Collection Photography


"Each photograph needs to display the artifacts as true to life as possible, which requires meticulous consideration of lighting and positioning."

- Emily Munn


The most important aspect of the Collection Gallery is the photography. The photograph is a viewers introduction to the piece on a digital platform. In a more traditional museum, the image of the piece is used for research or to compliment the artifact in a physical space. But in a digital museum it is imperative that every artifact has high resolution images of it to allow the viewer to examine every detail. Each groove, curve and corner needs to be lit evenly and consistently on every piece. The quality of the images enables the viewer to take advantage of the digital museum platform and experience a piece in greater detail than they could otherwise in a physical museum. 

In the current iteration of the Collection Gallery, forty pieces are displayed across five different categories. The categories were selected by the Curator of the collection Nicklaus McKinney to show the breadth of the collection. Each of the pieces displayed were chosen by considering the overall story being told and the challenges that existed in the photographic process. Those challenges included the size of the piece, fragility of the piece, and the amount of time with the photographer and the equipment. 


"Each groove, curve and corner needs to be lit evenly and consistently." 


The gif shows the main set up being used by photographer Emily Munn and secondary shooter Amber Eckersley. Three lights were used (a fourth if the piece was larger) to get a gradient of light falling across each piece. The trunk photographed in the time-lapse required multiple images and many lighting changes. One of the main challenges while photographing the pieces was handling the objects. A member of the Scarborough-Hamer staff had to be on hand at all times to assist and direct in the handing of the artifacts. Another complication was ensuring that each piece is accurately represented in the photograph. Unlike portraits and other types of studio photographs, collection photography must remove as much artistic representation as possible. Photographer Emily Munn said "each photograph needs to display the artifact as true to life as possible, which requires meticulous consideration of lighting and positioning". 

Photographing each piece is a slow process. With two photographers and an assistant, it took on average 1 hour to produce the necessary images of each piece. Though similarities exist between some pieces, the unique design elements and materials of each piece presents a new challenge when attempting to produce consistent images. More pieces will be added to the Collection Gallery as photographs are produced. 

Nick McKinney