In my line of work, I look at a lot of artwork. I’m lucky enough to see pieces from emerging artists, established artists, and everyone in between. Quite frankly, it’s a lot of fun, and always very encouraging to see all the talent that’s out there.
But it also drives me crazy when I see great works of art stuck in really unflattering photographs.
I’m talking about artwork photos that are cropped a bit larger than the artwork itself, so you see the artwork PLUS a tiny sliver of the dining room table behind it. Or a couch. Or a taupe wall.
I’m talking about photographs that show a beautiful painting angled away from the camera lens so one end looks pinched and far away, while the other is bloated, coming straight at the viewer. (Here’s a method for fixing skewed artwork in Photoshop by the way.)
Most common of all, I’m talking about photos that look fine, except for the weird blue light or orange light—or any other light—casting a lurid glow over the entire piece, leaving the viewer to guess what the painting actually looks like.
It’s not easy to take great photos, so I get why these things happen. But it’s simply TOO IMPORTANT to not work on it, and take steps to improve. If even one visitor to your website thinks less of your art because of the photography, that’s one too many.
Here are five reasons why it makes a huge difference to use professional quality photographs on your art website, rather than any old snapshot:
1. Better photos make you look more professional
When a visitor to your website sees distorted artwork—either because it was photographed at an angle to the camera, or because the camera lens is too close to the artwork—it gives them the indication that you don’t care how your artwork is represented.
Basically, a bad photograph says. . . “Meh.”
A bad photo lacks polish, lacks professionalism, and gives the idea that maybe you’ll ship the image on time, maybe you won’t. Maybe there’ll be other issues with the artwork. . . who knows!
There’s simply less confidence in you as a professional.
Of course, it goes the other way, too. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a new artist or if you’ve sold thousands of dollars worth of art in your life. If your photos are rock-solid, crisp, dead on center to the camera, and cropped precisely so nothing shows but the artwork itself—you’ll gain that badge of professionalism right from the start.
2. Better photos show your viewers the truth
Refunding purchases is never fun. Neither is paying for return shipping.
When your photos don’t look like your artwork does in real life, your buyers won’t be happy. At the very least, it’ll be tough to get a second purchase from them. More likely, that work of art is headed straight back to your studio, and the payment is headed right back to the buyer.
Besides, what if your artwork photo is a little blurry, or dark? Art buyers are especially choosy when making purchases online, because it’s harder to gauge exactly what something will look like in real life, when you can only view it on a screen.
The crisper your photographs are, and the more life-like you can get those colors, the more likely you’ll make sales in the first place. Great photos mean more sales, as well as happier customers after the sale is complete.
3. Better photos mean fewer distractions for visitors
If there’s something odd, blurry, or murky showing up in your artwork photographs, your viewers will be asking “What IS that thing??” rather than getting swept away by your artwork.
Don’t allow your viewers to get distracted by a fluorescent orange timestamp in the bottom-right corner of the image, and be careful not to let your camera flash glare off of the surface of your painting. (A huge copyright watermark over everything might not be the best choice, either.)
The less you do that pulls them away from the magic of your artwork, the better.
4. Better photos raise the value of your artwork
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. . . but value is created intentionally.
So be intentional!
Professional images make it look like you deserve to ask a professional price for your art. Crisp, beautiful photographs of your artwork, cropped correctly and color-corrected will always raise the value of your work in people’s minds.
Shoddy images indicate cheaper artwork, and that is NOT where you want your artwork to land in other people’s perceptions. The good news is, there’s a quick, easy way to increase the value of your artwork. All you have to do is improve your photographs.
5. Better photos make it easy to promote your website
When you artwork looks good and your website looks professional, you’re MUCH more likely to mention it to potential collectors. It’s like dressing well, and as a result, having the confidence to speak to someone you’re attracted to for the first time.
If you’re worried about how your images look, because you KNOW they’re a bit sloppy (or if you just feel self-conscious about your site in general) you won’t want to hand your card out or strike up a conversation about your art.
At that point, it’s much easier to just make an excuse in your head, and walk away. . . and then, the opportunity is lost!
If so, the first thing you need to do is take stock of your images. Most of them will probably be OK! Those, you can leave as they are, and just focus on the ones that need improvement.
Second, you’ll need to replace those poor images with better ones. Either take new and better photographs of those works of art, or edit the original images in Photoshop (or some other image editing program) so that your artwork looks professional even if that photo started out poor to begin with.
Third, from now on, you may as well figure that you’ll always need to do SOME editing on every photograph you take.
Cropping, adjusting the angle of the artwork, and fixing minor color problems are just good sense. We do all of these things for our Hands Free Artists, and it truly does make a huge difference in the final result.
If you’re not a Photoshop pro and you’d like for someone to take a look at your images and let you know if they need improvement, go ahead and send me a message. We occasionally do outside image editing, and I’d be more than happy to give you a quote based on the number of images you need done, and a few sample photos.
There are also many other companies who do this kind of work, along with countless photographers who will take high-quality images of your artwork and do the editing as a matter of course. That’s more expensive, but it may be worth it to you.
In the end, the way you do it doesn’t really matter—the goal is to just get it done. So take a look at your website today, as though you were a first-time visitor, and really ponder. . . what do these photos say about me? And how do they affect people’s perception of my art??
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