Canadian Artist

Tips for Photographing Artwork

The presentation of your artwork is very important to you as an artist. When preparing images for display on the Internet, the resulting image can only be as good as the photograph from which it originates. If the photograph is of poor quality, digital enhancement can only do so much to improve the quality, and even then the results may not accurately represent the artists work.

The following are some basic tips that can dramatically improve your art photos:

  • Try to use diffuse natural sunlight. A room with large bright windows on a sunny day is excellent. But avoid having sunlight directly on your subject work. Outdoors on a bright but cloudy day can also be excellent.
  • If using artificial light use multiple indirect light sources. Do not use a flash mounted directly on the camera.
  • Photograph paintings un-framed whenever possible. Especially try to avoid photographing artwork which is mounted under glass.
  • Try to position your artwork securely on a flat surface such that you can photograph it straight on (at right angles).
  • Use a tripod for your camera if you have access to one.
  • Position your camera at a distance from the artwork such that the art fills most of the viewfinder without cropping any of the sides or corners.
  • When photographing paintings, check that the edges of the painting are straight (parallel) with the sides and the top/bottom edges of the viewfinder. If they are not straight then your camera is not positioned squarely in front of the piece, or your artwork needs to be tilted up or down.
  • Focus your camera as carefully as possible. Out of focus images are more difficult to correct than exposure problems. (On manual SLR's use a slightly higher F-stop if possible, to increase the depth of field and minimize the chance of focus problems.)
  • Many of todays smaller automatic focus cameras cannot focus at a close distance. Check the manual or instructions for your camera to see what the minimum focal distance is.
  • If you have a camera with manual exposure controls, take shots of each piece with slightly under and slightly over exposed settings in addition to shooting at the correct exposure. This will give you a variety of results to choose from.

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