How To Take Photos Of Your Artwork Like A Pro

photography, artwork, how to, photos

Once you have finished your artwork, the next logical step is to create a digital copy that you can store in your computer. This is done so you can share your work online with other artists for comments or print it out to be included in your portfolio.

One way of creating a digital copy of your artwork is to take a picture of it using a camera. However, if you want the best copy to be uploaded to your computer, there’s more to taking a picture than just pointing and clicking your camera to the artwork.

Below are tips that you must consider to fully understand how to take professional pictures of your fine art.

Camera set-up

To get the best results for your artworks, use digital SLR camera with high megapixels to have greater depth and detail in your photos.

If you’re not adept with using a camera, the auto-focus feature should be fine. However, it is advisable that you manual set up your camera to get crisper lines in your photos. Adjust the aperture or f-stop, which refer s to the set of blades inside your camera that allows light to enter and process the photo, accordingly. The higher the aperture, the more light and less depth (making the surroundings out of focus) the image will have. Conversely, the image will have less light and greater depth if you lower your aperture.

The ISO or image sensor sensitivity should be set to its lowest, which is 100, to achieve a sharper image.

It is ideal to use a camera stand when taking images and setting a two-second timer delay after pressing the button. This gives you time to remove your hand from the camera and keep it stable to take the shot.

Lighting and Positioning

You can choose between setting up your artworks to be shot under natural sunlight or professional lighting.

With natural light, you will have to worry about the glare that will reflect from the artwork once you’re shooting it. Find a shade or shoot the artwork against a dark background to neutralize the glare. Conversely, for dark artworks, shoot it against a light-colored background. You may also adjust the white balance or linear polarizing filter in your camera to dial down the intensity of the sunlight and strip the glare from the photo. Try to shoot at different locations with varying amount of sunlight to get even lighting to your artwork.

If the weather is cloudy, you may choose to use professional lighting to take pictures of your artwork. Keep in mind that this may cost you money since you will ideally need two light sources with high wattage. The two light sources must be set up opposite each other, both preferably at a 45 degree angle and four meters away from the art. This type of lighting is ideal for painting so you can reveal the texture of your work in greater detail. You can achieve this by just using one light source.

Your artwork should not appear tilted and that its edges must be parallel with the view finder or perspective control. You are advised to zoom your camera to above 50mm because anything below that figure may distort the edges and corners of your artwork. Leave as little space around the art as possible; you can edit out the extra space using a graphics editing software later.

Since you are using external lighting to take your photo, turn off the flash from your camera.

Additional tips

  • Take as many pictures of your artwork as possible using the same camera settings, position, and lighting. This way, you will have different images to choose from.
  • After taking pictures, proceed with doing the necessary edits using your computer. Do not pack up your stuff yet as you may spot mistakes in your computer and will have to redo the shoot.
  • As much as possible, do not make drastic changes to your photos using your graphics editing software. If you are forced to edit something from the image, do it directly from the camera using its different functions.

For more tips on how to take professional pictures of your artwork, check out Lori’s two-parter about this topic – How to Photograph Your Artwork the Easy Way! Part 1 and How to Photograph Your Artwork the Easy Way! Part 2.

Guest author: Karen Kesteloot is a Canadian art instructor for more than 15 years and has taught in different art programs at Sheridan College. As the owner  of PortPrep, she has made an effort to help high school students make a winning art portfolio that will get them to the best art and design programs.

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Thanks for visiting FineArtTips.com. You can see my art on my website,  LoriMcNee.com, and let’s meet on Facebook  Fine Art Tips Facebook Fan Page, on Twitter, Google Plus and on PinterestBe sure and check out and my fine art prints and notecards on Fine Art America.! ~Lori

14 Comments

  1. David January 8, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    Some good tips and advice on your blog, thanks for sharing!

    David Collins
    Christchurch
    http://PhotographyMadeEasy.net

    • Lori McNee January 19, 2014 at 11:41 pm

      Hello David, I’ve been to Christchurch and loved it there. Thanks for the visit and comment 🙂

  2. Jack March 5, 2014 at 7:33 am

    Clearly you don’t know anything about photography…

    A cloudy day is the perfect time to take pictures of your artwork outside because the cloud cover acts like a natural photography scrim.

    “If the weather is cloudy, you may choose to use professional lighting to take pictures of your artwork.”

    • Lori McNee March 23, 2014 at 7:30 pm

      Hi Jack, I have never professed to be a pro photographer. Where I live, the clouds get thick and darken the sky. It changes the color saturation of my paintings. That has been a problem for me. I do know that overcast days can be helpful when shooting. Maybe I should clarify that in my post. Thanks for pointing that out. I do my best to help, and try not to mislead.

      Cheers,
      Lori

  3. Joni Solis July 16, 2014 at 11:06 am

    For small flat artworks I find a scanner works great for getting good images of most art. Might be a problem with high gloss oil paintings.

    • Lori McNee July 20, 2014 at 2:48 pm

      Thanks for adding this tips Joni. I’ve tried it with drawings and it does work. 🙂

  4. Ben Cockwell October 4, 2014 at 10:40 am

    All lenses have a sweet spot at a particular aperture setting, wide open will be soft, closed down will cause vignetting and diffraction, 3 stops or so below maximum is a reasonable bet.
    I use a 50mm f1.8 for photographing my art and keep it set to f4. If you’re using a DSLR then one of these ‘nifty fifties’ is a good lens to get, they’re very good and very cheap.

    • Lori A McNee December 13, 2015 at 5:41 pm

      Hi Ben, thanks so much for this great information! This is really helpful, and I’ll have to give that aperture setting a try myself.

  5. Les Gaston-Johnston October 27, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Hi Lori, If you don’t have a DSLR what would be the best way to take the photo, as i am really keen to take good photos without spending a lot on a new camera?

    • Lori A McNee December 13, 2015 at 5:39 pm

      Hello Les, my apologies for the belated reply. Maybe by now you have figured out the answer to your question. Yes, a DSLR is best for taking photos of your artwork, but I know a lot of artists who use their cell phones nowadays. Especially, those with 18 megapixels. Good luck! 🙂

  6. Joe November 22, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    Thanks Excellent advice.

  7. Mikayla July 31, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    Cool

    • Lori A McNee December 13, 2015 at 5:38 pm

      Thanks!

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