by Arlissa Vaughn
A picture says a thousand words - but those thousand words can be good or bad! A sloppy photo will over-rule any positive qualities your artwork may have. Since artists are visual people, let's take a look at some examples of the good, the bad, and the ugly shots of artwork.
Bad Photos of Artwork
In this photo you will first notice the disruptive background surrounding all sides of the artwork. The emphasis should be on the artwork, not your bedroom wall. Easy way to solve this - use the crop tool on any editing software. You will also notice this photo is a little blurry. Use a tripod to take non-blurry photos of your work.
This image has been cropped to the artwork, however there are still several problems withthis photo. First of all, you can see the shadow of the head of the photographer on the lower edge! There is also a lot of glare reflecting off the paint. Both problems can be solved by hanging the artwork on a wall as opposed to laying on a flat surface. Also, never use the camera's flash to get enough light to take a picture.
At first glance this seems like an ok photo, but wait...are those electrical cords off to the side? Also, it's difficult to make out the exact form of the object as the lighting is not good enough and there is little contrast between the background and the object.
Good Photos of Artwork
This painting has good overall lighting, is cropped to show only the artwork, has no strange shadows, and has accurate color and tonality.
This sculptural work has a gradient background with good lighting and no glaring highlights. The forms are easy to discern and have good coloring. It is centered and shows nothing but the artwork.
It is more difficult to photograph 3D objects and will require some extra materials. You will need a gradient paper (available from a photography supplier), tungsten lighting, and a diffuser to adequately photograph sculptural objects.
(For installation work or large outdoor sculptures, you may not be able to follow these guidelines. However, try to avoid as much unneeded background as possible.)