One of the biggest frustrations I endured when I first started marketing my art for sale, was bad photography.
I simply couldn’t capture the aliveness of standing in front of my painting in a photograph.
Back then, pre iPhone days – I had a small camera.
When I took photos of my art, I certainly didn’t grasp the concept of blocking out.
Everything from the backyard lawn, dog toys and BBQ was visible in the background of my painting photographs.
I did get better though.
Nowadays of course, smart technology phones allow us to take amazing photographs.
In addition to that, we have access to some very clever apps we can download onto our phones, to help enhance the quality of images, and make the whole process of photographing our artwork a breeze.
In this post I’ll go through a simple, yet highly effective process you can photograph your artwork from home with an iPhone…
…and without requiring ANY expensive cameras or equipment.
Natural Light Is The Best For Photographing Your Art
Daylight is a full spectrum light.
So this means it contains different waves a visible light.
It is much brighter and can illuminate a lot better than fluorescent light can.
Fluorescent light will leave areas of reflected light on the surface of your artwork.
Therefore, artificial light (fluorescent) won't capture the true density of colour on your painting, in a photograph.
How To Photograph Your Artwork In Natural Light
Any opportunity you get to take photographs of your artwork outside rather than inside, will benefit a much closer representation to your painting.
Taking photos inside wont capture the true accuracy of colour in your painting.
When taking photos outside, try to avoid your painting facing directly at the sun.
This will create a glare on the surface of your painting in the photograph.
Which will also cause a misinterpretation of colour in your work.
Step By Step Guide To Taking Your Photos Outside
Another frustration I have often encountered when trying to get good photos of my work outside, is the weather.
It can be windy, wet and cold.
What you can do is find a place outside slightly undercover.
It could even be just inside the doorway.
Lay your painting down flat on the ground to take the shot.
Then if you need to you can crop the main area of the painting without the frame.
This then provides a better representation of the artwork without the shadows being cast from the framework.
However, if your painting frame is included in the sale of your artwork, it may be worth including it in the main photo.
How To Photograph Your Artwork Outdoors To Capture Depth
If your art has paint depth texture, you can capture it really well in natural light.
Make sure the sun is not directly facing the artwork, and is providing light from the side (see image).
Take your photos at either dawn or dusk (or in slightly overcast conditions).
You can make better use of the direction of the light at these times of the day because the sun is lower, as opposed to midday when the sunlight it being cast from directly above.
Also, the light is redder in the early morning, late afternoon and early evening - so you'll get better contrast and true colour representation.
Using Natural Light Indoors
If your only alternative is to take photographs of your artwork indoors, make the most of the natural light.
Try to get access to as much window light as you can.
Even set your painting up near a window that is providing the right light.
Getting The Right Perspective Without The Disfigurement
Perspective can often be a challenge.
It only takes a slight angle of the camera, or perhaps your painting is not rested straight, resulting in your final image looking warped and out of perspective.
Making sure the point of view on the camera matches the POV of your painting will help to over come this issue.
To fix the distorted perspective, go to the "Settings" menu in your phone, select the "Camera" app option.
Then push the slider to the right on the "Grid" option.
Now with the Grid option turned it on, it will help to level out your image in the view finder of your iPhone.
There are additional apps you can get to help automatically detect if you need to adjust your line of balance.
This will help adjust your painting level and establish how to make sure your iPhone camera is correctly upright.
Photographing Your Art Without The Bows and Bends
Do your images look stretched or warped?
The "bowed sides" or "curve away" appearance in a photograph usually happens because the shot has been taken on a bad angle and is out of focus.
The best solution is to create some distance between the camera and the artwork.
This will ultimately help to fix lens distortion and eliminate the bowed sides look and make it easier for cropping your main image.
Cropping And Removing Clutter
When you have the image you like, its good practice to crop out the surrounding clutter from the main composition, which if course is your painting.
Simply select the Twin Right Angle icon at the bottom of your iPhone.
This function will also allow you to adjust the angle of the main image you are cropping.
This will help to level out the image.
Quite often your iPhone will try to adjust your level automatically.
So if you find you are trying to line up the level of your painting, use the straight edge tool.
Select the "Ratio Block" icon at the top of your screen.
This will then present the ratio options available at the bottom of your screen.
This option will allow you to preview your crop selection.
When you are happy you can select "Done".
How To Avoid Blurry Photos Of Your Artwork
If your photos are slightly blurry, it generally means you are taking your photos with an unsteady hand.
It can also be due to low lighting in the room.
If your lighting is too dull, it becomes harder for the camera to adequality capture a quality still shot.
The most common reason for a blurry photo is an incorrect use of shutter speed.
The best solution for eliminating a blurry photo, is to use a tripod.
If you are in need of a tripod and on a budget, I recommend the Joby.
It's small, comes with a little remote control and the tripod doubles as a selfie stick.
I also have an Arkon (seen in image) which is more expensive, yet multi-adjustable.
Both options hold an iphone perfectly for stable photos of your artwork.
Having a little remote via Bluetooth to take your photos, allows you to set a timer and be completely hands free.
You can set a 3-second timer.
Then stand back, click the button and get a quality shot without any movement.
You can also set a longer timer to enable you to personalise a photo of your painting.
Set it for 10 seconds, giving you adequate time to get a photo with you standing next to your painting.
Setting The Image Conversion, ISO And Shutter Speed
Quite often an iPhone will default your image format to HEIT (High Efficiency Image Format).
This can sometimes cause complications with software programs like Photoshop not being able to read or configure the graphic file.
The Moment app allows you to change the file format to JPEG.
JPEG images are compatible with almost all devices and software.
With the Moment App you can also configure the ISO.
ISO is the signal gain and sensitivity in a camera sensor.
It allows you to control the exposure - to increase or decrease the brightness.
Set the ISO to 32.
You can also adjust the shutter speed with the Moment App.
The shutter speed measures how long the lens remain open in order to let the right level of light in.
Set it between S 1/17 and S 1/20
Shutter speeds are measured in fractions of a second.
If you are taking your photos outside in the bright daylight, you ideally want to set your shutter speed to around 1/500 or 1/1000 of a second.
This will reduce the amount of light passing through the sensor of your iPhone camera, and avoid capturing an overexposed photograph of your artwork.
How To Avoid Glare And Reflection
The glare you often get in a photograph image is due to an imbalance of light.
There are a few ways you can avoid glare or reflection in your photographs.
One way is to turn off the flash on your iPhone.
If you've glossed your painting, a flash is simply going to reflect off it and bounce back at the lens and cause lens flare.
Another way to prevent glare and reflection is to use some soft-box lighting.
Soft-boxes are great for indoor photography.
You can pick up a Soft-box Photography lighting kit on Amazon for under $200.
A soft-box controls the shape and direction of light more than an umbrella and prevents more light-spill from occurring.
If you are taking photos outside, you can simply avoid glare by changing the position and direction of your iPhone so it's not hitting the direct light source from the sun.
You can of course shade the lens on your iPhone.
Consider using an umbrella, as this will prevent the sunlight from entering your lens directly.
Getting The Colour Coordination Correct
White balance is a setting on a camera that adjusts the balance of colour in your photograph.
White balance counteracts artificial yellow and orange colours.
Our human eyes tend to have a different perception of colours than the auto detect of a camera sensor does.
What can often appear to be a nice balance of light and colour to our human eyes, is not necessarily detected by a camera.
You can adjust your white balance on the Moment app.
Scroll across the bottom of the screen until you see AWB.
Tap the AWB and you can then adjust the white balance and colour temperature.
Move the dial back and forth until you get the right balance.
Keep adjusting until you are satisfied you have removed unrealistic colour casts in your photograph.
The standard WB balance for daylight is around 5600K.
Hopefully this post has given you a little more insight into the ease of taking great photographs of your artwork with an iPhone.
I encourage you to utilise the pointers I have outlined above.
It can only benefit the quality of imagery you produce to better showcase your artwork.
Great quality photographs of your artwork will provide you with confidence and the ability t0 really showcase your artwork to the world.
Artist/Coach/CAKUart Vibe Manager