How to Take Photos of your Work / by Angela Bandurka

Photographing your Work

When I took my photo, there was a lot of extra stuff in behind - like my puppy, Oliver, who photobombed me. And my toes. This stuff has to go! Click to view larger.

Let me be super clear: the best photos come from professional photographers. I personally take my art to a photographer to be shot once it's complete. They do a great job and I know the files will be large enough that I can have them printed as gicleé prints if I want.

But - if you're looking to save money, here are some tips to shooting your own photos of your artwork:

  • Photograph the paintings in daylight, with the artwork in a shady spot so that the sun isn't beating on it. If you're fortunate enough to have good lighting, you can place two spotlights with a light diffuser over them at 4pm and 8pm. That way you minimize shadows on your work.
  • Save the varnishing for after you've photographed your work.
  • Photograph BEFORE framing if possible. Don't photograph the frame, but if you do - make sure you have a photo WITHOUT the frame as well.
  • Use the the best camera with the highest mega-pixels you can. Your cell phone does a great job at shooting candids, but the resolution just isn't going to be good enough for a good photo. If it's all you have, just know that it won't allow you to make edits later.
  • Shoot in RAW format if possible. Then you can upload the file and make edits easily. I use my Canon Rebel xTi with the lens that it came with, shoot in RAW format and upload all my photos to Adobe Lightroom for editing. Check your camera's user manual to see if this is possible with your equipment.
  • Make sure you place your artwork on a wall or flat surface with your camera at a right angle so that you don't skew the image.
  • USE A TRIPOD.
  • Edit your photos on your computer: make sure it's sharp and in focus, that the colors are good, and be sure to crop out anything around the edges of your work. 

Naming the Digital Files

When I'm done, I titled my files with my name, title of work, size, medium, and price - like this: AngelaBandurka_RainyDay_12x12_Acrylic_500.jpg. Then I always have the specifications for the work at hand. Saves me time when entering shows and such.

To Watermark or Not?

Final image: I cropped the painting, then sharpened it a bit and warmed up the color temperature to match the original painting. Rainy Day, 12x12 inches, Acrylic on canvas. Click to view larger.

I watermark all of my JPGs that appear on social media and my website with a simple ©AngelaBandurka in the bottom left corner of each image. This is made easier through Lightroom, which just populates that info for me when I export. 

For show entries and galleries, I send files that have NOT been watermarked. 

Why the difference?

When putting your work out into the "webisphere", it can be copied and "pinned" and shared and the like without your knowledge or permission. If you want people to know who painted that picture, having your watermark with your name makes it easy for people to find you later. This is especially easy if your name and your website's domain name are the same. For example, my website is www.AngelaBandurka.com. If your URL is www.CrazyPainter3000.com; you might want to put your URL in your watermark.

Make it easy for folks to find you :)