How to take good photos of your art

How to take photos of your art

You’ve worked hard on crafting your latest artistic creation. Now it’s time to snap that perfect photo and show it to the world as it’s meant to be seen. But how do you take the best possible photograph of your artwork?

What you’ll need

Gather up these materials and find a good, evenly-lit spot to shoot your work.

  1. A high-resolution camera (preferably a DSLR or other high quality handheld digital camera, but a new cell phone will work in a pinch).
  2. A tripod. If you don’t have one and can’t borrow one, you’ll need to find another way to keep your camera stationary.
  3. Photo editing software to crop, color balance and touch up the final image if needed.
Bad photo
This is an example of a poorly lit piece, with glare from a flash and the camera exposing white as gray.

Find an area with lots of soft, even light

Whether you’re indoors or outdoors, try to avoid harsh, midday direct light, which can case glare and harsh shadows. It can also lead to exposure difficulties for your camera.

What you want to find is a spot in the shade if you’re outside, or a well-lit room inside. The more light the better, so long as it’s not direct. Bouncing a light source off a piece of white paper or cloth can help, or if you’re using natural light indoors, try placing a sheer curtain over a big, brightly-lit window.

Prepare your artwork

If your art is behind glass and you can remove it, do that. Otherwise you’ll need to play around with your lighting and shooting angles to minimize glare.

As far as where to place your art for the photo, I find hanging it on a neutrally-colored wall (white, beige, etc.) is easiest. You can also set the art on the ground and take the photo from above, but if the piece if large you’ll have to get pretty high up to capture everything.

Bad photo
Yikes. Bad angle, lighting, focus, frame, carpet and glare.

Get your shot properly framed

When photographing your art, make sure the edges of the photo are parallel with the edges of your piece of art (assuming it’s a 2D piece). For sculptures or other 3D work, it’s helpful take different angles to show all the intricacies of the piece.

Also make sure you crop out any frame, background, carpet, etc. that isn’t part of your art. Nobody needs to see that, and it distracts from the subject.

Do some final touches in an image editor

Finally, take your amazing photo and make it just a little more awesome in your favorite photo edit. You’ll want to:

  • Crop out anything that’s not part of your artwork.
  • Adjust the brightness to make sure the image isn’t too dark or over-exposed.
  • Fix any color issues, for example if the photo is too warm or cold compared the real-life piece.
  • Save in sRGB mode if your plan is to display the work online.
Bad photo
Hey, well done! This represents how the art looks in the real world.

Share your creations!

Now that you’re snapping the best photos of your art that you can, you’re ready to show the world your creations in the best possible light, so to speak. You’ll also have a backup in case something happens to the original, whether by accident or if you sell it, and you’ll have a handy digital file to create high quality prints of your art.

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