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Your art is high quality, so photographs of them should be too. If the photo is too small or out of focus, or if there are issues with colour, lighting or shadows – then you’re not showing a true representation of your work.

We think the best approach is simply to hire a professional photographer. Obviously, not everyone has the budget or resources to hire a pro – so if you plan to take the photos yourself, be sure to review our following tips.

Photographer with tattoos shooting with a film camera

Buy (or borrow) a good digital camera.

If your camera has the option, shoot in RAW + JPEG format. This will allow you to capture tons of colour information which ultimately helps you to have more to play with when editing.

Have the ability to select the ISO (use the lowest ISO setting). The higher the ISO number the grainier the image. Some people recommend a setting of 200 ISO.

Have the ability to adjust the white balance too. The type of light your shooting in may produce white light with slightly different colour tints. The white balance setting helps makes white objects appear whiter in your images. Using a ‘auto balance’ setting is the simplest option.

Buy (or borrow) a tripod.

If you don’t have a tripod, use a table, a bookshelf, or anything that can act as a stable surface to rest the camera on.

Aside from making it easier to take stable and perfectly-angled shots, using a tripod ensures accuracy. You can hold the camera, but there may be a subtle blur in parts of the artwork that will reproduce poorly when printed.

The position of artwork matters.

The artwork should be on a completely flat surface. You can use a level if you want to make sure that everything is lined up perfectly too.

If your work on paper, make sure it’s tightly secured to a flat surface. If the artwork isn’t flat, it will cause shadows to appear on the surface and can distort the image.

Frame the artwork against a neutral colour – the less distracting the better (white is perfect).Colourful backgrounds can also alter the colour of your piece by reflecting onto it.

Your camera should be pointed directly at the center of the painting – and always parallel to the artwork. If your artwork is on a easel then make sure the camera is pointing on the same angle (the camera should also be slightly higher than the artwork – if angled down).

Lighting is important.

For large artworks, take photos outside on cloudy day because it’s the biggest diffused light source you’re going to find.

If the work you are photographing is behind glass, it is best to take the artwork out of the glass. If you can’t you’ll need to angle the light and camera to minimize any reflection and glare.

Avoid direct sunlight – aside from the fact that it’s probably not great for your artwork, direct sunlight can create what are known as ‘hot spots’ on reflective surfaces. Don’t use a flash either – this can also create a reflective ‘hot spot’.

Use bright and indirect natural lighting. Natural light bulbs can also be a good choice. Cloudy days are your best friend.

Soften any glare or intensity by diffusing the light source (e.g. by bouncing it off a white surface such as paper). What is diffused light? It’s essentially some kind of softening filter between the light and artwork which stops any reflection or glare.

You can also hire professional lighting sets from most online retailers, these include light stands and umbrellas to help reflect and soften the light.

Things to remember when taking a photo.

Don’t just photograph the artwork itself. Capture a bit of the wall or space around the artwork as well. You can crop it out later in your editing software. This gives you some room for error.

Take multiple shots of each piece – and make sure to refocus the lens each time! This will give you a range of back up photos to choose from.

Take photos of all your artwork in one go. The setup is the most time-consuming part so plan ahead and have several pieces ready to photograph at once – then you can easily switch out each artwork.

Use the timer function – so that you don’t accidentally cause the camera to shake.

Don’t trust the preview on your camera’s screen – this preview is often too small to show some of the most important details.

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