HOW TO TAKE HIGH-QUALITY PHOTOS OF YOUR WORK ON A BUDGET
Have you ever seen a dope piece of work but the photo was cloudy or pixelated or the lighting just wasn't there? Me too, including on most of my older work. Presentation helps land that sale/opportunity and is a representation of your investment in yourself, as well as your brand. Quite frankly, poor quality photos take away from the details in your art and can be seen as unprofessional, especially if this is the only reference potential customers and clients have to base your skills off of. It sucks, but it's the truth. You spend hours perfecting your paintings to your/your client's liking and your photos should reflect that. Think about it, if you were shopping online at your favorite retail store or boutique, viewed their inventory, and noticed that all the photos were unclear or look as if someone snapped it with their phone on a cloudy day, how likely are you to purchase an item? How likely are you to even find that perfect item to purchase? Yeah, not likely at all.
If you have the budget that allots for a studio, primary and secondary lighting, a cool backdrop, or expensive camera, awesome! WERK (lol). But lets face it, some of us don't.... not yet at least and that's ok! Fear not, because if there's a will, there's always a way! Here are some of my tips for taking high-quality photos 100% from my iPhone - mind you, I'm no photographer, just a BGWP utilizing her resources until I can either learn the ins and outs of photography or can HIRE an actual photographer lol. NOW THAT'S GOALS!
1. Catch the sunlight
There's nothing like good lighting, especially natural lighting! When you're taking photos of your pictures, try going outside or using a room that has a lot of windows. Natural lighting tends to help translate the details of your paintings well on photographs. If you're using a smart phone, it will zoom and focus better in natural lighting.
2. Use lamps without the shade
If you can't wait until daylight, use a lamp without the shade. Try to make the light source centered as possible in your photo. You'll have to play with your angles using this tactic because there will be a glare, as the light source is coming from a small origin aka the light bulb. Get creative! Don't be afraid to get in crazy positions when taking photos so the glare and possible shadow from your hand or phone is minimal as possible.
3. Crop, Crop, Crop!
Having a background or backdrop is fine in certain situations, but make sure the main attention is always on the painting. Sometimes having a busy background can be a distraction and take away from the aesthetics. Don't be afraid to crop the background completely out of the picture into a square or rectangle. The less background (or quite frankly no background), the better, but if you do insist on having a background, make sure its a solid color that complements your painting.
4. Don't zoom, get closer if you can
On certain cameras, zooming in can lose key details and limit your light source from hitting your photo affectively, causing an unnecessary blur or fog in your picture that wouldn't be present if taken without zooming. If possible, get closer to your painting and then take the photo so your details aren't altered. You can always crop after taking the photo if there's acsess space around your painting.
5. Take the photo straight on not from the side
Unless specifically trying to get certain details on your stretched corners or trying to focus on details that have dimension (ie. glitter, gold leaf, texture), take the photo straight on. A trick I've used it lining up the sides of the painting with the frame of my camera. It's good to give different angles of your painting but it's most important to present the most accurate representation of your painting as someone would see it hanging on the wall directly.
6. Go easy on the filters!
When cleaning up photo, manipulate the light and color settings only to provide an accurate representation of your painting. Enhance your photo, not distort it. You want to get the colors and details as close as possible to your actual photo. If you think your edit or filter is too harsh, it probably is and the viewer can probably tell too. Ditch the Lofi and Juno filters and head to the light and color settings.
Remember these are just the interim tips that I've used to take high-quality photos of my paintings while on a budget. Investing in a good camera and/or patronizing an awesome photographer will save you time and a headache in the future but in the meantime, dont be afraid to work with what you have. You'll see the difference in clarity and details, as well as be able to market yourself and your paintings more effectively! (All photos were taken via iPhone)