Most media outlets will treat an art story as a “colour piece” to add variety and light to an otherwise heavy news day. If you supply a good photograph, you have just given them a reason to talk to you.
1. A good photograph has to be interesting.
You need to give editors a couple of good quality images of your art - a vertical and a horizontal if it is a physical magazine or newspaper, so they can find one that suits their page layout without cutting it to pieces. For magazines, resolution should be around 300 dpi (dots per inch) at the size the image will be printed.
2. You also need a picture of you with your art.
If you don’t have the skills to take an excellent one, hire a professional. You may need to pay around $400 to $500 for a half-day session and you should get a range of photos, in different outfits and backgrounds so you have a variety to use over time. Ensure you credit the photographer when you send it out and consider sending them a list of the shots you want before they arrive.
Photo: Louie Douvis
3. Source a professional by doing a bit of research. Ask galleries for recommendations. If you see an artist who uses great photos, ask whether they hired a photographer. If you can find a photographer with lots of magazine or newspaper experience, grab them. They know exactly what is required. Not all wedding photographers can adapt to news media requirements (though some can).
4. DIY. If you want to take your own, you need a proper digital SLR camera - not an iPhone selfie. Ensure you are well-lit (I have studio lights, but good filtered natural light may be enough). I have a guide to photographing art (for dummies).
5. Presentation. You don’t have to dress well. As an artist, it is okay to look paint-splattered and dishevelled - if that is how you are. However, you want to attract people to you, not frighten them, so smile. You should look approachable. I do my hair and makeup and choose my outfit to ensure it enhances the artwork, rather than competes. I am careful about wearing patterns that may distract.
6. Think about your image. If you are young, gorgeous and sexy, by all means, flaunt it in your photos. After all, you won’t have it forever (snarky laugh). Think about whether that image suits the work you are trying to sell. If, like me, all that has passed you by, you still have to think very hard about how you want to appear (unless you are a man, in which case, just put a shirt on and run a hand through your hair). I want people to see ME, not their mum or other stereotype of a post-menopausal woman. Humans are riddled with biases and I try not to conform to them.
7. What’s your background? Studio shots are popular. Take lots of you making art or just posing and ensure a finished artwork is shown. The story that the photo is telling is that you are an artist and the art looks like something the readers would like to see more of. The background should relate to what you do. A landscape painter in a kitchen won’t work. A blank wall is a safe option.
8. There are many reasons to have good photos, not just for media or Instagram. You should have decent photos of all your work for your archive. Use them on your website, for competitions and submissions for grants and residencies. Good photography is a strength if you are working with galleries that do not have the services of a professional photographer or if you are selling directly to the public.
Disclaimer: I am not a photographer and, if you want to do it properly, find a good tutorial on YouTube. But, if you can’t be bothered, my lazy artist’s guide here tells you what works for me.