Regardless of whether you are an aspiring photographer or just an enthusiastic art fan, you are going to want to be able to take photographs of your work. Photographing sculptures is not just a simple point and click kind of action. The object of course is not moving, but there are a lot of elements that you need to consider in order to truly capture the essence of the piece without ruining the integrity. If you are doing it well, looking at the photograph will inspire the same sensation as if you were in its presence.
Step 1: Consider the Foreground
Where you are in relation to what you are photographing can make a huge impact on the final product. If you look up from the ground at an image, it can seem larger and more imposing than it perhaps is in real life. Looking down at a smaller sculpture will make it seem even smaller than it is. If the sculpture is outside, using the natural elements around the sculpture while alter how you perceive it.
Step 2: Think of the Lighting
Even indoors, the lighting can be affected by the time of day. It is especially important outside. If the day is overcast and dreary, you are not going to have the same picture of the sculpture than if you photographed it on a sunny and bright day. Likewise, if the sculpture is indoors and is dependent upon natural light, you may need to wait until a day when the weather is good or for a better time of day in order to capture the sculpture well.
Step 3: Take into account the Aperture
In order to control the depth of the area or field that you are using to take your picture, you will need to isolate the sculpture from the background. This will have a dramatic effect on sculptures that are outdoors and will also still have an effect on indoor sculptures. You will need to set your camera for a wide aperture, isolating the sculpture and making it be the central focus of the photograph.
Step 4: Angles Matter
In addition to the foreground, you will need to consider the angle of the picture that you are taking. Looking at the sculpture straight on will give you one kind of shot, but walk around it and look at all of the sides as well as positions that you could be in to photograph the sculpture. Move around until you find an angle that will work for what you are going for.
Step 5: It doesn’t have to be Isolated
The picture does not have to be isolated in order to be a successful picture. What I am referring to is that there is a high probability that people are going to be hanging around the sculpture that you are trying to photograph, especially in popular spots like parks and museums. You do not need to wait until all of the people have evacuated or have a break n people before you can grab your shot. You can also consider how people are interacting with the sculpture itself and capture that moment in your picture.
Step 6: Use the Shadows
Even the shadow the sculpture makes or the silhouette of the statue in the darkness can create an interesting photograph of a sculpture. You will naturally miss out on the detail of the sculpture itself as well as its form and color, but you will be creating a different effect all together. Showing the silhouette can provide a view of the sculptures’ relationship to the nature around it as well as the detail of its outline.