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Over the summer of 2019, a group of photography students from Nottingham Trent University were given the opportunity to shadow an Art UK Photographer working on our Sculpture project. We want to pass on practical information and experience during the project, so this was a good way for students to see professional photographers in action. They were able to observe how they approach the photography of sculpture in collections, often in small spaces or unusual situations.

Luke Unsworth photographing sculpture at Wolverhampton Art Gallery

Luke Unsworth photographing sculpture at Wolverhampton Art Gallery

George Lathbury spent a day with Photographer Paul Thompson and Coordinator Rachel Bentley at Calke Abbey, a National Trust property in Derbyshire. George reported back that shadowing Paul 'was a brilliant experience for the aspiring still-life photographer! I thoroughly enjoyed learning about what equipment and gear Paul used to set up an impromptu studio in one of the rooms of the Abbey, as well as getting to know the method and routine behind the shoot.'

Jon Cornish, who shadowed Photographer Justin Piperger and Coordinator Laura Davidson at the Royal College of Physicians, London, said that the experience 'was massively helpful to see the work process of a professional doing work I hadn't previously experienced'.

A temporary photography studio set up at the Royal College of Physicians

A temporary photography studio set up at the Royal College of Physicians

Photographer Justin Piperger and Coordinator Laura Davidson at the Royal College of Physicians

Photographer Justin Piperger and Coordinator Laura Davidson at the Royal College of Physicians

Philippa Askew also spent a day shadowing Justin, along with Coordinator Barbara Pezzini, at Worcester College, Oxford. 'It was a great experience shadowing Justin and Barbara. It was interesting to learn about how Art UK code/name the images and also to see the six main views that needed to be taken for each sculpture (front, 45 degrees left, 45 degrees right, left side, right side, back).

Justin Piperger taking photographs at Worcester College, Oxford

Justin Piperger taking photographs at Worcester College, Oxford

The thing I found most interesting was the detail shots and the way that Justin used raking light to photograph the detail of the sculptures (a signature, for example). Justin was really good at explaining things as he went along which meant I learnt a lot. It was also really good to get hands-on experience moving lights, holding reflectors and everything like that. I learnt a lot from shadowing Justin and Barbara, and I am really grateful to them and Art UK as a whole for a great learning experience.'

Photography at Wolverhampton Art Gallery

Photography at Wolverhampton Art Gallery

Kathleen Stewart, who spent a day at Wolverhampton Art Gallery with Photographer Luke Unsworth and Coordinator Rachel Bentley, said 'It was a great experience to meet Rachel and Luke, to work with them to see how they worked in a fast-paced environment, how they dealt with photographing sculptures and the difficulties that may lie, whether it be the height or the material of the object. This experience has helped expand my skills and helped me see how to achieve correct lighting and the difference it can make in images. I look forward to putting the advice I learnt into action and thanks again for this great opportunity.'

Photography at Wolverhampton Art Gallery

Photography at Wolverhampton Art Gallery

Thanks very much to Nottingham Trent University, the students, Photographers, Coordinators and collections for helping to make this possible. We hope to offer further opportunities for students before we complete the sculpture digitisation process in 2020.

Katey Goodwin, Head of Research and Digitisation and Project Manager, Sculpture Project