Photographing Art

The picture below isn’t related to the content of the post, I just like it! My subject today is taking photographs of art: paintings, ceramics, sculptures. I have done quite a lot of this over the last year or so.

On the final year of my MA, I was one of only 2 digital photographers taking what you might call “traditional” photographs. I point my camera at things I am interested in, and take pictures of them. As a result, I have repeatedly been asked to take pictures of the work of the other artists, and for the Aberystwyth Ceramics Archive. Some of these pictures can be seen on my website Here

Most recently, yesterday in fact, I photographed the exhibition of my friend Stuart Evans.

Galleries are difficult places to take pictures. The lighting is often both low and of low quality, there is a high dynamic range from light to dark,they may be cramped and awkward to work in, and there will be unwanted reflections from glass. It certainly requires a tripod, and working with Raw files is absolutely essential in order to fix the “white balance” afterwards: the pictures will have a yellow colour cast without some work.

Framed paintings behind glass are almost impossible to get well in such an environment because of the reflections. Ceramics can be equally difficult because of their shiny surfaces. And then there is the space issue: a large work in a small space (some sort of installarion, for example) will require a wide angle lens, and this will distort the shape. To some extent this can be fixed afterwards, but you can still tell.

It is challenging work, but I enjoy doing it and through practice I am getting quite good at it. I would love to do more work of this type in the future. Artists are always going to need pictures of their work, for catalogues, internet publicity and so on. I’d like to be the one taking the pictures for them!

Cheers, Tom.

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