Zanna tips for photographing work:
Artists are required to photograph work for many reasons: exhibition/grant applications, talks, workshops and of course social media profiles. These images are normally the first impression of the art itself but also your level of professionalism and care for the cause. These images can be the difference between an acceptance or rejection email and we want you all to have the best chance!
If it is flat, hang it on a wall. Hang the work so that the middle of the piece is in line with your camera. This will mean no tricky cropping or distortion of the image. Some panels/juries like to see the edges of the work for scale but for printed submissions this is not necessary.
If you do big pieces and don't have the wall space or your at home and your parents/landlord don't want you making holes in the walls then the floor is your friend. Same rules apply as with hanging, this will probably require a tripod and maybe even a stepladder. Propping an image against a wall is a no-no!
And of course, check your image is in focus.
Staging an image:
Firstly ask yourself, 'what is the purpose of the image?' What makes a good image for insta is not necessarily the image that will win you a commission or exhibition spot.
Context: on Instagram showing part of how or where you made the work can be a good way to engage with more people. Meanwhile, you've sent the same image to a gallery (or us) and the curator is sitting there thinking, "is that packet of smarties part of the piece? Did they not notice it there? Did they not care enough to move them out of frame?" Unfortunately the harsh reality is that if a person is asking themselves questions like this you probably won't be successful in the opportunity.
Assuming you don't have a pro lighting kit (if you do, use it).
Outdoors: if the weather is right, i.e. overcast, so that the clouds do the job of a white sheet. Indirect light is the key to evenly lit images. If the sun is shining or it is raining and you can't get outside then you might need a lighting kit but you can create a makeshift version with stuff from around the house.
Indoors: Try to find a room with plenty of natural light preferably from big windows that don't create too much shadow. The important thing is that the light is even. Using natural light or daylight bulbs if you have them will limit the need for post editing. If you're struggling to get even lighting, a white bed sheet halfway between the light source and the image can help diffuse the light. This is a good idea if the only source of light you have is a tungsten bulb as it will tone down that yellow-orange glow.
Normally you need at least two light sources but if you don't have desk lamps or torches then you can use the torch on your phone and another light/window. Lights should be either side at a 45 degree angle to the image to avoid shadows. Again the white sheet trick will work best if you don't have umbrellas or soft boxes. If you are lacking a white sheet, try bouncing the light off of a white surface (ceiling, wall, board, canvas).
Bouncing light off a white surface or using a white sheet can diffuse light for an even image.
If you are using professional equipment a low ISO will help keep images crisp. Ideal F stop range for shooting artwork is F-8 to F-11.
If you don't have a tripod, place the camera on a flat surface then use a 3-4 second timer to make sure pressing the shutter doesn't make the camera shake.
Taking pictures on a phone or device, no problem! Photoshop can be your friend but also 'gimp' or 'VSCOcam' have decent editing software for beginners or just quick easy edits. Editing should only be used to make the image as true to the original as possible.