How Great Pictures Can Make Your Artwork Look More Accomplished

Why you need a professional photographer

The biggest mistake I made early on in my art career was trying to do everything myself, including photography. One of the pitfalls of photographing your own work is overfamiliarity. You’ve dreamt up and created that painting. It’s hard to see it as a fresh object to photograph. This can be disastrous as your eye will trick you into seeing what you want to see.

It’s easy to dismiss using a professional photographer especially when you’re a cash-strapped artist. There is a load of help out there if you want to photograph work yourself. Here’s an article from Digital Photo that gives a great summary.

attractive female photographer standing on chair photographing products make up brushes and cosmetics
A professional photographer knows how to make things look just right. Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

Know that photography isn’t for you?

I’ve got your back, this is for you, the artist who struggles to photograph their own work.

Poor quality photos will not help you show your best self or your best work, you know this, so you decide to hire a photographer.

How do you find a photographer?

The best way to find a photographer is word of mouth. Remember what you’re looking for, if you want art photography don’t hire a photographer who creates pet portraits. Use a specialist. Look at their portfolio and client reviews. Do they create the sort of photographs you want to use?

You’ve found the photographer, now what?

Think what sort of photos you need. Who is the target viewer?  In this photoshoot I wanted to create some folklore feel images for social media. My target viewers are interested in art and artist lifestyle, so this is a playful shoot idea.

Anastasia Jobson photograph of Charlie Kirkham ink drawing showing a dragon eating a lamb, displayed against a tree in  a wood full of bluebells
The First Lamb’ ink drawing by Charlie Kirkham, photography by Anastasia Jobson

Here is the same drawing photographed for exhibition. The target viewer is different, so the style is professional with a clean white background. Can you see the difference?

charlie kirkham pen and ink drawing of a dragon eating a lamb in a cave, photographed in frame by Fraction CP
The same ink drawing photographed by Fraction CP

Before your photoshoot

Be targeted about what you need. Ask your photographer for tailored advice on what to wear or where to shoot. If the photographs are for social media make a list of potential posts e.g. me enjoying a coffee to use for Instagram post first thing in the morning.

Charlie Kirkham photographed with a morning mug of coffee in an apricot mug, wearing a black winter coat in woodland. Photo by In Her Wildest Dreams
Me enjoying a coffee first thing in the morning 🙂

Sharing the artist lifestyle is a great way to let people join your story. Think about exclusive behind the scenes photos. Work next to messy paint rags? Have to wear twenty sweaters while your sculpting? Share the reality of artist life with your followers.

Charlie Kirkham Artist with paintbrush and palette wearing red jumper in a shed with a blank easel and blank wooden board
Painting a blank board in a freezing shed anyone?

The photographer wants to give you what you need. Firstly understand what you want to achieve then secondly communicate with the photographer about the kind of photos you want. Create a Pinterest board and share it. The result will be radically better if you’ve taken the time to discover beforehand what works.

Don’t try to eat the elephant in one gulp!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work you need to document break it down. You can’t shoot 12 months’ worth of work in 2 hours.

Think of artworks in series, which works go together? Imagine you’re hanging a show, take 6 pieces that would sit well together on a wall. This way the photos you have will all complement each other.

Artist Charlie Kirkham photographed by Anastasia Jobson wearing white sneakers next to three framed oil pastel and ink drawings in a woodland. Plyers and wire on display on ground
Three ink and oil pastel studies by Charlie Kirkham from a series exploring figures in limbo. Photographed by Anastasia Jobson

Save all the photos, including the behind-the-scenes shots. People love learning about artists’ lives. Share the set up as well as the end results.

Often the digital images are all we have to share of our artworks. Protect your work by getting the best photos you can. Using a professional gives you to power to create a professional artist image. It’s also really fun!

Using professional photographs will transform the look of your social media and website. Trust your photographer to create a new take on your work. Each photographer has a unique take on your brand and your artwork. Don’t be afraid to use different people for different styles of photography.

Photography documentation helps complete the process of making art. It lets you share the exclusive content from behind the scenes. Using professional photography gives you the freedom to apply to new opportunities knowing that at the click of a button you’ve got perfect images.

Want to share how you’ve upped your game with professional photography? Comment below or find me on Instagram.


How To Photograph A Painting – Digital Photo Magazine (

Brand Photography & Video | In Her Wildest Dreams

Anastasia Jobson – Commercial Portrait Photography

Product Photography – Fraction Corporate Photography


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