Artists Essentials Toolkit #6: How to document and livestream your art online

In our final video in this series, we look at how to photograph, video and livestream your work online.

Documenting your work is an important part of promoting yourself as an artist. Images of your work are what get people interested in what you are doing. In the last video of our Artists Essential Toolkit Series, we’ll cover ways to digitise your arts practice – the basics of photography, using your smartphone camera, next steps with equipment and the ins and outs of live streaming. 

Presented by Leela Schauble.
How to document and livestream your art online is a co-production of ArtsHub and Creative Victoria.

Watch: Artists Essentials Toolkit video #4: Promoting your art with social media

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which this content was created. We pay our respects to Elders, past and present and future.

Music:  “Eternally Alone” by Poppongene. Released by Our Golden Friend.

Useful timestamps:
00:35 – Capture great images
02:24 – Cropping and resizing
03:11 – Make the most of your phone
05:02 – Learn how to live stream 


When lockdown for coronavirus first hit, overnight we couldn’t go to galleries or art classes.
This really highlighted the need for the arts to be an active presence online.
So, in this video, we’ll cover ways to digitise your arts practice – the basics of photography,
using your smartphone camera, next steps with equipment and the ins and outs of live streaming.

00:35 – Capture great images
If you’re digitising your art, it’s vital you capture good, sharp images, especially if you’re selling your work online.
They should really bring your work to life online and showcase it in the best possible light,
so here are some tips for capturing great images. 
Take high resolution photos and keep your subject in focus. 
Yes, that sounds obvious but it’s important your images capture all the relevant details in clear, sharp images.
People will be looking at them on various screen sizes so they have to look as good on
a large monitor as a smartphone.  
Lighting. Natural light is much more appealing than smartphone flashes.
Set up your shots by a window or even outside. Avoid shooting in direct sun as it can cause a strong glare on your work, or create shadows. The ideal shooting environment is either in the shade on a sunny day or on a bright overcast day. 
Lightboxes are great for photographing products, so if you make and sell things like small sculptures, ceramics or jewellery, a lightbox might be a good investment.
Keep your shot steady. You don’t want to end up with blurry images.
So you can either invest in some basic equipment – such as a tripod – or find something sturdy to prop your camera on. 
Compose your pictures using the rule of thirds.
Picture the frame of your image divided into three even columns.
Now place the subject of the image on one of those dividing lines.
This is a classic rule of thumb that creates much more interesting visuals than just putting something in the middle of a shot.
This might not apply to things like close ups of products but can work well for styling and brand imagery.

02:24 – Cropping and resizing 
Once you’ve documented your art, you get a chance to edit the images to really make it stand out online.
Cropping is cutting out the areas of your photo that you don’t want anymore.
If you’ve documented your painting on a wall, you can crop down your photo to just feature the artwork. 

Resizing your image is important when you are posting online.
Often the original image size will load much slower on your website and can frustrate your users.
A safe size will be around 800-1200 pixels in either height or width.
You’ll also want to change the dpi, which stands for dots per inch, from 300dpi to 72dpi which is best for most screens. 

03:11 – Make the most of your phone
Most smartphones today come with high performance cameras built in.
You can use them to digitise your art online anywhere and almost anyhow.
On social media there’s no denying the importance of great images, so here’s
how to optimise your images and videos just with your phone. 
First up, clean your lens! It can get pretty grimy over time.
And check how much storage you have on your phone.
You don’t want to get halfway through an epic shoot only to run out of storage space. 
Get to know your camera modes. Depending on the model you have, and the operating
system you’re running, smartphone cameras come with various modes such as portrait,
square and panoramic, as well as video modes like slo-mo and time lapse. 
As the name suggests, portrait mode is ideal for portraits and adds some sheen to a headshot.
Square is ideal for Instagram’s format, and panorama works well for broad banner shots for a website.
Choose the high definition function if you want higher contrast. 
Tap your screen to focus on the main element of your image.
There are also lots of inbuilt photo editing features within your camera settings,
or you can download third-party photo apps like Camera +2, VSCO, ProCamera, Lightroom
and Camera FV-5 that offer the features of a DSLR camera. 
As we mentioned before, opt for natural light over your camera’s flash.
And if you go into your camera settings, you can turn the grid on so you can make your images aligned and level. 
And here’s one super simple tip – turn your phone sideways and take a horizontal shot.
These wider shots work much better on desktop screens. 

05:02 – Learn how to live stream
Live streaming is basically sharing a live-to-air video online. It could be a performance, a book reading,
or a studio workshop. Live streaming has become incredibly popular because of its low cost set up.
At the very least, all you need is a smartphone and live streaming app and you’re good to go.  
Live streaming isn’t a cut and edited video – it’s live and immediate, so think about the difference and if it suits your purpose. 
Live streams can be quite interactive, with the ability to comment or message throughout the stream,
which can create a dialogue between the artist and audience, as well as within the audience members.
Using platforms like Zoom or YouTube gives you the option of making these live streams public or private.  
However if you want to live stream with a more polished result, some digital cameras and GoPros have the capability,
or you could consider investing in a video camera.
There are entry level models that will add a more professional look, or you could
go for a wall-mounted PTZ (which stands for Point Tilt Zoom) that you control with a remote. 
For now, we’ll look at streaming from a mobile device. So, what do you need to start live streaming?
Start with: Some of the most popular streaming apps include:
Facebook Live, Instagram Live, YouTube Live, Periscope, TikTok, BoxCast, Twitch

When you’ve decided what you want to live stream, set up your phone on your tripod and attach the mic.
Most internal mics aren’t good enough for broadcasting.
And just as with photography, make sure you have plenty of good light. 

Now, decide where you want to send this stream live to – you can stream it to
your website or any of those streaming platforms. Not all streaming apps are free.
The more expensive ones come with excellent features, including analytics. 
If you want to send it via Facebook Live, open the Facebook app and stream from there.
If you want to stream it live to Twitter, use the Periscope app.
There are apps like BoxCast’s Broadcaster that can simulcast to multiple platforms at once.
Send it to the platforms where you have the most followers.

Here are some extra live streaming points to remember:  
If you’re broadcasting alone, remember that you won’t be able to zoom in on a shot.
If you need more coverage, ask a friend to help, and set up a second camera. 
If you’ve recorded your live stream, think about where (and whether) you want to store it online afterwards.
If you stream to Facebook Live or YouTube directly, they own that content. 

So now you know how to take your work out of the studio and onto the web.
Now you can host virtual exhibitions, run workshops and showcase your work for sale.
Check back on our previous videos all about getting your work online.
They cover everything from writing about your work, to marketing and making money from it. 

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