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Anatomy Of a Good Photo Of Art

Lesson 5 from: Art Photography: Capture Beautiful Artwork

Sean Dalton

Anatomy Of a Good Photo Of Art

Lesson 5 from: Art Photography: Capture Beautiful Artwork

Sean Dalton

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Lesson Info

5. Anatomy Of a Good Photo Of Art

Lesson Info

Anatomy Of a Good Photo Of Art

So before we start shooting with charlie today, I want to talk about some of the factors that contribute to a beautiful photo of art or just a beautiful photo in general. So these three concepts are universal among all of my photography courses that talk about them and pretty much everything because they really relate to every type of photography. So these three factors are lighting, styling and composition. And if you can nail all three, you're going to have a fantastic image. So let's dive into them one by one and go over why they're so important. And then we're shooting later on in this course, I'm gonna be talking about them in specifics to our shoot. So then when you go out and shoot, you know that you're hitting all of the bases that you need to hit to make sure your image is going to be a good one. So at the top of the list is lighting and lighting is really such an important piece of the puzzle. And that's simply because cameras capture light when you take an image, The cameras...

are actually reading the light waves and recording them on a sensor and that's what creates your image. Lighting is something that's so often overlooked by new photographers. But it's actually the thing that I found that really separates the best photographers from new photographers. It's not their composition. It's not their creativity, it's their technical understanding of light. So the king of all light is natural light, light from the sun and the reason why it's so good is because it's bright, it's widely available unless you live like in the polls, which I'm sorry about. But for the most part it's widely available. It's beautiful. It has lovely colors and we can really manipulate it in a way that works best for us. However, not all natural light is created equal and direct sunlight is often very, very harsh, way too harsh to be shooting photos in unless it's the look that you're gonna be going for. But in this course we really don't want that direct sunlight, it's just too bright and it's gonna cast a lot of shadows in our work. It's gonna skew things and it's just not going to make our art look very good. Thus our main goal with this course is to look for nice, soft, diffused natural light and you can diffuse natural light by using some of the things that I talked about in the equipment section of this course. So when shooting our artwork, we want to make sure that our light is as even as possible if the light is not even and balanced, then one side of our artwork might look really bright and the other side might look really dark and we don't want that. We want to make sure our art is as unbiased as possible and it's presented in a way in which the artist really wanted it to be presented. So the best way to ensure that we have nice even lighting on our work is to shoot indoors in a bright room and near a window. A room that's white is going to be the best because that light is going to enter the room and bounce around and really create a nice even lighting scenario for you if you're in a dark room, well then you're gonna want to get closer to the window and then you're gonna want to use something like a reflector to help reflect that light back onto your little scene where you're gonna be capturing your art. Another thing I recommend is to always turn the lights off in the room, turn off the man made light in the room and that's because they're often gonna cast weird colors in your image. And if you have artificial light coming from the lights in your ceiling or a lamp and then natural light, they're never going to be perfectly balanced. And it's gonna be really hard to make sure that you have a proper white balance in your photo so you can display the colors accurately. So I always recommend turning off the lights in the room and just using the natural light that's available to you. So that's the basis of lighting. I wanted to introduce the topic here but we're really going to discuss it in depth when we actually shoot, I'm gonna break down the lighting environment of the studio and show you how I'm gonna shape the light and it's all gonna make more sense when we actually do it. So the next major concept that I want to talk about is styling and styling refers to pretty much all of the things in your photograph and how they are arranged in accordance to your main subject, which in this case is your artwork. So when we're shooting indoors in a controlled studio environment, we really have a lot of control over styling our scene and we can add everyday items from around the house to help enhance the story or the image that your artwork is trying to portray. You can use things like pencils, paintbrushes, tape, ribbon, even cups of coffee or even a smartphone. Pretty much anything that's gonna kind of add to the story that you're trying to tell in your artwork can be used as a styling object in your photo? So as I said before, when you're looking for objects for styling, you know, you don't need to go out and go shopping for this. Often times you have things laying around the house or even outside if you take a step outside and there's some leaves or something like that or some grass, you can use that if you think it's going to add to your scene. But usually mostly just everyday objects are going to be the best for your photograph and really anything can work here. I just want you to keep thinking about the question, how do you want your work to be portrayed? What kind of objects do you think are going to enhance your work? So another major topic of styling is going to be the background. And this is relevant for flat lays or for the straight up shots, which we're gonna talk about soon hear the background is going to play a massive role in the scene and the background is totally part of the styling because there's gonna be objects, there's gonna be textures, there's gonna be colors and they're going to play an important role in your image. So for this course, I went to the local art store and I picked up a bunch of different poster boards. I got a blue one, a pink ones, some white ones. And I also got some really cool fabrics. And then we also just took some stuff that was lying around the house to use as potential backgrounds, backgrounds are really going to add so much to your photograph. I mean your your artwork is sitting on something, right? And so that's something I should emphasize the art. So I think colorful poster boards are really, really cool, especially if the colors are gonna complement the colors in your art. Shooting outdoors is also a great way to mix up your styling because you can introduce a lot of really natural things into your photographs. Or even if you're just putting your art down flat on the ground in a grassy area or even on dirt if you think that's good for your photograph or maybe you're holding it in front of a bush or whatever that might be shooting outside can really introduce a lot of interesting stylistic aspects into your photograph. So I always recommend doing that as well. So one last thing before we move on to composition and that is you know and I understand that not everybody is going to want to have a style image. Some people just want to take a 1-1 super straightforward unbiased photograph of their artwork. In other words something like a scan of their artwork except they're just using a photo to do it. Well you can do that by just placing your artwork on a white background. Make sure you have really even lighting and then photograph that image crop it and you're pretty much good to go. It's gonna look like a scan, I'm gonna show you guys how to do that in the shooting section. But I just want to say you know you don't need to style your image if you don't want to. It's totally a subjective thing. So last but certainly not least is composition and composition essentially refers to how you orient all of the objects in your frame and then how you capture those objects with your camera. So when you're shooting arts especially three D. Art there's a lot of different ways to capture that art. You know you can shoot it from many different angles and portray in many different ways. But when you're shooting two D. Art art that's flat such as an illustration or a painting or a watercolor. In my opinion there's only a few different ways to shoot that work effectively. And as I stated earlier on in this course there's really three compositions that we're gonna be focusing on in this course. Those are the flat lay the straight up photo where you're taking it basically straight on like it's hanging on a wall or on a desk and then the detailed shots are getting close and showing some of those details. And those detailed shots are great for supplementary shots. For b roll shots, I like to say. So after you have your main photo you might have one of those to show some of the details, really emphasize certain parts of the artwork. So the flat lay is one of the most classic forms of shooting art and that is essentially when you're looking down on the art, the art is laying flat on the floor or on a desk and you're looking down upon it and shooting it that way. The flat lay is so good because it really allows you to style things in a really unique way. You can get super creative with it. It's also very easy to get the lighting set up for a flat lay and you can also adjust the background in a way that really enhances your image. So flat lays are such a classic form of photographing artwork and we're definitely gonna be focusing on those in this course. So the straight up shot, like I said, is when the photo is straight up in front of you which is on a wall or on a desk like behind me, these photos would be straight up and this is also good for showing artwork in a setting. So if you wanted to show your art hanging on a wall or in a natural setting that you might be in every day, such as the studio, that's a really good way to portray your art in an everyday setting. Now, the reason why these types of shots are so good, the flat lay in the straight up shot is because when we view a piece of artwork, that's how we want it to be viewed, The artist painted it with a straight on view and that's how it should be viewed with a straight on view. They're both going to be really accurate representations of the artwork. So of course the last shot that I mentioned is the detailed shot and like I said before, that's really getting close up to your subject and capturing different pieces of the artwork that you want to emphasize. So if you take your first shot and it's a flat lay and you capture everything nice and bright, maybe you're posting on instagram, you can swipe to the right and then your second shot, it's going to be a detailed close up of the face of the subject or whatever your illustration or your painting is and you get really close in showing some of those details. You can also use this to show some of the details behind your creative process. So if you're painting, maybe it's taking a shot a close up shot of your paintbrush as it's hitting your canvas or something like that. So you can get creative and you can kind of show a little bit more of your process. And I think the detailed shots are really good for that when shooting detailed shots. I like to kind of work my way around the piece of art and just take a bunch of different photos of different things. And then later on we can go in and crop them and make sure that they're really emphasizing the art in a way that we want them to, but now that we've talked about all three of these concepts that constitute a good photo, lighting, styling, and composition, I want to take a look at five photographs of art that I really love, that have inspired me that I think are really good. I'm gonna break them down why I think they're good. Um and then hopefully this will be some inspiration for you as well for when you go out and shoot. So let's do that. Now

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