Monday, 13 March 2017

An artist's guide to Photographing your own Artwork

Book Cover of Photographing your Artwork

I've prepared a simple guide for artists on how to photograph their artwork, from 2D paintings and collages, 3D pottery or sculptures or reflective objects like jewelry.

Many artists need photographs of their artwork for a range of different purposes, from creating prints to advertising to for their websites and online shops. We all seem to have cameras of some form, from those on our smartphones, via tablets, pocket and bridge cameras to expensive SLRs. But often, when you take pictures yourself, they can seem unsatisfying, or you are unsure about the best picture to take and use.

Quite often, I'm asked by others who do occasional photography for some help with their cameras and pictures. So I thought, wouldn't it be useful to summarise a lot of my basic tips and tricks for photographing artwork into a handy simple reference guide.

I'm a long-standing photographer, who learnt the craft well before the digital era, when film was still the only way to take pictures. My speciality is photographing subjects really close up, though the microscope if I can! This requires quite a detailed knowledge of how cameras work and the physics and techniques of photography, as well as how to edit the photos to get the best final picture. I also exhibit with Cambridge Open Studios, paint and draw with both conventional and computer based tools.

The experience has helped me both with photographing my own artwork and that of others. This includes photography for small museums preparing digital archives of their collections.

The Kindle book, available at, starts off with four handy one page cartoon checklists, like the one for 2D art shown on the left. In fact, you may be able to use this one here straight away!

If you are familiar with your camera and basic photography, these are handy reminders as you prepare for taking your best pictures of your artwork.

There are three photography checklists, for 2D artwork such as paintings and drawings, 3D artwork such as pottery and one for reflective pieces such as jewelry.

Once you have taken your pictures, you also need some guidance on how to edit these digitally to get the best result. This is covered  by the 4th checklist.

The bulk of the book follows the checklists and goes through them with a more detailed explanation. The phrasing and advice is aimed at you, the artist. It minimises jargon where possible and does not go off into more detail than absolutely necessary. Whilst there are so many different cameras about in our possession, from our smartphones, via tablets, pocket and bridge cameras to expensive SLRs, most of the fundamentals described in this book apply to them all.

If you want to give photographing your own artwork a go or aim to achieve even better results than you have in the past, then 'Photographing your own Artwork' by Chris Thomas is for you and available at available at for a couple of pounds/dollars/euros.

Let me know how you get on by emailing me Chris, chris(at)

Good Luck!


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  3. Hi Chris, I'm an artist/painter and photographer. I'm glad to see you've put together this guide, much needed! I've read just about every blogpost out there on this topic, and forums etc. I have always had the best luck with shooting outside in the shade, but recently bought some Tota lights. They're 750 watt incandescents. I've been experimenting with cross polarization, but I find it creates too much contrast and flattens my oil paintings visually. Anyhow, I will purchase your book and give it a read! You can see my work here:

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