If you want to rank high in a juror’s eyes and leverage all your hard work making that art, you must have a decent photograph of your work.

DO have the art in focus. What looks OK on your cell phone may not look so good when enlarged onto a monitor or projection screen.

DO remove background clutter and crop to the artwork edges.

DO use good lighting. Bright but diffuse natural light is one option. A colored room will throw off the colors of your work, as will a deep blue sky or dim lighting.

DO use neutral uncluttered backdrop for 3D pieces.

DO size the digital file and title it according to the application instructions.

DON’T include the frame or mat unless it is a critical part of your creative work. In most cases, the frame is interchangeable and not critical to the art.

DON’T shoot through glass, which almost always results in distracting glare. Get in the habit of photographing your work before it gets sealed behind glass.

DON’T shoot a 2D image crooked, skewed or other than direct from the front.

DON’T include yourself in a photo with your piece for formal submissions.

DON’T be afraid to hire a professional for your best pieces, or ask a skilled friend for help, if you can’t master this yourself.

REMEMBER, a good photo image, just like a good frame and presentation, says “This art has value” and can subliminally influence an observer or judge.

Additional resources

Gurney Journey is a blog by Dinotopia creator James Gurney for illustrators, plein-air painters, art students, and others

Robert Hunt’s article on photographing reflective art

Tom Schmidt’s presentation to Oil Painters of America