Capture professional quality images of your work now so that you'll be ready to take advantage of opportunities in the future. 2D and 3D work up to 3' in any dimension is welcome.
If you cannot make it to one of the Portfolio Shoots, see the section on digitizing your work at home.
Show off your artwork. As a student at Tyler, there are numerous opportunities to exhibit your art online, on campus and in the community.
Instructors curate exhibitions of their students' artwork each semester. Throughout the year, Tyler's Literary Review, the Foundation Art Award, and the Tyler Gallery's Juried Student Art Show recognize student artists. Your instructor will also often announce additional exhibitions you may submit work to, as well as chances to collaborate on projects with classes in other disciplines, such as theatre, or outside organizations.
If you are taking art classes with an online component, you will need to occasionally photograph your assignments at home. There are several tips that you can use to present your work at its best with the equipment that you have.
- Take your time. It is easy to rush the photographing process.
If you are uploading an image online, keep in mind that will be the version of your piece that people see. Any problems with the photography may detract from the perceived quality of your art, so it is important to present your artwork in the best possible way. This begins with quality photography.
- Plan your images.
Pick a neutral background. Make sure anything that could be distracting, such as household furnishings, people, pets, and junk, are out of view of the camera. For 2D work, your camera should be at the same angle as your artwork to avoid distorting the image. For 3D work, it is a good idea to shoot multiple images at various angles. Try to pick the angles with the best and most complete view of your piece. If there is an area of your artwork you would like the viewer to pay especial attention to, you can take additional detail shots.
- Be deliberate with lighting.
There are a number of options for lighting your work depending on what is available to you. Avoid mixing light sources. Different types of light sources will change the way parts of your image will appear. Through lighting, you also have the power to emphasize certain aspects of your work. For instance, you can bring out the texture of your media or you can opt to shoot your work with a flatter light. The goal is to create a consistent light, without hotspots or unnecessary shadows.
- Know your camera.
A DSLR will likely have a lot of options available. For best results, you should understand the basics of how the camera’s modes, focus, aperture, ISO, and lens affect your images. Some DSLR modes, and almost all cellphones, will try to automate many of these settings. Automated settings can save some time but may yield undesirable or unreliable results. Be cautious of specialized cellphone modes, like Portrait Mode, which might try to blur out or smooth elements of your photograph.
- Make appropriate adjustments to your image.
Most of the time you will need to edit your photos at least a little. Cropping, removing background imperfections, making minor adjustments to the levels, or minimally sharpening your photograph can produce a stronger image. However, be careful not to overdo post-editing. It is often better to reshoot a photo rather than try to correct a big issue in Photoshop. In the end, you want your photograph to be as true-to-life as possible, while presenting your work in the best way.
Tips and Videos
Using Natural Light with Equipment You Have
In many cases, natural light and consumer cameras, or even a cellphone, can be used to take good photos of your work.
- How to photograph your artwork at home with phone, Quarantine Photography for Undergrads – Youtube
Tips for 2D and 3D work using a cellphone and natural lighting
- How to photograph your art, Tyler Stalman – Youtube
Tips for 2D work using a consumer camera and natural lighting
- DIY Product Photos - Easy, Cheap and Good-looking, Luke Ayers – Youtube
Tips for 3D objects using inexpensive, DIY photography supplies
Using Photography Equipment
If you have access to some photo equipment, you will have more control over when and how to photograph your work.
- The Complete Art School Portfolios Guide: Photographing 2D Artwork – artprof.com
Tips for 2D work
- The Complete Art School Portfolios Guide: Photographing 3D Artwork – artprof.com
Tips for 3D work
Using a Scanner
Many 2D media can be easily scanned; though some types of scanners will work better than others. A quality photo scanner can provide an easy-to-setup, camera-less way to digitize certain drawings, watercolors, collages, and similar media. Keep in mind that scanners use a flat light so you can lose details like the grain of the paper. Work that is too large to fit on the scan-bed may be scanned in sections and stitched together in a photo editing application.
- Take your time. It is easy to rush the photographing process.
Photographing on campus
You can use John Tyler's campuses to complete many of your photogaphy assignments for either in-person, or online classes. When you are taking pictures or filming outside of times when classes normally meet, please check in with security in the Administration Building (Midlothian) or the Nicholas Student Center (Chester). You will need to let the officer know which course you are taking, and who your instructor is, as well as present a photo ID. Get your free Student ID from Student Activities.
Your rights as a photographer
From the ACLU web page on Photographers Rights:
1. When in public spaces where you are lawfully present you have the right to photograph anything that is in plain view. That includes pictures of federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police. Such photography is a form of public oversight over the government and is important in a free society.
2. When you are on private property, the property owner may set rules about the taking of photographs. If you disobey the property owner's rules, they can order you off their property (and have you arrested for trespassing if you do not comply).
3. Special considerations when videotaping:
With regards to videotaping, there is an important legal distinction between a visual photographic record (fully protected) and the audio portion of a videotape, which some states have tried to regulate under state wiretapping laws.
Such laws are generally intended to accomplish the important privacy-protecting goal of prohibiting audio "bugging" of private conversations. However, in nearly all cases audio recording the police is legal.
In states that allow recording with the consent of just one party to the conversation, you can tape your own interactions with officers without violating wiretap statutes (since you are one of the parties).
In situations where you are an observer but not a part of the conversation, or in states where all parties to a conversation must consent to taping, the legality of taping will depend on whether the state's prohibition on taping applies only when there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. But no state court has held that police officers performing their job in public have a reasonable expectation.
The ACLU believes that laws that ban the taping of public officials' public statements without their consent violate the First Amendment.
What type of computer or camera should you get for your classes? The answer depends a lot on your program and your personal goals and preferences.
Students planning to transfer:
If you are planning to purchase a new computer for Tyler and are interested in transferring to a four-year institution, be sure to consult your preferred transfer programs for their computer requirements. You do not want to purchase a new computer now only to have to buy something else when you transfer.
Hardware and Software
Adobe Creative Cloud
As a visual arts student, you will have many assignments which use Adobe Creative Cloud.
Adobe Creative Cloud is a suite of applications used in design, photography, and art. Many of your computer-based assignments will require these applications, which is sold on a subscription basis. If you plan to work on your assignments only at school, you will be able to use a free Adobe ID account to access the software on campus (this free account will not allow you to work from home, however).
There are many alternatives, often free or lower cost, to many of the applications in the Creative Cloud suite. Often those alternatives will work for assignments, but some assignments will require Adobe Creative Cloud applications, especially in graphic design, photography, and the Introduction to Computer Graphics (ART 180) classes.
Most of the applications and files that you will use in class will work on either Macs or PCs. We use Macs in the art classrooms but the choice of operating system is up to you for your working computer.
Hardware requirements will vary depending on the applications that you will use. Some art students may only have a few classes they take which will require access to Adobe Creative Cloud, while other students will require many semesters of access. We highly recommend that students have access to an Adobe subscription for any semester in which they take any graphic design, photography, film editing, animation, or the Introduction to Computer Graphics class.
Most Art, Graphic Design and Photography Students:
All art and photography students will have assignments that use Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. Adobe currently recommends computers with at least 16GB of RAM for the most demanding of these applications. Most modern processors and storage will meet the requirements for these applications. Please double-check the Adobe Creative Cloud documentation if there are any concerns about the capabilities of the computer you will use.
Students interested in Film, Animation or Game Design:
Adobe Premiere and AfterEffects are high-end software that are more demanding than other applications in the Adobe Creative Cloud suite. Adobe typically has higher hardware configurations recommends for these applications (particularly for the processor, RAM and video card), and you should consult their website for the latest system requirements. Be sure to have enough storage space for large video files with either built-in storage or with a fast, external drive.
Purchasing a New Computer
A personal computer is not required to take classes at Tyler, but it is highly recommended for most art students. Many four-year programs will also require one when it is time to transfer.
If you are intending to purchase a new computer verify that it will meet the standards of the university to which you intend to transfer. If you will be buying a new computer, you will want to find a new computer that meets the recommended or preferred requirements for the applications that you will be using. This will help ensure that your new computer will run smoothly with the current software version and be able to handle future updates.
Laptop, Desktop, or Tablet
The choice of your primary device is up to you and how you work best. Note, you may want to consult the computer requirements of any four-year programs that you are interested in transferring into. Some programs require a specific type of device.
Please keep in mind that many tablets may not suffice as a primary computing device for art students. That is not a hard-and-fast rule as there are many options for tablets available today. If you do select a tablet as your primary working device it needs to support the desktop version of Adobe Creative Cloud.
Some devices, like the Microsoft Surface, can run desktop versions of software since they use the same operating system as any other Windows computer. However, please verify the system requirements.
Apple iPads, on the other hand, use an operating system that does not support desktop versions of the software that you will use in class. You may not be able to complete some assignments on an iPad alone.
Android devices do not support the desktop version of the software you will use in class. You may not be able to complete some assignments on an Android tablet alone.
Using an Existing Computer
If you are checking to see if an existing computer will work for your classes at Tyler, your computer must meet or exceed the minimum hardware requirements for the software to run. Keep in mind though some features may not work at the minimum requirements and the software may be slow or experience lag. Depending on your computer, you may have the option to upgrade your existing computer’s RAM or video card so that it will work better with the software you are intending to run.
Tyler Mac Lab Computers
There are several different types of computers which are used in the Mac Labs. You do not need a computer identical to what is in the Mac Labs, though people sometimes find this information helpful when considering a new computer.
Desktops: 21.5-inch or 27-inch Apple iMacs with at least 16GB RAM. The desktop computers have between 1TB and 2TB of internal storage, and 2GB to 4GB of video memory. Desktop computers intended for filmmaking have between 24GB and 32GB of RAM.
Laptops: 15-inch or 16-inch Apple MacBook Pros with at least 16GB RAM. The laptop computers have between 256GB and 500GB of internal storage, and 2GB to 4GB of video memory.
The computers in the Mac Labs are periodically replaced with newer computers on a renewal cycle.
Other Equipment to Consider
- For most photography classes you will need access to a DSLR camera, which is a digital camera with a detachable lens. There are several different brands on the market and your selection of camera is largely a matter of preference provided that it meets the requirements of the course. Please check your course syllabus or with your advisor to verify that the camera and lenses you intend to use will work for a particular course.
- For most classes, online cloud storage is sufficient to store working files. However sometimes, especially in filmmaking classes, you may require a lot of fast storage. In those classes, you may benefit from an external storage device like an external SSD. Please keep in mind that the storage you use should accommodate both USB-C as well as USB-A connectors since not all labs support both connections.
Depending on the program that you are in, there may be optional equipment that you can purchase. For the most part, we recommend that new students avoid purchasing additional equipment not required in your syllabi until you have experience with the technical nuances in your area of interest. Any equipment needed to complete an assignment is listed in the syllabus, Canvas, or otherwise provided to students during class.
Digital Drawing Tablets
Many digital artists and graphic designers prefer to use a Wacom or other digital drawing tablet. These can be useful for many assignments, but not everyone likes to use them. If you are unfamiliar with these, we recommend waiting to try one in class before deciding whether to purchase a digital drawing tablet on your own.
You may be required to print on occasion depending on your courses, but most assignments will be digital. There are other printing options available when printed materials are needed for an art or photography class.
Photography equipment, such as studio lights and additional lenses, can be pricy and there are many choices with varying opinions and technical considerations. Other than a DSLR camera and any equipment specifically required in the course syllabus, it is not recommended that students just starting with photography purchase extensive equipment prior to taking a class.
As with photo equipment, filmmaking gear can be expensive with many technical nuances. Therefore, it is recommended that students unfamiliar with filmmaking do not purchase extensive equipment prior to taking a filmmaking class unless that equipment is specifically required in the course syllabus.
Often the tools used in making films and other forms of art can be expensive. If you would like to use equipment that you do not have in order to complete an assignment, talk to your instructor about options for accessing equipment outside of class time.
Each program of study has a dedicated advisor that can help students plan for transfer and professional opportunities. Every art student's goals and circumstances are different. Your advisor can help you make the most of your academic time to achieve your own success story.
Visual Arts Student Resources
The visual arts program offers many resources to help our students succeed.