Photography of Paintings


Photography of Paintings

There are a lot of reasons that you may want to photograph a painting, drawing or object in question.

One question I get asked often is what is the best way to do this. Assuming the painting is not too reflective the easiest way is to photograph the artwork in soft natural light. You need to make sure the light is even across the surface of the artwork and it is usually best if the light comes from a slightly oblique angle.

Use a tripod for camera stability and turn off your camera flash. In all seriousness, a flash aimed directly at the piece is your enemy when photographing art. If there is a highlight or shiny area to be found, your flash will find it, spotlight it brilliantly and render it nearly unrecognizable in the resultant image. The glaring spot will bear little resemblance to that which a person actually sees with the naked eye.

Don’t mix the colour temperature of the lighting.

Make sure the camera is right in the centre of the painting (both vertically and horizontally)

A polarising filter may help with reflective paintings. With a highly reflective painting the best way is to polarise the light using a sheet of Polarising gell, these will hang in front of your lights.

Here is an example of a Painting that I photographed for the Aboriginal artist Gloria Petyarre


And another from Heather Shimmen