Tips for Photographing Journals & Index Card Art

I photograph all of my artwork rather than scanning it.

The pages of my Moleskine journal, mandalas, art journal pages, stitched collages, everything. If you shoot when the sun is not directly overhead you can capture the depth and texture of your mixed media art journal pages, index card artwork, work-in-progress, etc.

Get familiar with the focusing distance on your camera - how close can you get to your work and still be in focus? Crisp focus depends on a lot of things and good light is a core requirement. 

I like to capture my work at various angles.

I really like texture! Angled shots are not only visual interesting but they provide detail of the texture and shimmer within your work. 

Depending where you are on the planet and the time of year, try photographing early to mid-morning or late afternoon when the sun is at at a bit of an angle and not directly overhead when the light is harsh. There's sun in Texas most days, so I photograph in natural light outdoors. In fact the sun is so bright here that it's virtually impossible to get a decent shot during the summer mid-day sun.

Even in Texas some winter days are so overcast that grabbing a decent photograph is difficult. So keep a stack of art-to-be-photographed and get outside and take the shots when the light is good.

If your climate is such that it is rainy or overcast part of the year, a scanner may be in your future. Or set up a light box with artificial lights and a camera on a tripod, looking down at the art.

For each piece of art, I take one photo directly over the artwork to try to show the entire piece as it would be normally viewed. I can photograph work up to about 2 feet x 2 feet in size. Sometimes I stand on a step on the back porch and place the art below. Hover directly over the artwork, with the camera lens parallel to the ground, you can get a squared photo... without wacky angles. As long as the sun is not directly overhead.

Whenever I photograph my art journal pages I always take at least one extra shot of a specific part that I like. I started doing that for the blog, but now I love looking at the details within the whole. It's a treasure hunt within my art for the details I enjoy most.

Scanner. A flatbed scanner can provide an incredibly detailed shot of your artwork, and is useful if you need a very large shot or want to be able to take one shot of a piece of art and then drastically crop the shot or print just a portion and still have good resolution. It's handy if the weather is poor, if it's windy or storming or the sun is not cooperating with your photographic attempts. Some artists prefer to scan their work {if it fits on the scanner} and others prefer to photograph their work. My Epson scanner stopped working a few years ago and I never replaced it.

Organizing Tools. I organize my photos with Adobe Bridge CC. It's a great idea to make a folder system on the computer specifically for art. So each year I have a folder for art and within that folder I have subfolders for large projects like a workshop or ICAD, Zine or a really large journal project. I've got a ridiculous number of photographs and videos and so I have to stay ultra-organized. The older stuff is stored on 2 LaCie back-up hard drives. I work on a Mac most of the time but we do have a PC so I like that I can access the drives on both computers. 

Post-Processing Tools. For my DSL photos, I do post-processing in Adobe Photoshop CC. For my iPhone photos, I use the iPhone editing tools to crop & straighten and make minor adjustments.