tips on photographing Your own art

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Lighting Tips to Photograph Art

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Soft diffused light is the best lighting to use when photographing your artwork. Never use the built in flash or an accessory flash mounted in the hot shoe of your camera. Either will create direct contrasty light that will leave glare and hot spots on the artwork, making the jurors think that you're an amateur and don't care enough about your work to present it in a professional manner.

strobe bounced into a white umbrella

strobe in a strip softbox

For my main lighting, I prefer to use two studio strobes bounced into oversize white umbrellas (above left) for balanced soft diffused lighting. Sometimes I use an additional strobe in a strip (12x36 inch) softbox (above right) overhead on a boom stand for a rim light to separate the top of the piece from the background. If I'm photographing two dimensional artwork like a painting, I'll crop out the frame (and mat) to the edges of the artwork which is all that is needed for a jury image. And for photographing 3D objects, my choice of backgrounds depends on what I'm photographing and how best to make it stand out from the background.
For artists who want to do their own photography, daylight florescent bulbs are an easy light source to work with but the lighting still needs to be diffused or softened. I tested the Cloud Dome, Lowel Ego and the EZCube and found them all adequate depending on the size and type of items you need to photograph.
For items too large to photograph with the above lighting items, I suggest setting up your 10x10 white canopy outside on an overcast or cloudy day. Connect three of the white walls and lay the fourth wall on the ground to reflect or bounce the light back up to give you more even exposure over the artwork. Consider using one of the suggested backgrounds clipped to the back wall. If you have highly reflective work, you can hang black fabric on the open side just in front of where you set up the tripod and cut a hole for the camera lens.

And while you have your canopy set up, consider shooting a more controlled booth picture than you can take at a show. It goes without saying that the booth picture can be much better if set up for the picture, not to sell.

Tips on Photographing Your Own Art

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