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How to Take Great Photographs of Paintings

This guide contains instructions and tips for taking clear photographs of your painting. Photograph your painting in a clean and clutter-free area. Make sure that your hands are clean and dry. You may consider using gloves. 

If your painting is framed under glass, and you feel comfortable removing it from the frame, we recommend that you do so. Glare can distort your photographs. If you are not comfortable with this step, don’t worry, you can still take great photographs of your artwork.

Select an area with good, preferably natural light. You may consider photographing your painting outside or in a room with strong, natural indirect light. Note that direct sunlight can exacerbate glare and distort the image.

If you do not have access to natural light, take two light sources with the same wattage bulb and place one to the right and left of the work, so that they illuminate the item evenly from each side.

Artwork Position
It is best to hang your artwork on a solid-colored wall or use an easel, if available. You can also position the work against a plain or neutral backdrop or surface. Make sure the painting is as upright as possible. 

Camera Position
Make sure the entire painting is in the frame, including corners and frame edges. Hold the camera “straight on,” parallel to the center of the painting. If you have a tripod available, use it.

Our experts need several photographs of each painting:

  1. Image of the Entire Artwork. Be sure to include the entire artwork in the frame.
  2. Images of the signature, date, and any other writing on the work.
  3. Close-up images of interesting, detailed, or beautiful areas.
  4. Images illustrating the surface texture and brushstrokes. Move the camera to an angled position, so that the light falls across the surface and emphasizes the texture of the work.
  5. Close-up images of any paint loss, craquelure, or other damage. Accurately reporting condition issues is essential to selling your painting. 
  6. An image of the entire back. Make sure that the entire painting is in the frame. 
  7. A close-up image of any labels, stamps, or writing.