Photography tips for photographing illustrations and other prints
May 7, 2017 8:31 AM   Subscribe

I am selling (physical-hold-in-your-hand, not digital download) illustration prints online. I need some tips on how to photograph these prints so that they look clean, clear, color-accurate, and attractive enough to buy.

I mainly want to make sure that I:

- Avoid flash glare (some of the prints are on glossy or semi-gloss paper)
- Avoid too much color inaccuracy. I realize that this can range depending on the device with which someone is viewing the image, but it would be great to know whatever I can do to close the gap between what the print looks like in real life and how it shows up in the image online.
- Do print illustrations sell better if the picture shows what they look like framed and on a wall? I imagine they do. Is it best to take a few shots of it literally in a frame on the wall, or can I take a single shot like this and use it as a template where each time I switch out (using Photoshop) the image in the wall frame?
- Any other tips or things to consider?

Note - I do own a small photography tent with lights. I've used it in the past to photograph objects for sale on Ebay, but find it cumbersome at times. So, if there's a way to just photograph these on a table top, or outdoors when it's overcast - without the use of the tent - I'd love to hear.
posted by nightrecordings to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Here are some basics

If you're doing it a lot, make a more or less dedicated setup if you can. If you use the same lights every time, spend some time finding a good color temp and tint adjustment setting and just use that every time. You can do this in Lightroom or whatever photo editing suite you use, or some cameras will allow you to make custom color balancing profiles.

If you still get some glare with lights at the side like this, then the typical solution is to use a polarizing filter on your lens, and polarizing filters on the lights. Don't bother with this unless you specifically have problems, and if you do have some glare, try just a polarizer on the lens first.

I couldn't say whether people would rather see the print framed or not - I don't sell stuff like this. But I have photographed plenty of documents and artworks this way.
posted by RustyBrooks at 9:53 AM on May 7, 2017

Always use a tripod.
posted by the Real Dan at 11:35 AM on May 7, 2017

I would not try to photograph them. Why are you not scanning them if they're not digital to begin with? As for literally a frame on the wall, people generally use staging now, and thus there is no actual frame or all involved. But, again, you're going to need digitals of your artwork.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:54 PM on May 7, 2017

I would not try to photograph them.

I used to think this, but scanning is way more time and labor intensive than photographing them. I can probably take photos of 5 prints/minute, maybe more if I get an assembly line going. Quality is fantastic. Also photographing works with a lot of print sizes but home scanners generally have pretty small scanning areas and anything bigger I've got to take somewhere.
posted by RustyBrooks at 4:46 PM on May 7, 2017

If you have a smartphone, try Google Photo Scan. It's meant to use for digitizing your old print photos, but I just used it to capture my daughter's old student paintings and sketches ranging in size from 3x3 inches, to 24x36. I was impressed with the quality and the speed. It's something you can try right away and see if it suits your needs.

Obviously, the quality of the digital file will depend largely on the quality of your phone, but you can adjust color in Photoshop if needed.
posted by The Deej at 6:06 PM on May 7, 2017

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