Pssst…artists, this article is being written just for you.
Here’s a photo of John’s work taken by an amateur photographer (me). It’s not terrible, but as you can see it has a shine on it up towards the top and the colors are a bit off.
Here is the same piece, but professionally scanned by Scott and his team at Bellevue Fine Art Reproduction. As you can see tones are even, no shine and colors are true and vibrant.
After seven plus years of running an art gallery, I have decided to start downloading some of the information that has been rolling around in my brain for way too long. Over and over again, we work with and get submissions from artists who have not taken good photos of their artwork. It is not only frustrating, but it’s also sad because I know that many of these artists will regret this oversight in the years to come. The only thing worse than a bad photo of great artwork, is no photo at all. How are you going to archive and keep track of your artwork if you don’t take the time to get a good photo? How many times have you told yourself you were going to get a good photo of your work, but you were running behind (again) and had to take your piece to the art venue without a shot…. And then it sold and it’s out of your life like a one-night stand. Artists, please don’t treat your art this way!
Here are 5 good reasons you need to get a good photo (or professional scan) of your work:
1) If you are working with a gallery, the gallery NEEDS professional shots of your work to send out with their press release to promote YOU and your show. A gallery also needs the photos to use for online sales, email blasts to their clients, social media promotion and for exhibit catalogs. Blurry or shadowy shots of your artwork do not impress anyone, no matter how great your piece is.
2) You need great photos of your work in order to submit to juried exhibits or grant applications. I have sat on juries and I can tell you with a 100% guarantee, that if you submit lo res, blurry or shadowy photos of your work, you will not get selected for the show/grant.
3) You cannot make prints of your work with lo res or blurry photos. Prints are a great way for artists to reach out to new collectors who have smaller budgets but love your work. This is a big miss as an artist, if you’re not taking a few of your key pieces and creating some limited edition prints.
4) For artists who are not formally represented by an art gallery, it is common for you to sell your artwork online via your website and/or social media. There are wonderful collectors out there that trust a good photo and are willing to buy artwork without seeing the work in person. A photo or scan can make or break the sale. One of our artists recently had most of their pieces for an upcoming show professionally scanned. There were a couple that didn’t get scanned and they ended up taking their own shots of the work. The photos weren’t bad, they were decent, however, the pieces that were scanned were sold out before the show opened.
5) Memories fade, but a photo doesn’t. Whether you plan to be an artist for the rest of your life or not, it’s important to have some record of all your hard work. For those artists who have long careers and are successful, it is especially important to have good photos or scans of their art. How else can you have a retrospective on your work if you are not documenting and keeping track of it?
I know you artists already have a lot on your plates between creating work, finding places to exhibit your work, finding ways to support yourselves and pay bills, but I am asking you to trust me. If there is one thing that is worth taking time to get done, it’s getting those photos!