This guest post was written by Rachel Daley from Made Freshly.
Capturing the full essence of your artwork isn’t as simple as the click of the shutter.
The goal of photographing your artwork is to take clean, crisp photos that highlight the craftsmanship of your work. You want potential customers to see your artwork in all its glory, feeling all of its texture, experiencing all of its value. Your art isn’t sub-par, so your product photography shouldn’t be either.
You know how important your product photography is to sales, but maybe you can’t hire a professional product photographer and don’t know how to take the shots yourself.
The reason your photos aren’t coming out like you want is because you have been unknowingly committing photography sins! Maybe the colors were off (why does this purple look pink?!) or your images looked flat and their true weight wasn’t portrayed in the high quality that you want.
The good news is, these sins are forgivable, and fixable. Today is the day your art photographs make a serious lifestyle change. Get ready to see the difference in sales!
Without further ado, here are the 7 Sins of 2D Art Photography:
Sin #1: Using a Low Res Image
A highly-pixelated image does your product no justice. To avoid this problem and get sharp photographs, set your camera to the highest resolution (whether it is a DSLR or a phone camera, you will have this option).
Sin #2: Not Using a Tripod
For any kind of product photography, a tripod is your best friend! If you don’t have a tripod laying around, improvise by setting your camera on something flat and sturdy like a table, or turn on your camera’s “Steady-Cam” feature.
Sin #3: Using the Wrong Lighting
Beware of fluorescent and harsh artificial lighting! They can wash out your art and cheapen the overall look. Instead, try diffused natural lighting.
Sin #4: Not Adjusting Your White Balance
When you’re buying something, what you see had better be what you get! White balance is a crucial part of product photography because it determines the warmth of your image, and therefore the coloring.
- 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.). Choose the setting that gives you the most accurate colors.
- For a DSLR, use a plain piece of paper as reference point to adjust your white balance in the settings. Anthony Hutchinson gives you the steps here:
Sin #5: Creating Glare
Like your polarized sunglasses are used to combat glare, so should your camera! Use a polarizing filter on your camera lens to get rid of any glare that could distract from your piece.
Sin #6: Using the Wrong Background
Choosing your background is a big deal! Good backgrounds add texture without overshadowing the artwork.
- Create contrast (if your piece is dark, use a light background, and vice versa)
- Add texture! Wood/Brick = good choices because they add warmth and texture
- Create a set with other pieces and objects to add context. Keep it simple, and the number of other objects to a minimum. Your artwork should be the main focus! The Sticker Hut does a great job of using natural lighting and a blurred background to highlight their pieces:
Sin #7: Not Creating the Feel of 3D
This is the ultimate sin, and the ultimate challenge you will come across. Now this doesn’t mean creating 3D versions of your art, it means showcasing all dimensions of your art AS a 3D item, because that’s what your customers are going to be buying. Here are some ideas to give your artwork some weight as a product:
- experiment with different angles of lighting (again, shadows)
- use a frame (adds dimension physically, and with shadows)
- hold your art (gives your art some physical context)
Show your piece with a background as well as a close up on just the art itself.
Are you guilty of any of these sins?
If so, now you can fix them! Remembering what to do instead will keep your photos out of trouble:
- Keep it high res!
- Use a tripod for steadiness
- Use natural/soft lighting
- Adjust your white balance
- Use a polarizing filter to get rid of glare
- Choose contrasting backgrounds that aren’t too distracting
- Give your art some weight with props and lighting
Okay now that you’ve taken the perfect photo, there’s one last step before premiering it to the world. Don’t waste all the work you just did my uploading low quality images. Always make sure you properly optimize your images for the web through Photoshop before uploading them. Finally your product photos are website ready and free of sin.
About the author, Rachel Daley:
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.
You can find Rachel on Twitter at @FreshlyRach.
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