Photographing Flat Artwork,

by Anne Launcelott, SCA


  • Outdoors: Diffused daylight with bright, overcast skies is best for photographing art outdoors. Between 10 AM and 4 PM is the best time to achieve the most accurate colour rendition.
  • If it is a sunny day, try the open shade (may have to colour correct in Photoshop / Lightroom to eliminate the bluish cast of daylight shadows).
  • Indoors: Most of us cannot head outside in the winter so, although it is not as easy, it is not impossible to photograph your art well indoors.
  • Use indoor natural light by photographing your work near a window that is preferably north facing. Optimally, do this at noon and turn off all your lights to prevent any glare.
  • For Shooting Indoors and Outdoors:
    Place artwork on an easel as vertical as safely possible. Check to make sure it is placed where there is no glare on the surface of your artwork.
  • Set camera on a tripod. Make sure lens is parallel to the surface of your work and is dead center.
  • Use a digital point and shoot or SLR at least 10 mega pixels for a good quality image. A 50 mm lens is best for the least distortion. If you have a zoom lens set at 50mm. Choose the lowest ISO (100), set camera to “P” mode, use a wide depth of field (f8), camera will choose the correct speed.
  • Most art looks better with slight underexposure (set camera to -1/3 to -2/3 (in menu this is under exposure compensation).
  • Carefully align the art in the camera; make sure sides are straight and tops and bottoms are level in your viewfinder or LCD screen. Move camera so you shoot a little wide to include some space around the artwork. Will crop this out during editing, but this way you do not lose any of your image.
  • Make sure camera is steady – use a cable release or a self-timer.
  • Check the image in the LCD for sharpness (autofocus is a plus here)
  • Check again for glare and move easel on a slight angle to get rid of it if necessary.
  • Take at least three photos. One at 0,  -1/3 exposure compensation, and -2/3
  • Upload images to your computer ASAP so you can reshoot if needs be.
  • In Photoshop or Light Room, crop your image to include only your artwork, and correct colours. Refer to original work. May have to correct contrast.
  • Save as TIFF or PSD so you do not lose any file quality later on. Save it again as a Jpeg to upload it to the internet:
  • File size: For submissions: 1024 pixels/in. on the long side, resolution 72 (no larger than 2MB per image)
  • Label your files: YourName_ImageTitle_YearCreated
  • Note: If you do not have a tripod and must hand hold your camera, choose a fast speed (60+ depending on how steady your hand is) to prevent movement and thus blur. You may have to up your ISO.