Photograph your art like a professional



Think first about the purpose of the photograph. For example:


  • Are you submitting it for an exhibition or online competition?
  • Will it end up printed e.g. as a print or in a publication/magazine?
  • Are you sending it to someone for their opinion or advice and, if so, do you need a close-up to demonstrate the material?
  • Do you want it for your personal records?


The intended destination will affect how you photograph your work, and you may need to take various shots so that you can fulfil all of the above requirements should they be needed.



The overall aim is to see your artwork clearly, with no reflections and the colours represented accurately. The photograph should be taken from far enough away that the edges of the piece are visible — this is important to get a sense of scale, and the image can always be cropped later if necessary.



  • Mount your camera/phone on a tripod (or firm surface) for stability and accuracy.



  • The surroundings of a photographed artwork should be neutral (white, grey or black)
  • Any other objects in the image will probably be a distraction from your art.



  • Professional photos are usually taken indoors, using two identical lights aimed at the artwork to remove any shadows. The lights are positioned at 45 degree angles on each side of the artwork, and the camera is held parallel to the artwork.
  • You can get great results using natural light too. If you are indoors, turn off any artificial lights, and if you are outdoors, avoid the glare of direct sunlight.
  • Another option is to place your artwork on the floor near an open door through which natural light enters and take the photo from above.


If you are photographing a 3D work like a sculpture, you are aiming to capture its dimensions so you can try different and more experimental perspectives and lighting options.


If you plan to edit or retouch your photos, save the original first and work on a duplicate.



When saving an image to a computer, always label it with this information:

  • The artist’s name
  • The title of the work
  • Year the work was created
  • The medium of the work
  • The size of the work in cm (from small to big)

Here is an example: Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night, 1889, Oil on canvas, 73×92 cm

As digital files can be shared all over the world, you can add your copyright claim on a photographed image, i.e. add © 2016 Your Name to an image file before you send it out so each time it gets shared, your image ownership is not lost.


If you are using a smart phone, the images will automatically come with metadata showing the format, size, date and time the image was made, pixel dimension and resolution. Digital cameras vary in what data they record, with some offering different options.


Written with the kind help of photographer David Whyte @dsw_photog