How to Photograph Art for Social Media

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Museums and galleries make the best venues for social media and blog photos! Who doesn’t want to look at gorgeous objects in their feed? But this world is full of photo pitfalls. There’s unusual lighting, crowds, objects in cases, oversized objects, and tiny objects.

It can be a lot to navigate. Yet if you are looking to photograph art, well crafted photographs of the art is essential. A picture is worth a thousand words after all!

It would be great if we could all have a professional photographer at our side all the time. But most of the time it’s just you, a smart phone, and a cool art object that you need to capture. So here’s How to Photograph Art for Social Media. And you can check out our post about How to Create the Best DIY Blog Photos Here. It’s another great blog about this topic!

Technical Photo Tips:

Line Up Your Angles

First and foremost, line up your angles. This is the most important thing you can do for great art photos. Look in all 4 corners of your photo preview to see if the image lines up on all sides. Lining it up, it will be a combination of tilting your phone left to right. You will need to check the angles forward and back – which will point the lens up towards the ceiling and down towards the floor. You will also need to squat down and stretch your arms overhead to ensure you are near the center point of the piece – which will give it a truer angle in the photograph.

Don’t be afraid to squat down and tilt your phone in a million different angles until you get it right. And just watch all 4 corners to find those straight lines.

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Create Both Wide Shots & Close Ups

People want to see what the whole piece looks like in addition to details that show the material, color, and techniques. Be sure to photograph the whole piece and close details as well.

Create Portrait Shaped Photos

Of course creating both landscape and portrait shaped photos are important. However, portrait shaped photos (where the image is taller and narrow) are especially important for sharing on social media. Portrait shapes take up more landscape on Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr. And Pinterest pins that are not a portrait shape are not likely to get you anywhere with shares.

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Brighten Your Whites

That crisp gallery white gives art a great frame! So you will always want to ensure that your whites are true. Brightening your photos is a process that will happen in two stages: first, when you snap the photo and second, when you edit the photo.

While you are taking the photo, double tap your phone on the darkest area. It will alter the camera settings and brighten your whites.

And then before you post, try this technique to brighten your whites. White in an image has a combination of blues and yellows. Look for that. And if photos have too much of either color, use your Instagram App “Warmth” feature or use this technique (same one as above) to color correct it.

Take Lots of Photos

Just because it looks good on your phone, or in the gallery, doesn’t mean you are going to love it when you start color correcting or adding it to social media. To ensure that you have all the shots you need, take multiples of everything.

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Avoid Shadows

Galleries often have bright lights at wild angles. Sculptures create shadows that are tough to avoid. Often deep paintings have issues with shadows too! Use your techniques described above in the “Lining Up the Angles” section and pay close attention to the shadows. See how you can move the shadows up, down, left, and right by tilting your camera differently.

Where shadows are placed in your photograph is just an aesthetic choice – place the shadows in a way that looks good to you.

Shadows also create dramatic light and dark areas that need to be balanced. Like before, focus your camera by double tapping your screen on both the shadow and the highlights of the object. Test both to see what looks best and look throughout the images. Find a camera focus in which you are not losing the lightest and darkest areas.

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Use Unusual Shaped Photos to Convey Meaning

Video, panoramas, time lapse, slow motion. All of these features are built into you camera and may work for the particular art that you are photographing.

Techniques for Gaining Engagement on Social Media:

Use Facebook & Instagram Live

Facebook and Instagram have both been pushing their Live Features and have been working to drive engagement. Your fans and friends, while logged into the Social Platform, will be notified when you are using Facebook & Instagram live. They are notified automatically without you manually needing to notify anyone. In most cases you can even save your Live Videos to make them viewable later.

Take Video

On Facebook and Instagram, video will receive more views and engagement than static images. Your can increase your reach by creating and posting videos regularly.

Schedule InstaStories

Now I don’t mean use a scheduling app. What I do mean is that you will have more engagement with Instastories is you space out your posting times. Post regularly, every few hours, all day long! This will increase your reach significantly because it will put your Stories near the beginning of everyone’s feed every time they log in. You’ll be first when they login in the morning, midday, and at night!

Post in Real Time

It’s a sneaky trick: Instagram wants you to be posting fresh, live content and rewards these posts. You will reach a wider audience by posting in your feed live. While you are at the venue snapping all your photos, take a moment to photo edit and post one feed near the moment you took it and in the same location. Engagement from posting live may be from the timestamp on your photo and your geo-locator too – either way it works.

Talk to the Artist

People LOVE seeing the artist talk about their work. It’s a fun type of post for social media. If you can talk to the artist at the show, it’s a great opportunity to create some content that artists, friends, and fans love to share. Remember that Instastories are 15 seconds long, so your artist videos will need to be short and sweet. The optimum time for your Instagram Feed and Facebook is about 45 seconds. Longer is better for Youtube.

Tag the Artist

When posting on Facebook or Instagram, tagging the artist and institution is very important. Sharing other’s posts when you are tagged is easy.

It’s also important on a Facebook Business Page in particular to post other’s content – not just your own. You will reach a larger audience if you add variation to the acounts and websites you are posting. If you only post links to your own website, Facebook views at that as “spammy.”

Snapchat is Not Dead

Snapchat will never die. And Tumblr is king for visual art! Don’t ignore these social channels. You can read more about what social channels are important here. Think outside the box when it comes to Social Media channels.

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