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Presentation is everything. A poor presentation can make the difference between getting a sale and being accepted into an on-line show. For the judges to get an accurate idea of your art, the image you send must match the colors in the art and be sharp and clear. For many of us, taking a good photograph of our art is hard. Before you send off the photo of your art you should 1) make sure that the size of the photo agrees with the directions given by the prospectus, 2) make sure the image is sharp, clear and not distorted, 3) check the colors in the photo against the actual art to make sure they are correct. I am not a professional photographer, but I do manage to take credible photos of my work without paying a pro to do it for me. Here are a few tips that might help those of us who are “photo challenged”:
• Make sure you are taking the photo in an area that doesn’t cast shadows on the work. Personally I use the front of my garage and I do it between 11:00 am and 12:00 noon. I have simply put a nail into the wood at the appropriate height for the camera and then I rest the painting’s stretcher bars on the nails. If you are using paper or canvas sheets you can put the sticky stuff teachers use to hang students artwork on the wall to the back of the art (just make sure it is level).
• Make sure the sun isn’t glaring on the work so there are no shinny surfaces to reflect back at the camera. If you are working with watercolor or pastel then take the photo before you frame it because glass will reflect back at the camera also. Personally I also take the photo before I varnish acrylics to cut down on the glare caused by the varnish.
• Make sure that your camera is aimed squarely at the art. It helps to use a tripod; you can align the front two feet of the tripod squarely with the art so that you aren’t taking the photo at an angle that will cause one side of the art to be larger than the other. If necessary use a tape measure to make sure the feet are an equal distance from the art. A tripod also helps to prevent blurring is caused by your hand shaking. Most of us don’t think our hand moves when pushing the button, but it does.
• Use a small hand level to ensure that the camera is not angled either down or up when taking the photo as this will also cause distortion.
• You don’t need an expensive camera to take photos of your art. Canon makes an excellent quality digital camera for under $300; it is very user friendly. As a plus, the newer models also take video so you can use this setting to record art shows and then upload to Facebook, U-tube and other social network sites.
• When taking the initial (raw) photo of your work, be sure to set your camera to take fine or large files and take at least 3 exposures of each artwork.
EDITING YOUR PHOTOS FOR THE WEB
• The least expensive and easy to use photo editing program is Photoshop Elements. It has tutorials and is fairly easy to learn.
YOU SHOULD HAVE THREE TYPES OF IMAGES
• A large resolution image (between 1 and 2 MB) to use if you decide to make prints of your work
• A medium/low resolution image to put on your website (between 1 – 2 KB). This size is usually too small to encourage attempts to pirate your image because it probably won’t make prints any larger than a 5 x 7 without blurring, but you can add digital watermarking with Elements.
• A small image (between 200 and 125 pixels) for thumbnail images and record keeping.
• You should keep photo log with both high- and low- resolution photos of your work separately from your desktop computer. A working copy can be kept there, but be sure and back up your files each month onto a separate disc or jump drive. Be sure to keep the back-up copies of these items in a separate place and up-date your back-ups monthly. Once your records are lost due to computer crashes, natural disaster or any other reason they are gone. Good Luck!