Posted on April 20th, 2009
When it comes to putting together a portfolio of your work, the photography of your body of work can be as important as the work itself. 42nd Street Photo knows what it takes to capture clean, well-lit images, and assuming that not everyone can afford a top of the line camera, here are four basic tips to photographing your artwork with a point-and-shoot digital camera.
- Composition – How your art fits into the frame can make a big difference. For sculpture and other three-dimensional works of art, centering the piece in the frame with about 20%-30% empty space around it will usually look right. It may also be preferable to set up a scene around it. If your art is something that one would display on a dining room table, feel free to set the table around the piece. If it’s something that would be displayed on a bookshelf, then set it up on location. As long as your piece is irrefutably the focus of the image, and the center of attention, it will look right.
- Lighting – Most point and shoot cameras have a built-in flash, and the default setting for the flash is usually auto. 99% of the time, you will want to turn the flash off and get as much indirect lighting as you can. Be mindful of the types of light you use, as well. Natural sunlight will always be the best source, since it is powerful and contains all colors of the specturm. With artificial lights, bulbs, spots, etc., certain colors will be more dominant. Whatever your situation, the key is to get as much indirect lighting as you can, since there is a greater dispursion from reflected light than direct light. If you absolutely must use your flash (and we mean if it’s night time, only one light in your house works, and you need these pictures now!), then it’s a good idea to use the highest resolution setting on your digital camera, step further away from your subject, and capture it closer to the corner of the frame, so the flash does not wash out the piece. Later, you can crop the photo the way you want, but for the initial capture, you want indirect flash, which if yours is attached to your POS camera, you need to aim it to one side or the other.
- Stability – If you’ve taken a lot of pictures before, you may have noticed that darker pictures (aside from just being hard to see because they’re darker) tend to be more blurry than a well lit photograph. So, when photographing artwork with no flash (so as not to wash it out), having the camera still is a must. If you have a tripod, then your set, but if you don’t have one, you may have to get creative. We’ve found that a tall stool, or a pile of sturdy books atop a table can do the trick. Just be sure to place the camera closer to the edge, so you don’t get a blur of the edge of a book or stood in the bottom of your frame. Also, if your camera has a self-timer feature, use it. This will give you plenty of time to snap the picture and step away from the location.
- Post-Capture – It is very rare that you will take a digital photograph that can’t be improved upon in some way. Take advantage of the fact that you’re using digital technology instead of film, and don’t be afraid to do some post-capture editing to your image. A lot of times, simple brightness/contrast adjustments can make a world of difference. Also, a lot of photo-editing programs have auto-fix features, that work the best on a well captured image. Feel free to use these first, and try various combinations of these filters in different orders. WHen all is said and done, you want to have a picture that is sharp, balanced and accurately dipicts your art.