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The Art of Photographing Artwork


Brilliant artwork needs some high-quality photography. Artists put a lot of time and effort into perfecting their artwork. So, it is only fair that photographers put the same amount of effort to photograph their artwork. Although photographing artwork is quite popular, many photographers have numerous questions about the same. It is important for photographers to master the art of photographing artwork because they need to regularly submit such photos for exhibitions, talks, grants, and even their social media. Displaying good quality work defines their craft and professionalism.

Sloppy environments and faulty lighting can distort even the most brilliant artwork. Needless to say, whether artists photograph their artwork themselves or employ a professional for the same, the photographs need to capture the true essence of the artwork. Understanding the fundamental of good photography can make the difference between being accepted for a show and gaining the support of a significant client or gallery director. In this article, we shall discuss a few things to keep in mind while photographing artwork to obtain the optimum results.

Tips for photographing artwork

Here are four tips for capturing the perfect shot of your artwork:

Put up your artwork on the wall

Putting up your artwork at a downward angle or simply leaning it up against the wall is a bad idea if you want to capture good pictures of your artwork. It is advisable to put up your artwork against a neutral-toned wall. The wall can be white, black, or gray. Put up your artwork in such a location so that the middle of the canvas is parallel to your shooting position. One can shoot freehand or use a tripod for optimum stability.

Ensure proper lighting

Needless to say, lighting is crucial for any kind of photography. It is true, especially in the case of photographing artwork as most of such photography takes place indoors. If you are capturing your artwork indoors, make sure to do so in a room that has a lot of windows and natural light. Indirect natural light has a way of simply amping up the appearance of your already-brilliant artwork. While photographing artwork indoors is most common, some artists prefer to photograph their art outdoors when it is overcast or cloudy.

However, it is quite possible that the lighting conditions are not in your favor. You will need to install a lighting kit if the weather isn’t conducive or if you have a late-night deadline. However, it is not compulsory to splurge on a lighting set. One easy way to diffuse the light is with a white plastic sheet. In this way, the light is evenly distributed and you can capture the perfect photo of your artwork.

Maintain the ideal camera settings

After setting up your artwork in a suitable place and ensuring proper lighting, the next step is to set up your lens in line with the center of the canvas. The photographer must position the camera in such a way that most of the frame is occupied with the painting. A little bit of background is allowed in the frame, as long as it can be cropped out later on. Some juries prefer to inspect the edges of a painting while marking them in galleries or competitions. So, it is wise to leave some space on all sides of the artwork that can be cropped out later if necessary.

ISO and aperture settings of your camera are particularly important when it comes to photographing artwork. In order to obtain crisp images, the ISO setting should be low, usually ISO 100. The aperture controls how much light enters the lens. So, the higher your aperture, the lesser light is passed through. For photographing artwork, the ideal aperture can be anywhere between f-8 to f-11.

Editing is key

One can choose from a plethora of free or inexpensive editing types of software to edit the photographs of their artwork. It helps minimize any inconsistencies that may appear in your images. Some of the most popular editing software for artwork photography are Photoshop, Gimp, Lightroom, and Photoshop Elements. While Photoshop and Gimp allow mostly basic editing features, Lightroom is suitable for professional photographers.

These are only some of the numerous tips and tricks that can enhance your artwork photography. Following these four steps is a good place to start for artists looking to capture exhibition-worthy images of their beautiful artwork. Practice makes one perfect and we hope this guide helps you capture remarkable images of your artwork.

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