One of the key skills artists need is understanding how to photograph your art.
To apply to be a Rare Tempo artist, you will need to submit quality photos of your work, so let’s get started on the right foot.
The same standards will apply whether you’re submitting your art to another gallery, creating a portfolio, applying for grants, or crafting public speeches. This process can seem complicated and daunting, but we’ve got you covered. Here’s our guide for how to photograph artwork (just two-dimensional for now). Sculptors, stay tuned for a different guide on how to best capture your beauties.
Related Post: A Walk Through the History of Photography
Hang up your piece
The first and probably most obvious step is to hang your piece up onto a wall. If there is glass in front of the piece, remove it in order to minimize glare and ensure a crisp, accurate image. Preferably, try to hang it on a neutral colored wall, such as a white one. Make sure your piece is hung high enough to be parallel with your camera.
Your camera setup and settings
Your camera should be mounted on a tripod or set onto a sturdy, flat surface. Additionally, the camera should be facing the artwork head on and the artwork should fill the entire image as much as possible. If there’s a little bit of background, you can crop that out later in editing.
- Camera mode: Manual
- File type: Shoot RAW or TIFF in order to capture as much uncompressed information as possible.
- Color mode: Adobe RGB
- File size: Largest the camera can shoot.
- ISO: 100 because you want crisp, clear images of your piece.
- Flash: Onboard camera flash should be turned off.
- White balance: Should be set to match the lighting the artwork is photographed in.
- Aperture: In order to get a clear image on your piece, you want to aim to shoot at the middle f-stop of a lens. For most lenses, the ideal range is between f-8 and f-11.
Printing tip: If you’re photographing for print, keep in mind high resolution images must meet a minimum 200 DPI for . Also, keep in mind that in order to reprint your work, you must consider how any surface texture, reflective material, and rich mixed media may convey in the final print.
If you’re photographing a piece keep in mind shooting in white light is recommended. If you’re thinking of shooting indoors without studio lighting, make sure to photograph in a room with plenty of natural light comes in from windows. The ideal natural lighting conditions is overcast because the clouds diffuse the harsh direct light from the sun.
If you have studio lighting available, you’ll need to set up two lights. These lights should be placed halfway between the artwork and the camera and angled at 45 degrees.
If you need to do any fine tuning of photos after photographing your pieces, there are both free and paid software to do just that. Even though Photoshop remains the industry staple for editing, there are alternatives that don’t have all the bells and whistles Photoshop has. Software like Pixlr or Fotor can tackle small edits with no problem, and Fotofuze is a great resource for removing backgrounds.
While this guide breaks down the core elements of photographing artworks, there are some more nuanced steps that can be added to the process. Use this as a starting point, and most of all, have fun experimenting with making your work shine!