Taking great photos of your art is an art in itself. But the rewards are great, because great photos sell artworks far faster than poor photos. Customers will buy from artists who show them exactly what they are thinking of buying. If you leave them in doubt, they will buy elsewhere.
Here are our tips for taking brilliant photos of your artwork.
More photos means more sales
We require at least three photos of each artwork, including one main photo, a detail photo, and a side view.
A second and third image should show more detail about the work. These could be close-up views showing detail and / or technique.
|The gallery photo
|This will appear in customers’ searches and in galleries, so it must must be a photograph of the entire piece, including frame (if framed), but nothing else (no background wall). It should be shot directly from the front and not be off-centre or skewed.
The gallery image should be close-cropped so that it shows the whole work but no background. This is because the “test drive” facility uses this image to place into virtual rooms where the customer can change the wall colour to match their own wall. It is important, for the “test drive” facility to work for the dimensions given, in inches, to refer to the “gallery” image only.
|The detail photo||This is a closeup of the a section of the artwork, showing the brush strokes and grain of the canvas so the customer can see what it will look like close up.|
|The side view||Photograph showing the artwork from the side, so the customer can get a sense of the physical depth of the piece. The customer needs to know how it will look when hung or mounted, so this view is critical to get sales.|
Choose a location with bright, soft lighting. Anywhere with harsh or direct lighting will cast shadows, create refections and distort the colour. A large window on an overcast day is perfect.
If work is framed, one image should show this and the description should make it clear that the price includes the frame. Some artists show framed work for illustration purposes only and make it clear that the work will arrive unframed.
In the case of works on canvas on a stretcher, one image should be a three-quarter view showing the edge of the work. Customers need to know if they could hang the work on the wall direct from the package.
You can get great photos with a relatively inexpensive camera. Make sure your lens is clean and free of dirt. Clean it with a microfibre cloth before starting work.
Choose ISO 100 or 200, or the lowest light-sensivity option your camera supports.
If possible use a tripod or place the camera on a flat surface. This will get better results than holding the camera in your hand.
The camera needs to point straight at the centre of the artwork. If your canvas is leaning against a wall, you’ll need to tilt the camera down to compensate.
What’s behind you?
Make sure the background is clean and free of dirt or marks. Don’t photograph against a busy tiled or background if possible. This is particularly important if you are photographing sculpture. You want the customer to focus on the art, not the background.
Position your camera so that there is just a small amount of background space around the painting so you get more art and less background in the finished photo.
Turn off the flash.
Adjust the white balance so that the colours are not distorted. Most cameras have the option of tungsten, flourescent or daylight.
Turn off artificial lights in your room as they give an inaccurate representation of the art.
Make sure the camera is in focus.
Make sure you hold your camera the right way up – otherwise when uploaded to the site they may be in the wrong orientation.
Take several shots of your artwork rather than one as they always look different on screen, and what looks good on your camera’s display may not look good on a monitor.
Preparing for upload
We don’t recommend “photoshopping” your art too much. Small adjustments in brightness and contrast to compensate for poor lighting should be fine.
If you don’t have any image editing software on your computer, there are many free image editing suites available for free download. Try Picasa if you’re a Windows user or iPhoto if you’re a Mac person.
Download the image files to your computer and name them sensibly so you can find them again later (the title of the artwork followed by a number is a good way to name photo files).
Now, using your image editing program, crop the main photo so you only see the artwork itself (including the frame, if framed). Double check for any visible borders around the edges.
Crop your side view photo so it shows as much art and as little background as possible. Showing some background in side view photos is inevitable.
Resave the image to your hardrive as a JPEG at the highest quality possible.
The image must be at least 1000 pixels wide otherwise our system will reject it for being too small.
The maximum filesize we can accept is 12MB (or 12288KB). You may need to reduce the JPEG quality setting when you save the image to get your image under this limit.
Go to the Upload Photo page, find the photo to upload and hit “Upload”.
If your screen goes blank it means the photo was bigger than 12MB – please resize down to under this limit.
If you see an error message saying your photo was less than 1000 pixels wide, you’ll need to prepare a wider version.
If your photo is upside down or in the wrong orientation, you may have been holding your camera or phone in the wrong orientation when you took the photo. Make sure you hold the camera the right way up for best results.
If you’re using the Safari web browser on your iPhone or iPad to upload your artist photos, you may find the Upload button disabled. There’s no function to upload via Safari Mobile. But you can use an alternative browser such as iCab. It costs £1.49 and can be downloaded from iTunes.
Photographing art for sale can be hard work, but when your pieces start selling you’ll realise how important great photography is.
Why we might reject your artwork
We’re here to sell your art. We have to be mindful of the overall quality of the customer experience, so we do sometime reject artworks because of the photography. Here’s a list of reasons why.
- Gallery photo. The gallery photo has extra background showing. For example it shows the wall where it is hanging. Crop out everything that doesn’t belong to the artwork.
- Gallery photo. The gallery photo does not show the entire piece. For example some of the frame (if framed) is not showing. Customers need to see all of the artwork in your gallery photo.
- All photos. The photo is skewed. Photograph your art square on from directly in front (does not apply to side view).
- All photos. The photos have watermarks or other markings on them. Ensure your photos don’t have date stamps, copyright markings, extra white borders etc on them. The customer must be able to see exactly what they are going to get.
- All photos. The collection of photos for this artwork contains photos of another artwork. Each artwork has its own collection. Don’t upload photos of more than one artwork into this collection.
- All photos. The photos are not of high enough quality. Photos must be sharply in focus and well-lit.
- All photos. Photos are the wrong way up. Please ensure the orientation of photos is correct prior to uploading.
- All photos. There are not enough photos to allow customers to make an informed decision about the piece.
- Artwork. The quality of the art is not high enough to sell the piece commercially. Occasionally we have to take the difficult decision to reject a piece of art because the standard of artwork is not high enough. Please do not take offence at this decision, and feel free to try again. Not all art by every artist is accepted but we may accept some of your art.