If you don’t document your work, you never made it.
If people can’t see your art unless they are in your studio, you may as well never have made the work. Documentation can’t ever do the real thing justice (or if it can, the work probably needs to be rethought!), but it should come as close as possible.
I document my own work. It isn’t just that I’m a consummate DIYer (read: control-freak). Documenting my own work means that I can get it done quickly and without shelling out any more money. I have found it helpful to invest in the tools necessary for the job instead of borrowing equipment when I need it. I like to have the tools on hand, and, too, most of the equipment is multi-purpose and crucial to other aspects of my process.
Tools: proper digital camera, tripod, two shop lights with two daylight bulbs each, a tall object (my fridge at the moment), a computer equipped with Photoshop.
I set up my “photo studio” in my little kitchen. I lean the painting up against the far wall, near the fridge, and set up my tripod and camera at the entrance of the kitchen. I turn off all other lights in apartment and rest the two shop lights on top of the fridge.
The light bounces off the ceiling, walls and cabinets. By the time it reaches the painting, it’s ambient and doesn’t cause the evil glare that ruins a good documenting image!
I do “in-camera duplicates” (as it’s called when you’re using slide film) of both the full composition and the details. I do this to be sure that I get one completely in-focus image. I check the clarity of the image by loading it onto the computer and into Photoshop, and magnifying it many times to be sure that the image is crisp. This may seem like overkill, but, because I make postcards and printouts from these photos, they must be sharp.