5 top tips for shooting images for wall art (a beginner's guide)

First published:
September 9, 2020
February 6, 2024

5 top tips for shooting images for wall art (a beginner's guide)

First published:
September 9, 2020
February 6, 2024

Cover image from Kieran Metcalfe

Many image buyers are in search of stunning photography to hang on their wall. With more of us staying at home, looking to re-decorate and improve our home environments, we're sure to only see this continue

One of the questions we're frequently asked by the photographer community is what exactly are the typical images that work best for prints and wall art?

Many buyers that come to Picfair Stores are those in search of stunning images to hang on their wall. And with more of us staying at home, looking to re-decorate and improve our home environments, we're sure to only see this continue.

So we’ve compiled these tips for you on ideas of what to shoot for wall art, and everything else you should consider when planning your shoots and editing your images.

1 Choose your themes carefully

When it comes to an image that makes a good piece of wall art, the possibilities for subject matter and context (just like personal taste), are endless. However, there are a number of common themes that are universally popular which tend to be reflective of interests, feelings and emotions, and are often based around the following:

- Memory & Nostalgia
- Recreation
- Excitement
- Wanderlust
- Serenity
- Escapism

And when you put these put into the context of a photographic subject, the following areas fit in well with the above:

- Travel
- Landscape
- Abstract
- Black & White
- Sport
- Nature
- Macro
- Formal Elements
- Architecture

Ask yourself what scenes you might envision based on these themes. For example, when thinking of a scene of tranquillity, what would you think of? A lake, flowing water, or maybe mist-covered dawn?

And, for a scene that stirs-up that feeling of wanderlust, how about the bright lights of New York City and other inspiring travel destinations? Or for an invigorating and exciting scene, perhaps an action-packed sport shot?

Also, when planning your shoots, think of different types of rooms and what kind of photographs may be displayed in them. For example, a calm seascape may be suited to a bathroom or a bedroom whereas an exhilarating cityscape may fit well in a living space. Imagine your photograph and then place it in the type of room you think it would compliment. Also think about demographics, hobbies and lifestyles, and focus on making themed shots that fit the narrative.

Serenity: Click here to see more
Recreation & Excitement: Click here to see more

Memory & Nostalgia: Click here to see more

Wanderlust: Click here to see more

Escapism: Click here to see more

2 Focus on colour, shape & form

Always think of photographic wall art as something that should be ultimately striking, inject life into an interior space, and be the talking point of any room.

When planning, shooting and editing your photos for wall art, try to imagine how your images would look in a particular space and ask yourself these questions... Would it be easy to look at, or are there any distractions in the picture? Would it be pleasing to the eye? Does it give that ‘wow’ factor?

Colour (or no colour at all) is important to consider. Images should be striking, but this doesn’t mean that the colours need to be overly-saturated or busy. A strong colour palette can also mean subdued and muted. Try experimenting with different colour options in post-processing, and again, imagine how the scene would look in an interior setting. Does it fit?

Black and white photography is equally as popular as colour photography for printed products. And as a general rule of thumb, black and white images that have a good level of contrast or a beautiful tonal range will help guide the viewer through the scene.

Dominant, vivid colours: Click here to see more

Softer, Subdued Colours: Click here to see more

Black and white in a range of contrasts and tonal palettes: Click here to see more

3 Shoot during the golden & blue hours

The 'blue hour' (twilight) and 'golden hour' (sunrise & sunset) are two of the most popular times to shoot for wall art, and images taken during these times of the day will produce results that make a bigger impact compared to shooting the same scene during the daytime when the light is often flat and dull.

The 'golden hour' - with its soft and dreamlike light conditions, is ideal for evoking feelings of warmth, memory, and contentment, whereas the 'blue hour' is incredibly versatile and is ideal for bringing cityscapes to life, or on the other hand, can give rise to a sense of serenity in the scene.

Images shot in the golden hour: Click here to see more

Images captured during the magical blue hour: Click here to see more

4 Keep an eye on trends

Browse interior and lifestyle magazines and blogs, see what’s happening in the art world, and take note of trending fashions, travel destinations, food crazes, recreational activities, and lifestyles. Plan your shoots accordingly!

You'll find plenty of inspiration for wall art photography browsing magazines.

5 Technical aspects are important

A printed image on a wall will often look very different to the same image as it appears on a screen, and printed products are much less forgiving when it comes to flaws in image quality.

Blurry, pixelated, over-processed and over-compressed images may look acceptable when viewing on screen, but on paper, any quality imperfections will be much more noticeable, so keep this in mind when you're working on your photos in post-processing.

As a general rule of thumb, the greater the pixel dimensions of an image, the more flexibility it will allow for printed products. When you upload your images to Picfair, they will be made available at all print sizes we offer so long as the original file has large enough dimensions to meet the minimum 150dpi requirement. Uploading images with dimensions of 5000-6000px and above along the longest edge will open up all the print sizes we currently offer.

Wall art should be striking and when it comes to post-processing, a little goes a long way. Beware of over-processing, whilst images should be sharp, over-sharpening an image can compromise on quality, and this is also the case when, brightness, shadows colours and contrasts are adjusted too much in post-processing and can result in a significant loss of detail and quality.

Save image files as uncompressed file formats (for example TIFF), or the highest JPEG quality possible to avoid increased pixelation, pixels can also become more noticeable when an image is overly-compressed, this often occurs when an image is saved as a low-quality JPEG file.

Examples of how Over-Saturation, Over-Contrast, Over-Sharpening, and Over-Compression can affect quality. This image

If you've followed this guide from beginning to end, you have everything you need to know in order to start shooting images for wall art... Now the next thing to do is to get out there!

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