In today’s podcast, we are talking about Instagram for artists with Amy Eaton from Amy is a product and brand photographer turned educator. Amy teaches makers, artists and creatives how to take gorgeous photographs for their businesses. Amy talks about how best to present yourself as an artist and how to photograph artwork for Instagram and social media.

Instagram for Artists with Amy Eaton

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About Amy

After working for many years as a photographer, Amy got to a point in her career when she wasn’t feeling creative anymore. So she started creating photos for herself rather than for her clients with no intention of sharing them. This gave her the creative kick she needed. She felt like she was now part of the creative community again rather than someone who was just providing a service. She switched from a very technical photography focus to teaching students to take amazing photos in a very simplified way, so they could also enjoy the process.

Lighting for photographing artwork for social media

Simply Perfect Product Photos - Self-Study

I used softbox lights for a long time to photograph art for Instagram. It’s a very traditional type of lighting that photographers would use. I did some research and discovered LED light panels. They are about 14 inches long, a similar size to a piece of paper. They’re small and thin like a flat-screen TV would be and so really easy to store, and the light is fantastic. They are high quality and very bright. The best part is that there’s a really good colour rating index for them too. The colour rating index indicates how accurate your colours will be. I tested them against my softbox lights and the difference is shocking. With the LED panels, the colour is so accurate, it was amazing. Also, the overall brightness and ease of use were far superior. So I highly recommend the LED panels.

You can find Amy’s Product photography Course here.

How to photograph artwork for Instagram

In most situations, you would use 2 LED lights. I would start with setting the lights at 45° and then play around with it. If you are experiencing problems with reflections, just raise the lights higher than the reflective piece of material and you won’t get reflections in them. So if you find that you have a piece of artwork that has a glossy finish, raise the lights up and point them down.

Shooting a simple Instagram photograph of your morning coffee

instagram photo cup

Say for example you want to share a simple lifestyle shot of your morning coffee to use on Instagram. First of all, take it to a place where there’s a great light, Then find a nice surface, so maybe on a desk or somewhere with a nice woodgrain. Then grab a few props, a spoon, maybe a plate of cookies, or a muffin. You can also have books if you’re going to be reading or maybe your journal that’s personal to you.

Angles are important. So think about how it’s going to come across in the photos. Make it really simple and either photograph it as a flat lay (directly above) or straight on at eye level. These are typically your best bet because sometimes there are certain angles that just don’t flatter things because everything that’s closer to the camera appears larger; so you can get some really strange distortion.

The best camera to photograph artwork for Instagram

I use a DSLR, but nothing is stopping you from starting to learn photography or from taking that coffee shot in the morning with your smartphone camera. Go as far as you can with it. Maybe you won’t ever need anything better. It just depends on how fancy you want to get with your photography. But there’s a lot of flexibility with the camera in your phone today.

Instagram for artists dos and don’ts

Don’t enhance your artwork photographs too much

One of the problems that we have as artists is that we want to make our art look good, but if we are not careful it can look even better than it is. We can tweak the colours of our art photographs so they look amazing on Instagram and other Social Media Platforms. The problem with this is if we are selling art, we want to show an accurate representation of our work for the potential buyer.

Do photograph your art authentically

You want to have a skill set to capture your art in a way that honours it. This way people can experience it through an online sales-type situation. It can be so hard for people to put that into context and imagine what the texture of a piece looks like, or how the colours look in real life. And that’s something that can be hard to communicate through photos. You have to replace that in-person experience for people and do that through your photography. It’s important to make sure that your piece is authentically represented in that photo.

Do create beautiful art photos that appeal to your buyer

How to photograph artwork for Instagram

Know who the person is that you are looking to attract. Include things in photos that you think will appeal to them. It can be a very powerful way of getting someone’s attention on Instagram or Facebook.

Let’s say your artwork has an earthy vibe to it. You would assume that your ideal customer also loves nature such as plants and foliage. Incorporate those things into your style photos. Plants are always a good call when it comes to props. You could also try shooting your artwork outside in the forest or as a flat lay with a nice wood background and some plants, moss or pine cones. It’s important to draw elements into your photo to grab the attention of the people who are most likely to resonate with your work.

Don’t use fake plants in your photos

No matter what your brand is like or your products are, there’s probably a plant for you. Avoid fake plants because they don’t look good, but dried plants can work.

Do show your art in progress photos

When people buy from an artist they want something unique and special. They’re usually buying because they want to buy from a real person instead of just going to a home decor store and buying some random wall painting. When someone’s taking the time to buy something from an artist there’s a connection. They’re going to have that piece that you created on their wall, and that’s really special. Allowing them the opportunity to get to know you can be important, special and valuable.

Do include your face in your photos with your art

A bit like the previous point of showing your progress shots, your potential customer also wants to see your face. My personal rule and recommendation is to have a photo of myself at least once every 12 posts because when you look at Instagram on your phone, that is the view that people will see.

Mix up the type of photos you post to Instagram

Keep your Instagram feed fresh by sharing:

  • Progress photos of your work
  • Photos of you in your studio – this can help people envision where your work comes to life
  • A playlist of what you listen to while you work
  • Where you have found inspiration – for example a photograph on the beach
  • Mock-ups of your art on walls
  • Flat lays of your work (work shot from above) with plants etc around it
  • Photos of your face

Create Art Mock-ups for Instagram

You can create art mock-ups of your paintings so they look like they are framed on the wall in beautiful rooms. Remember to make sure that you are showing your art to scale compared to the elements around it. So if you are showing a sofa photo and you have a small piece of art make sure it doesn’t look like it takes up the whole wall behind the sofa. There are apps you can use to create art mock-ups. If you know how to use software like Photoshop you can also find room set photos on royalty-free photo sites.

Photography art app

You can use a photography app to make sure your photos always have a consistent look and also to tweak colours and brightness etc. You can find or buy specific presets that will give your photos a certain look. Just be careful they don’t alter the colour of your art. The app Adobe Lightroom is free to use on mobiles and tablets.

Find out more about Amy


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