Photographs of Artwork

Do you want a portfolio of the artwork you have created?

Do you have artwork that needs a professional evaluation?

Do you want documentation of artwork that you own?

If so, you need pictures of your artwork.

It looks simple, but there can be complications!  Two-dimensional artwork (such as paintings drawings or prints) is relatively straightforward, but: if you don't get your camera exactly square with respect to your work, your picture will show skew (a rectangular object won't look nice and "square").  Smooth, even lighting is a challenge - the single overhead light in a room won't cut it!  An oil painting with shiny surface bumps can show each bump as a bright shiny spot because it reflects the light.  The results can be very distracting from what you want to show.  You can use polarized light sources to get rid of such undesired reflections.  If your artwork has a protective glass cover, the cover may produce unwanted reflections of you and your camera!  Do you want or need pictures of the back of your object?  Important information may well be there.

For three-dimensional objects, especially shiny ceramic or metallic ones, the reflection problem noted above can be even worse.  You need to think about how many views of your 3-D object you need or want.

I have taken photographs that document the fine art collection of the Museum of Northern Arizona - some 2000 objects, both 2-D and 3-D.  I have also photographed the collection of the Art Museum of Northern Arizona University (NAU) - around 500 objects as of early 2009.  I also photographed an original print by R. C. Gorman owned by NAU.  These pictures were used to assess the value of the print.  In this case, I took not only a picture of the complete print, but a montage of close-ups in which chalk marks and strokes as well as the paper texture can be easily discerned.

In a good artwork picture, the true colors of the work are very important.  You need to set the color balance of the camera correctly.  Even so, I always include a color chart as well as a scale indicator in all pictures, so that any questions about color and size of an object can be addressed by looking at the photograph.

David Shaffer Photography