Turning a work of art into a photographic image is an act of translation. An artist’s original creation – large or small, flat or three-dimensional – will often contain a range of tones, colors, and textures beyond that which can be captured by a camera’s sensor, a monitor’s screen, or a printer’s inks.  The challenge is to create a photographic version of the work that honors the original and that conveys its essential qualities.

At Stephen Petegorsky Photography, more than forty years of experience in creating and photographing artwork is brought to each job.  The process is discussed, and careful attention is paid to the needs of each individual artist.

Stephen Petegorsky has worked for hundreds of artists, museums, galleries, collectors, dealers, publishers, and filmmakers.  His work has been reproduced in books, catalogues, posters, postcards, brochures, films and websites around the world.

Services include the creation of reproduction-quality digital files by direct capture, using a state-of-the-art 50 megapixel Hasselblad H5D camera, capable of producing files that measure over 20 x 27” at 300 pixels per inch.  If necessary, even larger files can be created by photographing works in sections and then combining those sections into a seamless whole.

Works of art as well as exhibits and installations can be photographed in the studio or on location.  No collection is too large or too small.  In conjunction with Jim Gipe of Pivot Media, large-scale digitizing projects involving thousands of works have been done for such institutions as the Smith College Museum of Art, the Williams College Museum of Art, the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College, and the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum.

Film or small, flat works can also be scanned.  Custom inkjet printing using high-quality pigments and paper for archival permanence is also offered, as is consultation on all aspects of digital imaging.

Please call or e-mail for current prices.

What do I need to do to prepare my work for photography?

  • All work should be removed from frames where possible.  If work is matted, it is best if the overmat can be lifted to show the entire piece.
  • If works are not representational, an arrow should be placed on the back of the piece indicating which direction is up.
  • Decisions should be made regarding cropping.  Should the edges of the piece be shown?  If so, should the area around the piece be white, black, gray, or another color?

Do the pieces need to have titles?

Every digital file must have a name or a number.  Two identically titled files cannot exist in the same folder.  Thus if works are untitled, they should at least be called “untitled #1”, “untitled #2”, etc. Titles should not have punctuation in them, and should not be too long.  If pieces are not clearly marked with titles, please prepare a list of the titles and a way of indicating which title goes with each piece.

My paintings have a glossy surface and are very reflective. Will that be a problem?

No.  Polarizing filters can be used on the lights and camera lens to control glare and reflections.

What kind of files do you make?

You will get both a large, high-resolution TIFF file as well as a smaller, compressed JPEG file.  The JPEG files will be made so that they can easily be used in PowerPoint presentations.  If you know that you need the JPEG files to be made to a specific size and resolution, bring those specifications with you or e-mail them to me before the photo session.

The files you made looked great on your monitor, but look very different on my computer.  Why is that?

I use an expensive, professional-quality monitor that is calibrated weekly.  Calibration involves the use of hardware and software to measure specific colors and tones on the monitor’s screen. The measured values are then compared to what the ideal values are for those colors and tones, and a “profile” is generated.  That “profile” is digital information that tells the computer and monitor what to do to correct any discrepancies between the ideal and measured values.  A properly calibrated monitor is then the critically correct environment in which to view the digital images I have made for you.

Most people do not calibrate their monitors, and have no idea what the settings are that control the way in which the monitor presents images.  Many monitors come from the factory with screen settings that are too bright, have too much contrast, and are set to a white color temperature that is much too blue.  Images will thus look very different compared to the way they look on a calibrated monitor.

The prints you made look great, but when I try to print the files myself, the prints I get are completely different.  Why?

The files that I make are created in a way that anticipates their being seen on a calibrated monitor and printed in my studio on a professional grade inkjet printer using the highest quality pigments and paper that I have tested. Every printer is different in terms of the inks it uses as well as the way those inks are controlled by the printer’s driver or a RIP (raster image processor) application that governs the printer. When those files are used in another system, they will always look different, and trial and error will usually be the key to getting decent prints.

Can I change the files that you have made for me?

Files can be delivered on a CD or DVD, and can also be copied to a client’s hard drive or flash drive. They can also be uploaded to Dropbox or send via such services as wesendit.com. Files that are burned to a CD or DVD cannot be changed and saved back to that disc.  If you want to change these files in any way, they must first be copied to your computer. Those copies can then be changed and saved on your computer as new files.  It is important NOT to change the files to make them look better on your monitor unless you know that your monitor is correctly calibrated!

I have lost the CD that you made for me, and did not copy the files onto my computer.  Do you keep copies of the files you make?

I do keep copies of the files that I make for you, informally. This means that I do not formally store files for people, and thus do not have the legal responsibility for archiving them. However, it is often the case that people need to have me do something with their files, and it is much easier for me to do that with copies kept on my computer than by requiring people to bring back the discs that I have made for them.

How long does the process take?  What is involved?

Normally, work is dropped off at the studio. The work is then reviewed with the artist, and any particular concerns can be discussed. Depending on the number of pieces to be photographed, turn-around time is usually no more than two or three days. Rush schedules can often be accommodated. When the work is picked up, the digital files will be shown on a calibrated monitor, and any changes that may be necessary will be completed.

Dennis Nolan
Bronwyn Oliver
Ali Osborn
Gail Otis
Oxford University Press
Janet Palin
The Peabody Essex Museum
Paris Press
Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison
Peter Ruhf Designs
Lynn Peterfreund
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Matt Phillips
Jon Goodman Photogravure
Pierce’s Frame Shop
Pivot Media
Portland Art Museum
Linda H. Post
Evelyn Pye
R. Michelson Galleries
Hannah Richards
Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University
Peter Ruhf
Sheron Rupp
Richard Ryan
Salem Board & Beam Company
Nan Salky
Judith Ellen Sanders
Sarah Creighton Bookbinder
Serge Serokko Gallery
Robert Seydel
Jieun Shin
Amaryllis Siniossoglou
Smith College Museum of Art
Wednesday Sorokin
Leandro Soto
Al Souza
Claudia Sperry
St. Joseph College Art Gallery
Steeplechase Films
Elizabeth Stone
Gregory Stone
Robert Sweeney
Timna Tarr
Margaret Jean Taylor
University Museum of Contemporary Art
Marc van der Leeden
Stephanie Vignone
Fred Wessel
James Whitbeck
Williams College Museum of Art
Wingate Studio
WM Baczek Fine Arts
Richard Yarde
Zea Mays Printmaking