Capturing Art by Angelo Robinson

Click link above to view Angelo’s video on capturing art in less than ideal conditions.

Tips for photographing art by Teresa Foshee

Teresa Foshee

We will not have a photographer available to photograph artwork for submission to NCAA’s Juried Art Exhibit this year, as we have in the past. Because of that, we want to give our membership some tips for photographing their pieces themselves. Angelo Robinson is making a video for us on how to photograph your artwork (even using the camera on your cell phone), which we will be posting on our website tomorrow. In the meantime, I’m sharing a few tips with you in written form that might also be helpful.

Photographing 2-D Pieces: 1. Avoid photographing your artwork at an upward or downward angle; that will distort your piece. Instead, you will want to stand directly in front of and parallel to your work. 2. Photograph pieces before they are framed, if possible, to avoid having shadows on your artwork (even a mat can cause a little shadow on the piece). 3. Photograph just the artwork; avoid including other items or distractions in your photo. 4. If your piece is already framed, do not include the frame in the photo that you submit; crop it out, if necessary. 5. It’s best to hang your artwork on the wall to photograph it. If the piece isn’t too heavy, you may be able to use some kind of tape to temporarily attach it to your wall (Scotch Wall-Safe Tape or any kind of double-sided removable tape); depending on your piece, even a removable sticky putty might work. Keep in mind, you’ll want to stand directly in front of your piece, to photograph it. 6. If the work is already wired for hanging, make sure that it is flat against the wall before you photograph it. (You can make spacers out of cardboard or foam board to put behind the corners, so that the artwork hangs parallel to the wall.) You may want to use a level, to see if your piece is hanging straight. 7. If your piece is already framed, then try to photograph it without getting the frame, or crop the frame out before you print it. Again, make sure your piece is hanging level and that it’s not tilting out from the wall; if it is, use spacers behind it. 8. It’s always best to use a tripod, if you have one; if not, place your camera or cell phone on a flat surface to keep it level, when taking your photo. The slightest shake of your camera can cause the photo to be blurry. 9. Turn off the flash on your camera. 10. If your piece is vertical, make sure you take a vertical photo; if it’s horizontal, take the photo horizontally. 11. Take lots of photographs of your work, and submit the best one(s).
I think the easiest way for you to photograph your artwork is to use artificial light in a room where you don’t have light coming in through windows. If you do this… 1. Choose a neutral colored wall to use as your background. 2. Set up two lamps/lights with the same type and wattage bulbs to light your artwork, one on each side of your camera, halfway between the camera and your artwork. The lights should be set up at about a 45 degree angle to where your piece is hanging on the wall. (100 watts, soft white incandescent bulbs, usually work well.) 3. Set the lamps/lights on something, if necessary, to raise them up; they should be at the same height as the center of your piece; place them the same distance from the wall and the same distance from the center of your piece, on opposite sides of your camera. If you’re getting a reflection, try moving the lights further out to the sides. You can also diffuse the light to soften it and reduce glare, by using a semi-transparent white material, paper, or plastic between the lights and your artwork (even wax paper can work). 4. Clamp lights or goose-neck lamps can work pretty well, as do some floor lamps; you can direct those towards the wall, and it’s easy to attach something (like wax paper) to the shade/cover to diffuse the light (just make sure it doesn’t get too hot). 5. Turn off the flash on your camera. 6. Turn off the other lights in your room. 7. Take several photos of your work, and choose the best one to submit. Make sure you have a good, clear image – not blurry.
If you photograph your work in a room where you have windows… 1. Follow the guidelines above to get your piece ready to photograph. 2. Still, use a neutral wall as your background. 3. Avoid direct sunlight. 4. You can place a white sheet, foam core, white poster board, or paper on the opposite side of the windows to bounce back light and lessen shadows. 5. Turn off the flash on your camera. 6. Turn off the lights in your room. 7. If you’re still having problems with shadows, try using an additional piece of white foam core, poster board, etc., moving it to different spots, until you are able to fill the shadows. 8. You can always try adding some diffused light, it necessary. (See above.)

Photographing 3D Pieces: 1. Place your artwork on a neutral colored flat surface, and make sure your background (wall) is also neutral and free of other distractions. 2. If you don’t have a neutral space to photograph your work, you can create one. A roll of seamless white paper works really well; tape it up on the wall (you can use something like masking tape or painter’s tape); then, let it sweep down to form a curve as you roll it out onto a table or other flat surface. (It may be easier to work with, if you cut it to the length you need; just be careful not to crease it or wrinkle the paper.)

  1. If you use a roll of paper, avoid placing your artwork too close to where the paper starts to