Capturing the Best Version of Your Images

What is the most important aspect of an artist's website? The images themselves, of course! 

That's why it's important to take special care in getting the best possible version of your images on your site. This will help to make the site look more professional and will present your artwork in the best light. If you want to sells prints of your work through our prints-on-demand program, the highest-quality images are required.

The best option, of course, is to find a professional photographer to shoot your work and provide you with a file of images you can easily upload to your site. If you don't have the money to hire a professional, see if you can find a photography student at a college or art school who will give you a reasonable price in exchange for something to add to their portfolio. You can also hire a professional to take pictures of a few of your pieces, and then copy what they do for the rest of your pieces.

If you're going to photograph your own work, take some care to get it done right. YouTube videos can be very helpful in this area. And here are a few tips from Artspan to get the best possible results:

1. Use a good camera. 

Ideally, you want a camera that has a removable lens and manual settings, such as a DSLR or SLR. Point-and-shoot cameras, even with a high megapixel capacity, have inherent limitations and won't produce the best possible print (a higher number of megapixels won't guarantee a better print as megapixel rating only takes you so far and is only one part of taking better photographs). With that said, you can successfully use a newer point-and-shoot camera when the best steps are applied, such as having good lighting, setting your camera at its best quality settings, eliminating camera shake, proper exposure, perpendicular positioning and saving your post-edited images without any file compression.

Traditionally, we do not recommend taking photos with your tablet, smartphone or webcam, as the cameras in these devices will rarely meet the requirements for Prints On Demand. However, if you have one of the newer smart phones, and set it to the highest setting you should be able to capture high-enough quality images.

If you don't have a good camera yourself, see if you can find a friend who can let you borrow theirs.

2. Make sure the alignment is correct.

Make sure the four sides of the image are perpendicular. It is better to hang it on a wall than lean it against something. The camera must be parallel and straight on to the artwork so that the sides of the image are parallel to each other and perpendicular to the top and bottom. If possible, use a tripod together with a remote release or timer to reduce camera shake. If you do not have a tripod, then try to rest the camera on a stable platform. Align the camera to the subject so that it is parallel and make sure it is a straight shot. Step back and make sure the angle for both is the same as well. The edges of the work should not appear to be distorted or the perspective warped when viewed through the camera.

3. Make sure the illumination is even with no camera glare.

This is especially true of highly-textured and glossy images. Experiment with several light sources set at different angles to the work. You can use white sheets or pieces of posterboard to diffuse the light. Don't use a camera flash, as this will create a glare. You can use polarizing filters on either the camera or the lights to help reduce flare. Always be sure to remove glass and frame before shooting, as these can cause flashes and shadows. You might be able to dispatch with lights altogether if you wait for an overcast day and have plenty of natural light.

4. Crop your image properly.

You can use any image editing program to crop the image at the very edges. Be sure not to cut anything off (including dates or signature). You can use photoshop, but there are a number of free programs that should work just as well, including Gimp, Pixlr, and several others. 

5. Avoid enlarging or compressing your images.

When an image is enlarged, the program needs to guess the colors of the added pixels to the image, which results in a degradation of the overall quality of the image, and therefore the print. Enlarging or compressing your images will result in pixilation, blurriness and other problems. Also, don't use any filters or effects.

Depending on the size of your image, you can also scan your work, or have it professionally scanned for you.

The larger the file you upload, the larger the prints you'll be able to offer. When you use our Augmented Reality feature to preview the prints in your home you'll see how important it is to offer larger sizes. The live preview is a hugely important tool in selling artwork as it gives prospective buyers what they really want which is to preview the art in the space they intend to place it - at scale!

More information on avoiding common image problems and our image requirements for Prints-on-Demand can be found here.