EPMAS Photography Guidance

Please see below for our guidance on successful photography of sculpture and monuments:


Photography Equipment

Minimum Requirements:

  • 12MP digital camera with the capability of capturing files in the camera's native RAW file format
  • Image processing software capable of processing RAW file formats, such as Adobe Camera RAW which comes bundled with Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Elements.

Photgraphing the sculpture

Ensure your camera is set to the RAW setting on file format.

Set your sensor sensitivity to as low as setting as you possibly can. This is usually 100 ISO for most cameras.

Ensure you are using an aperture suitable to give a depth of field range suitable to the depth of the sculpture and the distance you are from the sculpture.

If you are photographing without a tripod you should aim for a minimum shutter speed of 1/125 s, you might get away with 1/60s if you are careful.

In a lot of public areas you probably won’t be able to use a tripod. If you can and you have one please use it for longer shutter speeds. If you can’t you can make use of stabilising aids such as walls, fences or lamp posts.

Number of images per sculpture

Each sculpture is different but, where possible, the following images should be obtained:

  • Front
  • Back
  • Left side
  • Right side
  • Right angled
  • Left angled
  • Context
  • Damage/vandalism
  • Inscriptions

If the Photographer cannot access all sides of the work or it is unsafe to do so, fewer images would be taken, with the minimum being one image.

Always take a photograph that shows the sculpture in context. This may help show any relevance the sculpture may have for its surroundings and will also help people find the sculpture if they go to see it.

Also photograph the inscription or signature (if present and in view). If there are any plaques on the plinth photograph them to a good enough quality to be able to see the information.

Include the plinth/base if integral to the piece.

Which is the front view?  May not always be obvious, but make a choice on which will be the ‘main’ view.

People in images – avoid this, but there may be situations where it is unavoidable. 

Time of day and weather

Shiny, reflective materials can provide challenges.

Hazy sunshine is the best conditions for photographing sculpture outdoors. The most aesthetic light usually occurs at the beginning and the end of the day.

Photographing in hazy sunshine may not always be possible. In this case overcast conditions are preferable to harsh sunlight, as this can lose detail with bright highlights and harsh dark shadows.

Try to get as far back from the sculpture as possible, especially for sculpture on high plinths. This will help get a better view of the sculpture.

You may need to plan when to photograph the sculpture if there are any building works surrounding it.

You may need to tidy litter, but only if there are a few bits in the way. Don’t do a wholesale clean up, especially as that may cause health and safety issues. Seeing the sculpture in its surroundings, even if they aren’t great, is of interest to the project.

You may need to work out what time of day the sculpture is not in shadow.

You may need to find a time of day when the sculpture is less crowded

If you notice an interesting photograph, whether humorous or interesting, please feel free to take it.


File format and size

Suggested specifications:

Dimensions within 3,200 x 2,136 pixels.

File format. All images to be supplied as raw and highest quality jpg files.

Colour space, Adobe RGB (1998).

jpg bit depth, 8 bits per channel

Post-production image processing

To be undertaken by the Volunteer Photographer:

  • Processing e.g. cropping, colour checking
  • Change the filenames 

Filenames and metadata

[County mnemonic]_[Postcode Mnemonic]_[Sculpture Number]_[Image View]

Region and Location Mnemonic and Sculpture number: Set by EPMAS- ask if unsure what it is.

Image view: start at 001 for first image, then 002, 003, etc. for subsequent images.

The photographer should put their name into the image file metadata, which can be set up in the image software. Also ensure the correct date is set on the camera.

Transfer of images to PCF and Quality Control

Once processed and image filenames changed, images need to be passed to EPMAS. In the first instance this will be done via an upload to the project Dropbox account. Details will be provided as required.

Recording in the field by Volunteer Photographer

Information on the sculpture will be provided in advance, but the Volunteer Photographer will need to record some information when they photograph a sculpture.

Minimum requirements:

  • Name
  • Date
  • Location details-record location using your smart phone if possible
  • Image views taken
  • Image filenames
  • Surface Condition
  • Structural Condition
  • Vandalism

Other information, if not supplied by researcher, would include:

  • Materials
  • Dimensions
  • Maker’s Name (if on the work)
  • Setting
  • Access


We are recording the overall height, depth and width, to be measured in cm.

Bases/plinths are also measured, if appropriate.

Some methods of measuring public sculpture:

  • Tape measure – can be used for base and width in most cases, if the work is on the ground. Can be used for height of some works. Use measurements that can be reached to estimate other parts (e.g. height).
  • Measure bricks and mortar, then count bricks and make an estimate.
  • Pacing out measurements.
  • Apps available for measuring height, e.g. Smart Measure.
  • Laser measurement tools.

Prep before photography

  • Receive information on sculptures to photograph from the EPMAS team.
  • Assess logistics, e.g. parking.
  • Use Google Street View / Maps to look in advance, if possible.
  • Plan a route, if photographing multiple works in the day.
  • Think about time of day, weather, etc.
  • Follow the EPMAS health and safety risk assessments for photography of public sculpture and lone working.

Suggested equipment (other than camera)

  • Mobile phone
  • Drink and snacks
  • Comfortable clothing and shoes, including a waterproof jacket
  • Sunscreen
  • Clipboard (for recording sheets) in a plastic bag
  • Pen / pencil
  • Tape measure
  • EPMAS project card containing project contact details.