Tuesday, December 15, 2015

How to photograph your art for a digital submission

As more and more art competitions and open exhibitions change over to digital entry, it's becoming more and more important to know how to photograph your artwork.

One thing I do know from the very many images of artwork that I see on people's blogs / websites / Facebook is that lots of people do NOT know how to produce a good quality image which
  • avoids photographic distortions
  • loses the grey background which should be white 
  • shows the colour accurately.

You can scan your work or you can photograph it - but whichever approach you use you need to do your homework about how to:
  • avoid common problems
  • make your work look like it does in reality

Photographing artwork


One of the benefits of digital submission is that everybody and his or her spouse has asked the competition organisers how to produce a good quality image!

There's a limit to how many questions that organisers get asked before it seems like a good idea to produce a good quality advice note! So - what the very large art competitions have got really good at is producing documentation and videos showing people what to do.

So what follows is not me explaining how to photograph artwork - it's the people who run the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy and the people who run the BP Portrait Award!


Royal Academy of Arts


National Portrait Gallery | BP portrait award


Eliminating grey paper which should be white


These are a couple of posts I did back in 2009 which come out for an airing every so often. They tackle the perennial problem of photography which produces grey paper.  Both reference Photoshop Elements (at the time) and how to get the grey back to white.

Scanning artwork


The main advantage of scanning artwork is that it gives a very even colour - but only so long as the artwork is completely flat and fits onto the platten. That's fine if your work is smaller than A4 and not if it's bigger - unless you want to invest in a good quality A3 scanner.

When scanning you need to use at least 300 dpi - and that means you need to check the scanner resolution before you use it.

More about scanning in a subsequent post.

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