Digital Photodocumentation of Museum Objects

This workshop explains how to digitally photograph museum objects to meet conservation and documentation requirements. It includes information on how to choose proper photographic equipment, the various types of digital cameras and how they function, different light sources and their influence on colour, assorted lighting techniques and setting up a digital workflow. The importance of combining all these elements in an appropriate manner to consistently produce accurate images is also discussed.

Although not a mandatory purchase, Lighting Methods for Photographing Museum Objects would be a valuable reference tool for this course. This practical spiral-bound guide demonstrates how lighting can shape and highlight the features of an object in a photograph. It includes 15 lighting techniques, all of which are clearly explained and illustrated with colour photos. Whether you are a professional photographer, curator, heritage professional or student, this book will assist you in the creation of effective photographic documentation. (A 25% discount is available on this title to students with valid ID and to post-secondary institutions within Canada ordering multiple copies). The CCI video “Lighting Techniques for Photographing Heritage Objects” can also be viewed prior to the workshop. It provides a short, visual summary of numerous techniques that will be reviewed in the course.

Learning objectives

Upon completion of this workshop, participants will be able to

  • understand the basic characteristics and functioning of various types of digital cameras,
  • understand the basics of digital image capture and file types,
  • understand light sources and colour balance,
  • choose appropriate lighting methods to document objects and
  • set up and understand digital workflow.


Camera types and their characteristics

  • Characteristics and functioning of various types of digital cameras.
  • How to choose the best camera to meet specific needs (documentation, print publication or Web posting).
  • Overview of camera lenses, image sensors, image resolution, colour space and file formats, including their archival properties.

Light sources and accessories

  • Common light sources for photographing museum objects (daylight, electronic flash and tungsten lights) and the characteristics, advantages and disadvantages of each type.
  • Problems associated with competing light sources as well as their remedies.
  • Light source accessories and their use.
  • Proper lighting terminology.
  • Precautions to prevent damage to museum objects.

Determining the proper lighting setup

  • Basic lighting for photographing two-dimensional (flat) objects.
  • Supplementary lighting for photographing three-dimensional objects.
  • Using a light meter to measure lighting ratios.

Subject matter and exposure determination

  • Demonstrations and hands-on practice: proper setup of camera and lighting, exposure determination and use of a colour reference card to accurately photograph museum objects.

Target audience

Conservators, conservation scientists, registrars and other conservation and museum professionals seeking an introduction to or review of photographic equipment and methods.


Mylène Choquette and Germain Wiseman


English and French

Enrollment limits

Minimum 10, maximum 12


Two days

Special requirements

If you would like to receive a list of requirements, please email

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