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How to Photograph Paintings

written by: Misty Faucheux•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 6/26/2011

If you're a painter, you want to be able to photograph your paintings in order to market them. But, how do you photograph paintings? Learn all the tips and tricks of photographing paintings today.

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    If you’re an artist or simply an art lover, you’re going to want to take pictures of your own art or that of others. But, taking a photograph of a painting can be tricky. First of all, you need to account for the glass if there is any, and then you want to ensure that your photograph is an accurate representation of the piece of artwork. Here are some tips on how to photograph paintings.

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    The most important part of any type of artwork photography is a good camera. Cheaper cameras make taking a photograph a little more difficult. With cheaper-end cameras, you really have to worry about parallax view. Parallax view is basically what you see versus what the camera sees and captures.

    Photo by faith goble Having to look through the little viewfinder often means that what you see and what is actually taken is quite different. To account for this, you have to cut off the edge of your photograph in post-production. This can be difficult to do.

    Using your digital camera's LCD screen will give you a little better control over the parallax view. The LCD is about 90 percent accurate so you will get a better representation of what you are photographing.

    Whatever type of camera that you are using, you need to shut off the flash. The flash will wash out your painting. And, if you have some type of glass on your painting, it will also create a reflection.

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    Tips and Tricks

    Speaking of glass, you need to have a clean glass if you plan leaving your painting in the glass. Use glass cleaner on real glass, and warm water and a wet cloth for Plexiglas since it can scratch.

    If possible, take your painting out of the glass, and just lean the painting against the wall. If not, then turn off your flash, and use a polarizing filter. The filter will help you with the inevitable glare.

    Try to get your frame in the shot if it’s a nice frame. If it’s a cheap frame, try to cut it out of the picture or remove the frame in post-production. You should take your picture off the wall to take the picture. Outside glare could reflect off the painting and cause some glare.

    Instead, lean your picture against the wall as straight as possible since it will give the best representation of your painting. This can be done by placing a piece of foam cord. The foam cord will also give your painting a neutral background, which is important since you don’t want any exterior colors or patterns in your photograph. The straighter the painting and the less exterior patterns and colors mean the less that you have to do with your camera software. It’s harder to fix these things when touching up your paintings.

    Finally, if you have to do have some wash-out or glare in your photographs, you can fix these with photo editor software like the software that came with your camera, Photoshop and others. For example, photographing your paintings often results in the softening of your pictures. Cover the un-sharp effect to correct this problem, which will make your photographs sharper. You can also adjust the contrast and brightness to make your photographs more dynamic, darker or lighter.