Photographing Artwork, Part 1
If you’re an artist and are applying for a grant or a gallery show of your work, or if you’re photographing artwork for a website or brochure, you need high quality photographs. The reason should be obvious: your photographs are the only way to present your work to others, so they need to be the highest quality you can afford.
But how do you take good photographs of your artwork? By using the right equipment and getting prepared before you start work. You need to take into account the quality of the camera you use and the kind of lighting in the location where you will photograph your work. If you need to use artificial lighting to photograph your artwork inside, you may need light fixtures and reflectors.
One other item you will need is a tripod; and you may need to take the time to correctly set up the tripod, too, if you’re shooting 2D work mounted on a wall. But first of all, invest in, rent or borrow a good camera: that’s the most important piece of equipment.
Realize that inexpensive all-in-one point-and-shoot cameras and mobile phone cameras will not work. They might work for low-resolution shots for Facebook, but not for a gallery show proposal or a grant application. When finding a camera to use, megapixels don’t matter that much (see last issue’s Tech Talk on megapixels). But do plan on shooting your photos at high image resolution and keeping copies of the full-size image files. You can always down-sample your digital photos to email and put on a website, but a gallery or a color printing will need higher quality shots.
And plan on using a tripod. That’s one of the first things to remember when photographing artwork: don’t try to hand-hold your camera. You need a tripod to steady the camera, which prevents blurry images from hand shaking and gives you the time to compose a shot. Tripods are important for photographing 3D artwork. Having the camera mounted gives you a chance to step back and think about the photos and compose so you don’t end up with numerous images to edit.
But for photographing 2D work, you need to take one more step: be sure your camera on the tripod is square with the wall where the artwork is hung. Tape or fix a small mirror flat on the wall and look through consultant. camera screen. When the camera’s lens is square to the mirror, you’ll be looking straight down the camera lens in the reflection in the viewfinder. With the camera sensor square to the artwork, you will be able to get nice straight lines of the edges of the work without distortion.
Next issue: The correct lighting and color balance for photographing artwork.