For some reason, as l am definitely no expert photographer! I get a lot of questions on photographing art for Instagram, so l thought l would share with you the few things l do know and a few things l guess at! The first thing l really want to say because l think it is important, is that how many likes or followers your art gets on Instagram does NOT reflect how good or bad you are as an artist. There are phenomenal artists on there with hardly any followers (and a few pretty poor ones who have amazing support), followers and likes are mostly a matter of luck. An account can do badly one week and fly another, only to do badly a week later! Never judge your art by social media. Draw because you love drawing and want to produce your best work and you will always be happy regardless of what social media appears to say.
But there are a few basic things that you can do to give your photo a chance of doing well. The first seems obvious (but many people don't do it) - only post your best work. Don't post something just for the sake of posting. My heart sinks when a caption starts with,'l haven't posted anything for ages, so here's a quick sketch l did....'. It is almost always better to post NOTHING than to post ANYTHING. In my experience there is no quicker way to make people bored of your account than posting poor work. And really, why would anyone want to? Wherever you are on your artistic journey, do your best work and show your best work. I love to see pieces from artists of all ages and abilities when it is clear they have put their heart into their work and you can feel happy for them because you can see that.
My next piece of advice is to take a photo of your piece early on just to get a feel for how it is photographing and also more importantly how it working. Below is a photo l won't share (l hope l can get the piece to a stage where l will share it) and these are the reasons why. I can see immediately on photographing it that it doesn't jump off the screen at me, so l ask myself why? I can tell you, it needs more layers, the colors are not vibrant enough. It needs more contrast especially in the beak area and it needs a little more definition and detail. It is getting there, but it is not there yet. It is a bit flat. Now l only saw these things when l took the photo, so taking photos is a really helpful way of seeing what needs to be improved. But how to take a good photo of your work?
I do very little. I know nothing about cameras and photography. I don't take the best photos, but here are some simple things l do that allow me to produce a reasonable photo.
Having experimented with all kinds of light, l now take all my photos indoors in natural daylight. I choose the lightest room in the house and rather than worrying about where the light is coming from l look at the camera screen to see if there are any nasty shadows and adjust my art (if l can) to get rid of them.
I take my photos very slightly underexposed (they will be slightly dark when you upload them), l do this because when l brighten them it bleaches the color out, slightly under exposed helps me to keep the color true to life when they are brightened.
The only editing l do aside from cropping, is lightening/brightening/whitening (whatever your photo editor app calls it) to bring the paper to the right color. Again my work has to be really vibrant to take this as this does leach the color a bit, and l never adjust color or contrast or anything. I like to keep things simple.
Do brighten your photos, but only as much as your color can stand.
Crop to square if at all possible. Instagram lets you crop and adjust your photo, but the thumbnail that comes up in the searches may not be pretty if you don't have a square photo.
Crop close to your art. People follow art accounts because they want to see art. I know l love it when l can see close enough to see the pencil strokes and how someone has done something. It isn't always possible to show really close up, especially with a finished piece when you have to be further away to get it all in shot, but don't have a tiny little piece of art in the centre and a huge area of plain paper.
Don't upload too big an image. This was one that changed things for me, l couldn't understand why my photos always looked blurred and pixelated and to try and remedy the problem kept uploading higher and higher quality images. Instagram has a maximum upload size 1024x1024 or (2048). My photo editor allows me to save images as 'small 2048', this is the perfect size for Instagram and since l have done that l have had no more blurry images. If you do still have trouble with your image blurring or pixelating you can try using the sharpening tool on the Instagram editor to sharpen your photos a little.
That is my simple advice! I like to keep things simple. If you follow these steps you should have a photo that will enhance your art when you post it.
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