For almost 10 years I'm designing catalogues and invitations for art exhibitions, mainly ceramics. The quality of photos sent in by the artists has improved immensely over the time as most artists now use the services of professional photographers.
But for those who are still taking their own photos or who want to improve their skills: here are a few things you should know if you want your photo being published:
• Use a tripod.
• Leave enough space around the object - include more background. If the object on the photo sits too close to the edge of the photo, the image can't be used for full page images if you want to show the complete object. A full page image always requires extra space around the edges for bleed and you don't want two or three millimetres being cut off your artwork.
• Watch out for weird looking shadows, they might distract from the object and kill the whole image.
• The same goes for too many and too strong reflections. Try to avoid flash.
• Avoid busy backgrounds, even if your studio or kitchen looks interesting. But a busy background will distract from the main focus in the photo.
• Should your photo include a 'horizon' e.g. a table's edge or a floor edge, make sure it's straight.
• Centre your object unless you are using an interesting angle for artistic purposes.
• If you are using a paper background, make sure it's not dirty or ripped (photoshop can fix a lot, but that would lead to higher pre-press costs)
• If you are taking photos of your art in an exhibition, focus on your object, unless showing blurry people in the background is intentional and part of the arrangement.
• Make sure the digital file is large enough for printing. I often see images that look great on screen but turn out only as big as a stamp when printed in the correct resolution. Offset printing requires 250 ppi* or 300 ppi* photoshop files. An A5 .psd file can easily end up being 12 MB large.
• When you save your .psd file into a jpg to send it off, try to save it only once as each re-saving will compress the image more, which affects the quality.
• ppi = pixels per inch; very often wrongly called dpi (dots per inch).