Ep 241: How to photograph art using basic or advanced techniques

Understanding how to photograph artwork can result in an additional revenue stream especially because there are not many art photographers around.

In this episode, Gina breaks down exactly what you need to get started. You’ll be surprised at how little gear you need to do it! Gina discusses where to place your lights, the ISO your need, what your F-stop should be and much more. And Valerie has a thousand questions!

Gina and Valerie hope you enjoy the podcast.

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Show Notes

Every photographer will eventually be asked to photograph a piece of wall art at one point or another.

There are many challenges involved in capturing artwork successfully

  • Getting the image square
  • Capturing colours accurately
  • Showing texture
  • Avoiding reflections and hotspots on highly reflective works or framed artworks
  • Post production to ensure colour accuracy and correct resolution for printing.

Gear and settings

How basic or complicated the setup becomes will be determined by the final outcome

If you are photographing art to solely share on social media the iPhone or similar is fine

If your intention is to recreate a true to a colour representation of your work for website and catalogue or reproduction then you will need a DSLR or Mirrorless camera with the capacity to shoot in manual mode. You will also need editing software like Capture One, Lightroom or Photoshop.

Social media

When you are photographing art with your phone make sure you vertical and horizontal lines are straight

If the image you are photographing is on an easel and leaning slightly back or forward then ensure your camera or phone matches the angle otherwise your artwork image will look out of whack or distorted

If the artwork you are photographing is leaning back slightly then lean your phone or camera to match the same angle

The easiest way to light art is to use garage or open shade lighting.

Avoid bright sunlight directly on to the artwork which will cause glare, overhead lights or brightly coloured walls.
The ideal location has neutral tones
Use cheap shower curtains to diffuse (soften) harsh direct sunlight
Use a white reflector to bounce more light if needed
Avoid brightly coloured concrete floors or grass because that may cause a colour cast.

Next Level

Minimum requirements

  • DSLR or mirrorless
  • Tripod
  • Easel or wall to mount artwork
  • Black cloth for reflections
  • Grey card or colour checker
  • Editing software

Set up

  • Timer delay
  • 50mm + lens
  • Tilt
  • Black cloth for reflections


  • Place camera on a sturdy tripod ( weigh it down if you need to)
  • Shoot in a horizontal orientation
  • Hang or lean painting in a horizontal orientation, it’s much easier to fill the frame
  • Shoot RAW
  • Set WB to daylight
  • ISO 100
  • F 5.6
  • Shutter speed will vary depending on how bright the light is but as long as your tripod is sturdy your shutter speed can be slow because the artwork is not moving.1 frame with a grey card + colour checker
  • Tilt highly reflective artwork down slightly to minimise reflections
  • Set shutter to timer delay to avoid camera shake
  • Shoot at a minimum focal length of 50mm to avoid distortion.
  • Use a black cloth to minimise reflections

LIGHTING POSITION_Continuous or flash

Ensure lights or evenly spaced at set at the same power settings to ensure even lighting

Placing lights on the wrong angle will cause reflections or flare on reflective artwork

Place lights @90 degrees to avoid reflections or flare


Use a sturdy tripod+ timer delay
Shoot RAW
Set WB to daylight
ISO 100
F 5.6
Shutter speed will vary depending on how powerful your lights are

PHOTO 122: Got a light? How to work with continuous lighting

Any continuous light will work
Cheaper lights have a colour cast


  • High output and relatively cheap.
  • More expensive ones are daylight balanced
  • Can be used as single tubes or banks of light
  • Warm and cool tubes can be mixed together to create specific colour temperature
  • Cheaper lights will flicker on video and have a magenta or green colour cast


  • LED stands for light emitting diode
  • More powerful LED’s have become available
  • LED lights can be daylight or tungsten balanced

CRI types of globes

  • What is CRI and why does it matter?
  • CRI (Color Rendering Index) rating.
  • The higher the CRI, the more colors that light is able to render, giving a more precise image for the camera to capture.
  • LED lights with low CRI rating will have a colour hue, greens or magenta cast
  • As a general rule, if you want good looking light look for 85+ CRI rating and preferably 90+.
  • No CRI on cheaper lights means it will have colour cast

TIP: Buy cheap continuous lighting and upgrade the bulbs to those with high CRI
Delayed timer
Grey card

Texture – ratios
Reflections tilt forward + black


  • Use a sturdy tripod
  • Shoot RAW
  • Set WB to daylight
  • ISO 100
  • F 5.6 -11
  • Shutter speed 1/200th sec
  • Vary power settings on flash until you achieve even lighting on both sides
  • A light meter takes the guesswork out
  • Chimp away if you don’t have a light meter.

Consistent lighting

  • 2 x speedlights or studio lights
  • 2 stands
  • 1 x trigger
  • Umbrella


Using a grey card and colour checker and correcting white balance in post-production will ensure your photograph has captured the true colours of the artwork.


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About Gina

Gina Milicia is one of the most widely known and respected photographers in Australia. She is the master of capturing that ‘magical moment’... READ MORE