When I first joined RB I had to quickly learn how to photograph my paintings so that they would show to the best advantage, and be as close to the original work as possible…the fellow in the camera shop was very helpful and I had few problems…
I am still learning and varnished works are my main problem right now…however I am beating that demon very quickly..
Looking around the site I see many beautiful works that would benefit from proper lighting and even a better camera shot…some look dark and dingy, or are crooked with slipping edges and white margins…
If you want to sell, it’s important that the work is photographed well…
I thought it might be time to post a few links to articles about photographing your work to the best advantage…I hope you find them helpful
Whether you are an artist trying to sell your work or a collector trying to insure your priceless possessions, good photographic technique will often be called upon as an integral part of your job.
Getting a good photo of your artwork can often mean the difference between selling and not selling your painting. This task can seem daunting at first. However, if you work at it with the following principles in mind, you will be sure to get the best images of your best paintings..
The first step in photographing your artwork is to get everything together. This involves:
Choosing a camera
Gathering all the artwork you’d like to shoot
Cleaning any artwork framed in glass to remove smudges and dust
Having fresh batteries in the camera or at least on hand
Getting a roll or two of film (if you are using film)
If you are shooting digital, you will want to:
Make sure you have the memory; clear a card if you need space
Install any software you need to get images & to manipulate them
Set up cables for connecting your camera to your computer
Once you’ve checked these items off your list, or at least are mentally prepared to tackle them when the time comes, you are ready to rock and roll.
Choose Your Weapon & Get Ready to Go
The first thing you need to decide is what media you would prefer to work with. This is usually an easy decision; if you only have a 35mm point and shoot and a roll of slide film, you will most likely be going in that direction. We used a Kodak digital camera for our project.
If you need to present your artwork to a publisher or show them in a slide show, get a roll of Fuji Velvia or your favorite slide film. If you don’t need slides but still can’t go filmless, I recommend a good color print film such as Fuji Super HQ or Kodak Royal Gold. With either slides or print film, it would behoove you to beg, borrow, or buy a Single Lens Reflex – if you do not already have one. A point and shoot will work fine, too; you just have to be prepared to correct for parallax and deal with less creative control. Also, you are likely to be more surprised (unpleasantly surprised, that is) with the lab results from a point and shoot than from an SLR. Since, with an SLR, you see through the viewfinder a much more accurate representation of what you are going to get in the final image, you can more easily catch errors before you expose. However, use whatever you have at hand; most anything can be made to work.
Gather any other accessories you might need. These could include a good tripod, a flash unit (if you insist – see next page), or a polarizing filter (great for cutting back glare on a painting behind glass). Batteries become all the more essential if you are shooting with one of those energy-sucking digital cameras; it gets even worse if you enjoy using the LCD monitor as a viewfinder. An AC adapter and an extension cord might be what you need in that case.
One last warning before we get going: before using a glass cleaner to clean glass that is protecting your framed art, make sure it really is glass. If it is Plexiglas – much lighter and more flexible than glass – do not use glass cleaner as this scratches up the surface. A soft cloth and a little warm water – very gently applied – should be as far as you go…Link to this site no longer available…
Probably the single most important thing you can do to sell your artwork is to post good photos on your auction listing. Many of the photos I see on eBay have glare from flashbulbs, focus problems or poor color. The method that has worked best for me, whether taking digital photos or film photos is to shoot artwork outdoors. You will find that outdoor light is the best, even on slightly overcast days, and you won’t risk a flash glare on your work…MORE
When photographing art it is always important that the colours are as similar to the original as possible and that the images are sharp.
When publishing pictures on the net it is very hard to make the images look good on all monitors which will be used to view them. Not all use millions of colours – true colour – and people turn the brightness of their screens up and down to suit their eyes. To solve this in a simple way there is one thing you can check to be sure that your images will look OK on most screens: Check that the darkest details of the painting are visible and check that the brightest parts are not faded out into whiteness..
When publishing your art on the Internet you should not give away pictures with too high resolution. Never publish a picture of your painting which is larger than 600 X 600 pixels – you do not want to give away printable copyrighted material for free do you?
What happened to me a few years ago was that I discovered postcards of one of my paintings, printed from my homepage.
One other common copyright infringement is that if you create art which becomes popular some people will not hesitate to take images from your site and order prints or painted copies from some not so caring oil painting reproduction-site…. Link to site no longer available..
If your art involves color, shape, dimension or texture, direct sunlight is the best light source, and it is widely available on this planet. Not talking about full — or open — shade (illuminated by the overly blue sky above), not dappled light (like from a tree’s varying shadows), not overcast sky light (when the sun goes behind a cloud), but direct light beamed down 93 million miles from our local star.
Direct sunlight, however, is not always available, and other natural and unnatural light sources have their qualities, too. (See Other Light, below.) They’re just not as good nor cheap nor easy to deal with as the light from the sun…MORE
Despite the frequent references to taking your pictures outdoors, I never do…for one thing with the darkness of winter here in the north five months of the year, it just can’t be done…for another it’s way too cold…
I always shoot indoors with the proper lighting and have done quite well so far..Janis