How Do I Photograph My Paintings?

photoshop taking photos Dec 19, 2019

This depends on what you're trying to do. If you're trying to take a good enough image that you can make prints from you definitely need a high quality camera. I have a couple different ones. I have a Nikon D5300. And a few cameras that we use for video work - Panasonic Lumix G5s. They take good photos but I usually use the Nikon. I think it's 18 or 20 mega pixels, somewhere in that range. You need something about that high of quality if you want to take pictures that will read well and be okay for prints.

We've taken our paintings to people who are professionals and they have scanners and they've scanned the images. One guy has a $50,000 camera that will take photos of large format paintings. It's not a scanner, but it essentially works like a scanner because it has such high resolution. It's way beyond what we could do with our camera.

We just had a print company contact us to use some of my images for posters and cards. We gave them a bunch of images. Some had been professionally shot and some we had shot with our nice camera. They were good enough to self-publish, to make prints ourselves, but when we gave them to the print company their technical team said, "They're actually too blurry. They're not crisp enough for us to use." So we had to forgo that on those images. 

I would imagine that most of the images that you take with your iPhone (if you have an iPhone) would be good enough for what you would need, unless you're doing prints or things that will be reproduced.

I do put my photos into Photoshop if I see a color difference because the lighting can be tricky. You have to make sure that the photo represents your painting accurately. It doesn't always do that. You may need to put it into Photoshop and adjust it slightly. That's what the professionals will do for you also.

We have a place that we go sometimes and they will very precisely go through and make sure that all the colors line up and match perfectly. If you really need high quality photos it's worth paying somebody to do it especially if you can find somebody that you trust and that will give you a reasonable price.

But a lot of it you can do yourself. You may be able to find Photoshop tutorials (if you have Photoshop!). I know it can be a bit daunting. I had a friend who showed me quite a bit. Early on I was clueless and didn't know how to do much.

You can't just take a JPEG if you're wanting to really edit the picture. You want to take a RAW file. Those are the ones that you can edit the most.

If you have good quality images you can publish them on the internet, put them on your website, enter shows. That why it's really crucial to get quality images. In the past we neglected getting good images of every painting. There are a couple of years where I only have a few images of paintings.

I feel like there's a lot of paintings that are out there and I don't even know what they are. I don't know what they look like and I can't use them for anything. Figure out a way to take pictures. Store them and keep track of them because it really helpful and can be beneficial for you in your art career.

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