Exhibit photograph helpful hints for Thame Art Crawl

Many artists take photographs of their art in order to gain interest through social media or when applying for an exhibition/competition so it is important to take the best images possible.

SLR cameras are the best for taking photographs but smartphones are the most popular method and are getting better all the time – here are some things to be aware of when photographing your artwork:


Make sure the angle of your camera matches the angle of the painting otherwise the image will be distorted – all the hard work you have put into getting the proportions right will be wasted. Not only will this distort the image but some of the painting will be lost when you straighten the sides.

Many phones have a ‘grid’ feature – turn this on! Grid lines on the screen will help you get the camera as square-on to the painting as possible.

Settings > Camera > Grid

If hanging on a wall you may need to insert spacers behind the corners to ensure the artwork hangs parallel to the wall.

The easiest way is to lay the painting on the floor but, unless you have a tripod, it is harder to keep the phone straight and still.

One solution is to rest the artwork on a box against the wall or a chair so that you can take the photo straight on, bracing your self with your elbows on a table or your knees if crouching.

Although these points are particularly for photos of 2D art they are useful for 3D art too.


Photographing in natural light is best as it gives better colour accuracy and lighting is constant. Artificial light has ‘fall-off’- it reduces in power as you move away from it which makes it hard to get even lighting across your work.

Where possible photograph outside on a bright but cloudy day – direct sunlight can cause reflections especially on varnished artwork.

An alternative, when outside is not possible, is to place the artwork near to a window or open door either stood up or flat. Turn off all other light sources.

One thing to watch out for is the edge nearest to the window/door may be lighter due to the fall-off on the furthest edge. In some instances this can have a benefit as it will accentuate brush marks and textures but can countered by holding a white card on the shadowy side of the artwork to even up the light through reflection.

Never place the artwork with it’s back to the light! This will wipe out all of the colour and obscure detail.

Don’t photograph indoors with artificial light unless you have professional lighting equipment! (In which case you won’t be reading this)


Shooting against bright coloured walls can skew the colour balance – you are better shooting your art against a neutral background, preferably white. (This also has the benefit of giving you an uncluttered background which doesn’t fight with your artwork.)

The photographs can also have a grey cast over them especially when the artwork has a lot of white in it (watercolours are particularly prone to this). With an iPhone (most phones will have a similar function) tap the screen and a yellow box and sun icon will appear. Whilst aiming at the artwork touch the sun and use your finger to slide the exposure up and down.


This can be a problem with smartphone cameras as they have wide angle lenses – if you hold the phone too close the lens will make the edges of the canvas look curved and the centre of the frame look larger. Solution – make sure you are not too close to the artwork (you may lose detail though).


Any movement will cause blurring – it may be worth investing in a tripod and using either a remote control or self-timer to eliminate all camera movement. Make sure the camera lens is positioned at the centre of the artwork and that they are parallel with each other.

Make sure you keep looking at your artwork with your eyes rather than through the camera – in between shots look out for shadows (especially your own!) or reflections. You may find it necessary to take several shots with slight changes – you can then chose the best one.