Tips for photographing art
Updated: Feb 17, 2022
I really enjoy photographing art because I love to photograph visually stunning objects. Taking pictures of art is a form of product photography, where the goal is to create an image that accurately represents the art piece. Some art pieces are much more difficult to photograph than others. For example, glitter has proven to be my most challenging issue when I photograph art. In my personal life and work, glitter is my obsession. However, glitter produces a lot of highlights and in other places it can appear much darker than it actually is. When I correct one issue, another one emerges. In this particular instance, I recommend taking multiple photos with slightly varied lighting settings and check to see what looks most like the piece. It's always good to be in communication with the client. If there's more than one option, let the artist weigh in on the selection.
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When I do art photoshoots, I work much differently than when I shoot for an art project or event. I've listed below some recommendations that have helped me.
1.) Use a cable to connect your camera to Lightroom on your computer: I usually don't like to use cables because I move around a lot in my photoshoots, and I'm also a little clumsy. For photographing art, it's a much different story. By connecting to Lightroom, you can immediately view your images on your computer. This is crucial because you have the art work right in front of you, so you can do a comparison on the spot to make sure you've successfully photographed the piece. While Lightroom is great for making adjustments, try to get the majority of those adjustments in your camera settings. The last thing you want to do is look at the files at home and try to remember what the art piece actually looked like.
2.) Give yourself extra time: Some pieces will be super easy to photograph, while others will take several tries. Err on the side of caution so you don't have to rush.
3.) Color accuracy: This is important to a point. You definitely want to get the colors as close as possible to the actual art, but you also have to keep in mind that people's computer monitors display colors differently. If the photographs are going to be printed, like in a catalog, you will have to take steps to make sure that you and the printers are working with the same color. When I published my photography book, I was very surprised at how some of the colors looked so different in print than what it had looked like on my computer monitor. Computer monitors emit light through the images. When photos are printed there's no light coming through the image, which means the colors will tend to look darker or more saturated. In order to fix my book, I made adjustments in Photoshop to compensate for the differences.
4.) Bring back up batteries and cables: I recently experienced a photoshoot where we couldn't connect the computer to the camera. We thought it was the cable, but it turned out that the problem was the camera. If this happens, pull the card out of the camera after photographing each piece and view them on your computer that way. It will take a little longer, but it's important to ensure that you're getting good photos.