Monuments, statues, all sort of sculptures, are all around us in urban settings, parks, and many other places. The are fun to photograph. Here are some thoughts on how to go about it and what you might do to make your images expressive and unique.
When you photograph a sculpture you are working with another artist’s creation. You can document it like for a catalog, but that might not provide the most exiting image. You can interpret it in your own style and come up with a photo that does justice to the sculptor and yet allows you to express yourself.
You might consider showing how the sculpture “lives” in its environment. Here are a couple examples.
Johnny Mercer Statue, Ellis Square, Savannah, Georgia
The Waving Girl – Savannah, Georgia
The two photos above tell their stories almost completely by themselves. These sculptures work in their environment and are enhanced by their setting.
Sometimes showing the surroundings is less effective like here with the African American Family Monument also in Savannah, Georgia.
African American Family Monument, Savannah, Georgia
Now the nice thing about sculptures is that they hold still. You can take your time to wait for better light, even a better season. Here are three more views of this statue.
Here we have the typical tourist snapshot on the left. The light is blah, the background is distracting, the processing does nothing to enhance the image. The center image has the trees in the background leaved out covering up the building and bringing the viewers attention more to the sculpture. It is also more contrasty to bring out the details. You will agree that the the image on the right is better photograph in this group.
The first one was taken in late afternoon with an overcast sky. The one on the right was taken the next morning, about 8 am, with the morning sun bringing life to the sculpture. The side view and side light bring out the individuals, giving volume to the figures. Take your time, come back when you can find better light, maybe fewer visitors that might block just the angle you like, and even better foliage as shown here. That is the charm of statues. They wait for you.
Approach sculpture as you would a portrait shoot. Move around, find the perspective, the view, that works best for you.
Some angles work better than others. Experiment. Take you time, the subject isn’t getting impatient.
Monuments are meant to be seen in totality to convey their story, but you need not feel that you must tell their story. It is fine to get close, to show just part of the subject.
Haitian Monument, Savannah, Georgia
Close-Up – Haitian Monument, Savannah, Georgia
Hey, photographers, look at me!
© 2018 Ludwig Keck