How to photograph your work for the Derwent Art Prize

Drawing exhibited as part of the Derwent Art Prize exhibition, 2018

To enter the Derwent Art Prize, there are only 3 easy steps to follow:

  1. Visit
  2. Fill in the online form with all the right information
  3. Upload images of your work

In today’s blog, we’re giving you a ‘how to’ tutorial, designed to help you photograph your work, without any fancy equipment required.

There are a few common mistakes to avoid when taking pictures of your artwork. You do not want your piece to look distorted or for the colours to come across differently in photo than they do in real life, or the white areas to appear darker than they actually are.

Here are the steps you can take to prevent this from happening:

  • Find the right angle

The first thing you need to do is lay your work on a flat surface or hang it on a wall. Make sure your drawing is not skewed or leaning against something. To get the right angle and avoid creating any distortion, place your camera directly in front and in the centre of your piece – the lens should be parallel to it. If the work is glazed, remove the frame to avoid any reflection. Sometimes, all it takes is several adjustments and patience. Move to different positions until you can’t see shine or glare on your viewfinder.

  • Capture your artwork in natural light

If you are going to take your photos indoors, do it during the day, close to a window, to get the most natural light possible. It’s always better to use natural light – artificial light will make your artwork’s colours to look muted. Remember not to take photos with the sun behind you—you will cast a shadow on your artwork. Instead, take a picture with the light coming from either your left or right side. Always turn your camera’s flash off.

  • Show your true colours

To give the Derwent Art Prize selectors a good sense of your drawing, you will want to show its true colours. But the white areas of a photo can often appear a lot darker than they are in real life. Prevent this by colour correcting your image with any photo editing software for example Adobe Lightroom, Snap Seed for iPhone or Android. If the white parts of your work appear grey, try increasing the brightness. If they look blueish, increase the photo’s temperature, or cast; and if they look yellow or red, decrease it. If all else fails, here’s a little trick: use the Facetune app’s whitening tool. It is meant to whiten teeth but works just as well for art as it does for selfies!

Final touches include cropping your image to keep a focus on your drawing.