Documenting Your Work Part 1: DIY Documentation

Documenting your artwork is one of the most important aspects besides making  work itself.

Documenting affects many key areas of your work. Here’s a short list of ways documentation affects your arts related activities: grant applications and awards, marketing materials like business cards and postcards, acceptance into exhibitions, galleries and other art opportunities, images in catalogs and magazines, website design and display, art print production, creation of merchandise, and so much more.

DIY Documentation:

Good documentation is key to being successful with various business and opportunity related arts activities. You have the choice to do it yourself or hire someone to help you.

There is a large learning curve for documenting your work if you are not familiar with this process. You need to understand placement, lighting, lighting equipment and techniques, cameras equipment and techniques, and post-production software use.  This may seem like a lot but there are plenty of artists who make their work and successfully document it.

Space Rentals:

Locations like ShootSpace, Mpls Photo Center, and Downtown Photovideo are photo studios in Minneapolis and Saint Paul that you can rent hourly and use to document your work. There are a variety of professionals who will also rent out their professional studio for you to use also. You can find these listings on websites like MNartists.org, Craigslist, and other arts marketplace websites.

Do your research here so you know what is provided and what you need to bring. While lights and backgrounds may be available, there could be additional fees to use these. You also may need to provide an easel or some sort of stand to hold the work while you photograph it.

Equipment Rentals:

West Photo, Mpls PhotoLights On, and National Camera Exchange provide a wide variety of equipment rentals. Ask the company you are renting from if you have all the proper tools and equipment so you  can be sure to get the right equipment you need to get the job done.

There may be additional costs and fees associated with renting that you hadn’t planned for. Some places will require a deposit in addition to the rental fee cost. Do your research and learn what equipment you need.

Post Production:

Once you have taken your photos, the work is only half done. Once you have the image file, you will need to spend some time making image corrections, possibly adding watermarks, adjusting sizing and image resolution, and storage. You will need access to post-production software such as Photoshop, Pixlr, GIMP, Lightroom.

Workshops & Events:

Here are some workshops, events and instructional assistance that can help you along your documentation journey when you get stuck. Some of these places specialize in photo & documentation workshops and events while others have courses periodically. Check back to those resources for future classes if you don’t currently see any.

National Camera 

Springboard for the Arts 

Mpls Photo Center – also provides one on one instruction options

Twin Cities Photoshop Users Group

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