How to Photograph your Art

Things to consider when deciding to load your art online

It is always better to be able to view art in person rather than in image form but, in this day and age, most things are being viewed and sold online. So, if you want to "move with the times", you need to ensure that the best representation of your work is viewable online.

Frequently asked Questions
  • What will happen to the colours online?
  • Will the image be distorted?
  • Do I need to add a watermark to prevent copying?
  • Am I setting myself up to have my work be "copied"
  • Do I need a fancy camera to take my photos?
  • Where & when should I take the photos? Inside or outside? Day or night?
The questions are let's make it EASY
Let's get started......Take a photo.....A good introductory video explaining the basics of photographing your art with a point-and-shoot camera. – via Saatchi Online

Digital photography is the way to go. You can take numerous photos and store them on your computer, Tablet, iPad or Web. If you don't have a digital or borrow one (don't steal one). 
  • Hang the painting on the wall and use a level to straighten it (Or place it on the floor and shoot downwards) 
  • Find a bright light, indirect naturally lit area (wind free)
  • Make sure there are no shadows falling across your work
  • If the light is too bright, then move the area to a slightly shaded area 
  • No flash is necessary in these conditions 
  • If you can only photograph inside with artificial lights (make sure they are bright as possible) you can reflect light off a white wall, board. If using a flash, place a single ply tissue across the flash
  • Try to take the photo with the frame removed
  • If the painting is behind glass you may have reflected light in your photo
  • Take the photo "straight on". No angles 
  • Use grid lines on the viewfinder to see if the camera is pointed straight on. You can prop the camera on a pile of books to steady the image and avoid angle errors
  • Or use a tripod to steady the camera in position.
  • Set your camera on AUTO (flash off) and shoot, check the digital image and shoot again until you are happy with the photo. 
  • Or ask someone to help with this
Scanning the picture is a great option if your work is small enough to fit on the flatbed scanner. These scanned images can be stored on your computer, Tablet, iPad or Web.
  • Check that the flatbed surface is free of dust. The painting should not be framed or must be lying flat on the scanning surface plate. If the surface of your painting has warped at all, use a good sized book to push it flat. You can simply crop out any of the book that gets scanned.

After you’ve scanned your art, take it into an image editing program like Photoshop, straighten out the edges and crop out unnecessary bits.

Common problems

  1. Image size is too small - Try and keep your image 600 pixels or more on its shortest side 
  2. Too pixilated - Start with a very high resolution image and work your way down to a reasonable web size.
  3. Wrong angle, bad lighting, bad frame, and carpet or flooring shown - Get the camera angle right when shooting, check for a better place to shoot the photo and use a white background. Or you can crop the carpet and flooring out whilst editing.
  4.  Bad Lighting - flash light.....the photo is still too dark and there’s a bright annoying highlight where the flash reflected off the glass. Even outside of the frame, the lighting wouldn’t be good enough  
  5. Out of focus - Half depress the shooting button and the camera should auto focus. But you need to point the camera full on at the painting.

Editing your photos and saving for the Web

There are a few free very good photo editing programs on the internet.  Picasa or iPhoto will be adequate for this kind of editing.  Try saving the image how you usually do, then upload it to the web. If it looks OK, then don’t worry about it, you’re good to go.

In Photoshop, you can check what color profile you’re currently using (and switch) by going to EDIT > COLOR SETTINGS > WORKING SPACES. If you change modes, you’ll still need to convert any open images that you want saved for the web to sRGB. Alternatively, if you’re using another color mode, you should convert your image to sRGB before saving for the This will make you paintings look the best across various monitors.

When saving for the Web, use the "Save for Web" tool  and size of 25MB per image


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