Cleveland Institute of Art: How to Photograph 2D Artwork


I’m going to show
you how to photograph two-dimensional artwork
for your portfolio. You only need a
couple of basic tools, such as the piece that you’re
going to be photographing, something to hang that work
with, such as pushpins, Velcro, or even tape. Then you need your camera. I have a digital
SLR that I’m using. You’ll also need clip lamps. You can get these at
any hardware store. They’re relatively inexpensive,
plus the dome shape makes it great for
directing light. And I’m using daylight-balanced
bulbs with these so I get a nice, natural color. You’ll also need something
to clip the lamps on to, such as a table or chairs. I put pushpins into
the wall, making sure that my image will be secured. When hanging artwork,
you want to make sure that it’s level on the wall. I set up my clip lamps and
chairs at a 45-degree angle so I get evenly dispersed
light throughout the artwork. When turning on your
clip lamps, make sure to turn off
all other lights so that you have complete
control over the lighting of your image. The distance of the
lights will vary, depending on the
size of the artwork and the brightness of the bulbs. All that’s left to do
now is shoot the image. Most auto settings on
cameras will work just fine, but you want to make sure
that your flash is turned off. You want to make
sure that you’re eye level with the artwork so
that when you take the image the artwork doesn’t
get distorted. For basic editing, such as
cropping, color balance, and file resizing, there’s
plenty of free software and apps that you can download.

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