How to Photograph a Sculpture From Many Angles the Easy Way

Double Harp, Wire Sculpture

Double Harp
Wire Sculpture

Sculpture Photos – Step 1 – Photography

Sculptures are three dimensional, therefore it makes sense to show photographs of your sculpture from every angle. A simple fun way to do sculpture photos is with an animated gif.

You will need a lazy susan. I made two, one from 24″ x 24″ square plywood, and the other 36″ round. You need two sheets of wood of the same size. Woodcraft.com is a good source for the mechanisms. Some can hold 1000 lbs but these can be quite stiff. If your sculptures are lighter, choice a lighter mechanism. You can buy very light weight versions at Lowe’s and Home Depot which will usually hold up to 100 lbs.

Any camera should be fine, but set it up on a tripod. Begin by photographing 16 views of your sculpture at 22.5 degree intervals – this is a 360 degree circle divided into 4ths, then 8ths, then 16ths. I use a home-made lazy susan – center your sculpture on the lazy susan as precisely as possible to keep all your sculpture photos on the same axis.

Keep the lighting on your sculpture and background the same. Outdoors it can vary with the clouds and winds, but that’s okay – very cool, in fact. If you are trying to show your sculptures as being suitable for outdoors, you should do the sculpture photos outdoors if at all possible. If indoors, try and have a pleasing background from the start. It’s too much work to have to clean up 16 backgrounds later with the clone or the magic brush tools.

Consider using a green screen and dropping the background in later.

It’s easier if you have an assistant to either do the 1/16th rotations, or to click the camera. It can be a lot of exercise running back and forth.

When you frame the image, be sure to leave some extra room at the top and sides – sometimes the sculpture will need that extra room to move into. If you have an assistant, do a trial rotation and see where the edges of your sculpture line up. You don’t want parts of your sculpture disappearing outside the frame. (Or do you. You’re an artist, you are supposed to break the rules or make up your own rules.)

I usually set the camera halfway between the midpoint and the base of the sculpture. Sometimes, especially if it’s a small sculpture, setting the camera lens at the height of the base is preferred.

Save these 16 sculpture photos to a folder – these are your originals – don’t do any photoshopping on them.

Create a new folder – copy and paste your images here. If the first folder was 1-sculpture-photos-10, I make the second folder 1-sculpture-photos-10a.

Back to the first folder. Copy the first image, then paste it beside the original. The new title will be “copy of DSCxxx” or something similar – this is the one you will work on.

If you screw up, make a second copy of the original and work on that one.

Sculpture Photos – Photoshop CS5

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