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.

Links to related content


  1. Enjoyed the video but I wish they had shown the results with the small camera as well as they are more prone to distortion but are usually the type of camera most artists use. Not everyone has a £1000 or more for the camera set up they were showing.

    Another way of getting professional quality images is via your local art society. A group can hire a professional photographer (there are photographers who specialise in art work) for a day to keep the costs down. They do that with The Austin Visual Artist Association a few times a year.

    Good advice again, Thanks

  2. You read my mind - I was also a bit surprised they were using quite such an expensive camera!

    Excellent point about local art societies clubbing together to hire a photographer to photograph artwork.