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Can I Photograph My Own Artwork?

Image Capture Blog Post

Even lighting is one of the biggest challenges.

The answer is a little yes and mostly no.  It all comes down to the final intended use of your file.

Shooting your art yourself can leave you with a low resolution file that could have glare and tones that do not match the colors of the original artwork. These are the most common reasons that artists we know do not shoot their own work.  One must be careful with subpar art photography because people will judge your work online, in juried competitions, or in print publications based on the inaccuracies of that imperfect photograph. You can sharpen your art photography skills by taking local classes and workshops in an effort to learn what basics you must know before shooting your own work.  Unless you have over $10,000 to spend on a camera system you will not be able to capture enough detail for art reproduction work.

Having a professional photographer familiar with shooting artwork make a file is generally far better than shooting your paintings yourself.  Generally, a professional photographer will have a higher resolution camera and should have a better understanding of what it takes to create accurate color shots that are in focus from corner to corner.  The professional photographer will have more of an aptitude for making sure your photographs match your original painting.   These shots will be great for web/email and magazine publications but will more than likely fall short of the resolution needed for reproduction purposes.

17th century painting capture

Camera and painting must be exactly leveled and centered.

This leads us to the two downfalls with working with a general professional photographer that does not specialize in shooting art. First, even the most professional photographer uses a camera that still falls short of the resolution of a camera system with the purpose of reproducing artwork.  You may be able to use this file for reproductions, but you will be limited in size and your sharpness and detail may fall short of your expectations.  Second, unless the photographer shoots artwork all of the time he may not be prepared for how to handle metallic paints, high gloss, delicate substrates, and many more hurdles that must be overcome to get an accurate high quality photograph/capture of your work.  Don’t let anyone tell you that you need to change how you paint to make good reproductions.  An experienced art capture technician will be able to handle anything you throw at them.

If you are photographing your work with the intention of selling the original you should get your work photographed by a professional art photographer that can create a high resolution digital capture.  It will be a file that you can use for all of your needs.  If you think there is any chance at all of selling limited edition prints in the future, you will have what you need to move forward with printing.

Correct Art Image Capture Setup

Correct image capture setup.

You may only be able to find an art photographer with the high resolution digital capturing equipment at a studio that specializes in art reproduction.  These types of shops will best understand what challenges there are when capturing a high res file of your original and can deliver the highest quality file possible. We offer a stand alone 30″x40″ 300dpi, 300mb+ color correct image capture for $75 each.  This is about half the price of the industry standard for a comparable size image capture. We have many clients that use our stand alone image capture service and when/if they want reproductions in the future they can use this file.  This file will be able to be used for show submissions, web, email, and any other use you would ever encounter.

Old Town Editions, Washington DC area’s leader in art and artifact photography.