This is excellent example of how NOT to take a photo of a painting. But… there are no reflections, most of the painting and the frame is in the photo, and you, the audience, can have an idea of what the painting looks like. It’s been worked on since it was first photographed, and needed framing for a deadline.
The challenges of documenting watercolours and glass are ongoing.
Being an artist involves much more than just making paintings.
What should I have done? Photographed it flat, in muted, even light before it was framed. Photograph it without the mat as well as with the mat in case it changes again. Used a tripod to stop camera error. Use a grey card to keep the white balance accurate. Or I could have paid a professional to digitally scan it. Which I do for artwork that will be reproduced. Or I could have paid a photographer. Which I do to document at the end of a completed series.
In the olden days, this sort of documentation information, now part-and-parcel of being an artist, didn’t exist. In the olden days the work existed in real time. A work was sold because it was seen: now works are sold because a photo of them has been seen. In the olden days a photographic slide was made of your work. If need be, they were physically sent in the painting’s stead. I have boxes of them. Miniature transparent images of my paintings documenting that time of my practice. All neatly labelled with their title, and arrows saying “This Way Up”.
Digitalisation of our industry has changed it beyond recognition. And that’s only in my [art] lifetime. For people who’ve been painting longer it must be even more obvious. Imagine further back. Imagine how Tom Roberts would feel if he was to wander onto the art scene now. I think that’s why I made that drypoint engraving as part of the “Shadowing Tom” series called ‘This one’s for you Tom‘. It’s an image showing the original shed on “Newstead”, where he painted ‘The Golden Fleece’ , but in front is the pole with the solar powered two-way-radio station.
“A bad photo is worse than no photo at all“, is an important discussion to have, and a line needs to be drawn in the sand about what your standards will be. I’ve had to settle for approximate colour when it comes to sending digital images my work out into the world. The camera doesn’t lie, but the screens of your clients have their own agenda. It’s physically impossible to manipulate a file so it looks good on everyone’s computer. But I make sure that the original file is the best I can get. I kept this painting on this age because it did the job.
It added to the story. It wasn’t the whole story.
Image: ‘Old dip behind the shed’ watercolour on paper 74x54cm. Framed. Sold. (…because it was seen on the wall, in a gallery, in an exhibition, that I’d sent handwritten invitations out to, but that’s another story.)