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How to Photograph Your Artwork: Backgrounds

How to Photograph Your Artwork: Backgrounds

Alta Fjord, watercolor on paper, 18 x 24 inches, Valerie Atkisson

Valerie Atkisson / ArtBistro

Four times a week I look through your portfolios to choose work to go in the Featured Portfolio on the home page. This is one of the best parts of my job. I get to see what you are working on and often am very impressed with the caliber of work on ArtBistro. There is one main way that I think that the portfolios could be improved. That is the photography of artwork. In many cases, the medium of the work makes a big difference in the presentation. For example, work that is created on a digital platform is ideally suited for presentation on a computer screen. The same goes for video (even though it is a little small), and photography. However when it comes to artwork that you make on a different material and then transfer to a digital format, problems arise. The main problem that I come across is bad photography of paintings, drawings and sculpture. As a result, sometimes I have to select a piece that is less interesting and better photographed instead of one that is more interesting and poorly photographed.

To get your work featured go here and join the Featured Portfolio Group. Please follow instructions before joining the group.

Big picture

The whole purpose of photographing your work is to present it to others. They may not be able to see it in person so taking a photograph is the next best thing. You want the image to portray your artwork in the most accurate way that you can. If you don’t get good photography of your work, it is like making a precious thing then destroying it before you show people. The work itself may be wonderful but if your photography of it is bad, you are doing yourself a disservice. Your work is only as good as your photography of it. The opposite is true: if you have some work that is fine, but no masterpiece and you get good photography of it, the work will look more professional and impressive. I’m not talking about photo manipulation here, I’m just talking about common sense and applying good photography principles.

Note: If your two dimensional work is small enough you should consider scanning it rather than photographing it. Make sure the image is clean and the scan bed is dust free. If your image is not completely flat, you will have better luck photographing it.

Main Problems

• Background choices

• Uneven lighting

• Warping of proportions

Next: Let’s Discuss Background Choices →


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