How to Properly Photograph Your Artwork

In a recent coaching session, someone asked me if they their art photography represented their actual work. I knew this person’s work (as I have seen the actual physical pieces) and, honestly, they really didn’t do the work justice.

That led to my thinking . . . how many others’ digital images of their artwork are just not “cutting the mustard?” And after some research I found this to be more common than I thought.

This is something to really consider. Have you really done your work justice through the digital photos taken of it? Were the photos professionally done? Did you do them by yourself? Do you have the proper equipment?

Especially in the hyper social media world of today where one photo can instantly “ripple” across many sources simultaneously, you really need to make sure you are positioning your art images in the best possible light.

I have personally always shot my own work and invested in the equipment to do so. But it IS a learning curve and if you are more of a “hands off” type of person, that’s fine, just try to take the time to educate yourself what is involved in creating the best possible images of your work.

Of course, you have different challenges for different type work. For example if you do 3-d type of work you need to factor in other things, like: angles, lighting source(s), background, type of material being photographed, etc. compared to say a relatively flat (no immediate raised surfaces) painting or drawing.

One thing I did when I was first learning to photograph my work was to hire a professional photographer and learned as much as I could from them by asking tons of questions – about reflections, about surfaces, about lighting, about equipment, about color, etc. This really gave me a “fast track” education into what I needed to do to get the results the professional photographer did.

Granted, it was a fairly “expensive” education but, then again, in retrospect, in was well worth it as I have used and practiced the skill of photographing art numerous times over the years.

It really comes down to knowing the difference between a good quality digital photo and a not-so-good one. I would recommend a honest, ruthless inventory of your current digital assists. See what you have currently. How is the color/lighting? Can they be improved? Does it do the piece justice?

Finally, keep in mind, your digital images are “always” selling your work. Once you have created quality digital images then go to the next step. Get them out there! It is so easy to set up a Flickr portfolio, or set up a blog portfolio or other types of online portfolios.

And, as you create new work, create new, great photos of them. These are your “mini” salespeople – working hard – selling your art – while you sleep 🙂 Don’t be afraid to get them out into the internet ether. Put them everywhere. You never know who will see them or want to contact you because they love your work – oops, I mean the digital images of your work!

PS: Here are a few resources that will help in learning art photography best practices:

Image above:
Sally Mann
Candy Cigarette, 1989, from “Immediate Family”
©Sally Mann. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.

7 Responses for “How to Properly Photograph Your Artwork”

  1. Owen says:

    This is a huge problem for most artists – and it doens’t help when people asking to see the work downplay it “Oh, I’d just like to ee a little something” I’ve even had people ask me to fax them a sample of my stuff(!?)

    I’t worth the time to do it properly, and certainly worth the investment to make it right…

    You have to understand that people are basing their entire purchase desision on what they see…and if it looks bad, it IS bad to them.

  2. You’ve made a very good article.
    If it’s ok with you, I would like to ask permission to use your article as it relates to my obstruction. I will be glad to negotiate to pay you or hire you for this.

    With Regards from
    Republic Polytechnic

  3. doug says:

    Please let me know the terms you are suggesting for use of articles. Thanks! Doug
    Art Marketing Association Fan Page

  4. doug says:

    Please contact me at and will be happy to discuss!

    Thanks 🙂

  5. doug says:

    Please contact me at and will be happy to discuss!

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  7. doug says:

    Hi Evalyn!

    Thank you very much for the kind comments.

    Can I ask what has helped you most by reading the blog and anything you are personally having challenges with?



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