbrellas, or cloth will reduce light intensity and create a smooth level of ambient light. This setup is designed to get the most accurate representation of your artwork.

To highlight the texture of your piece

Place one of your lights slightly closer at a sharper 30-degree angle and make it brighter than the opposing light. This technique casts a deeper shadow on your piece, making the textured areas pop.

How to use natural light most effectively

If you don’t have studio lights, you can generate the above setup by using natural light. Position your artwork on a wall near a window or doorway and make sure there are no sharp shadows falling over it.

Try to shoot on an overcast day as the light will be more ambient and neutral in color. If you shoot on a sunny day, make sure the sunlight is not directly hitting your work (you can diffuse sunlight coming in through a window by using white paper or cloth).

You angle will make or break the photograph

A tripod is absolutely essential if you want to get the perfect angle. Make sure your artwork is aligned flat and the perspective is not warped.

Hang your artwork flat against the wall, and set your tripod up directly in front of it at the appropriate height. Check that your piece fills as much of the frame as possible and that all angles are straight, not tilted (see the diagram below).

Avoid shooting your art on the floor increases your chance of shadows, poor lighting, and distorted perspective. Always hang it up on the wall and use a tripod to get the perfect angle.

Do a light photo edit to stay true to reality

On your desktop computer, you can download, organize and edit photos from your DSLR or smartphone using software like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom. Or you can use the image editing software GIMP for free.

If you’re shooting from your smartphone, use the native editor for basic edits or download the lite app versions of Photoshop or Lightroom for more control.

Typically edits include; brightness and contrast adjustment to pop out extra details, tweaking the exposure and color correction, and cropping the photograph to remove the excess background.

Sharing your photographed artwork online

If you want to share just one piece of art, upload and post your photos to Instagram. It’s a great platform to build a stronger social media presence and generate anticipation among your followers with work in progress WIP snapshots.

To share a series or body of work, you can use the D Emptyspace app to create a virtual gallery. The app helps you set up a professional portfolio and online exhibition that you can easily share with others.

Download the app on iOS: https://apple.co/2MhsxCs

Android version coming soon!

Follow D Emptyspace for more company updates and art-curated content!

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Download

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Why a Website Makes a Terrible Art Portfolio

Why a Website Makes a Terrible Art Portfolio

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

It’s finally happened. A collector you chatted up at a local art event asked the golden question… “Do you have any pictures of your work?”

That question is a make-or-break moment. You need to show them a portfolio of your art — and fast — before they lose interest.

But how?

Lots of artists default to their website gallery.

With DIY website builders like Wix, you can get a website up and running in an afternoon. But does a website make a good portfolio? In some cases, yes. But does it make the best portfolio? Almost never.

So before we get into the reasons why (and what to use instead), remember that websites are useful in many other ways. You can use them to keep a personal journal or blog, build a comprehensive record of your work, supply galleries with a detailed artist’s bio and description of the artwork, and build an online presence that galleries, collectors, and curators can link back to.

Your website takes too long to load on your phone and people lose interest

How loading in WordPress works

Most artists document their artwork with photos using a professional camera or smartphone (click here if you want to know how to get the best out of your photos). While these images are excellent quality, they come along with large file sizes.

If you upload a photo to your website that’s still in its original size and resolution, it’s probably more than one megabyte. That means when you pull up your website to show someone you art ‘quickly’, you could be standing there for 30 seconds while your images painstakingly load. And that’s only after you’ve navigated to your main gallery page.

Are there ways around this? Yes — if you resize every single image AND run it through an image compressing service like tinyjpg.com. But then you have to be careful not to lose too much quality. It’s a delicate dance that takes time and know-how.

It’s worth making sure a website loads efficiently. But when you’re at a cocktail party and quickly need to show someone your work, a website simply takes too long.

Websites don’t always display images beautifully and can be troublesome on different devices

Many people don’t realize that websites are not a “one size fits all” solution. A website will display differently on every single device. So what looks good on your desktop wouldn’t look the same on your iPhone. And with 47.96% of all traffic coming from mobile phones, any display problems are a big deal.

So web designers developed something called “Responsive Design”. Responsive design means that a website will adapt to the screen size you’re displaying on. This diagram displays it best

Plus DIY websites can be clunky and annoying to use on your smartphone when you’re in a rush. Even if your photos display at the right size.

Keeping a website up to date takes time and attention

Artists are not known for their incredible powers of organization. Keeping the gallery on your website up to date is a constant struggle for many, many people. And if you want to show off an artwork that you just finished today, chances are, you’ve just snapped a picture and haven’t yet had the time to upload it.

In a nutshell: Websites are a pain to keep updated — so you probably won’t have your most recent work on-hand.

Verdict: Use one of these other methods to show people your artwork on your phone

1. Have a dedicated album on your phone

Pros:

  • Don’t need to download any software
  • Accessible without an internet connection
  • Don’t need to upload images anywhere

Cons:

  • Fiddly to set up
  • Not a professional look
  • Chance someone sees your embarrassing family photos while swiping

Use a virtual gallery app like D Emptyspace (click here to learn more)

Screen Bed by Jonnie Turpie

Pros:

  • Displays artwork in a professional gallery format
  • Share gallery links with others
  • Scale your artwork up to any size on a wall
  • Include artwork names and descriptions
  • Tell a story by sequencing your work in the right order

Cons:

  • Need to download
  • Need an internet connection or to have saved your gallery offline

Upload your art to Instagram

Pros:

  • Easy to use and familiar to most
  • Can grow a large social following
  • Automatic filters can help you color correct your photos

Cons:

  • Limited to a square image format
  • Have to create a business account for your art
  • Not very professional as a format

Building a powerful online portfolio

As a D Emptyspace featured artist mentions in her interview, being prolific online is a major asset when you’re trying to get your work out there.

“It is through technology with social media that I was invited by newyorkart.com to participate in their group exhibition of their opening of their new gallery at Franklin Place New York.” — Veronica Wong

Use whatever method looks and feels best for you as an artist when showing your portfolio of work. But don’t neglect to build an online presence at the same time.

Download D Emptyspace for iOS: https://apple.co/2MhsxCs

Android version coming soon!

Follow D Emptyspace for more company updates and art-curated content!

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Download

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Beyond Instagram: Curating Galleries that Tell Stories

Why does going to an art gallery or museum feel so much different than seeing the same quality of pictures on Instagram?

It could be that a gallery is a special place with a dedicated purpose. That certainly plays a role, but it has far more to do with the way that galleries are carefully curated.

Photo by Deanna J on Unsplash

Most of us consume and showcase our art and photography in singles — one-off images. We’ll call it the Instagram effect. Rather than telling a story through a series of images, we share our most impressive, highest impact images, often in real time.

Here’s a quick look at an image in our Instagram feed:

Photo by Deanna J on Unsplash

The photographer, sureshnaganathan, has uploaded a series of images (9 actually) to a single post, but Instagram only shows us one. We have to swipe back and forth to see the other images, and there’s no way to see them in context, together. This makes it difficult to understand how one image relates to the next.

Clicking into the photographer’s profile is no better. We still just see a series of images, not a story.

Photo by Deanna J on Unsplash

We’ve got no problem with Instagram. Our team finds inspiration there every day. But it isn’t an ideal way to share or view art in a way that encourages contemplation.

But we also think it’s really worthwhile go beyond what’s possible in Instagram and arrange your work in a way that tells a story. (And we’re creating an app that lets you do just that. Scroll to the end of this article for more details.)

Five Resources to help you Master the Art of Storytelling through Curation

The idea of curating art or arranging your works into galleries can seem daunting. So we’ve put together several free articles, resources and inspiring stories to help you get started with confidence.

Clever Ways To Arrange Artwork

While intended for home decorating, this article covers eight ways to display artwork, including linear, grid, clustered, salon style and singles. It’s not only a good introduction, it also includes images that can serve as inspiration.

Read More on Forbes

The designer’s guide to Gestalt Theory

Ge- what? Allow me to quote from the article:

In the 1920s, a group of psychologists in Germany developed a series of theories of visual perception known as the Gestalt Principles, or Gestalt Theory. Along with systems such as grid theory, the Golden Ratio and colour theory, the Gestalt Principles form the basis of many design rules we follow today.

A basic understanding of the six Gestalt principles (similarity, continuation, closure, proximity, figure/ground, symmetry and order), will help you arrange your artworks so they look like part of a set, rather than a random collection.

Read more on Creative Bloq

Bonus Articles from Creative Bloq:

10 steps to curating an exhibition

In this lengthy post, the curator for politics and international relations at LSE Library explains his entire process of putting together an exhibition on Indian independence. He not only covers what to put where, but also how he chose what went into the exhibit in the first place.

The article may be overkill if you’re just curating an online photo gallery, but it reminds us that the more thought you put into an endeavor, the better the results will be.

Read more on Medium

How to Curate an Art Show

This step-by-step guide reminds of the importance of having a clear concept, and considering your audience, but also ensures we don’t forget about some of the less considered parts of hosting a gallery show… like sending invitations to your friends and to the press. (We’ll make that a lot easier in D Emptyspace, letting you invite people to your gallery online.)

Read more on The Balance Careers

D Emptyspace

We’re launching D Emptyspace very soon. It’s an app that allows you to create and explore inspiring virtual art galleries on your phone. More than just photo sharing, it’s a way to tell stories with your artwork.

Whether you want to curate an offline gallery and test the placement of your images first, send a specific arrangement to a curator, or create online galleries to share with your friends, D Emptyspace makes everything free and easy.

A preview of a gallery in D Emptyspace

Download the app on iOS: https://apple.co/2MhsxCs

Android version coming soon!

Follow D Emptyspace for more company updates and art-curated content!

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Download