How to Photograph Artwork: 5 Tips

While the job of photographing a piece of art may seem simple, you can face a lot of challenges in the process that you might have not thought of at all. Well, worry no more, as photographer David Bergman from Adorama presents his top five tips for photographing artwork:

1. Remove the Glass

If the artwork is framed or placed behind glass, get it removed from the glass before photographing it. Glass causes reflections and glare and makes photography very challenging.

2. Use Shade

The best way to light artwork is to use even lighting. You can achieve this by placing the artwork outside in shade. Placing it under direct sunlight will create hot spots and unwanted shadows.

3. Shoot Flat and Straight

Shooting at an angle will create perspective distortion. Always shoot artwork straight on to the camera.

4. Camera Settings for Photographing Artwork

You want the copy of the artwork to come out as clean as possible without much noise. For this, simply use the base ISO of the camera, which is usually 100. You also want the copy to be as sharp as possible from edge to edge. Dial in the aperture to around f/8; this is where most lenses perform at their best.

To avoid any kind of wide angle distortion, use focal length of around 50mm or more and avoid shooting at wide angles.

Shoot RAW and take an image of a gray card so that you can set your accurate white balance later in post. If you do not have a gray card and are not shooting RAW, you can set your white balance to cloudy or shade.

If you have an on-camera flash, be sure to turn it off.

how to photograph artwork

5. Use a Tripod

It is best to avoid any kind of camera shake so that you end up with the sharpest image possible. Mount the camera on a tripod and use a cable release or camera timer to eliminate any chance of camera shake.

photographing art

Next time you come across a requirement of photographing artwork, be sure to follow these easy and effective tips for the best results.

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2 responses to “How to Photograph Artwork: 5 Tips”

  1. Stan Hingston says:

    Two more tips I have used in photographing art.
    If I don’t want to remove the art from the glass, I rig a black cloth in front to completely cover the reflection. This requires shooting at other than 90. Tip 2 covers that problem.
    In Photoshop Elements (which I use) i first crop around the picture using the length:width of the artwork. Then I use Image>Transform>Skew to drag the corners of the picture into the cropped frame. I use this technique even if I can shoot straight on just to ensure the photograph has the same dimensions as the original.

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