Buck Off Magazine accepts all types of submissions – especially art! We love to showcase interesting photography, paintings/drawing, and 3-dimensional art such as pottery and glass blowing. But since we’re a digital magazine, we have to publish art based on the photography submitted.
Unfortunately, a large number of interesting submissions are rejected because of the photography. As editors, we have to judge the piece on what we see – not necessarily the talent of the work. Which brings us to this guide! Here are some beginner tips on how to photograph your art:
One of the most common mistakes among submitters is one of the easiest to fix. Artists will often send us photos in which we can’t see the art; and if we can’t see the art, how are we supposed understand its story?
When photographing your work, make sure it’s in the center of the photo and you’re close enough that details are visible. Don’t get so close that the pieces of the art are not included in the photo, though (we’ve had it happen). You control where you’re standing – take a step forward if you need to.
And, for the love of all that is holy, don’t send us blurry photos. That’s just an insult to us and to your creation!
Another common mistake is submitting photos that are too bright or too dark. I hate to sound like a broken record, but if we can’t see the art, how are we supposed to understand its story?
Your art should tell a story – it should inspire an emotional response. If it’s too dark, no one will be able to see the story. It’s like trying to read a poem written in a language you don’t understand. You can tell that something is happening but it could be anything from a boy missing his mother to a tale about a bird pooping on a squirrel.
Sending a photo that is too bright is a problem, too. When the light is too strong, it washes out some of the details, removing chunks of the work. Keeping with our analogy, it’s like when someone doesn’t finish a sentence and expects the reader to
See how frustrating that is! “Expects the reader to” what? To just understand? To figure it out themselves? To never look at any of your other work?
K.I.S.S. Your Photos
One of the first lessons in photography is always K.I.S.S. your photos. For anyone who didn’t have strict teachers, that means make sure to Keep It Simple Stupid (photography teachers are harsh).
Make sure your art is in the center of the photo and nothing blocks the view. Remove the items that are not part of the display out of view. That might mean shuffling your place around a little, but you can put it back after you’re done capturing your latest masterpiece.
If you have a lot of something, such as pottery, glass work or jewelry, give each piece it’s moment to shine. If you explore the online catalog of any retail chain, you’ll notice something almost immediately. All of the pieces are photographed alone, making the item the viewer’s sole focus. Do the same for your work!
We would rather have 20 photos – all with different artwork – than one photo with 20 different pieces competing for attention.
And, as much as we love cats, – keep them out of the photo shoot.
When you photograph your art, you control the environment. Be a cruel dictator and rule your photo shoot with an iron first. Turn off the television. Bring a lamp from one room to another. Open the drapes to let in sunlight. Banish your roommate from using the bathroom for thirty minutes because you need the shower curtain as a backdrop.
Do what you need to in order to have a useable photo. At the end of the day, the goal is to have something other people can experience. The only experience from a blurry, dark photo of a painting half covered by a floral bedsheet is one of boredom and pity.