I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog talking about how important your image is as an artist. Every single aspect of how you present yourself speaks volumes to collectors, buyers, interior designers, and gallery owners. You don’t often get a second chance to make a first impression. And in the digital world we are operating in, more often than not, the first impression you give is the only one. With a click of a button or a swipe of your hand, a person can easily pass by your artwork if it isn’t professional looking.
I can’t emphasize this enough: Whether you’re sending a digital portfolio or you’re presenting your work online—in social media, e-blasts, your website—high-quality, professional photographs of your work are a must.
We see thousands of portfolios each year here at ADC, and we can tell within seconds that the artist took the time to photograph their work properly. If your work reveals bad lighting, shadow, overexposure, underexposure, too much contrast, too little, or too much tint, you’re hurting your chances for your pieces to sell well. I am going to share just a few of my secrets to photographing and editing your artwork so that it sets you apart from others.
1. Use the right equipment.
Most digital phones now are equipped with excellent, professional-grade features. So if you don’t have a professional camera, don’t worry. That being said, if you are using a digital camera, make sure the camera you use does have some features—white balance settings, F-stop (aperture settings), ISO, and the ability to turn off a flash. Also, make sure it has a minimum capacity of 5 megapixels. If you can shoot in a “Raw” setting, all the better. You’ll also want to employ the use of a tripod so that there is no movement of the camera while you shoot. Make sure your white balance is set to the appropriate setting based on the lighting you are working with that day (Daylight, overcast, etc.), then make sure the aperture (F-stop) is set at or around an 8 (or a landscape setting). Finally make sure the ISO is set to about 100, so the details of the picture remain intact.
2 . Shoot in the perfect light.
Lighting is everything. You want to avoid shooting in bright direct sunlight. The best place to shoot is usually by a window where a lot of natural light, but not directly in front of it. The best time to photograph your work is on a sunny day, in the shadow. Make sure the lights are off in the room, so that it doesn’t affect the color of the artwork.
3. Shoot at the right angle.
If you’re shooting a painting, you’ll want to hang it on a flat surface and shoot the photo straight ahead. If, however, your artwork is leaning up against a wall, be sure to tilt the camera to match the angle. You don’t want to shift the perspective of the shot. It’s okay if there is white space around the shot because you can edit that out during the editing phase.
4. Save and edit your work.
Once you’ve taken your photos, you’ll want to upload them to your computer and begin to edit them. If you use a Mac or a PC, they both have photo-editing software, which are perfectly acceptable to use. However, if you have Adobe’s Photoshop or Lightroom, I highly recommend using either one of these software programs, because of their advanced features.
5. Crop and resize your photos accordingly.
If you have shot work with white or wall space around the picture, that’s okay. You can crop it, by cutting out the areas around your photo. You may also need to make copies of it and resize it with different sizes and resolutions based on your needs. If you’re uploading your photos to a website or on social media, you need to pay attention to the size of the file. If the file is too large it may not load properly. You’ll want to resize the pixels (px) to on or around 1000 px x 1000 px, or if it’s a landscape work about 800px x 600 px. However, if you are going to blow up the photo or are using it for a full-screen, you can leave it at a larger size. Another thing to think about is dpi or dots per square inch. If your photo is set at too high a dpi may take too much time to load on a website. (If an artist sends me a website portfolio and it takes too much time to load, I usually don’t wait. So be sure to test how quickly your pages load.) However, that being said, you don’t want the dpi to be so low that the pictures are blurry. You may need to play with these settings a bit to see which ones work on your website, but a rule of thumb is about 72dpi for the web.
6. Perfect the color, exposure, and white balance of your photos.
One of the best ways to determine whether the camera captured the picture perfectly is holding the artwork up next to the computer. Do the colors match? Are the whites the same color white on the screen as they are in the artwork? Are colors as saturated on screen as they are in real life? Is the picture too dark or overexposed? All of this can be adjusted in a photo editing software program. Click on the link below to see how to adjust lighting and color in Photoshop.
It takes time and practice, but I assure a high-quality photo of your work will help set you apart.
Have a great week everyone and let us know how editing your artwork goes!
CALL FOR ARTISTS
Are you submitting work to be part of the Blink Art Resource this year? We can help you place photos of your work in gorgeous environments that you can use on your website, social media accounts, and all of your marketing materials. Interested in learning more about becoming part of the Blink Art family? Contact Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org.