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Tips About Photographing Your Artworks


Posted by: Kiril Stanchev on 02/13/2013 - 3:31 AM

Since Talya opened the word about the quality of shooting of the artworks, I came up with a short list of tips which could help most of the artists without a professional background in photography. So here it is:

In the past year or so here in FAA I've seen many beautiful artworks which were not properly shot for selling as a print, so I decided to share few tips about photographing your work in the most proper way of selling it here as a print. I have to make a remark, that this post is pointed to the artists that don't have a professional background in the field of photography.

- first of all forget the flash! If you don't have a photographic studio with softboxes you'll end up with some harsh lights and grey shadows. What you can do is to shoot on a daylight outside.
- pick up a bright day and then choose carefully the time of the day. Don't shoot too early in the morning since the warm light will change the overall appearance of your artwork. Don't choose the midday as well, especially in the summer months, because the light is too harsh and strong and will destroy the soft feeling which most of the paintings carry. Basically the best options are in the mornings after 10 o'clock till 11.30 and then after 16.30 pm till 17.30. It's about the opposite of what photographers need to shoot a proper landscape photography :)
- Put your painting about 2-3 meters away from the camera, you can place it on a chair if you don't have an easel - this distance is most suitable for a wide range of non-professional cameras, since most of them are getting their best performance in this range.
- Place the photo camera on a tripod or if you don't have any, on something leveled horizontally about the mid-height of the painting. If you have an option for the ISO (light sensitivity) choose 100, since it will give the optimal quality of the image shot.
- Now it's time to do the actual shot! Don't push the button for taking photos, since even the slightest shake will destroy the details of the artwork photo. Instead choose the option for a 2 seconds self-shooting. That way after pressing the shutter button, the camera will have 2 seconds to come to a stillness and shoot a perfectly sharp object.
- One last tip, since most of the cameras are not giving best performance on 100% of the shooting field, (5 up to 20% of the edges of the photo are getting a bit blurry) so don't fill the whole photo with your artwork, better leave 10% of all sides for cropping the blurry area around the edge afterwards. You'll lose couple of megapixels, but will be rewarded with a better quality photo.

That's it. Hope this will help :)

Post Reply


Posted by: Randy Wollenmann on 02/13/2013 - 8:13 AM

Thanks Kiril! Your discussion is timely for me. Iíve been pouring over photo comments for the past few days and have finally figured out what I need to be doing (reshoot most everything that Iíve painted!). Your advice is helpful too. Thanks for posting a thread here. Next to the actual artwork itís the final photo that will help sell the piece and make a client happy. Iíve also been struggling with choosing the right camera.



Posted by: Kiril Stanchev on 02/13/2013 - 8:55 AM

Glad to help Randy :) When choosing your camera I suggest to stick to the big names in the business: Canon or Nikon. Sure there are other players on the market which are offering nice cameras, but these two are leaders and are implementing first the new inventions in the mass production.
If you want to buy compact camera maybe it's better to pick up a Canon, since they are a bit ahead in the amateur class cameras. If you choose a professional camera it's up to your feeling of comfort which one you'll choose. One more thing - if you decide to go for a small camera, make sure it has a full manual options for shooting. That way you could "tell" your camera if it's measuring wrong the light, color temperature etc. and correcting it before the shooting :)



Posted by: Randy Wollenmann on 02/13/2013 - 10:24 AM

I have three that Iím testing: Canon PowerShot Ė 12.1 meg, Nikon D40 Ė 8.5(est. meg.) and a Cybershot Ė 7.2 meg. The Nikon has all kinds of bells and whistles associated with it, lots of additional lenses (fantastic zoom lens) and filters but finding my camera work lacking. So far the PowerShot is proving to be the best. Iím spending days just learning what works and what doesnít. Manual settings... ? HummmÖ The Auto has been great but perhaps setting things up manually is better. Iím just not getting the clarity that Iíd like. Thought about tiling but not ready to go there yet. More learning needed. But itís a fun process. I just may take up photography after all is done. Thanks again for the advice!



Posted by: Kiril Stanchev on 02/13/2013 - 11:20 AM

Hi again Randy, since 2006th the digital photography improved a lot, so my advise is not to go to Nikon D40. PowerShot is a perfect option for a learner in the field of photography - it's affordable as price, most of the models from the series have a manual options for shooting and have a decent image quality, so if you learn to work with one of these, then it will be a light transition into the professional cameras of the Canon range in the future.
Best of luck :)



Posted by: Kiril Stanchev on 02/13/2013 - 11:21 AM

Double posted by mistake, sorry :)



Posted by: Susan Abrams on 02/13/2013 - 12:12 PM

Thanks for the information; I was having a professional come up and shoot my pictures for me, but that can get pricey and somedays I just get out what I just painted! Thanks again.



Posted by: Talya Johnson on 02/13/2013 - 1:58 PM

Some great tips, thank you Kiril! since you so kindly started this thread I'll add a few more resources so they are all in one place:
I suggest you browse this
read Catherine's excellent tutorial on scanning of this thread

Here is how I've done mine for years. I learned it from master artist, Karen Wells. Please be sure to thank her if you find this helpful. Karen Wells, How to photograph your paintings



Posted by: Lynda Robinson on 02/13/2013 - 8:47 PM

That information is SO helpful! Thanks so much Kiril.



Posted by: Anne Dalton on 02/14/2013 - 3:33 PM

Dear Kiril,

I have read your advice re photographing artwork, and will probably have to re-do most of my work....

However, your hints are extremely useful and next time round, I'll also use the best camera I have
rather than the inexpensive one I sometimes use, as I have already noticed a huge difference in the

Your tip about including around l0% of the area surrounding the actual artwork (so that it can be
given a good clear crop) is excellent, and thank you and also Talya for sending me your information.

Kind regards,

Anne D'Alton.



Posted by: Tracey Peer on 02/15/2013 - 9:09 AM

Very helpful information and much appreciated.



Posted by: Kiril Stanchev on 02/15/2013 - 9:23 AM

Thank you all once again, for the warm response! One more thing which I missed to explain: about the manual camera settings and why they are important?!
Usually the camera is doing it's job with light and color temperature measuring pretty well, but it's getting a bit confused when it comes to shoot paintings with predominant color or dark/light ones. The camera is "thinking" that there is something wrong with the exposure and is trying to correct that by compensating, which is destroying the genuine look of your paintings. Couple of examples: Lets say that you've done a very warm sunset landscape, so the camera is automatically choosing option for "improving" this and is cutting the reds and yellows on your photo. Or you've done a night landscape, so you want it to be dark, but it's not the same with the camera, so it's again "improving" it with putting a lot of light on your photo. You could do your corrections in post processing, but all of these could be easily corrected if you have manual options for white balance, colors, etc. on your camera. Simple as that :)



Posted by: Jamie Frier on 02/15/2013 - 12:35 PM

An alternative to photographing your work is to scan it. After struggling endlessly with image quality from my Nikon Coolpix 4100, I finally bought a scanner. It's an Epson Perfection V37 and sells on Amazon for $74. You can download free stitching software from Microsoft ( I was able to scan a 24x30 painting in nine sections and the software magically stitched it all together. The quality far exceeds anything I was able to do with my camera. I hope my 'image problem' emails from Dawn (that I would get with every sale) are a thing of the past.



Posted by: Talya Johnson on 02/15/2013 - 3:14 PM

Thank you Jamie! I plan to invest in a good scanner as soon as we get settled in our new place. my only problem with scanned images in the spectral highlights that show up in the dark painted areas. Usually do a dust and scratches filter on it. Catherine gave a wonderful tutorial on stitching in another discussion too for anyone interested
Scroll down and find it in the comments.

Scanning doesn't always work for paintings that are thickly painted. Each image seems to need it's own treatment. LOL, like children.



Posted by: Talya Johnson on 02/22/2013 - 3:08 AM

Image editing tips:



Posted by: Betty Pinkston on 02/22/2013 - 9:06 AM

Thanks, good info!



Posted by: Indira Mukherji on 02/22/2013 - 1:19 PM

Kiril Stanchev -- Thanks for the tips, that was of great help.



Posted by: Lucia Grilletto on 02/24/2013 - 12:08 AM

Kiril, Thanks for the great infor. I surely can use it.



Posted by: Kiril Stanchev on 02/24/2013 - 1:26 AM

Glad I could help! :)


This discussion is closed.