Going “Behind the Lens”

I adore a well-taken photograph. But I rely on some pretty rudimentary skills when I take photographs. I learned basic object photography in one of my graduate school classes and like to think I have a good ‘eye’ for composition, but with smartphones and photo-sharing apps, I find myself relying on photo-editing filters to make many of my personal snapshots appear “artsy” without a whole lot of work on my part. Hence this Facebook-filtered photo of our object photography shoot a few weeks ago that I posted on the Stratford Hall Facebook page. We rely on photography quite regularly in the collections department, from documenting object condition and appearance to recording exhibit set-ups and other interpretive scenarios. And normally we can get by with what photography we take in-house.

But when it came to documenting a group of objects that we are planning for a future special exhibit, we knew we needed to call in the professionals. Photographer Steve Collins arrived from nearby Fredericksburg with a car full of supplies – from backdrops to lights – to create a set of really wonderful images of our group of objects. Not only will we use these new photos for publicity in the catalog and brochure for the exhibit, but they will also come in handy for our own study purposes. Because, while we had some of the objects under the camera lens, we also asked Steve to take detail shots of things like maker’s marks and alternate angles that may not make it to primetime, but sure do give us some new views of some of our favorite objects.

-Gretchen Goodell Pendleton, Curator