ArchX 1- Basic Artifact Photography

Artifact Photography

On this page we will go over the basics of artifact photography.  Keep in mind that not only are good photographic techniques important for you collections, your photographs tell a story about you as well.  Look at the examples below. Which would you want to represent your work?

Artifact Example 3Fig. 1

Artifact Example 3 plain

Fig. 2

Artifact Example 1

Fig. 3

Artifact Example 3 bad

Fig. 4

If you chose Fig. 4 then you can skip this tutorial!

When photographing artifacts you will want to align one edge of the object with one edge of the scale and leave enough space between the scale and the object so the scale can be cropped out later.  You may want to crop out the scale if you are using the photo in a paper, book, PowerPoint or other publication.  You will also want to shoot a minimum of two shots per artifact.  The first shot should contain an info card and the second shot should just be the object and the scale.  The info card can be hand written.

Naming Convention

A standardized naming convention is a big plus.  This allows for quick searches of your database when you are looking for particular types of artifacts or artifacts from a particular site, sector or level.

We use catalogue #_site name_sector_level_material type_object type_view tracking.



What to use to Photograph Artifacts

The Cowboy Studios Light Tent comes in a large variety of sizes with four backgrounds, black, white, red, and blue.


Follow this link ArchTool 2- Light Tent for more info on light tents.

You should usually use the black background.  You will also need black bean or rice bags to prop up artifacts, masking tape, a glob of museum putty, and a lint roller.


Masking Tape $5.50


Museum Putty $4


Lint Roller $3

Use the lint roller to clean the backdrop and bean bags often.

Keep in mind that the little bit extra work you do in the documenting process will save you scads of time later when looking for those photographs.


Page under construction.


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