How to Photograph Your Artwork

One of the most important aspects you need to look after when it comes to exhibiting your art online are the images with which you are going to present your work to your audience. People want to appreciate every detail of your painting the same way they do when they look at it live. For this reason, we ask our artists to upload:

  • High quality professional photos: recommended image size is 2500px wide, minimum size is 1000px and maximum file size is 20mb
  • Use natural lighting without flash
  • Taken directly front-on
  • Cropped to the edges of the artwork (no spaces outside the painting or frame)

However, we know that is not always easy to take photos where your art is faithfully represented, and for that we’ve created this guide that will help you take the best shots of your artwork!

Step by step

Prepare your art: Take the painting out of the frame and remove any mat before photographing. Never photograph a picture under glass. Choose a location with bright soft lighting. An overcast day would be ideal to do the shooting outside, as the clouds will act as a light diffuser and your photo will be evenly lit. Find a safe place to place your artwork, where the light can get to it from every angle. If a cloudy day is not an option, also a big window can make for a great light source.

Position the painting: Hang your painting on an empty wall or on a corkboard mounted on the wall and secure your work with tape or flat-headed tacks. You can also lean your art directly on an easel (if your work is on canvas) or on a board placed on it (if your work is on loose paper or cardboard).

  • Choose your camera settings: Never use a smartphone to photograph your artwork, choose a digital camera with better resolution and more control over settings. Set up your camera in the following way:
  • Colour mode: Adobe RGB (not sRGB)
  • Image size: set to the largest size your camera can produce
  • Image format: JPG (best used for the web)
  • ISO: 100 ISO controls the brightness of your photos, and it is a crucial setting to use properly if you want to take the best possible images.
  • White balance: On a cloudy day, set your White balance to “Cloudy”. For an indoor shooting, set the White balance to match the kind of light you are using. The color of an object is affected by the lighting conditions under which it is viewed. Our eyes and our brain compensate for different types of light—that’s why a white object appears white to us whether it’s viewed in sunlight, under overcast skies or indoors under incandescent or fluorescent light. But digital cameras need help to emulate this process, to compensate for different types of lighting and render a white object white. The white balance setting is that help.
  • Flash: Turned off
  • Aperture and f-stops: The aperture is the opening through which light passes into a camera, and it’s described with numbers such as 1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11 and 22. For most cameras f8 would be the proper setting.
  • Exposure control: Manual mode

Position the camera: It’s very important that the camera doesn’t move while the photo is being taken. The best way is to use a tripod, but if you don’t have one you can use a solid flat level surface. Place the camera facing the artwork squarely, pointing straight ahead to the center of the art. The face of the camera should be parallel to the art and not tilted one way or another. It’s helpful to use the self-timer to keep your camera still, this will create a delay between when you press the shutter and the image is taken.

Take your photo: Zoom the camera in a little, lenses aren’t at their sharpest when they are zoomed all the way out or in, so you’ll get the best results somewhere in between. The artwork should fill the image as much as possible to maximize the resolution of the final photo. Take a test shot of your artwork and check the result, the colour and exposure of the image have to be as close as possible to the original artwork. Take several shots and don’t pack your gear until you’ve reviewed the images on your computer, you may notice things that you didn’t notice on your camera and you may need to retake the photos.

Edit your images: Download your photos to your computer, choose the best one and open it on your photo editor. Crop the image so you only see the piece itself, and make sure you don’t leave any extra spaces outside the edges. Zoom the image and check that there is nothing there that wasn’t on your original artwork (you can use the retouch tool in case you need to remove something from the image). Sometimes readjusting the contrast of the image can help your piece look more true to life, but be careful to not overdo it, an image can be easily ruined if you edit it too much. Finally, save your image as a JPG file and make sure to leave the image quality at “Maximum”.

Now you’re all set to upload your art to Artzine!

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