Photographing your work well is the single most important thing you can do for your career apart from actually creating the work. So in this post I want to show you a few ways that you can photograph your work depending on the resources and equipment that you have available to you.
It can be easy to dismiss the importance of photographing your art work especially if you are hyper critical of it and feel like your artwork isn’t worth of being photographed but its important to change that mind set. Every art work is worth of being photographed even if its just to show where you’ve come from.
If you experience this, you can view photographing your work as a separate practice to producing your work. Use the works that you maybe aren’t as proud of to make sure you are nailing it for when you are ready to photograph works that you are proud of. This record of your work can be really useful for later on in your career. The images that you take of your work are often the only point of reference for people seeing your work. For this reason make sure that the images that you are taking do your work justice.
Whether you’ve got a professional lighting rig or just a cell phone and a window there are a few main principles that you need to follow.
The first fundamental is lighting
If you are using a cell phone camera and natural light from a window in your room make sure to look out for shadows being cast on your artwork.
Getting uniform lighting when using natural light can be really tough, so identify where the light source of your artwork is coming from and try and replicate that with the
angle that the light is coming from when photographing your artwork
The second fundamental is to remove all distractions from around your work.
You’re setting a scene so avoid photographing it from a bed or a table because that can distract from the artwork itself.
Use a clean piece of paper that has the opposite tone to the background so that your borders can be nice and crisp.
Third point is about the angle that you photograph your work from.
Make sure that whatever you’re using to photograph your work whether it is a phone or a camera that is perfectly perpendicular to the page so that when you crop it the proportions will stay the same. If you get this wrong the corners of one side will appear bigger than the corners of the other and it will distort your work slightly.
While using a dslr, the fundamentals stay the same but now you have a few more options at your disposal.
Try to get the camera as perpendicular to the artwork as possible.
With your light source, move around the artwork. The goal here is to try and get uniform lighting across your work without any reflection or glare that create distractions from your artwork.
Try putting your light source at a 45 degree angle or even more. If you were to have your light source directly behind your camera, it would reflect directly back into the lens and cause quite a bit of glare or distractions.
So if you shine the light on the side of the work there’s quite a lot of glare on the side of the artwork. Use the portion without the glare to represent your work. Take a few photographs of the different angles of light have them at quite a harsh angle and then stitch them together to try and remove any glare then you’ll get a uniform representation of your work.
Last option and the best case scenario is to have your work professionally scanned
An important point to note is that photographing your work well helps you to build a portfolio. Something that can get in the way of that is taking on too much commission work early on in your career. There’s a bit of a balance between trying to get that guaranteed income from commission work versus not having income while you’re creating that work but the pro is that you get to build up your portfolio and
you get to tell the story of your career over time.