Skip to content

How to Document Art – Taking Great Photos

January 17, 2010

how to document artNow that you’ve determined what kind of camera you’re using, and whether your images will be digital, prints, or slides, let’s look at ways to  make sure you take the best pictures of your art as possible.

Positioning

Make sure your piece is sitting square to the camera. Ideally, it should be hanging on a wall so that each corner is equally far away from your camera. The center of your lense should also be lined up with the center of your art. Make sure the camera is far enough away from your work so that it doesn’t appear warped.

Flash or No Flash

I highly recommend against using a flash. It tends to cause uneven light and distracting glares. Ideally, the space you’re in should be bright enough that you don’t have to use a flash.

Light

This is probably the most important part of this proces. You want to take your photos in a well-lit area. You have two options for this: artificial light, or natural light. I’ve found that using natural light, when possible, usually produces the best results. Pick a day that is bright, but slightly overcast. You don’t want to take pictures in full sunlight.

If the weather isn’t co-operating for you, you can still take pictures inside, but you will probably need to set up some extra lighting. In an ideal situation, you would have two standing lamps behind your camera, one on each side. The camera on the left would point to the right side of your art, and the camera on the right would point to the left side of your art. This allows you to get even lighting across the entire piece. If your art is very large, you may even consider using four lights, pointing at opposite corners.

Not everyone has access to extra lights. If that’s the case, choose the brightest room you have and make sure you follow the next steps:

Tripod

A tripod is essential for documenting art. For one thing, it keeps the camera steady and level, so that you can set your work up as described in the first section. Secondly, it holds the camera still so that your photos will be crisp and in focus. This is especially important in lower-light situations.

Shutter-Delay

This is another tip for getting in focus images. When you push down on the button to take a photo, you often move the camera just slightly. In low light, this causes your image to blur. Even in bright light, it can make your camera shift enough to change the positioning of your art within the frame. Using a shutter delay ensures that your camera stays absolutely still while it takes the photo.

Camera Settings

Adjusting the camera settings is a good way to make sure the colours in your work comes out accurate. This is easier to do with a digital camera because you get instant results. With a film camera, it’s a good idea to try two or three diffrent settings, then choose the best when the film is developed. The aperture and the shutter speed work together to determine how much light enters the camera.

 

Remember that these photos are the only representation of your work that a gallery will have. This is how they will determine whether or not they want you in their gallery. You want these photos to be as perfect as possible! Don’t accept any images that:

  • are on an angle or are warped;
  • have a glare, or where you can clearly see which direction the light is coming from;
  • are blurry or out of focus;
  • are too dark;
  • appear washed out;
  • or have colours that aren’t accurate;

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you can’t quite get it perfect. Next timt we’ll take a look at some digital tools you can use to subtly fix the pictures of your art. Sign up to get the latest articles in your inbox.

Advertisements
One Comment
  1. JenStaff permalink

    …”In an ideal situation, you would have two standing lamps behind your camera, one on each side. The camera on the left would point to the right side of your art, and the camera on the right would point to the left side of your art. This allows you to get even lighting across the entire piece.”…

    NOTE:- You mean LIGHT on the left and LIGHT on the right.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: