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How to Take Great Pictures of Your Art

18 Jul 2021 | 0 Comments

By Nadia Sommella




It can be difficult as an artist to put photos of your art online, only to realise they don't really do your work any justice. 


The colours are dulled, the texture doesn’t come across or you get no sense of scale. 


Don’t get defeated just yet, however, as there are certain tricks and tips that will help you take the best pictures of your art. 


This is an invaluable skill for any artist, as the art market moves increasingly online – be it selling your art through a platform like this one or sharing and promoting your work on social media. 


So, here's our simple guide for how to take photographs of your artwork in order to make more sales!


1. It is all about lighting




The best kind of lighting for taking great pictures of your art is indirect natural light. This means taking the picture either in a very bright room with lots of windows, or even better - outside. 


Do not be fooled into making the common mistake of thinking a sunny day is your best friend, however. Because an overcast or cloudy day will actually make for a better picture. This is because clouds diffuse the sunlight and prevent harsh shadows.


If you want to highlight texture in the work, try creating a raking light (lighting it from one side only). A good hack for this is placing the canvas on the floor right by a bright open door or window, which will then illuminate the work from one angle.


If you can’t go outside, then you will need to create artificial lighting. 


This can be done with studio-style lights (if you have them) or clamp lights or lamps – whatever you have to hand. The key is to light the work from multiple angles (at least two lamps at 45-degree angles for a two-dimensional work). You can diffuse the light by placing a white sheet between the lights and your work. 


2. Photograph on a white wall



Placing your artwork on a white wall helps the work to stand out and the colours to pop. If you don’t have a white wall, choose something light in colour and as plain as possible – no patterned wallpaper, please!


White also helps reflect light – so the whiter the room is in general, the better the image will come out. This will help reduce shadows. Again, you could try and hack this by pinning up, or asking someone to hold up, white sheets to reflect the light from the room back onto the work. 


3. Keep it sharp




Avoid blurry pictures at all costs. The easiest way to do this is to have a tripod, or phone stand, depending on what you are using as a camera. 


This will provide a stability that even the steadiest of hands can’t replicate. 


If this isn’t a possibility for you, you can try and makeshift a standby propping your camera up on something. Or as a last resort, try leaning against something whilst you take a picture (think a wall or window frame) to at least give your body a bit of extra stability. 


4. Don’t be afraid to edit



It can be intimidating to edit your images, as you want them to look as accurate as possible. But don’t be afraid of a quick Photoshop session before you upload (for a free alternative try Gimp). 


Some basic things to try would be cropping the image, colour correction (especially if the colours in the picture don’t quite match the real thing), running a sharpening filter or removing impurities. 


Remember the aim of editing is to make the picture look like the original piece of art, so don’t overdo it. 


5. Get creative with composition



Whilst it is always great to have a clear, crisp picture that is just of the work of art (without a frame or background) try and accompany these with some more creative ideas. 


Show your artwork within a wider interior setting. If the viewer can see the piece hanging on a living room or bedroom wall, it helps them imagine it in their own homes and get a sense of scale.

 

Another idea would be to show the artwork amongst the materials used to create it; perhaps on the easel, within the studio, or surrounded by paint pots. Let the viewer get a sense of your artistic process.


Of course, it is important to adapt these to your personal style and branding, but these are some ideas to get you thinking. 


So, there you have it, you don’t need a professional set-up to take good quality pictures of your art! It is certainly a trial-and-error process, but with these tips and a bit of creativity, your artwork will be looking as good virtually as it does in the flesh.