A new year means fresh opportunities to grow as an artist, and for many, that means taking steps to get their work in front of more eyes. While you’ve spent countless hours perfecting your craft, sloppy photography can undermine your work.
Maybe you’re thinking that if you had an interest in photography, then you’d pour hours into becoming a great photographer instead of a great painter. However, artists are generally required to submit their work in digital format for grants, exhibitions and talks, not to mention their public profile pages.
Photography that accurately represents your work offers a good first impression of not only your art but your professionalism. Unless you’re ready to hire someone to do the job for you, it’s a good idea to get comfortable behind the camera.
Here are a few tips for photographing your artwork like a pro.
Hang Your Artwork
Rather than shooting your work at a downward angle while it’s leaning up against a wall, hang it on a neutral colored wall. The center of your painting should be parallel to where your camera will be. This will help to minimize glare and prevent optical distortions, ensuring that your artwork is well represented without distracting shadows or highlights.
Side note: To make things easy on yourself, photograph your work before framing it. That way, you won’t have to worry about getting a glare or reflection from the glass.
Set Up Your Lights
If you’re photographing your work outside, then wait for an overcast day. The clouds will act as giant light diffusers to evenly light your painting. Set up your painting in a place where it’ll be blocked from any wind but will get plenty of natural light.
If you’re photographing your painting indoors, then do it in a room that has plenty of windows for indirect natural light. If you’re up against a deadline and you are unable to take advantage of natural sunlight, you’ll need to set up a lighting kit. While you may want to purchase a professional kit at some point, you can DIY it with two bulbs that are the same brightness and color in either lighting stands or clamp lights. Position the lights about halfway between the painting and the camera on opposite sides of the camera, with each light pointing at the far side of the painting. To prevent a glare, the lights should be placed at a 45-degree angle from the camera. To diffuse the light, place plastic bags over the lights (just make sure the bulbs aren’t hot).
Adjust Your Camera Settings
Now that your lighting is set up, you can tweak your camera’s settings. The first thing you’ll want to do is find your camera’s white balance setting. Set it to “cloudy” if you’re shooting outside, and if you’re shooting inside, set it to match the type of light you’re using. This will ensure that your colors are conveyed accurately. Lastly, you’ll want to make sure the camera’s flash is turned off.
Note that while your smartphone probably has a fantastic camera, a digital camera will have better resolution and afford more control over the settings. Your smartphone camera is great for in-progress shots to send to your mom, but it won’t yield submission-worthy pictures.
Learn Your Way Around Editing Software
Once you’ve taken a few shots of your painting, then you can use photo editing software to make any necessary adjustments. Good photo editing software doesn’t have to break the bank; in fact, there are free options that offer basic functions like color correction, cropping and other small adjustments.
Did you know that through Soundwave Art™, your artwork can do double duty? We can make your artwork interactive, providing an engaging experience for those who view your art. Simply upload a digital picture of your art, choose a video or sound clip to link to the image, and we’ll do the rest. Anyone who has the Soundwave Art™ app can scan your art to learn more about you and your work. From providing a glimpse into your process, describing what inspires you, or telling your audience how to commision a piece of your work, the possibilities are endless.