If you want to sell your paintings, enter them into shows, present them to galleries, make printed copies of them, or display them anywhere online, you need to be able to take good photographs of them. If you are a serious painter, you need seriously good images of your work. This has become much more significant with the internet being such an important element in art market in recent years.
I have gotten proficient at photographing my paintings after years of learning and practice so I will share some tips here that may be helpful. All that ‘practice’ means I do have some not so good photographs of some of my paintings that I can show to help demonstrate the less than desirable outcomes. Doing an internet search for: “how to photograph paintings”, and perhaps adding the word ‘tutorial’ in the title, is a good idea.
The ideal method is to have a proper photography set up with appropriate lighting and the painting sitting perfectly square to the stationary camera’s optics. I have always thought of setting up a permanent photography space with all the right equipment, but, so many years later, I am still doing it the way I always have.
- Get a good camera. The digital technology has made good cameras quite affordable. Simple computer photo software makes it easy to crop and adjust exposure as well.
- I find the best and most natural looking results can be achieved by photographing your paintings outdoors, in the shade, on a sunny day.
- The painting must be as straight as possible, vertically.
- The painting must be square to the camera lens to avoid parallax. Once I am happy with the camera settings, I take multiple photos of the painting to make sure I get one that is straight.
- The painting must be oriented so that there is no reflected light on the surface.
- Always photograph your paintings BEFORE you varnish them.
Here are examples of the same painting photographed outdoors under 3 different natural light conditions: