If you need a high-res digital image of your artwork, there are really only two options. Either you can scan it yourself, or have it professionally photographed.
Photographing your own artwork sounds simple (sounds can be deceiving!!). But then again, having a professional photographer handle the work for you sounds even easier – something about the word ‘professional’ puts our minds at ease. But unfortunately, ‘professional’ doesn’t guarantee anything these days; especially when a large number of photographers prefer to rely on the naked eye for color matching rather than proper software and hardware calibration.
Now if you absolutely insist on seeking out a professional photographer to handle the task for you, be sure to do your research ahead of time. Asking a pro if they regularly calibrate isn’t a bad idea, it’s an excellent idea. Don’t worry about offending, you’re a paying customer. But that’s the catch. You really are paying. Not just for the photo, slides, image file, or negatives, but for all the time and labor he/she puts into touching up your image and color correcting. It can be pricey, so be prepared, but there’s always that scanner we talked about earlier.
Oh? Did you say you want to learn more about scanning artwork? Great! Most of us have flatbed scanners, but if you don’t, it’s about time you caught up with the rest of the world anyway. But that’s beside the point. This is where things get tricky. Most artwork is larger than the average scanner so what you have to do is scan your art several times (getting a different section each time), and then use Photoshop to stitch each section back together again.
If you’ve never used the “stitch” feature before, check back in a couple of weeks for a tutorial, but for now you’ll just have to take my word for it. It does work.
Alright so maybe it is a little more work than say…hopping in the car and driving over to a professional photographer’s studio. But soon you will become quite proficient at scanning and stitching your work back together. In time, what took an hour will only take 30 minutes (which is about the time it takes to drop off your art at a photographer’s). Plus it’s absolutely free (unless you are still living in the 80’s without a scanner.)
What was that? You say that photographing your own artwork is free too? I suppose it is. As long as you happen to have a photo studio AND an art studio. Don’t think that just because you own a $400 digital camera, you’re exempt from failure. One of the biggest factors of failed attempts is the presence of ambient light within the room. Right behind that is an un-calibrated monitor – yes, even with the original to compare to, your monitor must be calibrated otherwise you are doing all that color adjusting for nothing!