Professional photographer Tom Seawell

10 expert tips to photographing artwork with your smartphone

Posted on March 26, 2015

Creativity Explored is excited to launch #CurateWithCE, and you should be too!

We’re asking fans to post photographs of CE artwork in their homes, offices, gardens, garage, treehouses, etc. on Instagram. We’ve even seen CE art on a bike! How creative can you be with where and how you showcase your CE masterpieces?

To get the ball rolling and encourage you to share your photos on Instagram, we asked professional photographer Tom Seawell to share his ten expert tips on how to use your smartphone to shoot great interior photos you would be proud to promote.

Using Tom’s ten tips, we invite you to hashtag your Instagram photos using #CurateWithCE.

Check the blog regularly to see our curated section of shared photos.  We’ll also be providing some fun giveaways for the most creative, inventive, and best photos.  Stay tuned for more details.  In the meantime, check out Tom’s tips and turn on your smartphone! 

1. Do you take pictures with your smartphone camera or do you take photos using an app? 

I use either my iPhone camera or the Camera+app. The Camera+ app has a built-in level. Having your phone level will ensure that you take the best possible image you can. The Camera+ app also has exposure and focus control features, which I use often when taking photographs with my iPhone.

2. When framing your subject, what compositional elements should you keep in mind?

The most important thing to convey in your photograph to what you love about the picture. I like horizontal images since they are more pleasing to the eye.

When taking a picture, it is important to remember the "Rule of Thirds," a photography principle in which you break the image into thirds, both horizontally and vertically so there are nine segments. Placing points of interest along the intersections of the nine parts helps create a more balanced image. 

Every smartphone has a grid feature, which you should always use to help compose your image correctly. 

3. How do you tweak your environment to make it the best place to photograph artwork?

The key to taking a successful photograph is to respect the artwork, respect the space, and relay your experience with your subject. To do this, it is important to take "unmessy" pictures. Messy photographs are distracting so make sure to tidy up the environment by removing any unwanted components from the frame. 

Once you have removed any unwanted tangents, then find a unique angle to tell your story.  

4. How do you manipulate lighting to your advantage?

The best light is indirect, white light, which is not always possible. When photographing artwork, turn off all light bulbs using natural indirect light. If you do not have natural light, then turn of any light bulbs but keep the overhead lights on. 

5. How do you work around reflections in artwork?

Reflections are the biggest challenge to photographing artwork. The best way to avoid reflections is to take the glass out of the artwork. If that is not possible, then find an angle where there is not a reflection in the glass. You can change the angle to avoid reflection by taking a piece of rolled tape and put it behind the frame to bump it either the right, left, up, down to handle the reflection. 

6. What are you tips for holding your phone to get better pictures?

Use a tripod when taking pictures even with your smartphone. The tripod will help stop camera shake and will also help you slow down, problem solve, and compose your composition.

7. What perspective or angle is best for artwork?

The best angle for artwork is straight on if possible.

8. What editing apps do you use? If so, which ones?

When editing images on my smartphone, I use the Camera+ app. 

9. How do you edit your picture to get a better image? 

When editing an image on my smartphone, I check the focus, sharpness, and color correct and crop the image.

10. Last tips?

Slow down, put thought into your image, problem solve, care about your image, and have fun!

Unwanted items in the frame
Clearing the tissue box, chair, and papers, cleaned up this image
Bad reflection in the glass
Change the angle of the artwork with rolled tape got rid of the reflection.
Not photographing artwork at a straight angle
Photographing artwork from straight on
A messy photograph
Removing cluttered items allows the objects in the image to pop

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