This is a guest post from Rachel Daley.
So you’ve got an amazing stock of finished art, but before you can sell it you have to photograph it. And photograph it well. While your watercolor, charcoal, or pencil skills are on point, maybe photography isn’t quite your forte.
The goal is to take clean, crisp photos that highlight the craftsmanship of your work.
Photographing 2D artwork takes a little different strategy than other product photography. Of course you want to portray your product in the most flattering way to get sales, that part is no different. One of the difficulties with 2D art photography is making the artwork look like a physical product, a buyable item instead of a flat image, however beautiful it may be! Luckily, I’ve compiled a list of important tips to help you embrace your inner product photographer to get the best photos of your artwork.
1. Keep it high res!
Whether you are using a fancy DSLR or your iPhone, your photos can and should be crisp. Make sure your camera is set on the highest resolution (that means more pixels) to get those sharp images you’re looking for.
2. Ready, steady…
Shaky cam is perfect for student horror films, but not for your artwork! Make sure to use a tripod to keep everything steady. If you don’t have access to a tripod, turn on your camera’s “Steady-Cam” feature. [Here’s a great, super inexpensive tripod. – Laura]
3. Calling in Backup
Choosing your background is a big deal! Good backgrounds add texture without overshadowing the artwork. Here are some tips:
– Create contrast. If your piece is dark, use a light background, and vice versa.
– Add texture. Wood and brick are good choices because they add warmth too.
– Style it. Create a styled set with other art or objects to add context. Set your art in its natural environment. Don’t make it too busy though, your art should be the main focus.
4. Go Natural
Natural lighting is good for art photography because it is typically less harsh and warmer than the flash on your camera. A softer, diffused glow will highlight your piece while not washing it out. So don’t set your stage in direct sunlight. Use a white sheet or tissue paper if the sun is so bright that it’s casting hard shadows. You don’t have to be outside though. You can also photograph next to a window to take advantage of the natural light while having more control over the set.
Use a polarizing filter on your lens to get rid of glare. This will reduce reflections that would otherwise change the natural color and quality of the image. You will want a circular polarized lens for your DSLR so that you can still use the autofocus.
6. Balancing Act
White balance is affected by the temperature of your lighting, which changes the coloring of your photos. You want to use the right setting so that you get true colors in our photo.
– On your phone, you can change your white balance from “auto” to a setting that better matches your lighting situation (daylight, cloudy, incandescent, fluorescent, etc).
– For a DSLR, use a plain piece of paper as a reference point to adjust your white balance in the settings. Anthony Hutchinson gives you the easy 2-step process.
7. Photoshop, the Lifesaver
So you’ve taken a shot but it’s not quite perfect. Make corrections with Photoshop or a similar image editing software in post-production. You can edit things like white balance, color, contrast, and saturation, as well as make any creative edits or additions (add your signature or logo!).
8. 2D → 3D
Now here’s where we can create that dimension we are looking for! Here are some ideas to give your art some weight as a product:
– Use a frame. This adds physical dimension because of the shadows.
– Get angular. Experiment with different angles of light, which also creates shadows.
– Hold your art. This puts the art into some physical context.
One of the photos available to potential customers online should look similar to this, but you should also have one that is cropped to the edges of your artwork and as flat as possible, like below.
This gives your customers the opportunity to see just the piece and evaluate it by itself as well as seeing it in context to help them imagine the art in their home.
Adding these simple 8 elements into your product photography will help your art take on a whole new dimension (literally AND figuratively!) and bring in those sales.
Now that you’ve taken the perfect photo, there’s one last step before sharing it with the world. Don’t waste all the work you just did by uploading low quality versions of your images. Always make sure you properly optimize your images for the web through Photoshop before uploading them.
When Rachel isn’t busy being a content writer for MadeFreshly, you can probably find her at a track meet or on an adventure with her DSLR. With a passion for everything creative, Rachel is an avid art appreciator, from Man Ray to the neighborhood kid with a Polaroid. Getting to be creative and help others do what they love for a living makes her job the perfect one. Follow her on Twitter.