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
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!