Reprinted from my blog post for The American Tapestry Alliance, March 24th, 2017
One of the major reasons artwork is rejected from exhibitions is poor photography. Don’t let this happen to you. A good photo is essential in promoting your work. There are two options: do it yourself; or hire a photographer.
If you have the funds to hire someone, I suggest getting recommendations from people you trust. I once hired an inexperienced photographer and was disappointed with the results. If you are looking for someone to shoot fiber art make sure they have experience in shooting textiles. This will save time and money. If you do use someone else to photograph your work be sure to credit them when you use their photos.
I’ve done all my own photography with a digital camera I bought in 2005. The exceptions are two pieces that were too large for the capabilities of my camera and skills at the time. I also have Photoshop, where I can crop, adjust size, color correct, name files and make my images web ready. We’ll get into all that in another post.
I have an Apple 6s cell phone and it takes better photos than that old digital camera. So lately, I’ve been using my cell phone for most of my photos. If you have a good smartphone you can do the same. There are several good sites that give you excellent directions for using your smartphone. Kat Eye Studio is a place to begin.
You can get good quality photos with your smartphone if you take the time to do a few key things:
- You need to get sharp images. This can be accomplished best with a full size or tabletop tripod and phone attachment adaptor. If you don’t have a tripod you can set your smartphone on a sturdy surface at about the same height as your work and shoot using the timer. You don’t want to accidentally jar the phone as you touch the screen to take the shot.
- Lighting should be bright and indirect, natural light if possible. If you don’t have that option use overhead lights.
- Once you photograph your work, immediately look at it on a larger screen than your phone so you can see if you need to make any changes. A desktop monitor is best, a tablet or laptop will do.
- When framing the shot fill the screen on your phone as much as you can, given the differing shapes between phone screen and artwork, but don’t cut off the edges of your work.
- Shoot in HDR mode when possible. This gives you a better quality image.
- Take advantage of editing apps. Here is a list of apps you can start with if you’re on the iPhone and here’s a similar list for Android. Another recommended app is Camera+.
- When editing an image on your smartphone, check the focus, sharpness, and color correct and crop the image. Be sure to keep the colors true to the artwork.
If you have a digital camera you have some options a cell phone doesn’t allow. Paired with a good photo app where you can make adjustments, you can be your own photographer. Below are some resources to help you.
There are several articles at the Creativity Journey blog that will be of use.
In Shuttle, Spindle & Dyepot magazine you can find an in depth series of articles on photographing your work written by Gregory Case. The articles begin in Issue 165 (Winter 2010/2011) and go to Issue 185 (Winter/Spring 2016).
TextileArtist.org has an article on the best cameras for photographing artwork and an article on photographing textiles.
Photographing your work doesn’t have to be a daunting or expensive experience. I hope that the information here will help you.
Capturing a Sharper Image with your Smartphone by Gregory Case Shuttle, Spindle & Dyepot Vol. XLVI No. 2 Issue 182 Spring 2015