Whether you are a professional photographer or just a hobbyist, capturing professional-looking images is the creme de la creme. It is why you spend so much of your valuable time trying to perfect your trade and your craft.
Between keeping up with clients, deadlines, personal matters, family, painting your piece, and travelling around to different exhibitions, we often forget that the way we present our artwork on our online portfolio also plays a key role in our success as artists. For a quick ‘how-to’ on photographing your artwork best practices, read on.
Hang Your Artwork
Allowing your artwork to hang freely will allow you to capture it from every possible angle. This means you can select the best of the best from a range of images.
Moreover, ensuring you have a neutral coloured wall/background will also help your artwork speak for itself and really stand out.
Top tip - Hang your artwork at a height that will be parallel to where your camera will be; be it a tripod, in your hands, or resting on a chair/table.
Ensure Lighting Is On-Point
If you are capturing your artwork indoors, make sure there is plenty of light and windows, yet not too much as to reduce any glare. If you really want your images to stand out, and you have access to a lighting kit, it would be highly recommended to utilise this for best results.
If you happen to be shooting outdoors, it is a well-known tip among creatives that cloudy days make for the best shots. Too overcast? Not to worry, using a lighting kit will help you ensure optimal lighting, or, simply head inside.
If you don’t know a lighting kit, you can just use two lights and place them halfway between the camera and your artwork at an angle of around 45 degrees.
Top tip - if you don’t have a lighting kit, you can use a white sheet yo place between the lights and your work to ensure a solid background.
Artwork hung, and ready to go. Now it is time to get your camera and adjust the settings to suit your surroundings and indeed the painting.
To begin with, ensure the camera lens itself is aligned with the middle of your masterpiece. You’ll want to also capture a bit of background so that your audience can see each edge of the piece. This allows them to get a sense of scale.
Next, ISO settings are also critical. These settings basically the film speed used to capture a certain image. An easy way to think of it is this - High number ISO = high sensitivity to light resulting in a rougher image. To capture crisp and clear images, set your camera’s ISO to low. Try to keep it around 100, as this generally provides great ‘studio-like’ shots.
The F-stop function is the next point of call. This makes the shutter bigger or smaller. An easy way to remember this is - Higher number f-stop = Less light. Try to aim around f-8 and f-11 for shooting your artwork.
If you don’t have a professional camera, and use your smartphone camera instead, you will want to consult the relevant section of your makers’ website for best results settings-wise. As for lighting, most phones nowadays can adapt, but again, consulting your makers’ website for best practices is highly recommended.
Once you have captured a wide range of shots, it is now time for the fun part - editing. You can either choose to utilise a free photo editing app, such as Adobe Photoshop Express, or you may choose to pay for a service such as Photoshop or Lightroom.
Of course, a paid subscription will have better and more advanced features, but this is totally up to you and how you want to present your work.
If there is one thing to remember, however, it is not to over-edit the image of your artwork. You want to leave it as natural as possible, whilst ensuring it is crisp, clear, and gives your audience a sense of scale.
Have Fun and Be Creative
At the end of the day, it doesn’t all have to be serious. You are a creative for a reason - so be creative!
You might consider putting your own stamp on your artwork images so that as soon as someone sees your chosen ‘stamp’, they can immediately put your name to it. Marketing, right?!
When capturing your artwork for your online portfolio, there is only one thing to remember - You are trying to sell yourself as an artist. Being creative and being yourself is okay, and, in fact, highly encouraged. Just ensure your images are still crisp and clear for your audience to enjoy.