Photographing Finished Paintings

Hi all,

One area of my practice I want to focus on is producing better quality photos of my finished works. Are there any good guides or resources you’ve found useful that focus specifically on photographing artwork.

How did you learn to photograph your paintings?

Are there any artists you’ve encountered who do a particularly good job of photographing their works and presenting them online?


Hi Jeffrey!

That is a great question as many painters do not know how. The way I learned to photography my work was in SVA when I did my undergrad as a 3d computer art major. Here is a link I found for you and I use this technique. I asked allot of questions back in the day as a friend of mine ran Duggal in NY. this setup is equal to what I learned from them.

The other way to shoot your work is on a cloudy day…or indirect light with a polarizing fileter to reduce glare. B&H in NY sells this depending on what dslr you have.

I own a canon 5d mark3. I like all canon cameras and was a Nikon girl and had a Mamiya medium format back in the day. They all lend themselves to different color temperatures when you shoot.

The best way to control this is to set your Kelvin degrees and or white balance using an xrite color card for accurate color and values. Color Monkey is the screen that goes over your computer. That will lock in color accuracy.Make sure your computer and camera are calibrated. There is a white balance setting in the computer. You need to adjust that…especially is you are using photo reference! If you are printing, make sure your icc profile is calibrate to your camera and computer.

Hoping that helps!!!


Thanks Nanci - that’s a lot of good info and help! The setup I use looks similar in outline to the link you sent, though I know I have a lot of fine-tuning to do, especially with the color calibration. Sounds like you know what you’re talking about - don’t be too surprised if I follow up with a question or 2 as I delve into this :slight_smile:

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Anytime Jeff!

And I just visited your website - great work!

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I personally use two softboxes place either side of a finished piece but at 45degrees then use a remote shutter release so absolutely no camera shake.

Some example on my site

See what you think photo wise

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Only in the gallery section the WIPs on landing page just taken roughly.

Haha site needs a clear out. Not updated it since 2015!!

thank you so much:))

Hey John,

I use them as well. It all depends on if my studio is being used with a model, which is where I usually shoot. If it is, I take it outdoors on a portable easel as I have a gray house and the back of the house in the morning is indirect night, so it works awesome. Quicker for me than taking out the lights and leaving them there to setup and then dismantle:) But soft boxes work great. I have Westcott and use my strobes as the light source as its cool light.
the website dp preview is just a forum in which you can ask questions. That is just a basic idea of how to set up lights and the angle of the light, and most important is it should be perpendicular to your painting. Most artists need a visual so that visual works great.

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Yeah I know what you mean I too have to set up the softboxes and pack them away again after as I dint use them daily and they take up a lot of room to just be leaving them set up. They are great but agree a hassle assembling the putting away.

I would be shocked if anyone wasn’t positioning their camera perpendicular to a painting to photograph it? Where else would you take it from?

You would be surprised… trust me!!! People just learning about photography do not know what we know. After all, we didn’t when we first started either:-)

I could understand not knowing about the lighting angles, camera setting but the camera placement is common sense.

Teach a photography class to painters and then lmk if many of them have common sense. You’re right… you would think:)

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This is all very interesting info. Thanks for posting everyone!

I have questions regarding the specifics of scanning and/or photography equipment. In order to not hijack this thread, I’ve created a new one.


I know this is an old post, but I’m looking for information on polarizing filters and whether or not anyone here uses one to shoot their work. Nanci- you’re one of the first people I’ve come across who mentions them! When I photograph 3D paintings on cradled panels there is almost always a little glare. I’d like to eliminate that, but I’m concerned a polarizing filter will cause the rest of the painting to look weird ie: like it’s shot through a pair of sunglasses.


Hey Nat,

It is tricky and does not always work.
I make sure my camera is wide-open on the shutter and I have it on a tripod. The other thing that helps a lot is to have the light in front of the object on an angle crisscrossing. If there’s too much bounce like you can get a black illustration board set up on a stand with clamps and try to block access light coming in.

When I use the polarizing filter I turn it until it takes away all of the glare and I shoot at F8. My shutter is on 3 or whatever that light condition calls for. This allows for the extra light. If you’re still getting glare, one thing that works is to tilt it slightly on an angle forward which illuminates glare. Sometimes, I Don’t have the light in front I have it directly overhead and even. You also want to have a black drape behind your object so that you don’t get any more bounce and reflective light. I hope that helps!


Thanks so much Nanci! Great suggestions and info- I appreciate it! <3

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