The last step toward capturing professional looking photos of your sculpture on a budget is lighting. In photography, light is everything. It’s why you see photographers pacing up and down the coast line, camera in hand, patiently waiting for the sun to meet the horizon, or why photographers wake up at the crack of dawn to get that perfect landscape shot.
Without getting into the physics of it all, light has different qualities at different times of the day. Since you’ll be shooting inside, this doesn’t so much concern you, but it’s something you should be cognizant of just the same–especially if the place where you’re shooting has lots of natural light.
Ideally, in a studio setting, you don’t want any natural light. That’s why you see professional studio photographers in rooms without windows. But you’re not a studio photographer, and so more than likely you’ll be taking these photos in your home, which, I’m willing to wager, has more than a few windows.
So, first thing’s first: find a room with the least amount of natural light that still affords you enough room to maneuver. Next, prepare to break out your pocketbook again.
For the purpose of taking professional looking photos, your household lamps just aren’t going to do it. Chances are either the temperature of the light is going to be off, or they’re just not going to provide enough light. What you’ll need is a pseudo-professional lighting setup. I say pseudo because the real deal would cost you thousands of dollars. What you’re sacrificing in portability, however, (the pros want to be able to break down their kit in minutes) you’re gaining in price.
While there are numerous lighting kits out there, we’ve had great success with the one we found on Amazon. It’s kind of flimsy, sure, but the quality of the light is top notch and it’s proven more than adequate for producing professional looking photos.
After you’ve made your purchase it’s pretty straightforward from there. Plenty of tutorials exist for the positioning of your lights, but trust me, as someone who’s watched them all, it’s just plain common sense.
For a simple, well lit photo, you want to position your lights on either side of the subject at anywhere from a 30-45 angle, facing back at the subject. In other words, the lights should be out in front of the subject a bit; not just on either side.
For more dramatic shots, try lighting the subject from a downward or upward angle. Do note that this will create harsher shadows, but for some shots this is ok.
Lastly, don’t forget to experiment. We’ve gotten some of our best photos by just saying, “I wonder what’ll happen if we do it this way.”