Share the Details

Detail shots share more than just an image of your work. They give an up-close look at your texture, materials and technique.


Detail images share an up-close look at artwork

Artist credit (clockwise from top left) Julie Levasseur, Stephanie Sachs, Corey Anderson, Joe Diemer, Rhoda Powers, Cindy Biles


If a picture is worth a thousand words, then images sharing the fine details of your handmade work are essential storytellers that will help your audience come to understand better what you do and what you make.

Part of your story as an artist is about your technique and your studio process. Every fingerprint, small surface and design element has been touched by your hands. Quite frequently, photos of your work give an overview, but fail to capture those small textures, colors and surfaces incorporated into each piece. Capturing a close-up shares these, and shows minute workmanship to it’s best advantage.

Detail shots are valuable for jury submissions, giving insight to jurors who cannot see your work in person. Juries get only a few seconds to review each artist’s images. Including a number of views of a given object, including detail shots, allows for a more intimate understanding.

Likewise, photographs of up-close details of your work are important for customers who are considering a purchase. Follow the lead of e-commerce websites which do this all the time. Imagine shopping online for shoes. You will see photos of the top of the shoes, the sides, bottom, laces, stitching, and more. Every additional detail helps the buyer experience as they “try on” your work and gain a higher comfort level. This leads to increased sales.

Your portfolio needs a variety of photographs to convey a lot of information about your artwork. Are you using detail shots to help tell the whole story?


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  1. Carolyn,

    What a pleasant surprise to see a photo of one of my sculptures, What We Tell Ourselves. I am honored that you included it as an example of the importance and usefulness of detail shots.

    My wonderful photographer, Jason Dowdle (Blue Sky Digital Photography, Snow Camp, NC), encourages artists to attend his sessions. I value this so much, as Jason patiently listens while I talk about why I created the piece, my intended messages, etc. He factors this in as he positions the sculpture for the best possible image for the professional portfolio.

    As you discuss, one image may not capture all the nuances the artist worked so hard to create, and this may be particularly true for 3-dimensional work. Jason and I often discuss whether it would be beneficial to take a detail shot at an angle different from that of the photograph of the entire piece.

    The idea for the image in your post was a happy accident. In the studio, I often take photos of work in progress, including close-ups of areas that took a lot of time, were created with unusual tools, or were noteworthy to me for some other reason. When I took a photo similar to what you see in this image (after some gymnastics!), it made me gasp. The perspective and the intimacy of the close-up captured the emotion I was trying to communicate very dramatically. Jason tweaked the angle and lighted the work expertly to get a professional version of my cell phone picture.

    In addition to using detail shots to provide additional information for jurors, I’ve found detail shots to be useful in other instances. These include when an image is to be used in an unconventional format (perhaps to fit an odd-shaped space on a postcard or brochure), or where it will be reduced significantly so a photo of the entire piece would be difficult to see.

    Thank you for all you do to help artists succeed!
    Cindy Biles

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