There will come a time when you need to create an excellent photograph of your completed artwork. Maybe you need to submit a digital image for entry in an art show. Or, you might want to capture your work onto a digital file in order to create a print.
Here are three suggestions based on the most common “mistakes” I see people making.
1. Use a tripod. This should be your “Gold Standard” when creating any image that you want to be more than just a casual snapshot. This is especially true when photographing artwork. And. it’s even more important if you are using the automatic mode of your camera, because then your camera will decide which shutter speed to use. If it’s a slow shutter speed, chances are you will not be able to hold your camera still enough to avoid some shake, thus getting blur in your final image. Again, always use a tripod.
2. Don’t use the flash on your camera to photograph artwork – especially flat art like oils or acrylics. First, you will probably get a glare bounced right back to the lens – and in your final image. (Especially if the surface of your art is glossy.) If photographing indoors you will usually be better off using two lights, in reflectors, placed at 45 degree angles on either side of your artwork.
3. A good method is to photograph your artwork outdoors. But to do it correctly, consider these tips:
– Try to avoid bright sunlight. This is apt to give you contrasty, harsh shadows.
– Photograph on an overcast day or photograph in open shade. (An area that is protected from the sun, but still has enough light to give you a good exposure.) Watch that you are not in an area partly in shade and partly in sun, which can give you harsh, “mottled” areas of lighting on your subject.
Also, when photographing outdoors, be careful of what is in the background. While concentrating on other things, it is easy to overlook a background that is busy with distractions. Try to find a simple, solid background, such as a full evergreen tree for the background. Or, you can also use an “artificial” background, such as a solid tablecloth or a dark cloth. But, when doing this, be careful. Be sure the cloth does not have wrinkles which may show up in the final image if you can’t crop them out.
There are other tricks to getting good photos of your artwork, but these are a few of the basics.