Photographing your Artwork, Craft, or any Small SubjectPosted: December 24, 2009
I receive a lot of emails from artists asking me how to photograph their work because they can’t afford a photographer. I understand how hard it is to start marketing your business especially for a new artist. So I decided to help you all with the basics.
With the holiday’s, many artists and crafters want to photograph their work, but it can be hard to photograph small pieces if you don’t know what to do, so let’s talk about what I did with this really cute Christmas treat.
GETTING READY FOR THE SHOOT
First, I stabilized the piece and thought about the background. You definitely do not want your background to take away from the art piece. I planned to change the background so I will shoot a black, white, or gray background to make it easier to pull the image out and place it on my new background in Photoshop.
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Second, place your camera on a tripod and use a cable release so you have minimal movement to your camera.
Third, photograph in RAW format so you can color correct easily.
Fourth, definitely get a macro lens. See the difference of a standard canon zoom lens on 90mm shot compared to a 100mm macro lens, below:
FYI…I didn’t move my tripod or the Christmas treat.
I suggest if you don’t have a macro lens now then you should start with my favorite macro lens, the Canon Telephoto EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro. For more information on macro lens’ check out Canon. If you’re not a Canon user no worries, just purchase a macro that will work with your camera. Macro lens’ are made for “Close-up Photography” as you can see from the photograph above, a macro lens purchase is worth it! Your work will look sharp and clean.
Fifth, use a tent if your work has a shiny surface. Tents are awesome! You can use them with any style of lighting…sun, flash, etc…
PROCESSING YOUR PHOTOGRAPH
I mentioned previously that you should photograph RAW. It is easier to white balance (correct your color). You want your potential clients to see what your work actually looks like. Normally, I use my Adobe Lightroom software if my lighting is the same, whether I photograph in a studio or use natural light, if I have a segment of many photographs with the same lighting conditions, Lightroom is much easier to process. But with this piece I wanted to play with the lighting a bit so I decided to use Adobe Bridge to rename, apply copyright info and to view all of my pictures.
Once I decide to develop a photo, I’ll double click on the image, see below and to the right:
White balance, Exposure, Recovery, Fill Light, Blacks, Brightness, etc… Also, below RGB you will see boxes to click on and adjust even more to your photo. Check out Amazon to see books out there for your software.
I photographed this cute snowman in various positions and lighting. I knew that I was going to change the background and because the snowman had light and dark colors in it I shot my photographs with a light and dark background. This way I could play with both types of photos to see which one would be easier to select my subject. Just trust me…it doesn’t take long to change a background but it can take forever to select your piece in Photoshop!
SOME ADDED TOUCHES
I decided to use the shot below so I used the lasso tool to cut out the Snowman treat. I opened a new file and made a background that matched his nose and reversed the gradient tool because I wanted you to see the snowman : )
Next, I used the move tool to cut the snowman out from the selected area and placed it on top of my new background. To make the snowman fit go to Edit>Free Transform. Hold your shift key while you proportion it to the background so you don’t distort your work.
If you are happy with the photo…next clean it up, viewing it at least 100%. Sharpen your image by clicking on Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask.
This is then end result 🙂
So all you artists, crafters, or anyone that would like to photograph their small pieces of work, remember:
- Stabilize your art piece.
- Use a tripod and cable release.
- Photograph in RAW format.
- Use a macro lens.
- Use a tent if your work has a shiny surface.
If you want to go a step further to enhance your work you can change the background in Photoshop. I did:
- Select your art piece from the photograph.
- Make a new file concentrating on your background.
- Move your artwork (photo) to the background with the move tool. (drag & drop).
- Clean up your photo – remove dust and other distractions.
- Sharpen your image.
Hope this article has helped you learn how to photograph your work. Good luck and as always feel free to email me or add a comment to this post.