I wasn't sure where to post this. I decided to post it here because it is an important topic for presenting your artwork on the internet. It may not be for sale, but it is especially important when it is for sale.

Mods, if you have a better place for this post, please feel free to move it.

I built a web site for a local art show we have here and we had the artists (amateurs) send me photos of their artwork to include on the web site. After seeing all the issues artists had taking their photographs (and me trying to make them presentable in Photoshop after the fact) in the first year of the web site, that this year I sent out some hints on taking better photographs of your artwork.

After the issue was mentioned in passing elsewhere on this site, I thought it might be useful to post an adapted version of the same hints here. All of these are tried and true and have been researched, and I've included a link to a more detailed version if you feel so inclined. :o)


some quick and dirty rules for photographing artwork ...

1) use the best camera you have access to.

2) don't use flash and avoid lighting that causes glare in the photo. Glare is just about impossible to correct in the photo after the fact! Obviously it is better to take a picture of your artwork before it is framed behind glass in this case. The best lighting is natural lighting (daylight - outside, in light shade or an overcast day)

3) Make sure you are square to the picture. Pictures taken at an angle distort the subject matter. Even if glare is causing a problem, then move the painting to a location where it does not and you can take the shot directly in front of the painting.

4) to avoid blurriness try these ideas...

- use a tripod if you have access to one
- use a fast shutter speed if your camera has that setting
- take the picture in daylight. if your camera is completely automatic, more light means your automatic camera will use a faster shutter speed.

Also, here is a link that explains these points in more detail.

http://emptyeasel.com/2009/09/17/camera-tips-for-photographing-your...

Photos can be corrected digitally, but if you want to make sure your photo is representative of your artwork... TAKE A GOOD PICTURE TO START WITH!

Now, having said all that, a photograph of your artwork still often needs to be cropped and the colors tweaked to match the artwork more closely to make it look really professional. Photoshop is a great tool for that, but it is expensive. A great freebie I found is Picasa 3. Does a lot of the basic stuff quite nicely, and has a neat tool for creating online galleries at Picasa online if you want to play with that (I think it is actually a part of Google+ now). You can get it at http://picasa.google.com/

anyway, hope this info is useful!

Michael

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Replies to This Discussion


When I take a photo of a pic to be used on my FB fan page I am not worried about making it look really good because it is a work in progress and I don't want people try to steal the picture. When I am posting a finished picture it usually has been scanned and watermarked. 

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fans-of-A-View-from-a-Heart-of-Merse...


Nelson Failing said:

I think this info is helpful to all of us....thank you for the tips and info.....I use fotoflexer which is free and can do what you were explaining and talkin about....its cool to see the difference in your photos when you do some editing to them....

All of the information on photo taking is awesome!  My question, I have several paintings that I would like to have prints made that I can then frame and sell.  I don't want to sell my originals.  I have researched and only found a few websites that offer the service but they are quite expensive.  Can you shed some light on this area of prints?

I'm lucky enough to actually have Photoshop. But still I have trouble getting good pictures. I take my pictures outside, either on a cloudy day, or in early morning light, or late afternoon. Basically avoiding sunlight, which washes everything out. Still I always have to adjust the cyan. The pictures are always too blue. But when I do that, it affects the other colors. Very frustrating. Any tips would be much appreciated.

Hi Laura,

Have you tried fotoflexer.com?   I use it and love it. Try it and let me know.  



Laura Luisa Cowell said:

I'm lucky enough to actually have Photoshop. But still I have trouble getting good pictures. I take my pictures outside, either on a cloudy day, or in early morning light, or late afternoon. Basically avoiding sunlight, which washes everything out. Still I always have to adjust the cyan. The pictures are always too blue. But when I do that, it affects the other colors. Very frustrating. Any tips would be much appreciated.



Michael Beckett said:

i'm not really versed in the best camera technology out there, but most cameras are pretty good these days. Having said that, even the best camera can't capture what the eye can see. 

i have tried photographing white pastel on black paper, and other funky combinations of colors and mixes of light and dark. Unfortunately most cameras with automatic settings try to take the best shot based on your typical photograph. when you photograph combinations of media and color and mixes of glossy media and flat media that aren't natural for a camera, it often confuses a camera and you don't get what you expect.

So the next step would be learning the gazillion settings on a camera to try and get a reasonable shot of your artwork. Touching up afterwards is easier lol. If you really want to go this route though, look for an DSLR camera. you can control just about everything about them. Most brand names (Canon, Nikon, Sony - which i have) are good, and expensive.

even if you got the perfect shot of your artwork with your camera, and posted it to the internet, someone else may see it differently because the monitors they are using are all different.

one thought is to try a scanner instead of a camera. it will depend on the nature of your drawings. scanners (especially cheaper ones) can be very harsh trying to scan different tones.

The moral of the story i think is that there is no substitution for seeing art live, and that the best you can do is get a reasonable representation of your art to share online, and often times that is difficult with certain media. You may have no choice but to touch up with editing software. Given the free resources available now (Fotoflexor, Picasa, and hopefully others post more), touching a photo up shouldn't be a big deal. Most are easy to figure out (except Photoshop grrr lol)  :o)

Do you have trouble getting purple to show up as purple in a photo? it seems to change to black or blue in my photos. if so any suggestions? 

Thanks for the tips!! My photo skills are not great. 

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