tips on photographing Your own art

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Backgrounds for Photographing Art

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Seamless Paper

Seamless Paper comes in 53 and 107 inch by 12 yard rolls. Most artists can use the 53 inch size, but make sure there is enough room on either side of your work to leave a visually pleasing amount of space. If need be, you can run two pieces of 53 inch paper together, taping it on the back and remove the vertical line in Photoshop. I suggest that white, black or gray should be your only choices. Never introduce a color (or texture) into the background because it might draw the juror's eyes away from the work in the few seconds they have. You may choose neutral gray as a background color, but from personal experience I feel that it's too dark and can make the photograph of the art appear dead looking. I prefer slate gray as a gray background because the lighter gray brings more life to the artwork. And whatever background you choose, whether solid or graduated, all the pieces should be photographed the same for a uniform body of work.

Seamless paper can be purchased (or ordered) from most decent size camera stores. For mail order, I prefer B&H Photo and Adorama in New York.
For those difficult to photograph object that need a jet black background, B&H Photo sells a Midnight Black Velvetine seamless paper.
white seamless paper slate gray seamless paper black seamless paper neutral gray seamless paper
white slate gray black neutral gray
Graduated Backgrounds
Graduated Backgrounds seem to be what most artists are currently using. Varitone graduated backgrounds are vinyl and are reusable if you are careful not to scratch them. They come in three sizes, 42x62 inches and 31x43 inches, both sizes with the graduation vertically and 21x15 horizontal paper, which is suitable for photographing smaller items like jewelry.

I recommend three background color combinations. Keeping in mind about not introducing color into the background, black to white (Varitone #9) is by far the most popular, dark gray to white (Varitone #39) or light gray to white (Varitone # 28). You can also cut the backgrounds down with a scissors or razor to fit the EZCube or Lowel Ego. Varitone #9 is the most popular and the one I use most of the time.

Varitone Graduated backgrounds can be purchased from Photo Tech in Wisconsin. Flotone graduated background can be purchased from B&H Photo in New York. I haven't tried the Flotone backgrounds yet but will next time I need to order one
Varitone #9 Varitone #39 Varitone #28
Varitone #9 Varitone #39 Varitone #28

Besides the backgrounds mentioned above, jewelry is sometimes photographed on what looks like black plexiglass and has great looking (but sometimes distracting) reflections. What it's really photographed on is glass with black fabric underneath. The glass creates a reflective surface over the black which can graduate the background depending on the positioning of the lights. For this kind of setup, the room lights have to be off because the mirror like surface of the glass will show anything that's reflected. Be aware that adding reflections makes your image area larger and in some cases makes the jewelry look smaller.


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