Since hiring someone to photograph your work can be very expensive it’s helpful to develop a basic skill set in this area. The easiest way to photograph paintings is in natural light. A slightly overcast day works really well.  I take my paintings outside or photograph them in a room filled with natural, indirect light.  Make sure no shadows are being cast on the work.  In this image, the painting was hanging on a studio wall, near a large window:

Once you have a decent image of the work, open it in a photo editor like Photoshop or Preview.

Make the necessary edits.  In order to ensure edits are true to the original work, I keep the actual painting in front of me when editing the image. Crop the image to the edges of the painting and make any other needed adjustments.  In this case the sharpening tool was used to sharpen the slightly out of focus image. Additionally, slight adjustments were made to the saturation so that the image better mirrors the painting itself.

This is the edited image:

Common questions

Q: Should I include the frame in the photograph?

No.  One exception to this might be if the frame is integral to the meaning of the work and, without it, the viewer would not be able to fully read the work.  On a related note, always photograph works on paper before they go into a frame.  Reflective glazing makes it tricky to get a good photo of a piece.

Q: How do I photograph three-dimensional work?

Since most of my work is two-dimensional I consulted with a sculptor who told me she often takes images of work in indirect, natural light as described above.  Make sure you photograph the work against a clean, backdrop, usually white, black or gray.  Photograph multiple views of the work.

Q: How should I save the image file?

Save a very large image file (tif or jpg) for use in print and a smaller jpeg version to be used in digital media.

In conclusion, avoid using images like the one below.  Remember, photo images are often the first introduction a viewer has to your work.

Photographing and Editing Images of Your Work
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