HOW TO | Artwork Photography 101

Whether you have submitted an application, added content to your website or social media pages, or done some form of online self-promotion, you understand the importance of having good quality photos of your work on hand. While there are professional options, it is not always an option for everyone because it can be expensive. Learning how to do it at home or in a studio can save time and money while producing extremely accurate results. Here are some tips on how to do it right!

Necessary Equipment
  • Although it is preferable to use a camera (minimum 12 megapixels), it is possible to use the camera on your smartphone (as long as it is a fairly recent model)
  • Tripod to stabilize your camera/phone
  • Neutral background
  • Lighting equipment (see "Lighting" section)
  • Photo retouching software
  • You can photograph your work indoors in a room with lots of windows and natural light. It is also possible to photograph your work outside on an overcast day or in the shade since indirect sunlight offers the best lighting. That said, under certain conditions, natural light can also be unpredictable.
  • In case you have lighting or you want to invest in equipment, you only need 2 light sources (for a 2D work). It is also preferable to have umbrellas for your lights or equipment that will help diffuse the lighting.
  • Your artwork should be on a flat surface, i.e. hanging on the wall or lying on the floor. Make sure the background is neutral.
  • Your camera should be parallel to the artwork and oriented towards the center of the artwork to avoid perspective distortion. Similarly, the tripod and camera should be at a certain distance from the artwork to avoid distortion of the optical lens.
  • Install your lighting on each side of the camera. It should point towards the work at a 45-degree angle.
  • Once you've found an installation that suits you, take advantage of the opportunity to photograph as many works as possible.
Image: Society6
Camera Settings
  • Make sure your flash is off as it may cause a reflection on the artwork in the photo.
  • If you are familiar with your camera, make sure the exposure, ISO sensitivity, white balance and shutter speed match your preferences (see additional resources below for more information).
  • Your phone might be equipped with simple editing tools. Otherwise, or if you use a camera, any basic editing software should do the trick.
  • You should be able to crop and adjust brightness, contrast and colour dynamics.
  • Note if there are any shadows or defects in your photo.
  • Crop the image correctly to remove anything that is not part of the artwork.
  • If possible, print a sample to confirm colour accuracy. The computer screen does not always give an accurate representation.
If you don't get it right the first time, remember that practice makes perfect!

Additional Resources and Visual Examples: