Photographing your Artwork
for Ex Arte Equinus
As the winning works will be appearing in a printed format rather than in a gallery setting, part of the judging criteria will include each image’s suitability for publication.  As the artist, it is your responsibility to make sure that you photograph your work at its best.

For flatwork (paintings, drawings, etc)
1: turn off the flash! (see below)
2: make sure the work is perfectly perpendicular to the camera (i.e. not tilted or skewed)
3: fill the frame with the painting or drawing (if the work is framed or matted, do not show the frame or mat)
4: if the work is framed under glass, photograph the work without its glass covering if possible
5: use proper (sharp) focus

When you prepare your images for entry, ask yourself these questions while you look at your images:
Do the colors look accurate in your photo, or are they yellowish or blueish?  Are there any ‘shiny’ highlights on the surface? Is the painting or drawing placed flat and square to the camera, or does it lean (creating distorted edges)?  Are there undesirable shadows falling on the image?  Is the picture sharply focused?  Too bright or too dark?
 

Above, left:: How Not to Shoot your work.  Painting is poorly lit (flash), leaning (not square to the camera), and the photographer is not at eye level with the piece (perspective).  It also needs to be cropped to exclude the distracting wall and the floor.  Compare this image with the one on the right, which has been properly photographed and cropped.
 
 

For 3-dimensional work (sculptures, etc)
1: turn off the flash! (see below)
2: make sure the work is perfectly perpendicular to the camera (i.e. not tilted or skewed)
3: position work against a neutral background (i.e. gray, wrinkle-free cloth free of noticeable texture)
4: fill the frame with the piece
5: take one photo showing the entire piece, and at least one in a close-up of an integral part of the piece (like the face), with complimentary shadows/lighting
6: use proper focus (make sure the important part of the piece, such as the horse's eye or face, is razor-sharp)

When you prepare your images for entry, ask yourself these questions while you look at your images:
Have you photographed your sculpture against a plain cloth background that complements the piece, or does the background include trees that overwhelm the sculpture? Does the light in the photo flatter the sculpture, or do strong shadows overpower the piece and swallow up details?   Does the camera distort perspective and make the piece look incorrect?   Is the image too bright or too dark?
Want to make sure your sculpture will be considered for the Ex Arte book cover?  Include a close crop of the piece in your group of submission photos--and compose that photo to make an exciting image.
 
 

More tips:
Using a flash will usually not be flattering to the artwork; it will create ‘hotspots’ of shine and harsh shadows and contrast.  Use a tripod or a steady table and shoot a timed exposure instead.  For flat work, early morning full sunlight falling directly on the painting (straight on, not from the side) works well.  For sculpture, soft, indirect light works best.  Cloth drapes should be neatly pressed and free of sloppy-looking crinkles.  A solid, neutral color is mandatory; never use a backdrop that has a pattern, multiple colors, or heavy texture.  Be sure to position the cloth so that any draping does not compete with your work.

Give your images a final once-over before entering them; check for fingerprints/smudges on the work, weird shadows, camera straps, lint, or fuzz.  Look for anything that doesn’t belong--even the odd fly that might have passed as you snapped the photo! AND--Crop your image so that the frame and / or mat do not show.