A crucial step in becoming a respected international artist is in how well you present your work to the world. There’s no point in creating a true masterpiece in oils, or an impressive bronze sculpture only to have it fall flat with amateur or inaccurate photography. Large, pixel perfect colour images dominate today’s digital art-spaces.
Getting quality professional photographs of your art is essential in an online commercial world. Artists are no longer confined to the physical boundaries of their countries, limited to selling their art through their studio, a gallery or art exhibit. Your work can (and should), be viewed by a wider international audience.
Andy Monk’s speciality is photographing other artist’s work in a way that remains true to the original artist. He works to solve the disconnect between how artists see their art and how it is photographed.
Photograph by Andy Monk – Artwork by Clive Holgate (Bronze cast)
A TLC student and graduate, Andy spent his first year at The Learning Connexion studying life drawing, 3D and photography, clocking up to 15,000 shots on his camera as a result!
With a working background in marketing, Andy’s skillset includes direct marketing, email, social media and customer services. Like any good marketer, he has a clear 5-year strategy in place: continue his studies at The Learning Connexion, complete his diploma and create a successful New Zealand business in commercial photography.
Andy likens his photography to being a reflection of the artist’s soul via each work. Key to the effectiveness of his work is the open communication he facilitates between himself, the photographer, and the artist. “I want them to have complete control and an understanding of the entire process”.
When working on a project, Andy said he might take over 600 shots to get 10 good ones. It might take him 6 hours of shooting to only hit the money shot right in the last 15 minutes.
“The photographic process is about experimentation. It is about play.”
He tries different angles and lighting options, discovering what does and doesn’t work. It is this continual pushing and creative exploration of the subject matter that shows in his final images.
Andy works with students and tutors on TLC’s campus facilities. He has produced stunning photographs for artists Mel Ford and Leo Semau.
Photograph by Andy Monk – Artwork by Mel Ford (Portage Ceramic Awards 2015)
*This photo was featured in the published booklet acccompanying the exhibition.
When working with Mel and Leo, Andy said that the process wasn’t simply ‘let’s see what we can get’, and take a few shots; it was about looking at the textures, the tones and shapes of the subject matter. Thinking about how he would light their work. Shall we use soft lighting, cool lighting or perhaps coloured lighting to invoke the right emotional response?
Photograph by Andy Monk – Artwork by Leo Semau (Ceramic Vessel)
Andy enjoys building relationships with other artists who are clear about their creative process, the outcome they want to achieve and the messages they want to convey to a viewer of their work. He prefers his clients to work alongside him in the studio, seeing things as they happen, so they can move together towards a great final photograph.
He encourages art students to be fully involved in the photographic process of their work – to discuss their ideas and be open to alternative suggestions. “A lot of students don’t think beyond creating a piece of artwork they love. They need to then think how am I going to market and sell it? How will I promote myself as an artist?”
It’s not just going through the creative process, producing a work of art and then stopping. It’s what happens after the work is created. What is your intent for the piece? How do you want your work to come across to a viewer? Does the photograph taken of your art speak to your audience? Does it fit well with your written description? How can it promote you as an artist?
Andy’s tips for students looking to photograph their artwork;
Before you begin, have a clear understanding about the creative process you went through in creating the piece. Write down your creative process or work through TLC’s creative spiral if you haven’t already. By doing this, you’ll gain a better understanding of what you are trying to communicate through your art.
This will also help a photographer understand your personal journey, the story behind the piece being photographed and how they might sympathetically approach the final image.
- What was the creative process?
- What do you want to communicate to the viewer? Be clear.
- What is the story behind the piece?
- What are your works emotional triggers. Is it the beauty of the line, the colour, its textures, the darkness of the shadows?
- If your piece is 3-dimensional, what do you consider to be its best angle?
- How will we go about lighting it? Is there a light source within your work? Where is the light coming from? Are we fighting against that when setting up the studio lighting?
- How do you think your artwork should be shot? Consider the background and the mood you want the setting to convey.
Typical fine art photography challenges are:
Accurate colour representation
This is the biggest challenge any fine art photographer faces.
It is best to photograph unframed artwork as glass reflects light and surrounding elements. Glossy finishes and materials like oils can be hard to photograph.
Even lighting is difficult with flat artwork. Photographers use a light meter to check that light values are the same on all four corners as well as the centre.
So what’s next for Andy?
A 100 portrait exhibition series for this year’s diploma honours work. He is currently on the hunt for portraiture volunteers for his photo journalistic studies.
Contact Andy via email: Boxomonks@gmail.com to discuss him photographing your artwork or if you’d like to volunteer for his upcoming portraiture series.
See some of TLC tips on photographing your artwork.