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Tips for Photographing Artwork

October 9, 2015 12:22 pm

When you pour your creativity into a painting or several paintings, the next step is to create a digital copy so you can store it on your computer, upload it into your online portfolio, order prints, and share with other artists. Taking your artwork to a digital printing company and having it scanned in is one of the best ways to get a digital copy and prints, but if that doesn’t suit your preferences or budget, you can photograph it instead. To achieve the best digital image of your artwork, you need to do more than just snap one photo and hope for the best. With some helpful tips, you can capture the beauty of your artwork on camera and then share it with the world.

Best camera settings

A digital SLR camera with high megapixel capacity works well for bringing out detail and depth in photos of your artwork. Auto-focus is acceptable sometimes, but it’s better to set up your camera manually to capture crisp lines. The higher the f-stop or aperture, the less depth and more light and vice versa for lower aperture. Set the sensor sensitivity or ISO to its lowest, usually 100, to get a sharp image and use a tripod and two-second timer delay on the shutter to eliminate camera shake.

Selecting lighting

You can use professional lighting or natural light to illuminate your artwork for the shot or a combination of both. Natural light can sometimes create glare so use a shade or a dark background to reduce or eliminate glare. For darker artwork, photograph it using a lighter background. Play around with your camera settings such as the linear polarizing filter or white balance to decrease the sunlight’s intensity. Photograph your artwork in various locations if possible until you find even lighting.

When natural light doesn’t properly illuminate your artwork, use professional lighting. Two light sources work well to reveal the detail and texture of the painting, but it’s possible to achieve the same effect with a single light source. As you’re using external professional lighting, natural light or a combination of the two, turn off your flash to avoid glare and overexposure.


The positioning of your artwork is essential to capture it well on camera. The edges of the artwork should be parallel with the viewfinder as you zoom into 50mm and above to avoid distortion at the corners and edges of the piece. Fill the viewfinder with the artwork as much as possible without losing any of it in the image and then eliminate any extra space later in processing.

Don’t be afraid to take multiple pictures of your artwork using the same position, lighting and settings because minute details can change from shutter click to shutter click and you want to have several options to choose from for the perfect image. Once you have some great images, edit them until you have photographs that are the best representations of your artwork.

For the best, high-quality printing of the digital images of your artwork bring your photos to Baboo Digital. While you’re here, ask about our Giclee and Fine Art printing services.

Featured image by Feggy Art