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Taking Successful Photos of your Artwork for your Website Gallery

Updated on February 9, 2017

Artists Need Beautiful Photographs for their Websites

If you're an artist you need to present your artwork to it's best effect on your website. You can hire a professional photographer to photograph your work and you'll get beautiful results but it's expensive. Taking your own photographs that look great takes some time and work but it can be done.

This is photographing for web presentation, I don't have experience photographing for presentation in a traditional portfolio so if that's what you want I can't guarantee these methods will give you all the results you want.

To see more photos of my artwork check out my website Noadi's Art.

Photo Ideas for Selling Online

Step One: Equipment

I recommend a good quality digital camera, which in the last few years have become very affordable. You could use a traditional film camera just as well but you get faster results with digital and can see immediately if you need to tweak your setup.

If your work is small you should make sure your camera has a macro setting (usually indicated by a flower symbol).

Second to a camera the most important tool you need is a tripod. No matter how steady your hand is it still will shake a little bit so to get a good crisp photo you need a tripod or at the minimum something to set the camera on to steady it like a cardboard box or table. I can't overstate how important it is to be able to stabilize your camera.

Step Two: Lighting

Natural Light: The most beautiful lighting you will ever find is going to be from the sun, however the weather doesn't always cooperate. Try to avoid early morning, and evening sunlight as it's a bit reddish, and while it's very pretty it warps the colors of your work and you really want to try to capture it's true colors. Strong direct sunlight will also wash out the colors. Best is more diffuse light such as through a southern exposure window or on a slightly overcast day.

Creating your own lighting: Since Mother Nature doesn't always cooperate (and living in New England like I do that's frequent) you are going to have to create your own lighting sometimes. The best way to do this is to use a light tent. You can buy one or use one of the following links to find plans to build your own (don't worry it's easy).

Step Three: The Backdrop

There's really just one basic rule of creating a good backdrop for your artwork: it shouldn't distract the eye from your work.

The simplest backdrop you can use is often the best, a piece of matboard or fabric. Keep it simple, it should be a solid color that doesn't distract the eye. Neutrals are great, black, white, beige, are never going to detract from artwork. If you must have more color don't go really bright, you want your art to pop not the background so keep the background less vibrant in color than the artwork. Bedsheets work well so long as they are ironed well. My personal favorite is to use either bleached (white) or unbleached (creamy tan with darker flecks) muslin fabric which is typically only a couple dollars a yard and since it's a staple of sewing can be found at any fabric store. Another great alternative however a bit pricey is to use black velvet, it is just about the blackest fabric you can get and absorbs light well so you don't get the areas of light and dark in the background that you get with other fabrics.

Step Four: Taking your Photos

This is the simplest part. Set up the tripod in front of your work, position it and your artwork to the angle you like best. For a digital camera you should be taking photos at a high resolution even though you will be scaling them down for use on a website. Most digital cameras do a good job of automatically adjusting for the lighting but if you are using a film camera you may need to make camera adjustments for the lighting. If you are shooting from less than 3 feet away turn the macro setting on and take your picture.

Photo Studio Walk Through

Reader Feedback - Leave any comments, questions, or criticism you might have. I appreciate it all.

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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      You can resize your pictures and images without changing their quality. There is no need to install any additional software on your computer to make Simple Image Resizer do its job

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      The online image Resizer helps you optimize photos for web or email. Easy to use. Amazing results.

    • ronickcompany profile image


      8 years ago

      Very insightful, great lens!

    • adamfrench profile image


      8 years ago

      Impressive lens, thumbs up

    • Heatherseesthel profile image


      8 years ago

      Thank you for breaking this down into simple steps! I really appreciate it! And as someone who works both in the arts and the lighting industry, I will say I'm glad you included lighting as an important step. You can make the most beautiful work in the world, but if no one can see it....what's the point. Anyway, thanks for the great lens!

    • WaynesWorld LM profile image

      WaynesWorld LM 

      8 years ago

      Very informative!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Learned a lot..Thanks for being so kind enough sharing those tips.

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 

      9 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      thanks for the useful tips

    • Craftyville profile image


      10 years ago

      Thanks for the great tips, specifically the light tent plans.

    • Sheryl Westleigh profile imageAUTHOR

      Sheryl Westleigh 

      11 years ago from Maine

      You might want to check your white balance settings on your camera to make sure they are set for the type of lighting you are using. Also make sure the flash is off. I've had bad luck with the lighting setup you describe, try one of the links for making a light tent it makes a big difference using one and they aren't hard to make.

      Taking your baskets outside will work, you shouldn't need your lights for that but you will need a backdrop setup so they look proffessional. Make sure you aren't taking the photos in direct sunlight because the lighting will be too strong, overcast days I've found work best.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Question: Right now am taking pictures of my gift baskets and putting them on my site: I was told by a few who also take the same type pictures to try it this way and I have been doing it this way, but they still don't come out right most of the time, this what they told me: Put one light on each side/using round flood litght/100 watts and one in front about four or five feet away, turning all of them to the celling, am using Four prix digita. I try to position the lights different ways, so am taking four or five shots of product in order to get the one that's ok, then I go back to my program and try and lighten up the photo. The gift basket exchange told me to take them outside, but it seems that I still have to take my lights with me and set-up. I really want to have a good presentation, with a business look.

    • DrRichard LM profile image

      DrRichard LM 

      11 years ago

      Great tips and a great lens. 5 stars!

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Good info here 5*

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 

      12 years ago from Idaho

      Great lens, 5 stars for you!


    • archetekt lm profile image

      archetekt lm 

      12 years ago

      Very good Lens and information. 5* for you.

      I also like photography and polymer clay.

    • Missi Troble profile image

      Missi Troble 

      12 years ago

      Excellent lens and information! If you get a chance, visit my Photography lens.

    • Mark-Nehs profile image


      12 years ago

      Great step-by-step useful information lens. 5 stars.


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