I believe having good images of your work is one of the most important things you need. Before I met Joel, back in the days of slide submissions, i had some work photographed. When I met Joel, I showed them to him, and without taking a close look, he said they were too blue and the color was not corrected. Watching him photograph artwork and spending time in photoshop, I finally asked him to write a guest blog for me about the advantages of using a professional.
Joel Conison was a commercial photographer for over 20 years in Cincinnati. During that time he photographed countless works of art for the Taft Museum, so he has extensive expertise in photographing all types of artwork – both 2d and 3d work. At the end of what Joel wrote, I included two images, one that was corrected and one that wasn’t. I think you will be able to tell the difference between them. But I will say since they are images of my work, I know the second image is right on with the correct color.
The following is Joel’s blog
There are a number of reasons to hire a professional photographer to photograph your art work. One of them is that they are a professional and have done this before. A pro knows how to properly light your work with the proper equipment. Yes, you can buy the same equipment, I’d be happy to tell you what I use. But, do you want to go that expense? Do you want to take the time and practice to learn how to do that when you could be making art?
A professional also has a light meter which allows them to know if the light is evenly covering your work. Also a professional is using a professional camera. A point & shoot camera will work but only records jpg files. That’s fine for the web & submissions but not if you want prints unless your final size of the file is the size you want to print.
Another issue is photographing pieces that have been framed & behind glass. What is needed for this are two filters, one for the camera & one for the lights, each light. The light needs to be polarized in order to remove the reflection. Without filters on both camera lens & both lights you can not remove the entire reflection.
There is also the need to bracket on occasion, which means making a lighter and darker exposure than the “normal” exposure. This allows the photographer to choose the “correct” exposure. This is essential when using the polarizing filters because a meter reading is too difficult to take as you can’t take the filter off of the lens because the filter is turned (rotated) until the reflection disappears. The correct exposure is determined by placing a black & white step wedge next to the art work & determining the correct exposure by looking at the step wedge. A step wedge is a series of increasing darker grays beginning at white & progressing to black. For really good files you want to capture that art work in RAW format, which brings another question.
Are you competent with Photoshop, or do you have a few months to battle through the learning curve? A Pro is going to provide two files for every art work. One will be a jpg file for web, submissions & email, and also a psd file (hi-res) for publications. All digital files should be neutralized, meaning there is no color bias in the file (is it too red, too blue, etc) and also sharpened. No matter how well you focus the camera all digital files need to be sharpened. It’s the nature of the way digital capture works that sharpening is required for all files.
So in summation it’s a good idea to have a pro photograph your work because they have the proper lights, camera, photoshop experience and additional skilsl that you might not posses. Submitting bad files digital files is the same as submitting bad slides.
If you are interested in getting your artworked photographed for a reasonable fee, contact Joel at firstname.lastname@example.org