Digital cameras and photo-imaging software have made it quite easy to take pictures and distribute them on blogs, social media, and even print magazines. But perhaps you sometimes wonder why some people's pictures come out clear, sharp, and colorful while others–maybe yours?–look dark and fuzzy. Or have shadows in all the wrong places.
Especially when shooting your artwork, you want the result to look as professional as possible. So I asked our design director, Larissa Davis, to share some of her tips on how to take better pictures of your art.
8 Tips from a Pro
Take the photos with natural lighting, if at all possible. A flash causes shadows and glare. Soft, northern light is best. If the light inside isn't optimum, take your subject outside; this works best if it is a slightly overcast day.
Shoot with the light behind you. Whenever possible, take your photo from a vantage point where your back is to the light. Don't shoot "into" the light; your subject will be in shadow.
Use a tripod or other method of stabilizing the camera. Otherwise, use a steady hand. This is especially important with close-ups.
Remove distractions. Take a look in your view finder and look at what's around your subject. Is there a plant behind it? Papers off to the side that you don't want in the picture? Remove any objects that aren't there to enhance the photo.
Neutral doesn't mean boring. It's usually best to photograph your artwork against a neutral background. But that doesn't have to be a white wall. Something with texture, such as Japanese paper or a nubby linen tablecloth can make the subject pop and give it a context.
Vary your angles. Try taking a faraway shot, a close shot, and a detail shot of each element. Shoot from above and from below.
Give it some scale. If you're shooting your artwork for selling purposes, especially, it can be a good idea to style your piece with another object that shows the scale. This could be a tulip, a button, a hand (with the object in the palm), or a house, depending on the piece.
Use a light box. A light box is a professional photographer's tool that reduces glare and shadows and makes it easier to trace and edit your images digitally. A light box also helps bring out the details in your artwork. Fortunately, you can easily and inexpensively make one at home. In the Summer 2010 issue of Studios, artist and photographer Ivy Demos shows you two methods of making a light box with materials you can find at your local discount or hardware store.
Do you have tips for taking great photos of your art? Leave a comment below and share.