Learning to Photograph Art

I’m having a great experience with photographing my artwork In the last few days.  It’s been an awesome learning lesson.  In the past I was really casual about it.  I would just set up the artwork in a room, not paying too much attention to the lighting situation and have faith that I could fix anything with photo editing software to make it look good.  That was a nice optimistic approach, but compared to the new photos, it’s like night and day.

So now I’ve been schooled by a pro.  My roommate just happened to have a full professional career as a photographer.  He helped me setup the lighting situation and let me use his equipment.  Granted, the nice camera and fancy lighting helped.  But the overall concept he showed me is really what makes it work.

The key is having two light sources that are off at a forty five degree angle to both sides aimed at the artwork.  You are positioned with the camera directly in front of the artwork and flanking the line of site on both sides are the lights pointing inward at the art.  This may be common sense to many of you, but to those of you who for whom it isn’t, this might be a game changer.  This makes it so that no light is directly above or behind the camera, which eliminates the reflections that are really difficult to deal with in photo editing, especially when it’s really bad.  This way, the photos really only need cropping, a little adjustment with the brightness and contrast and maybe a little bit with the saturation.

While the technical stuff is interesting to me, the overall effect is deep down in my emotional body.  I’m so stinking pumped about this upgrade, I was bouncing around with excitement earlier today as I was editing the shots.  The images look so good!  They look vibrant and all the colors look true.  They look like they should.  I can’t wait to get them uploaded onto the website.   As soon as that happens, they’ll be print-ready.  Not to mention how good the site is going to look overall..  With these high quality photos, at a huge file size, they will be able to print really large scale while still looking great.  It completely opens up the possibilities with the reproductions.  I’m stoked.

So for all you budding artists out there, give it a try.  Set up some lights like this and take some photos of your work.  You’re going to love how they look!