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Photographing Your Artwork

If you need to photograph of a piece of work, you must ensure that you show it to its best advantage. There are some simple steps you can follow which should help you to do that.

If you take a photograph of your work when it is lying on the table directly in front of you, the image will be distorted as in the example below.

In order to avoid this, photograph your work from straight ahead or from directly above. To do this, you can either pin your work to a wall and photograph it straight on. A tripod is a great tool to ensure you get a clear, straight shot – you can pick up a decent one for about £50.

Alternatively, you can place the work on the floor and stand above it to take your photographs. You can purchase tripod arms for straight-down shots to help with this. A cheaper alternative is to use a step or chair to gain a little extra height, but if you do this please take great care.

Make sure that you have included all of the work that you want to show, and that the work is not off centre, in uneven light, with curled up corners as shown below.

Whenever possible, you should try to take your photographs in natural light, but avoid shadows or sunlight appearing on the surface of your work. Avoid using flash if you can, as it tends to flare off the surface of the page and can also affect the colour balance.

Do take photographs of details as well as larger images, but take care that the work stays in focus. If you get too close to the work your image may become blurred as in our example below left.

Look out for a ‘close up’ or ‘macro’ setting on your camera. This should help you to take successful close ups as in the example below right, so check your camera manual for details of this function and try some experiments (see macro icon shown below).

Check out our article over on the IDI blog on How to Master Macro Photography.

In the example below we see a common fault which is easily avoided – keep your feet out of the frame!

Think about the background you place your work on and photograph it against. An untidy or highly patterned background can distract from the work itself. In the two examples below, the art work is over shadowed by a too heavily patterned background, left, and then a too strongly coloured background, right.

If you need to photograph sketchbook pages, place the book open and make sure the pages are flat. Your audience will like to see how you are composing your pages as well as reading what you have written, so you might consider photographing double pages as well as single pages of your logbook.

Try to avoid taking photographs which are ‘fuzzy’ or out of focus. There are various reasons for this, including camera shake, having the camera too close to the work or a dirty camera lens.

To minimise the chances of taking out of focus images, whenever you photograph your work, get into the habit of taking three or four images each time. Try to vary the angle, lighting and distance from your subject each time you take a photograph. By approaching the recording of your work in this way, you will increase your chances of producing an accurate and useful image.